Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again

Overview

There's nothing like a home-cooked meal made with love, which is just what Lisa Schroeder serves in her wildly popular Portland, Oregon, restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar. The menu is filled with comfort food that fills the stomach and the soul. And Lisa has invited mothers from all over America and the world - Hungary, Peru, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Italy - to add their hearty and heartfelt dishes to her customers tables. Bursting with both kitchen and life wisdom, Mother's Best gathers 175...

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Overview

There's nothing like a home-cooked meal made with love, which is just what Lisa Schroeder serves in her wildly popular Portland, Oregon, restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar. The menu is filled with comfort food that fills the stomach and the soul. And Lisa has invited mothers from all over America and the world - Hungary, Peru, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Italy - to add their hearty and heartfelt dishes to her customers tables. Bursting with both kitchen and life wisdom, Mother's Best gathers 175 inviting recipes that range from appetizers, soups, and salads to main courses, sides, breakfast foods, sandwiches, and desserts and baked goods. Mother's Best is the cookbook for those who yearn for uncomplicated and uncommonly good food straight from mother's oven.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

 “Beautifully and warmly photographed, this cookbook is about real, delicious, home-cooked food.” —Alice Waters, Chez Panisse

"Anyone who's waited in line for a table at Mother's Bistro & Bar on Southwest Stark for Sunday brunch should pounce on this book. It reveals many of the restaurant's most popular dishes, plus some from Mama Mia Trattoria, Schroeder's other eatery right next door, as well as recipes from moms whose cooking has been featured at Mother's through the years. Don't assume that all this maternal instinct spells stodgy food: Inside this book a smart, trained chef is at work." —The Oregonian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600850172
  • Publisher: Taunton Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/17/2009
  • Pages: 394
  • Sales rank: 595,909
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Schroeder is the chef/owner of Mother’s Bistro & Bar and Mama Mia Trattoria in Portland, Oregon. Schroeder’s award-winning restaurants have been featured in The Oregonian, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Town & Country, USA Today, and Bon Appetit. She makes her home in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

It's 5:45 P.M. on a Thursday night in 1992. I'm still at work, trying to figure out what I'm going to do for dinner for the family. I'm exhausted and don't feel like cooking, but we've already done take-out twice this week. I wrack my brain, trying to think of a place where we could get the kind of wholesome, comforting food I would make — if I had the time. Nothing came to mind.

That was the moment my restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar, was born. I realized there weren't any restaurants serving real home cooking — not the flavorless, out-of-a box stuff of diners and chain restaurants, but flavorful, familiar, and nutritious dishes that mothers around the world have been cooking for their families for generations.

This epiphany changed my life, inspiring me to switch careers at the age of 35 and enroll at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. There I learned not only how to cook professionally but also how to develop a menu, price the food, and determine how much of it to make. I lived and breathed food, going to classes for eight hours a day and then participating in every possible extracurricular activity. On weekends I traveled to Manhattan to see my daughter, Stephanie, and work as a server to make some money to live.

After cooking school I knew I still needed real-world experience before I could launch my own place, so I got a job as a cook at Le Cirque, a four-star restaurant in Manhattan where I was paid $350 for a 60-hour work week. This was hardly enough to support myself and my daughter, so I got a second job waiting tables. For an entire year I worked 90 hours a week, six days a week, learning everything I could and trying to keep my head above water.

When Stephanie left for college a year later and Le Cirque closed to move to a new location, I decided it was time to head to Europe and find out what it was like to work in real French kitchens and eat the foods of France, Italy, Spain, and Morocco at their source. These travels changed my perceptions about food forever, but the most eye-opening experience happened in Morocco. After I searched high and low and found very few restaurants, it occurred to me — Moroccan matriarchs live to cook for their families, so why would Moroccans go out for Moroccan food? That's when I realized that the soul of a country's cuisine is not found in its restaurants but rather in the foods cooked at home — what I call "Mother Food" — meals made with love and shared by families.

While restaurants in Morocco were few and far between, they certainly aren't in short supply in this country. Americans were, and still are, cooking less and eating out more. And yet, our country's Mother Food was rarely offered in restaurants. I was sure that busy people like me had to be craving these foods, and I definitely didn't want to see a generation of kids growing up and not knowing what brisket was or that chicken noodle soup didn't always come from a can. My concept of Mother's Bistro became even clearer: Along with my dream of opening a restaurant, I had a mission to help preserve Mother Food for posterity.

It took a few more years and a move across the country to join my life and business partner, Rob Sample, in Portland, Oregon, before my dream and mission became reality. We turned a dark and dank Irish pub into a bright and airy ode to all things motherly, with pictures of moms and children on the wall, flowing curtains, cushy chairs, and a corner of books and toys for kids. On our first day of business we turned our sign from "closed" to "open" and 90 people walked in the door. It's been nine years and we've never once looked back.

The birth of Mother's wasn't easy (more like a caesarian section with no anesthetic), and I worked harder than I had ever worked in my life (yes, harder than my 90-hour work weeks in New York). But it was all worth it — so much so that I couldn't resist opening a second restaurant, called Mama Mia Trattoria, right next door. There are days when I look out into my dining rooms and see the happy faces of the guests and my eyes well up with tears of joy. My dream has come true.

But I now I want to take my dream one step further. Instead of just providing my guests with the home-style food their mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers might have made, I want to teach people how to make these dishes themselves. Many of us have become alienated from our kitchens, but even in these heady, hectic times — or maybe because of them — many of us are looking to find our way back. We want the pride and satisfaction that comes from making our own meals and gathering our families around the table to enjoy them. We want to take charge of what's in our food and know exactly what we're putting in our mouths. We want to spend less money and spend more time together. And we want the familiar, nourishing dishes that we grew up on — or wish we did.

And that's how Mother's Best was born. I have gathered many of the best recipes from my two restaurants into this book and seasoned them generously with advice gleaned from all my years behind the stove. Like the restaurants from which it evolved, this book pays homage to mothers and their cuisine from around the world. It introduces some of the mothers we have featured at Mother's Bistro over the years, women from Hungary, Ireland, Greece, France, and Italy (to name a few), as well as mothers from different regions of the United States. At Mother's Bistro we feature a "Mother of the Month," or "M.O.M.," who collaborates with me to create a special menu with some of her best dishes, and we cook them together so I can learn how to make her dishes firsthand. Now you can learn, too.

But the recipes in this book aren't just simple rehashings of old standards. I've used my training in classic French cooking to take things to a higher -level. Whereas a typical mother uses water in her braised beef brisket, I use veal or beef stock. While one of our Mothers of the Month calls for margarine in her pastry, I use butter. A mother may regularly use canned cream of mushroom soup as an ingredient, but I make my own mushroom sauce. So it's mothers' food, only better.

These subtle but significant changes are what I like to call the "love." It's that one secret ingredient that makes any dish taste better and keeps families coming back for more. It's taking time to heat a pan, sauté an onion, reduce a sauce, taste a dish, and adjust the seasonings.

You don't have to be a mom, or even a parent, to get something out of this book. It's for anyone who wants to learn how to create comforting, delicious, family-friendly food worthy of a restaurant. It offers ways to help you work cooking into your busy life. And it takes the fear out of the equation by demystifying each step of the process and offering "Love Notes" to guide you through. Although this book is aimed at inexperienced cooks, even experts will likely learn something new. You'll get ideas on how to coax more flavor out of your ingredients and how to "plate" food so that it's a feast for the eyes.

But most of all, you'll learn how to cook with love and how to find love through cooking (let's face it, the way to your family's heart is through their stomachs). With love as the mantra, let Mother's Best inspire a return of the heart to the hearth of your home.

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Table of Contents

The Birth of Mother's
Starters
Soups
Entrées
Sides
Macaroni & Cheese
Breakfast
Sandwiches
Desserts
Equivalency Charts

Recipe Index by Chapter
Index
 

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