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Invite mom to a no-mess brunch

By Tony Rosenfeld
Globe Correspondent / May 6, 2009

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Not every mom likes crumbs on the bed linens, so bring her coffee rather than breakfast in bed. In the kitchen, invite her to sit down for a family brunch. The meal should be bright and sunny, easy to produce without her direction, and equally simple to clean up.

Traditional brunch fare, with its quiches, pancakes, and potatoes, can be heavy. This menu should strike a lighter note. But you don't have to make spa food to achieve this. Take a couple of brunch staples and give them a makeover.

Rework a traditional potato hash with the recent arrival at the vegetable market - asparagus. Coffee cake, the favorite of all quick breads, is enhanced by sour cream and toasted almonds. Fruit salad, often left to the folks at the supermarket, can achieve dressy status with fresh mint, a drizzle of lime juice, and honey.

The foundation of the brunch is the hash. Pair the asparagus with potatoes and small cubes of ham. Blanch them separately so the green spears maintain their vibrant color and then saute the whole mixture together until crisp and browned. Top with over-easy eggs and sprinkle with fresh thyme. Fruit salad is usually a large bowl of diced fruit, not a bad thing when the selections are varied and ripe. This time of year, arrange slices of melon on a platter and let the fruit sit for a few minutes before garnishing with strawberries. The coffee cake is topped with an aromatic streusel and baked in a rectangular pan, so it's easy to lift out squares. It actually improves if made a day or two ahead. Add bagels, smoked fish, sliced meats, muffins, or crusty breads to stretch this menu for six to serve eight.

And that clean kitchen? Prepare the bulk of the meal the day before, so on Sunday morning Mom can celebrate in a mess- and stress-free environment.