Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
‘Those Winter Sundays’ by Robert Hayden (1913-1980)
Father’s Day is a time to honor those unsung heroes of the family who go to work early and come home late in an effort to support the family. The first observance of Father’s Day was held July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W. Va. It was probably inspired by the Mother’s Day celebration just two months earlier in Grafton, W. Va. But it was also influenced by the death of 361 men in the Monongah Mining Disaster in December 1907. Of the miners who perished, 250 were fathers who left about 1,000 children with just one parent and little means of support.
But Father’s Day has never reached the heights of Mother’s Day in the commercial world. We give our fathers a colorful tie, a sleeve of golf balls or a bottle of Dewars. And restaurants aren’t swamped with people taking their father out to dinner on his special day. It wasn’t even a national holiday until 1966, when Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
One way to show your love for your father is to take over the grill for the day and cook Dad a gourmet dinner. Here is a classic menu that might work:
Roasted Baltimore Crab Cakes
Purchase a one-pound can of pasteurized fresh jumbo lump crabmeat. Spread out the crab on a foil-lined sheet pan and pick through it for any cartilage.
Pulse about 15 saltines in the food processor to make coarse crumbs. Measure out 1 cup and sprinkle them over the crabmeat.
In a large bowl combine 1 egg, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, a dash of Tabasco, the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons minced chives. Add the crabmeat to the bowl and very gently fold the ingredients together without breaking up the lumps of crab.
Using a 1/4-cup measure, scoop out the crab and mold it into a cake about 3/4” thick.
Line a sheet pan with foil and spray it with no-stick. Place the crab cakes on the sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon butter to a sauté pan along with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence. Stir in 1/2 cup panko and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle this crumb mixture over the crab cakes.
At service time, place the crab cakes in a 400-degree oven and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with one (or all) of these three sauces:
Remoulade: Combine in the bowl of a food processor: the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup minced shallot, 2 tablespoons minced celery, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon horseradish, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Process until smooth and taste for seasoning.
Tartar: Combine in a small bowl 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons minced dill pickle, 2 tablespoons minced shallot, the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon.
Avocado: Combine in the bowl of a food processor: the flesh of 1 avocado, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, the zest and juice of 1 lime, half of a jalapeño pepper (without seeds) minced, 1/4 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth and taste for seasoning.
Chargrilled Sirloin Steak
with Juniper Berries and Gin
Buy a USDA Choice or Prime boneless top sirloin steak of about 2 1/2 pounds (for 4 people). Place the steak in a shallow casserole.
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup dry gin with 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1/4 cup minced shallots. Pour this marinade over the steak and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Make a spice mixture of 2 tablespoons juniper berries, 2 tablespoons whole allspice and 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns. Mash the spices in a mortar and pestle or grind them coarsely in a spice grinder. Stir in 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt and set aside.
Close to service time, remove the steak from the marinade and dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the steak and let it sit at room temperature about 30 minutes.
Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, letting it reduce by half. Prepare the charcoal grill and wait until the coals begin to turn white. Cook the steak to desired doneness over high heat.
Add 1/2 cup heavy cream to the reduced marinade and continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Strain the sauce and check for seasoning.
Let the steak rest a few minutes before carving. Serve with the sauce on the side.
Twice-Baked PotatoES with
Goat Cheese and Broccolini
Rinse 4 large Idaho baking potatoes and spray with no-stick. Place them in a 400-degree oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Rinse 1 bunch of broccolini and trim off the stem ends. Blanch the broccolini in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and chill quickly by immersing in ice water. Chop the broccolini and set aside.
Let 4 ounces local goat cheese come to room temperature (I like it with garlic and herbs for this recipe).
While still hot, cut off the top of each potato and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving a quarter-inch wall.
Combine the potato, chopped broccolini, goat cheese and 1/4 cup sour cream in a bowl. Break up the potato mixture with a fork and toss together with a spatula. Do not overmix. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. Add a little milk if the mixture seems too stiff.
Fill the potatoes loosely with the mixture and reheat in a 400-degree oven about 20 minutes before service. Place the lids back on the potatoes for garnish.
Green Beans Almondine
Trim the ends from 1 pound of fresh green beans and blanch them in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water to cool. Drain and set aside.
Toast 1/4 cup sliced almonds in a dry sauté pan at medium heat. Add the string beans along with 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook at medium heat for 5 minutes and serve.
Combine 1 cup of strawberries and 1 tablespoon sugar in the bowl of a food processor and let stand for 10 minutes before processing until smooth. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Measure 2 tablespoons cold water into a large bowl and sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
Place a small saucepan on the stove and add 6 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons water and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar dissolves and continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until soft ball stage is reached, about 4 minutes.
Add 2 egg whites to the gelatin mixture and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the hot sugar syrup to the egg-white mixture, beating first at medium speed, then at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl beat 1/2 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold the cream and the strawberries into the egg white mixture with a rubber spatula and transfer to 4 dessert glasses. Chill for 2 hours or more. At service time, garnish with a sliced strawberry and a leaf of mint.
Note: This recipe was prepared by Ruth Metcalf of Southold.
John Ross, chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. For contact information, go to his website, www.chefjohnross.com.