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A Mother's Day cooking lesson from my mom

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

If there's one important cooking lesson I learned from my mother, it's that you can always do little things to make a recipe you like into something even better. Thinking back to afternoons spent watching her at work in our home kitchen, I can see her always tasting and adjusting seasonings, often quickly improvising based on a seasonal ingredient or simply some sudden inspiration she had.

The results, needless to say, were always delicious. It's her early influence, and the delicious food both she and my grandmother made, that played a big role in my career path to becoming a chef.

So, I'm happy to share a new version of a recipe I often ate as a child in my mother's kitchen; one that often evolved based on available ingredients and my mother's whim. The recipe is for a traditional Austrian dish called Kaiserschmarren (literally, the Emperor's shreds or mess).

The name describes the fact that, fancy though it looks when it comes out of the oven, this fluffy hybrid of a souffle and a pancake is traditionally torn into rough pieces for serving. I'm sure that my mother loved to serve it to us children not only because it was delicious but also because of its versatility. She could make for dessert or as an economical one-dish supper.

In that versatile spirit, I would like to suggest that you prepare Kaiserschmarren for Mother's Day, as a breakfast or brunch main dish, a light supper or a special dessert.

Mother always served Kaiserschmarren with some sort of fresh fruit compote: apples in autumn or winter, for example, or plump berries in springtime or summer. That's one great example of the way she often improvised.


Following my mother's example, I've gone on evolving the Kaiserschmarren recipe she handed down to me. Over the years, I've added more eggs to make it even less like a pancake and more like a souffle. The recipe here even differs from a version I shared eight years ago, now containing a slightly higher proportion of egg whites to yolks for even fluffier results (plus a touch of cream of tartar to help stabilize those beaten whites), and a touch of vanilla for more flavor.

To make this version extra special, I've also decided to feature fresh cherries in the compote instead of the strawberries I often use. Right now, you should be able to find cherries in many farmers' markets and food stores; if not, you could always switch back to berries.

I hope you'll add this to your own recipe book once you've made it for Mother's Day. My mom would have been pleased to know it!



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