Make the one day of the year to celebrate our mums by treating them to meals with fresh flavours

omorrow is Mother’s Day – a tradition that started in the early 20th century in America but has been celebrated for thousands of years within different cultures. The Greeks honoured their mothers in the festival of Cybele and the Romans in Hilaria. In the UK, Ireland and Nigeria it falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent but in most of the rest of the world it happens on the second Sunday in May, including America where it originated in its modern form.

Whatever its history it’s the day to give back to our mums and make them feel special. My mum visited Australia many years ago and still talks about the delicious Caesar salad she had in Sydney. This salad was created by Caesar Cardini who ran restaurants in Mexico and the US during the 1920s. He ran a restaurant in Tijuana that attracted customers from across the border trying to circumvent the Prohibition restrictions of the time.

It was particularly busy on the fourth of July 1924 and the kitchen was depleted of supplies. Caesar rustled up a salad, tossed tableside for a bit of drama, of what ingredients he had left – lettuce, parmesan, egg, anchovy, croutons and a garlic, olive oil and lemon dressing. Over the years it has become diluted and often more than not will consist of lettuce tossed in a watered down garlic mayonnaise with little else.

Tomorrow I’ll be cooking a proper Caesar salad for my mum with the addition of some grilled chicken thigh and good black olives. No mayonnaise in sight….

On the same trip my mum’s aunt Gerty made a lemon meringue pie with lemons from her garden and eggs from her own chickens. At the time the thought of these homegrown lemons going straight from tree to pie within minutes was, and still is, magical. There won’t be any lemons growing in any gardens in this country but you can pick up Amalfi lemons from good green grocers now.

They might be a bit expensive but they’re worth it for the quality and you get a lot of lemon bang for your buck. The lemon part is a curd made from boiled lemons ( refreshed a few times to take away the bitterness) which cuts out any waste of this precious commodity.

The base is a more user friendly oat biscuit one rather than a pie crust. Spoon billowy meringue on top and either blow torch until golden or place under a hot grill.

Chicken Caesar salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

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What you’ll need

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon oil

Good pinch of salt

4 little gem lettuce

12 thin slices baguette

12 pitted black olives – Kalamata are good

75g parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

1 anchovy, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

125ml olive oil or good local rapeseed oil

Juice 1 lemon

1 tablespoon


Toss the chicken in the tablespoon of oil and season with salt. Heat a grill pan until hot and add the chicken. Cook for 2 minutes each side to sear the chicken then lower the heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through – another 2 minutes each side should do it but check. Allow to rest and cool. Place baguette slices in a 180oc oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool.

Separate the lettuce into leaves and wash in cold water. Drain and pat dry on kitchen paper. Place the egg yolk in a blender or in a jug with an immersion blender. Add the anchovy, garlic, mustard and lemon juice and blend for a minute. Slowly add the oil until incorporated. Add the Worcestershire sauce and check the seasoning.

Place the lettuce in a bowl and mix in the dressing and olives.

Slice the chicken and toss in. Spoon into bowls or a platter and shave over the parmesan.

Lemon meringue pie

Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie

What you’ll need

For the biscuit base

150g oaty biscuits

75g butter

Process the biscuits to a fine crumb in a blender or place in a bag and bash. Melt the butter and mix in the crumbs. Press into a pie dish and chill.

For the lemon curd layer

5 lemons

150g castor sugar

50g butter

1 and half teaspoons cornflour mixed in a tablespoon of cold water

3 gelatine leaves soaked in cold water for 10 minutes.

Juice and zest the lemons and set aside.

Place the “shell” in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for a couple of minutes then drain and repeat four times – it will be worth it!

When the lemon shells are soft chop and place in a saucepan with the lemon zest and juice, cornflour mixture and sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the gelatine leaves and blend to a smooth puree. Add the butter a little at a time. Place in a bowl, cool and then chill.

For the meringue

3 egg whites

200g castor sugar

1 heaped teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and add the sugar a little at a time, whisking as you do. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.

To assemble, spread the lemon base over the biscuit base and then top with the meringue. Blow torch or grill the top until golden and serve.