I lost an old friend to prostate cancer this year; maybe you did, too.
Today’s recipes are for all those still able to celebrate with their dads tomorrow, for those who can only remember on this Father’s Day, and especially for all those riding for dads today.
Black bean road trip tortas
These are maybe the best road sandwiches you will ever have. There’s no meat or dairy to make you sick and these won’t go skunky before lunch. Faint praise but the real story is the unbelievable flavour and crunch. These amounts make 4 substantial sandwiches.
1 can (15 oz.) black beans
4 large sandwich rolls, cut in half
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large radishes, thinly sliced
1 fresh lime
1 tbsp. liquid honey
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 cups shredded green cabbage
Rinse the black beans well in cold running water then spread on paper towels to dry. Mash with a fork and divide evenly into eight portions. Spread on both the bottoms and tops of each of the sandwich rolls.
Cut avocados in half around the middle. Twist them gently to pull apart. Pluck out the giant pit and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Slice and layer on top of the black beans on the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with red pepper, onion and radish slices. Stir together juice from the lime, honey and hot pepper sauce and toss with cabbage. Pile on top of the sliced veggies and cover with bean-coated roll tops. Wrap in plastic and keep as cool as is reasonable.
Short-crust raisin squares
My father used to love raisin squares, and one of my fondest memories was him at the picnic table in the backyard enjoying one of these. You can feel free to make them with canned filling if you like and they will be delicious, but for a special occasion — which Sunday definitely is — then you might consider making the filling from scratch. It is terrific.
Sweet pie crust is more forgiving than unsweetened, but if you really don’t want to attempt it, buy frozen pie crusts and thaw them, then cut to fit the pan. You could use frozen pastry and make this in a large, deep-dish pie plate if you really don’t want to fool around, but then they won’t be raisin squares.
These keep beautifully packed for a lunch on the road. At home you can spruce them up with a spoonful of whipped cream.
1-1/2 cups each dark and golden seedless raisins
1-1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup dark rum (or water)
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
9 tbsp. (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp.) very cold unsalted butter (no other), cut into small cubes
2 tsp. milk or cream
Prepare the filling first. Combine raisins, orange juice and brown sugar in a small, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Stir together dark rum and cornstarch and stir into raisin filling. Cook together another minute or so, just until thickened. Stir in vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface and allow to cool to room temperature.
For the crust, combine flour, icing sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse four or five times, just until you have pea-sized pieces of butter scattered throughout the flour. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork and add to food processor. Pulse a few times until mixture starts to clump together. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather up the bits as best you can into a flattened rectangle — don’t worry that it looks sort of scrappy right now. Chill two hours or longer if you have the time.
This dough is easier to roll out and manipulate on lightly floured parchment paper, but if you are an experienced baker by all means use any clean, cold, smooth surface. With a generously floured rolling pin, roll out half the pastry to fit into the bottom of a well-greased 9x11-inch rectangular baking dish — push it into the corners but don’t be too aggressive or you will toughen the dough.
Top with cooled raisin filling, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Roll out the second half of the dough a little bigger than the pan and lay gently on raisins — parchment paper will really help with that. Roll under the edges of the crust and press into the pan gently. Brush the top with the milk and bake at 400 F for about 40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown. Cool before cutting into 16 squares.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s.
Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.