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A traditional Austrian dinner of boiled beef and vegetables makes for a simple Mother's Day meal. (Credit: John Ross)
A traditional Austrian dinner of boiled beef and vegetables makes for a simple Mother’s Day meal. (Credit: John Ross)

Anna Jarvis honored the memory of her mother, Ann, at a church service in West Virginia in 1908, ushering in the celebration we call “Mother’s Day.” She believed all mothers were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” In 1914, president Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day a national holiday, to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

Later, Anna became resentful of the commercialization of Mother’s Day by Hallmark cards and other companies. If she were alive today she could see the millions of dollars spent on flowers, chocolates, gifts, dinner at a restaurant — in addition to those Hallmark cards.

But one of the nicest things we can do to honor the mothers in our lives is to cook dinner for them. Here is a traditional Austrian dinner that is delicious and easy enough for the non-cook in the family to prepare.


Austrian pancakes with smoked salmon (kaiserschmarren)

Boiled beef with apple horseradish and vegetables (tafelspitz)

Linzer torte

(serves up to 8 people)

Austrian Pancakes

Combine 1/3 cup buckwheat flour, 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.

Clarify 1 stick of unsalted butter and set aside.

Whisk together in another bowl 1 extra-large egg, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk and 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter. Whisk this mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.

At service time, heat a sauté pan and coat with clarified butter. Drop in enough batter to form a 4-inch pancake and cook until bubbles form on top. Turn and cook until brown, about 2 minutes total.

Repeat until batter is used up, making 8 pancakes.

To serve, place pancake on a small plate and put a dollop of sour cream on top. Put a 1-ounce piece of smoked salmon on the sour cream.

Mash the flesh of 1 avocado with a teaspoon of lemon juice and place on top of the smoked salmon. Garnish the plate with a sprig of dill and serve.

Note: This recipe was prepared by Jay Miller of Cutchogue.

Boiled Beef

I chose a 4-pound boneless chuck roast for this recipe because of its internal fat and the fact that it is easy to find at the meat counter. (The traditional recipe calls for a cut from the rump in the hindquarter.)

Begin by cutting an unpeeled Spanish onion in half crosswise and placing it cut side down in a very hot sauté pan. Let it blacken for about 5 minutes.

Put the chuck roast in a stock pot and cover with water. Add the blackened onion and 1 pound of beef marrow bones, bring to a boil and skim the surface.

Make a bouquet garni by tying together the white part of 1 leek, 6 parsley stems, 3 sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Add this to the pot along with 1 tablespoon juniper berries, 2 teaspoons allspice berries and 1 teaspoon peppercorns. Simmer slowly for 3 hours.

Remove the meat and test for tenderness by inserting a cook’s fork into the meat. If it goes in easily, the meat is tender. If it resists the fork, continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

Once it’s removed, cover the meat with foil and keep warm.

Strain the broth into another soup pot and place on medium heat.

Peel 1 bunch of small carrots and cut 2-inch pieces of turnips, celery root and kohlrabi. Add the vegetables to the strained broth and continue simmering until vegetables are fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

Trim 1 bunch of asparagus and steam separately.

Boil 1 pound of new potatoes in another saucepan.

Cut the beef into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve in shallow pasta dishes with the meat in the bottom surrounded by vegetables and potatoes. Ladle broth over the meat.

Serve puréed spinach and apple horseradish sauce on the side.

Note: If desired, serve the broth as a soup course along with the vegetables, then serve the meat with the potatoes and spinach.

Apple Horseradish Sauce

Peel 4 Granny Smith apples and put the peels in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water to the saucepan along with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cinnamon stick and 3 whole cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it steep for another 15 minutes.

Grate the apples into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater. Stir in 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish and pour 1/2 cup of the apple liquid into the mixture. Cool and serve on the side.

Spinach Purée

Purchase 1 bag of local field spinach and remove the stems. Wash thoroughly in cold water and drain.

In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 1/2 cup diced shallots and 2 teaspoons minced garlic.

Continue cooking and add 1/2 cup heavy cream and 2 sprigs of thyme. Let this reduce by half before removing the thyme and adding the spinach. Cook another 3 minutes, covered, and remove.

Purée the spinach mixture in a food processor and season with 1 teaspoon salt, a dash of cayenne pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Serve separately alongside the beef.

Linzer Torte

For dessert, a linzer torte. (Credit: John Ross)
For dessert, a linzer torte. (Credit: John Ross)

Begin by creaming 1 1/2 sticks of butter with 1 cup confectioner’s sugar using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer. Beat in 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk, reserving the white.

Toast 1 3/4 cups sliced almonds and grind in a food processor.

Add the ground almonds to the butter mixture along with 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Form this mixture into a stiff dough and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the disc on a floured surface and separate one-third of the dough.

Roll out the larger piece into a circle to fit an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, patching any holes along the way.

Roll out the small piece and cut it into 1/2-inch strips.

Prepare the filling by combining 1/2 cup raspberry preserves with 1/3 cup currant jam. Stir in the zest and juice of 1 lemon and pour into the pastry crust.

Weave the strips of dough across the top in a lattice pattern or just place them across overlapping each other. Brush the top with the reserved egg white and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top and cool before serving.

Note: This recipe was prepared by Ruth Metcalf of Southold, using a recipe written by Ruth Reichl.