Down East 2013 ©
A close friend of mine just celebrated her very first Mother’s Day. She had a baby a few weeks ago, and it’s been thrilling to watch her reaction to it all -- the excitement of bringing a human being into this world.
She has videotaped him moving his head in his crib, and taking his first stroller walk. He even has his own blog — I kid you not. (After all his mother is just 30, and a blog is apparently the new baby book.)
While she documents her son’s every move on the Web, I am getting ready to say goodbye to my youngest daughter who will graduate from high school next month and leave for college in the fall. And this weekend we head to New York City to watch my oldest daughter put on a cap and gown and receive her college diploma. Needless to say, this is an emotional time for me. I, too, am thrilled to be part of all this, the excitement of watching two young girls transform into such fine women. It seems like just a few years ago when I was videotaping my own babies in the bathtub singing silly songs and bringing me Mother’s Day breakfast on a tray — so proud that they cut the strawberries “all by myselves.”
This year my youngest daughter kept the tradition going without her sister. She got up early (9 a.m. on a Sunday morning!) and made me Smoked Salmon and Baby Spinach Benedict with an artichoke heart and caper-lemon butter sauce. The eggs were perfectly poached, the sauce was just the right balance of tart and salty, and the strawberry garnish was expertly sliced and placed on the plate so it resembled a spring flower. Yes, she is the daughter of a professional cook. Despite the fact that she claims not to like cooking (or be any good at it), obviously she has been paying attention. It was a superb way to start the day.
I called my friend, the new mother, to wish her “Happy First Mother’s Day!” And then I warned her: “Watch out, you will blink a few times and your baby will be graduating from college. Then you’ll wonder where the time went.”
I know I sound like I’m spouting old clichés, but these big life moments are so susceptible to clichés. I just can’t help myself. Time is elusive. One minute we are raising little babies, wondering if we’ll ever get a full night’s sleep and the next we are watching them go off into the world. Hoping, through it all, that we have given them enough to walk solidly. By the look of things my daughters seem to be doing just fine. And I am so deeply grateful.
Emma’s Spinach and Smoked Salmon Benedict with Artichoke-Caper-Lemon Butter
Emma’s recipe omits the heavy bacon and hollandaise sauce traditionally served with Eggs Benedict and replaces them with smoked salmon, baby spinach, and a light sauce made with artichoke hearts, capers and fresh lemon juice mixed with a touch of butter. Serve with hot coffee, iced tea, and a spring fruit salad.
The Artichoke-Caper-Lemon Butter:
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup jarred artichoke hearts, drained, and chopped
¼ cup capers, drained
Pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
The Eggs, Salmon, and Spinach:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup packed baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 English muffins, or whole wheat English muffins, or four 1-inch thick slices of your favorite bread
8 thin slices smoked salmon
4 large eggs
Make the Butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the artichokes, capers, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon peel and cook 2 minutes. Set aside or keep warm over very low heat.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over very low heat.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium skillet.
Separate the muffins and place in the toaster.
When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to moderate so the water is at a gentle simmer. Crack the eggs into a bowl, one at a time, and add to the skillet. Use a spoon to swirl the water around the eggs, to keep them moving, and cook 2 ½ to 3 minutes, depending on how firm you like your eggs.
Toast the muffin until golden brown. Place a muffin half (or 2 muffin halves) on 2 to 4 plates and top each with 2 slices of salmon making sure they overlap the muffin slightly so you’ll see the color once the egg goes on top. Divide the spinach between each muffin half and place on the salmon.
Warm the Artichoke-Caper-Lemon Butter over low heat. Drain the eggs well and place one on each muffin. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the warm butter on top and serve hot.
Serves 2 to 4.