Still searching for a Mother's Day gift?

We have seven cookbooks and one memoir to recommend. Looking to cook your way into her good graces? Here are four recipes to impress any mom, from savory waffles to tender Vietnamese beef.

Ham and Cheese Waffles

Makes 4 (7-inch).

Note: The number of waffles this recipe yields will depend on the size and style of your waffle maker. From “Cook’s Illustrated All Time Best Brunch,” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen.

• 2 c. (10 oz.) all-purpose flour

• 1 tbsp. sugar

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. dry mustard

• 1 3/4 c. buttermilk

• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

• 1 egg

• 3 oz. sliced deli ham, chopped fine

• 3 oz. (3/4 c.) Cheddar, Gruyère or Fontina cheese, shredded

• Vegetable oil spray


Adjust rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mustard together in large bowl.

In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter and egg together.

Make a well in the center of flour mixture, pour buttermilk mixture into well and gently whisk together until just incorporated with few lumps remaining (do not overmix). Gently fold in ham and cheese with rubber spatula.

Meanwhile, heat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions and spray with vegetable oil spray. Add batter to waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 550 Fat 23 g Sodium 1,330 mg

Carbohydrates 64 g Saturated fat 13 g Added sugars 3 g

Protein 22 g Cholesterol 115 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, 1 carb, 2 medium-fat protein, 2 fat.


Ricotta Spoonable

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: This can be made year-round, changing the herbs according to what you have. It’s especially good in the summer on a table with small plates of good stuff. Use it to dollop on a variety of dishes (frittata, vegetables, a cracker or sliced baguette). Stir it into pasta to make a dinner or pair with roasted tomatoes, charred lemons or sliced cucumbers on dark bread. It’s best the day it is made, but you can keep it for up to 2 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Stir well before using. From “Everyday Dorie,” by Dorie Greenspan.

• 2 c. whole-milk ricotta, drained if there’s liquid (see below)

• 1 large lemon, or more to taste

• 3 tbsp. minced shallots, rinsed and patted dry

• 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

• About 1/2 tsp. fleur del sel or 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

• Freshly ground pepper

• 1/3 c. minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, tarragon, thyme, cilantro and/or basil


For the ricotta: If there’s liquid in the ricotta container, it’s best to drain the cheese. Line a strainer with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth and place the strainer over a bowl, spoon in the ricotta, pull the cheesecloth around the cheese and weight it with a plate or a can of something. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the ricotta drain for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

For the spreadable: Put the ricotta (drained, if necessary) in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of the lemon over it, then halve and squeeze the lemon and blend in the juice.

Stir in the shallots, green onions, olive oil, salt and a healthy pinch of pepper. Stir in the herbs. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before adjusting for salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons:

Calories 65 Fat 5 g Sodium 63 mg

Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 3 g Added sugars 0 g

Protein 4 g Cholesterol 16 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 ½ high-fat protein.

Soba With Edamame

Serves 4.

Note: Watercress is sold bunched like mature spinach, as well as “live” with roots attached; either type works well in this recipe. Grab two bunches if the stems are wispy or three if the stems are thick. You will want to discard any stems that are tough and fibrous. Do not thaw the edamame before using it in the recipe. From “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights,” by Christopher Kimball.

• 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

• 6 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

• 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. chili-garlic sauce

• 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

• 12 oz. dried soba noodles

• 10-oz. (2 c.) bag frozen shelled edamame (see Note)

• 2 or 3 bunches watercress, stemmed (about 5 c.; see Note)

• 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil


To toast sesame seeds, place in a dry saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they become fragrant and start to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and sesame oil.

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the soba and cook according to package directions, or until tender. Add the frozen edamame during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

Add the watercress to the hot pot, then return the noodles and edamame to the pot. Drizzle with the oil and toss. Add the soy mixture and toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 420 Fat 11 g Sodium 1,180 mg

Carbohydrates 62 g Saturated fat 1 g Added sugars 1 g

Protein 24 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 14 g

Exchanges per serving: 4 starch, 1 ½ medium-fat protein.

Shaking Beef

Serves 4.

Note: This is a special-occasion dish in Vietnam. Choose well-marbled beef. From “Vietnamese Food Every Day,” by Andrea Nguyen.

Marinated beef:

• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar

• 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

• 1/2 tsp. recently ground black pepper

• 2 garlic cloves, put through a press or minced and mashed

• 1 1/2 tbsp. oyster sauce, or more

• 1 tbsp. soy sauce

• 1 tsp. fish sauce

• 1 1/2 lb. beefsteak, such as bottom sirloin (tri-tip) or New York strip, trimmed and cut into 3/4- to 1-in. cubes

• 1 to 2 tbsp. canola oil


• 1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion or shallot

• 1 1/2 tsp. sugar or honey

• 2 pinches fine sea salt

• About 4 grinds black pepper

• 1 1/2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar

• 4 c. lightly packed watercress, baby arugula or other salad greens

• 1/4 c. fresh mint, basil or other herb leaves, torn, optional

• 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, halved, optional


To prepare the beef: In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce. Taste and, if a saltier finish is needed, add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more oyster sauce. Add the beef, toss to coat well, and let marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Keep the canola oil nearby.

To make the salad: Rinse the onion in a strainer under cold running water for about 10 seconds, then set aside.

In large bowl (suitable for tossing the salad), whisk together 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, salt, 4 grinds pepper, vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Add the onion, top with the greens and add the mint and tomatoes, if using; but don’t toss the salad.

Set a large skillet that can get very hot over high heat, and add enough of the canola oil to film the bottom. When the oil is shimmering, carefully add the beef, spreading it out over 1 layer, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan every 30 to 60 seconds to sear beef on all sides; it should be medium-rare. (If you want to minimize mess, cover the pan with a splatter guard, and flip the meat with a spatula.) Remove from heat.

Quickly toss salad and transfer everything to a platter or serving dish. Pile the cooked beef and its juices on top, and serve immediately. At the table, ceremoniously combine all the ingredients.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 255 Fat 12 g Sodium 300 mg

Carbohydrates 4 g Saturated fat 2 g Added sugars 2 g

Protein 34 g Cholesterol 85 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 4 ½ lean protein, ½ fat.