What's the best recipe you got from your mom?

We want to hear the story behind the best recipe you got from your mom (or another mother figure). Did she teach you to make it? Or do you only have the recipe card and you've had to muddle through perfecting it over the years? If the recipe is on Food52 please share a link (and if not, maybe upload it?)! Many thanks!

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29 Comments

MMH May 13, 2017
My mom is gone. She was a horrible cook - I mean horrible. The irony is that she was a home economics teacher - from the era when cooking was mixes and cans and preprepared items. I do not have 1 recipe of hers that I would ever make. My 16 year old daughter has grown up with the opposite - gourmet Meals, ethnic foods, fresh produce etc. But she thinks Grandma's pigs in a blanket from canned crescent dough and hot dogs are divine.
 
M.McAwesome May 5, 2017
The easiest recipe for ground beef tacos. :D I have tried writing it out here: https://food52.com/recipes/25373-grandma-s-easiest-ground-beef-tacos
 
scruz May 4, 2017
well, it doesn't matter how many times i followed her recipes, they never turned out the same, so i'll just miss my mom for her cooking among other reasons. but, i loved her simple potato salad and her giblet turkey stuffing. her hands would smell all savory after making the latter on thanksgiving eve. she was a superlative baker, which i am too sloppy with instructions to be any good at, but she loved, as did we, her 5 inch tall lemon meringue pie from our lemon tree in the backyard, her bourbon soaked fruit cake thin sliced so the candied fruit looked like a cathedral window. she did leave me, at my request, my grandmother's italian meatball/wedding soup. she was always tinkering until she got it right and would write in the margins of recipes. unfortunately, someone else snagged the cookbook. never got the recipe for the steak tartare she would serve me, as a little kid, when i got home from elementary school but have fond memories of that and the nutritious made from scratch school lunches. miss her a lot. happy mother's day to all.
 
Nancy May 4, 2017
Beautifully said!
Right, 😚 happy mother's day to all!
 
creamtea May 4, 2017
These yeasted sour cream cinnamon twists are delicious: https://food52.com/recipes/39039-sour-cream-cinnamon-twists?preview=true
 
ChefJune May 4, 2017
It would be impossible to say what is the best, or even the favorite recipe I got from my mom, because there are so many. At least a couple of my favorites are here on Food52 already: https://food52.com/recipes/11345-frosted-coffee-fingers; https://food52.com/recipes/8285-orange-honey-crescents.
 
Windischgirl May 4, 2017
My mother's signature creation is Dobos Torta, an 8 layer cake filled with chocolate custard buttercream, and which appears on the table for any special occasion. She clipped the recipe from Gourmet Magazine back in the 70`s.
She's always been an anxious cook (her mom, Anyu, was the kitchen rock star), but she did introduce me to the glories of Gourmet Magazine and I'd help her prep for dinner parties during my youth. We both grieved when Gourmet folded.
 
luvcookbooks May 4, 2017
Olga, a Chocolate Pudding Cake from the 1960s. My mom made this cake, a cake top w a warm pudding bottom, in the 1960s and then somehow it fell out of her repertoire. We were small and it was quick. Later she went on to more elaborate desserts, like carved watermelon fruit salad boats,palmier s glances, French apple tarts, chocolate mousse, creme brûlée... when I had my own small children, I yearnedfor Olga and my mom came through with the recipe. I love the cookbooks and recipes that I inherited from her. It's hard to pick a favorite, but this one links us as mom's.
 
caninechef May 4, 2017
I do not have much in actual recipes from my mom. I was never a baker and I think the only time she actually used a recipe was to bake. Even then it was usually pies which she could make in her sleep.

Perhaps my all-time favorite dessert was a peach cake she made with a cookie like crust topped with peaches baked in custard. I lamented not having that recipe! Not being a baker, I never tried to recreate it. Maybe 10 years ago I discovered Arthur Schwartz’s recipe for Peach Crostata. Not 100 % my Mom’s version but close enough that with a bit of tinkering I recreated the best dessert of my childhood. I have no idea where this recipe originated but my Mom died well before the internet and cooking sites so I know she did not get it from Arthur. It looks like Arthur’s food blog “The Food Maven” is no more alas but I did just find his recipe at http://www.food.com/recipe/peach-crostata-377024

To make it just like my mom’s: cut the sugar a bit, use only cream ( no yogurt or sour cream), slice the peaches and lay close together, flavor with nutmeg not cinnamon.
 
SKK May 3, 2017
Cook with love and attention. Do not cook if you are upset, it makes for not great food.
 
Elle T. May 3, 2017
Butter tarts! But when I changed the pastry from a lard one to an all-butter one I caused a family rift.
 
I cook a lot of recipes from my mom and both of my grandmothers (many of which I have posted on Food52), but the one that I return to again and again is Sunday Pork Ragu.

This was my favorite dish growing up. I first tasted it in my great grandmother's kitchen. She taught it to my paternal grandmother, who then taught it to my mother, who finally taught it to me. All of these women put their special stamp on this recipe. My paternal grandmother's sauce was thinner. My mom's sauce contained more tomatoes and was meatier with more sausage and bones. She sometimes would even add meatballs to it.

When I first started tinkering with this Sunday ragu recipe, my mom and I talked a lot about which methods yielded the best results. (My mom wrote down her version of the recipe for me, but my grandmother and great grandmother passed down this recipe verbally and by having the next generation watch them cook it.) My mom and I discussed should the sausage be removed from the casing? Should the sausage be sweet or hot? Should the sausage be cooked in the oven or the stovetop? What cut of bones work best in the sauce? There have been times in my life when neck bones, which this recipe calls for, have been difficult to source. (Pork spare ribs or side ribs are an acceptable substitute.)

I have played a bit with the original recipe. (I prefer to use less tomato paste than my mom does and I use fresh herbs -- her version uses dried.) And even on the days when I try to make this sauce exactly as my mom does, it still doesn't taste precisely like hers. But regardless, it is still a much-treasured heirloom recipe and always reminds me of happy, chaotic multi-generational Sunday dinners. https://food52.com/recipes/11544-sunday-pork-ragu
 
BerryBaby May 3, 2017
Wish there were 'recipes'. My mother, grandmother, aunts, all cooked with the palm of their hand as a measuring device, a pinch of this, a shake of that, they always got it right and nothing was written down. Cooking just came naturally and over the years I've just had to 'figure it out'. Never as good as their pinch of this and that, but pretty close!
 
Nancy May 3, 2017
Can't pick just one. She was tops on roasts, on baking (cakes, cookies, pies, her blueberry muffins in season), on keeping old traditional dishes (chicken soup, chopped liver, gefilte fish - a production, but she did it once or twice a year) and trying new ones as they came along. Mostly I learned carefulness, mastery, abundance, being willing to experiment.
Unexpectedly, two dishes stand out. A portobello mushroom main dish (whole mushrooms, spinach, garlic, tons of fresh herbs) she found and mastered when I went vegetarian even though she couldn't really approve or understand the switch And an odd 60s jello dessert we had for holidays...it was called Broken Glass Jello and had three flavors, cut into cubes, that peekd out from an inedible oil dessert whip product (it shall live in anonymous infamy). She made it for all our holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving) and I thought I hated it. But later, I remade it with real cream and pure fruit juices and it was a gem.
 
Megan May 3, 2017
Something called apple dopple cake. It's a basic apple cake made with oil instead of butter and chunks of apple throughout. After it comes out of the oven, you jab it with a big fork and pour a butter/brown sugar/cream mixture over the top and let it soak in. She always made it in a tube pan. It seems every fall there is a new apple cake recipe to try, but I've never had one as good as apple dopple cake. I have no idea where she got the recipe!
 
ChefJune May 4, 2017
Have you posted that recipe here on Food52? If so, where is it? and if not, will you please post it? Thanks. :)
 
Jr0717 May 2, 2017
Her breadcrumbies (https://food52.com/recipes/46873-breadcrumbies), beef stew (https://food52.com/recipes/64591-momma-s-beef-stew), Sunday gravy (that's been quite a learning experience, but I've just about got it down!) and most importantly, how to always make life taste good: keep it simple, do it with love, stay confident. And listen to your mother!
 
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2017
I am sold on breadcrumbies on the name alone!
 
sdebrango May 2, 2017
I have gotten so many recipes from Mom but this is my favorite. https://food52.com/recipes/11618-tender-yellow-cake
 
creamtea May 3, 2017
Oh yes!!! ^^^^
We use this for Boston Cream Pie :)
 
Helen B. May 2, 2017
A chocolate cake recipe that she got from her mother.
 
Panfusine May 2, 2017
Her recipes for Sambar, Rasam & other spice blends for making all the traditional South Indian dishes I consider comfort food. For some reason I never got around to cooking South Indian food ever, preferring foods from other regions of India. she insisted that I write down these and for some reason I agreed, not realizing then that she would be no more 10 days later. THe most used recipe is at home is that for the lentil spice blend chutney powder that her grandkids cannot do without.
https://food52.com/recipes/13465-milaga-podi-the-south-indian-version-of-duqqa
 
inpatskitchen May 2, 2017
Gran's Gifted Cheesecake https://food52.com/recipes/25541-gran-s-gifted-cheesecake is probably the best recipe from mom.but I did have a time figuring out the recipe from her recipe card after she passed. I'd always watch her make it but never did it myself until she was gone. It took a few tries but was well worth it!
 
louisez May 2, 2017
Most of my best recipes (plural -- can't pick just one) are from my grandmother Mary (some of which are on this site, mostly listed as Grandma Mary's [whatever]. She generously and very patiently taught me how to make them, and patience was required since I insisted on getting measurements for everything, and she never used a recipe for or measured anything. She seemed mystified by my interest. She was a quiet woman, and I didn't learn about how she felt about all those cooking sessions till after she died: she left me her favorite wooden spoon and her rolling pin, along with her hopes that I would use them well. I hope I have.
 
creamtea May 2, 2017
I couldn't choose just one:

First of all, her cherry-crumb bars, which I get a lot of saves on: https://food52.com/recipes/14877-sossie-beile-s-little-cherry-crumb-bars
Her honey cake, which includes orange zest is sweet and mellow, not at all bitter like some: https://food52.com/recipes/25363-gentle-orange-scented-gingered-honey-cake

Her scrumptious ice-cream "cake": https://food52.com/recipes/25452-mrs-owen-s-unchurned-ice-cream-cake

Her noodle kugel, also mellowed with orange zest: https://food52.com/recipes/25400-sweet-lokshen-kugel
 
healthierkitchen May 2, 2017
https://food52.com/recipes/4213-grandma-evie-s-jewish-penicillin. This one is probably my most used recipe from my mother, though I also like the fricassee I wrote about last month. I use it for stock as well. She taught me to make it, never written down till I did it here some years back. I don't use my own recipe, though, and still cook it like she did, by feel. But the best use of it, after using it for matzo ball soup or stock, is to bake a potato in the oven long enough for the skin to get crispy, and then mash in one or two of the soup carrots to the flesh, and moisten with a little of the soup. If I wasn't feeling well as a kid, that was the best meal.
 
HalfPint May 2, 2017
My mother's somewhat famous dipping sauce, nuoc cham. It took a long time to get the recipe because Mom, as with a majority of her cooking, didn't use exact measurements. It's in my sizzling Vietnamese crepe recipe, https://food52.com/recipes/16982-vietnamese-sizzling-crepe-banh-xeo
 
Joy H. May 2, 2017
I've posted a handful of my mom's recipes on this site, but I don't know how I could possibly pick my favorite or choose one as "the best". I have a pretty good story though. My mom is pretty much a self-taught cook and doesn't really have any recipes written down anywhere. So 9 years ago I decided to try to get my favorite ones down in writing, take pictures of them, and then create a cookbook out of them for her birthday. When I went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year I hounded her for exact measurements and directions, and I think she got a little annoyed, haha. But when she got the cookbook in the mail she called me and was crying out of happiness, so I think it was all worth it. Having all those recipes and pictures also spurred me to start my own food blog!

https://food52.com/recipes/20576-my-mom-s-taiwanese-beef-noodle-soup
https://food52.com/recipes/27801-hua-juan-steamed-scallion-buns
https://food52.com/recipes/32405-my-mom-s-pi-jiu-ya-beer-braised-duck
https://food52.com/recipes/25615-my-mom-s-taiwanese-sticky-rice
https://food52.com/recipes/62173-my-mom-s-beef-and-broccoli-stir-fry
 
drbabs May 2, 2017
White cookies. https://food52.com/recipes/2233-everyone-s-favorite-white-cookies

These were the reason I splurged and bought a Kitchen Aid mixer (which I still have--35 years later). Making white cookies that all my friends loved and requested made me feel like I could actually bake, and started what has turned out to be a lifelong love of baking. Thanks, Mom!
 
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