My mother was a Mother’s Day Grinch. Why? Because she said everyday should be Mother’s Day. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I got her message loud and clear. As a child I loved having that special day to give her cards and gifts. And despite her grumblings that it was a Hallmark holiday, she kept the bottle of White Shoulders I gave her, when I was seven, on her perfume tray, until the day she died, when I was 61.
As a mom, I loved the handmade cards, gifts and baked goods my children would bring home from school. There was something extra special about my boys creating a gift with their own two hands. That is especially true nowadays with online shopping and virtual cards. And so, this week’s recipe is one that the kids can be front and center helping a parent or other caregiver create for mom, with their own two hands.
I present you this Mother’s Day Bouquet of Canapés. A visually impressive and palate pleasing tray of vegan hors d’oeuvres for that time of day I consider the bewitching hour for every mom: 5 pm. Instead of breakfast in bed, cocktails on the couch. Let mom sink into the sofa, put her feet up on the coffee table, with her favorite libation, of course, while nibbling on these delectable one-bite snacks.
To make it user friendly, even for little ones to help prepare, I’ve used all store bought items. The only “cooking” necessary is prepping some of the ingredients. It does involve knives and graters. Older children could be involved in this. Put each ingredient in a separate bowl and set up a prep station. Make sure everyone has clean hands. Do be patient with young children as spreading the cheese on the crackers is delicate work. I suggest having extra boxes to account for breakage. Have a pretty round tray available and create a flower pattern with the canapés. Serve immediately as the crackers do get soggy if sitting too long.
Happy Mother’s Day, every day, to all of the moms out there!
P.S. My mom, a chef herself, would have loved this gift.
Mother’s Day Bouquet of Canapés
1 container Medjool dates
1 jar pitted Castelvetrano olives
1 jar sliced sundried tomatoes in oil
2-3 large lemons with bright yellow skins
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1 package toasted pine nuts
1 package shelled pistachio nuts (preferably unsalted)
1 box water crackers (I used Carr’s)
1 box square crackers (I used Murray’s Sea Salt Crackers, available at Ralph’s)
1 container plant-based ricotta
1 container plant-based cream cheese
Finishing salt such as Hawaiian sea salt or maldon salt
I have not set amounts of ingredients as you may want to make less than or more than shown in the photo. For each olive canapé, you will need 2 olives. For each sundried tomato canapé, you will need 3-4 strips of tomato, depending on size. For a larger tray of canapés, have more lemons.
To pit the dates, make a vertical slit down the top of the date and remove the seed, making sure not to tear the date completely in two.
Drain the olives (as many as you’re using) and cut into quarters.
To make pretty basil ribbons, known as chiffonade, layer basil leaves one on top of the other and roll tightly. Using a very sharp knife make very thin horizontal cuts. Pull apart the ribbons. Otherwise simply chop the basil.
To crush the pistachios, place in a sandwich bag and seal well. Using a rolling pin or mallet, crush the pistachios. You will get different size pieces. That’s ok.
Remove as many sundried tomatoes as you think you’ll need and pat some of the oil off with a paper towel.
Now put all of these items plus the salt and pine nuts in separate bowls on a large tray.
Put the crackers on the tray as well as the containers of ricotta and cream cheese.
Have knives or spoons for everyone to spread the cheeses.
Fill the dates with ricotta. Top with pistachios and finishing salt. Set those as the center of the flower.
For the square crackers, spread ricotta cheese. Then top with a few strips of sundried tomatoes, basil and a few pine nuts. Set those around the dates.
For the round water crackers, spread cream then top with sliced olives, lemon zest and finishing salt.
Present to mom. Enjoy!