Here we are – almost into mid May and Mother’s Day is right around the corner. For those of you in denial, or still staring at the last remnants of snow in your yard, it is THIS WEEKEND! In our house, logistically, Mother’s Day is a bit of a challenge every year. How do we see and celebrate all the moms in our family and do the day and them, justice? My mom, my husband’s mom, our sister’s and brother’s wives, and of course – the most important mom, ME (!)
I love to host (can you say control freak) so I usually forgo a dinner or brunch out for a dinner at our home and invite the whole clan over. On Mother’s Day it is fun to create a more “feminine” angle to the meal – lighter and fresher with a special dessert. I also like creating a fun table with some “girly” flower arrangements paired with special items that have been handed down from “moms” over the past years.
I really like to bake as healthy as possible, but this time of year, I get a craving for my favourite, super easy shortbread and lemon tarts (which are not healthy but yummy and sometimes you have to say, “what the hell!”) If you are a child of the 80’s in Calgary, there is a good chance you were brought up on the Best of Bridge cookbooks and these are a star recipe of theirs. My mom (who consulted these cookbooks religiously) used to make these tarts for special occasions, and they hold a special place in my heart. These are perfect for wedding and baby showers, the Mother’s Day tea at school, and bringing to an office potluck. They look really pretty and as a bonus, they come together quick and easy. If you have teenage boys, they could disappear if you turn your back – don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I love a homemade crust but I HATE rolling out dough. These have the bonus of being a homemade crust that just gets patted into a mini tart pan. I’m really not lazy – but when I bake, even though I really enjoy it – I want to get IN and OUT and end up with something everyone loves.
You can prick the bottom of these with the tines of a fork, or a toothpick – to prevent them from puffing up too much halfway through cooking. Another option is to place the pan in the fridge while your oven is heating up. Either way has worked for me.
The lemon curd filling IS NOT intimidating! I know many people read a recipe – see the words “DOUBLE BOILER” and turn the page. Fear not – as you can see, I do not own a double boiler. I simply put a bowl over a small pot of boiling water and it worked perfect. The key to preparing the lemon curd is to have all the ingredients measured and ready. Then you can keep whisking without worrying about whether or not you are going to burn or scorch the mixture.
As I’m sure all moms of teens can appreciate – I don’t get much time with my daughter doing just “regular” stuff. You know – emptying the dishwasher, making dinner, setting the table kind of time. She is just not around due to her busy schedule. I have to say, having her just hanging around – wanting to help with baking, was a real treat. So I put the expectation of the “perfect lemon shortbread tart” to the back of my head and just enjoyed the moment. She wanted to use a piping bag – but just fill and decorate as you wish and enjoy.
If you want to, you can freeze these tarts (I think unfilled is best) and use them at a later date as well.
Lemon Shortbread Tarts
Recipe from The Best of Bridge Cookbook Series
1 cup butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 TBSP cornstarch
Mix all ingredients in your mixer until it comes together. Pat a heaping teaspoon into mini tart tins with your fingers to create a shell. Either prick the bottoms with a fork, or place in fridge while heating your oven to 325 F. Bake for 20 minutes – check them after 10 and prick the bottoms again if the shells puff up.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 cup sugar
3 eggs well beaten
1/2 cup butter cut up and at room temp.
Put juice and zest into a double-boiler or a bowl on top of a pot of gently boiling water, as shown. Whisk in sugar, eggs and butter and blend well. Whisk constantly until mixture becomes lighter and thickens.
Cool. Store in the fridge until you are ready to fill tarts!
A note about setting our table!
I set my table up to honour the moms that were going to be sitting at it. It is not stylized nor is it set for a magazine cover shoot. It is set for a family that loves to enjoy a meal together and for real life. Who has the time to spend three hours creating the perfect table? But it is always nice to make it a little special. I used simple, inexpensive daisy’s, cut them short and tied them tight with an elastic band. Using an elastic band really works to keep the arrangement tight and full looking. I dropped them in the vase and that is it! Pair with some pretty napkins and you are good to go!
Special things for Special occasions.
Now you are ready to host the moms in your life with just a little added Mojo and Moxie…