Elisa Marshall is the founder of Maman, a café and bakery with locations in New York City and Toronto. Here, she shares her plans for the ultimate garden-inspired Mother's Day brunch.
When my mom and I get together (she lives in Toronto, I'm in New York), we always end up cooking together—we might make dinner but we'll definitely bake (we both love baking). For Mother's Day this year I wanted to do something special, to start a new tradition. I'm going to become a maman myself soon and being pregnant has made me more aware of celebrating family. To that end, I've planned this brunch in the garden around my mom's favorite things and some classic brunch recipes so we can gather around the table together. And this time, I'm doing all the cooking!
My mom is a lover of flowers, sunshine, coffee, and brunch, so a daytime meal makes sense for this celebration of her. I love hosting brunch because you can do much of the prep and baking the evening before leaving you the day of for some mother-daughter time. In addition to my mom and dad, we'll be hosting my sister and her children, too.
Mini Dessert Sampler
I created the menu around some of my mom's favorite recipes and made sure to include quiche, something she always made for me and my sister when we were small. I also chose dishes that were easy to prep and make in advance. As my mom is not a big drinker, with me being pregnant, and because we'll also be hosting my nephew and niece, it seemed right to serve a refreshing basil lemonade. The great thing about mocktails is there are no real "rules" with glassware, so it gives me a chance to serve the lemonade in some of the glass goblets I rarely get to use.
Of course, the menu should celebrate spring as well as Mom, which is why the pea and parsley soup fits the bill just fine. I like to serve this soup chilled and garnished with minced white carrots and peas, not with caviar! And I serve it coupe glasses rather than soup bowls. A simple, crisp mixed green salad is always right with quiche, but I upgraded mine with the addition of shaved asparagus, ribbons of white carrot, and grated pecorino. Served after the quiche, yogurt parfaits are another chance to bring out some of my goblets—they're also popular with the kids.
Though she likes to bake, mom isn't big on sweets so a sampler of mini desserts in her favorite flavors is the best way to end the meal. Everyone can try the brownies, lemon madeleines (I dip mine in white chocolate and garnish with fresh thyme), and apple slab tart without feeling too full. The desserts will be served on a beautiful tiered stand I had made by The Brooklyn Tea Cup. They make unique tiered stands with family heirlooms and plates you supply. (And they all unscrew to make storage simple).
Setting The Table
I love creative table settings and for this Mother's Day brunch I hunted for items that tell a story from my childhood and my mom's. Mom and I both love vintage and nostalgia so it was easy for me to put this table together. I reached into my china cabinet and pulled out some of the "good" china and glassware. What better time is there to use your special pieces then when you're celebrating Mom? My collection of blue-and-white plates started as a gift from my grandma, so it seems right to use them (and blue is also my mom's favorite color). To make the setting more elevated and feminine—and less 'rustic' as vintage can sometimes be—each plate is paired with a cut crystal charger.
For a little added personalization, I printed old photos of my mom, grandma, sister, and me in black and white and matte laminated them to use on the table (laminated in case of any spills). I tried to find photos mom hadn't seen in a while to get an aww factor from her and used a variety of photo clips to add visual height to the table. As for the flowers, Pics & Petals created the most beautiful messy arrangement using my mom's favorite flowers in a simple natural color palette. I always like to work with one focal piece centerpiece and adorn the table with other small ones. Here I used beautiful blue-and-white china tea cups as vases. As take homes and to further enhance the garden theme of the brunch, we created small hand-tied bouquets for every plate.
Mom and I both have a collection of handwritten family recipes. I wanted to come up with a fun way to preserve these memories for her and my sister, so I I took a photo of a favorite recipe and used an iron-on-transfer to print the handwritten original onto cotton tea towels that we'll use as napkins for the brunch. Then each of us can take them home afterward. (I'll have other napkins on hand too, just in case!)
Jumpsuit: Hatch Maternity
Accessories: Le Boudoir
Photography and Flowers: Leatal Cohen/Pics and Petals
Food Prep: Head Chef Tawni Benick of Maman
Vintage Plates and Glassware: Marche Maman
Custom Tiered Stand: The Brooklyn Teacup
Location: Marche Maman