It makes me sad that I don’t have a dad to cook for tomorrow, but I remember how much pleasure a great Father’s Day dinner brought to both my father and my stepfather for all the years we enjoyed their presence at our tables. If I were lucky enough to have one of them back, here’s the meal I would prepare, because they shared a love of good food and family that is well worth celebrating on their special day.
Favourite Barbecued Ribs
I can’t think of anything that dads like better than barbecue. Meat on a bone will be a welcome choice, and this recipe meets the challenge in every way, with a rich, sticky, finger-licking sauce as a bonus. I would allow three or four ribs per person, but you have to judge your guests since you know them best.
5 lbs. beef back ribs (10 to 12 ribs)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. each ground cumin and allspice
1 tsp. each salt, freshly ground black pepper and dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 cup rib-style barbecue sauce
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. jalapeno hot sauce (or any amount and flavour you like)
With the tip of a sharp knife, cut under the edge of the thin membrane covering the underside of the ribs. When you can grab it with your fingers — use a paper towel or clean cloth if it’s too slippery to get a grip — pull it upwards to get it started then away from the ribs to remove it completely. If you’re lucky it will come off in one complete sheet; usually I have a little bit of trimming to do. Combine granulated sugar, cumin, allspice, salt, black pepper, dry mustard and cayenne pepper. Rub mixture vigorously all over both sides of the ribs. Place on the lowest heat spot of the barbecue and cook slowly for about 3 hours, flipping and rotating from time to time to grill evenly. If you are roasting these in an oven, do so at about 250 F. If your grill can’t deliver a low temperature over a long period of time, then I would suggest you use the oven. Alternatively, wrap the ribs fairly loosely in foil for the first 2 hours.
Bring the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, onion, garlic and hot sauce to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Brush ribs with sauce and continue to grill for another 20 minutes, adding more sauce every 5 minutes. Ribs should be tender but not literally falling off the bone — a little bite left in the meat is a good thing. Allow to rest 15 minutes and slather on any remaining sauce before serving.
Lobster Potato Salad
This is the most luxurious salad I can think of for a special occasion. There’s no bad version of it but I am always looking for variations to dress up an already elegant ingredient. If lobster is not on your menu, this is almost as delicious with just about any seafood you like, including canned tuna. This amount serves 4 generously.
6 strips bacon, diced
1 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed
2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp. sherry or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. each chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley and dill
1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, finely diced
2 hardboiled eggs, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 lb. lobster meat, coarsely chopped
Fry bacon until crisp in a large, heavy frying pan; remove and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 2 tbsp. of the bacon fat. Add potatoes and boiling water to frying pan, cover and cook 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Remove cover and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated and potatoes are starting to spit and sizzle. Let that continue for a minute then stir in the vinegar. Bobble around the potatoes in the bacon fat and vinegar mixture for a minute or two. Remove potatoes and set aside to cool. Scrape any remaining liquid in the frying pan into a large bowl, getting all the brown bits because they have tons of flavour. Whisk in mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper. Quarter the potatoes and add to dressing along with green onions, celery, eggs and lobster. Toss gently — you don’t want to beat up the eggs too much — and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately in crisp green lettuce leaves. Sprinkle crisp bacon on top just before serving.
Glazed Coffee Loaf
Time for a grown-up dessert that will cause hearts to flutter — literally, if you serve this with strong coffee. Delicious and decadent, this is the perfect ending to a special occasion meal. This loaf is small but small servings are best — just trust me on this one.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp. instant espresso or regular coffee
1/4 cup each boiling water and Tia Maria liqueur
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate Coffee Glaze:
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp. Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sift together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Melt butter in a small pot. Dissolve instant espresso in boiling water and whisk, along with Tia Maria, into the melted butter. Bring just to a boil, remove from heat, and set aside to cool. Whisk together cooled Tia Maria mixture, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry, stirring until combined. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean. Allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. For the glaze, bring whipping cream and Tia Maria nearly to a boil in a small pot or in the microwave. Pour over chocolate chips and stir gently until melted and smooth. Pour over cooled cake and serve immediately or chill to set the glaze. This cake is beautiful as is, but downright fancy served with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream and fresh fruit or berries.
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.