HomeMay 2011Karen Green’s Kitchen

Karen Green’s Kitchen

Many of us are greeting card senders.

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, encouragement, congratulations — the list goes on. For years, oh at least ten now, I send Mother’s Day cards to female relatives and friends. What is unique about these cards is that they are always homemade.

I find a favorite, recent photo of my mother, my daughter and me together, loving each other¹s company.  Actually, the three of us are five.  There is a Buba, a mother, a mom, two daughters and one granddaughter.  This year, I add another to our group — my son’s new wife – so now the photo is the four of us, or is it eight?

One of my favorite weekend meals, whether at home or at a restaurant, is brunch.  A lazy morning leads into a lazy afternoon, which leads into a relaxing evening.
Our garden menu will feature several dairy dishes, also in honor of Israel’s Memorial Day (Sunday, May 8, the same day as Mother’s Day) and, Israel’s Independence Day (the following day), and Shavuot, which takes place early next month. My OCJL food readers can look forward to a dairy dinner in June with a more in-depth exploration of Shavuot.

Whether you are a mother, a daughter, a Buba — or perhaps all three — enjoy your Mother’s Day with your family and your photographs.

Look back on your childhood and that of your children, look forward to future years of togetherness, peace and health.  Take a walk with your family in the bright, late spring sun that we are blessed with here in Orange County.

What a photograph for next year¹s Mother’s Day.


Like a strata, but without the bread, like an Italian frittata, and like a deep-dish quiche without the pastry crust, the joy of this delicious casserole, originally created by my daughter, is that you can prep and assemble it the night before.  Then, simply bake off in the morning prior to brunch.

Two tablespoons olive oil
One large brown onion, peeled and diced
Eight ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
Three garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Ten eggs
Two cups low-fat milk
One tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used an aioli variety of Dijon)
One third cup shredded Parmesan cheese
One cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
One half teaspoon each Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute about two minutes. Add mushrooms and cook about three minutes. Add garlic and cook about one minute; set aside to cool down.

Spray an oval, glass baking dish (about fifteen and a half by ten and a half, and two inches deep) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and mustard until incorporated.  Add the mushroom mixture, along with the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir to combine all ingredients.  Turn into casserole.

You can cook this dish immediately in a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven, or cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  (In this case, I bring it out of the refrigerator for an hour or so.)  Bake for fifty-five to sixty minutes, or until top forms a light brown crust.  Leftovers can be reheated.
Yield: Approximately six to eight servings, depending upon the
number of other dishes.


My daughter originally found this recipe on a cook’s website, and we have made adaptations every time we have prepared it.  We often serve this as a side dish, along with other dairy meals.

One half cup sugar
One vanilla bean*
Three pounds pears, preferably Bosc (four large pears), or Bartlett
pears will also work well**
One fourth cup fresh lemon juice
One fourth cup water
One fourth cup butter

*Go for the real vanilla bean.  Though somewhat expensive (shop
around; markets vary in prices), it truly adds the proper flavor and aroma.  Vanilla extract will not make it in this recipe.

**When selecting pears, purchase slightly under-ripe, medium size.  Peel pears, if you wish, slice in half, through the stem, then core.  (I use the tip of a paring knife and a grapefruit spoon to carefully cut out the core.)

Place the sugar in a small bowl.  With a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and jam-like inner flesh into the bowl with the sugar.  Mix well.  Cut the pod in fourths and set aside.

Place the pears in a large, glass baking dish (I used an oval fifteen and a half by ten and a half, by two inches deep), cut side up.  Drizzle the lemon juice over, then the sugar mixture.  Then, tuck the pieces of pods in with the pears.  Pour the water over and dot with butter.

Bake the pears in a preheated three-hundred-seventy-five-degree oven for thirty minutes, occasionally basting with the pan juices.  Carefully turn pears over and continue to baste and bake for another twenty-five to thirty minutes.  You do not want to overcook the pears.  Test by carefully poking with the tip of a paring knife, into the thickest part of one pear to make sure it is tender.

Serve warm.

Yield: Approximately eight servings.


On my travels through Israel, I was very impressed by the assortment of cheeses and olives, served at breakfast and at brunch.  I especially enjoy the fragrance and slight “bite” of a good Feta cheese, along with the creaminess of a Farmer’s cheese, and the saltiness of green olives.  Of late, my favorite fresh herb of choice has been thyme (always on hand in my refrigerator) with its delicate aroma and taste.

Six to seven ounces Farmer’s cheese, at room temperature
Two and one half ounces Feta cheese, preferably sheep’s milk, crumbled
Twenty to thirty large green olives, all pitted, then some chopped, quartered and halved, so that you have three different sizes (approximately one generous cup of olives.  The next time I make this,
I plan to try a mixture of green and black olives.)
Fresh thyme leaves, to taste, carefully stemmed, plus additional for garnish
Two garlic cloves, minced, optional
Bagels, pita bread and/or pita chips to accompany

Place the Farmer’s cheese in a mixing bowl and mash until smooth.  Add the Feta and stir until combined.  Add the olives, thyme and garlic ( optional), and mix until well-combined.  Spoon mixture into a serving bowl, and garnish with additional thyme.

Serve with sliced bagels, pita bread and/or or pita chips.

This spread can be made the night before. It is best brought to room temperature before serving.

Yield: Approximately eight servings.


Brunch is not brunch without a good dessert.  You might go to your favorite bakery and purchase a variety of rugelach, a Tiramisu or a chocolate mousse cake.  Or, simply serve mini scoops of a trio of flavors of sorbets. And while you are asking these questions, what else might you serve for brunch – orange juice and/or mimosas, possibly sliced, heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with another favorite herb (basil shreds or minced Italian parsley) and rich, dark coffee to complement the dessert.  Remember, do not work too hard cooking. This is also your Mother’s Day.

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