Create a Mother’s Day Brunch centerpiece, then eat it.

left: The edible centerpiece. right: flowers. Photos by Deanna Ladret

Nobody needs an official day to give Mom some love. But let’s be honest, we’ve all taken her for granted at one point or another. Now that I’m a parent myself, I’ve been extra stringent with my annual observation. In part because I’m now beginning to understand the scope of the job, and also possibly because a small part of me hopes my daughter will care more than I did in the teenage years. Most folks would agree that a handmade card or a homemade meal are just as special––if not more so––than a gift bought at the store. I remember making pancakes with my dad and my brother, and presenting them to my mom on a plate festooned with sliced fruit. I have the photo to prove it (maybe that’s what inspired me to become a waitress…thanks mom!)


Since Mother’s Day always happens on a Sunday, brunch seems like the natural celebratory meal. Breakfast in bed is a particularly nice treat for Mom, since she is often de facto breakfast maker. If you’ve flown the nest or breakfast-in-bed isn’t practical, a brunch invite where you do the cooking is the next best choice. Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty is my current go-to tome.


I took my Plenty obsession one step farther by creating a Mother’s Day Brunch Table Centrepiece using ingredients from an appetizer recipe in the cookbook. Assemble this easy centrepiece and garnish with mini spray roses (don’t eat the roses) to complete your Mother’s Day brunch table. Then, treat mom to a pre-dinner appy later on with the contents. Hint – she doesn’t have to know you recycled the breakfast décor.


1) Gather the ingredients from Ottolenghi’s recipe below for Asparagus, Fennel and Beets with Verjus from his Plenty cookbook. From them, take the bunch of asparagus, the fennel (buy a whole bulb though you only need half for the recipe), one beet and set aside. While you’re at the grocery store, buy a bunch of spray roses.


2) Find two rectangular glass vases and fill 1/4-1/3 full with water.


3) Using a fine grater or microplane, zest a small amount of beet flesh (no need to peel the beets first) and stir into the water to give it a pink hue. Add more to your liking.


4) Slice the fennel bulb in half lengthwise, making sure there’s a fairly equal amount of stalk on either piece. Place the half bulbs deep into the vases so the cut side faces out.


5) Cut the ends off the asparagus (you’ll need to do this anyway for the recipe) and divide the quantity in half. Place the stalks in the vases amongst the fennel bulb so they are poking out of the top at various heights.


6) Trim the spray roses to various lengths and insert into the vases to finish the look.


7) After brunch, take the arrangements apart and refrigerate the vegetables for later. Consolidate the spray roses into a posy or two for the dinner table with some trimmed fennel stalks. Enjoy!


Asparagus, fennel and beets with verjus

Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty


Serves 4 as a starter


4 mini beets (about 1/4 lb)

1 1/3 cups verjus

4 T grapeseed oil

salt & black pepper

4 to 5 oz fresh pencil-thin or normal asparagus

1/2 large fennel bulb, halved vertically

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 T dill leaves to garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim most of the stalk from the beets, leaving a little at the top of each beet for the look. Put them into an ovenproof dish, cover it with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the beets are cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down before cutting into halves or quarters (you may want to peel them if the skin is tough).


Pour the verjus into a small saucepan, bring to a light simmer and leave it to reduce to about 3 tablespoons. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool down, then whisk in the grapeseed oil and salt and pepper to taste. Put aside.


Cut the asparagus spears on a sharp angle into long and very thin slices, or use a potato peeler to make “shavings”. Place the fennel half cut-side down on a mandolin and shave into paper-thin slices. The slices will have a hand shape.


To assemble, arrange the vegetables on small serving plates. Scatter the pine nuts on top and drizzle over the dressing. Garnish with dill and serve.


Written By:

We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ...

Comments are closed.