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#1. Make sure it's paired with something good.
Here's an idea: Instead of going to a crowded restaurant for an expensive meal, where overworked waitstaff serve overpriced Father's Day specials, how about you do yourself and the dad in your life a favor and prepare a home-cooked meal? It's not about your cooking skills—it's about the love, and your effort will be appreciated regardless of the outcome.
Still, if you have the slightest hesitation about cooking, let me help you out with five ways to improve your chance of success and ensure that your father and you get the most out of your meal.
1. Start with booze. Said the great gastronome Brillat-Savarin, "Alcohol is the monarch of liquids." Whether it's a Bloody with breakfast, a libation at lunch or a Sancerre at supper, treat your dad like royalty. (And if you really can't cook, he'll be less likely to notice.)
2. Stay tried and true. Father's Day calls for tradition, and more importantly, for precisely the foods your father loves most. That said, although it seems obvious, play to your strengths. If you're a master of meat and that's his thing, go for it. This is not the time for overly ambitious meal-making or complicated cooking. So avoid new ingredients and fussy recipes. Good food is simple food.
3. Pick a meal, any meal. And make that one memorable. It doesn't have to be a multicourse dinner. You could prepare a "bottomless" breakfast/brunch or a long, luxurious lunch. Your job is the upgrade. If your dad is a pancake lover, for example, you might consider my Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes (below). All you need is real maple syrup (warmed up is a nice touch), a rasher of bacon or other breakfast meat on the side, and a pot of strong coffee. Plus that previously mentioned pitcher of Bloody Marys or mimosas. Drop his favorite tunes on the music machine and you've got yourself an occasion.
4. End it sweetly. The meal, that is. That means dessert. Again, Father's Day is not the time to badger your dad about his unhealthy eating habits. Instead, treat him this once to a pie or pastry, cake, cookie, or sundae. One killer dessert won't kill him. Of course you can buy it, but if you're in the mood to bake, let me suggest my Blueberry Crumble (below), which works well after any meal. Making a fruit pie usually entails some patience, panache, and a level of know-how, requiring skill. My Blueberry Crumble eliminates those annoying barriers.
5. Clean up the mess. Although I operate on the principle that the one who cooks never cleans, I'm afraid you must take responsibility for it today. Don't forget, after all, that your father used to change your dirty diapers. So stop complaining about a few dirty dishes. The least you can do is get in the kitchen and make it sparkle.
To get the most taste with the fewest ingredients and the least effort, check out my book, Short Order Dad - One Guy's Guide to Making Food Fun and Hassle-Free. Happy Father's Day to All!
Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes
1 1⁄2 tablespoons butter
4 slices pineapple, cut into rounds
1 1⁄2 tablespoons sugar
Pancake batter for 4 pancakes
1. Melt butter in a big ol’ pan that you can put in the oven, like cast-iron. Lay down the pineapple in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar. Let cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until you smell greatness. Pour favorite pancake batter over the top. Place in 375°F oven for 10–12 minutes until it’s puffy, browned, and caramelized underneath.
2. Remove carefully and top it with real maple syrup, maybe a hit of powdered sugar. Feed people. Notice joy.
2 pints fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, diced 1⁄2 cup quick-cooking oats
1⁄2 cup sliced almonds
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In one bowl, mix blueberries with lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Toss dry mixture with blueberries until evenly coated. Pour into an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish.
3. I like assembling the topping by hand, but you could also pulse a processor or another type of mixer. Mix flour, sugars, and butter until it’s coarse and crumbly, then add the oatmeal, almonds, and salt and stir until all combined.
4. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit and bake for about 40 minutes, until berries are bubbling and topping is golden brown. Let it cool a bit, if you can wait, and serve it with whipped cream, ice cream, or straight up.