Honor thy mother with spicy pot roast, apple pie sundae

My mother was a fearless cook, diving into recipes, ingredients and cuisines that were unfamiliar to her, almost always with delicious results. Her approach helped to shape my own eclectic cooking style.

In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, May 8, I’ve taken a few of her favorites and given them a new spin. I think Mom would have approved of trying something different.

Pot roast was one of Mom’s specialties. I’ve used her basic technique but flavored it with berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix with chili peppers, cumin, cardamom, ginger, fenugreek and other seasonings. It is available online and at specialty and other markets, including certified kosher brands. (Or use the alternative below the recipe.) Because berbere varies in heat, you may want to start with the lesser amount and add more to taste as the meat cooks.

Mom had a major sweet tooth. One favorite was apple pie with ice cream. I combine the two in Mother’s Day Sundaes with an easy-to-assemble Apple Pie Ice Cream. Use nondairy ingredients for a parve version.


Pot Roast with Ethiopian Spices

Serves 4-6

  • 1-2 Tbs. berbere (or see below)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2-3 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water plus additional as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste, optional

Mix berbere with sugar and rub on all sides of meat. Let sit for 30 minutes. Heat oil in large, heavy pot on medium-high heat. Brown meat on all sides, remove. Add onions and sauté until beginning to soften, stirring up any browned-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and ginger. Sauté until garlic is golden. Add tomato paste. Stir in stock. Bring to simmer. Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Return to simmer. Cover. Reduce heat to keep at simmer and cook, turning occasionally, until the meat is exceedingly tender, about 2-4 hours (timing may vary). Add liquid if needed.

Once the meat is tender, remove from the pot. Let cool and slice or shred as desired. If the sauce is watery, cook uncovered until reduced. Taste sauce. Add salt if needed. Before serving, return sliced or shredded meat to sauce in pot. Cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Alternative Spice Mix: Mix together these ground spices: 2 Tbs. chili seasoning powder, 1 Tbs. paprika, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. each cardamom, dried ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, black pepper and allspice. Store airtight.


Apple Pie Ice Cream

Serves 8

  • 21 oz. can apple pie filling and topping
  • 4 cups (about 2 pints) vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Dash ground cloves

Place a metal or glass bowl in freezer. Keep chilled until ready to use. Measure out 2 cups of apple pie filling with sauce (reserve rest for sundae topping, see below). Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Soften ice cream until just able to stir. Place in chilled bowl. Mix in apple pieces with sauce, cinnamon and cloves. Serve immediately or place, covered, in freezer until just firm enough to scoop. For best results, do not make in advance. Store leftovers in freezer. Remove from freezer 20-40 minutes before serving.

Mother’s Day Sundaes: Chop remaining apple pie filling into ¼-inch pieces. Have ready 1/2 cup cookie or graham cracker crumbs. For each sundae, scoop 1/8 of the apple pie ice cream in dish. Top with 1-2 tsp. caramel, chocolate or hot fudge topping. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. cookie crumbs. Top with 1/8th of the chopped apple filling.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at [email protected].