Father’s Day Dinner

Guest post by Sally Sampson – Author, Cookbook Writer, Mother

imagesFather’s Day arrived just a few weeks after my husband and I separated. I wasn’t quite ready to cut the strings as far as my children were concerned so I invited him over for a Father’s Day dinner with his favorite foods. I planned on grilling and as luck would have it, there was a torrential downpour. I schlepped the extra grill, a small Smokey Joe, to the floor of the covered front porch and squatted down so that I was at grill level, turning the ribs just so and brushing them just so and all of a sudden I started to laugh and laugh at what I was doing: my soon-to-be ex inside, dry and warm, surrounded by our cute and adoring children, who were handing him chips coated with guacamole and me outside, alone, listening to the pelting rain, working so hard. Although I cared that the meal was delicious- and it was- my chief concern was that our children didn’t have to deal with the fallout from our problems but instead got to honor, pamper and love their father, which is, after all, the point of Fathers Day. 

One of the nicest things about this menu, other than pure deliciousness, is that the ingredients can all be purchased and prepped 3- 5 days ahead: let the avocadoes ripen, make the Slaw dressing, the rib glaze and the pie dough. Bake the ribs 2 days ahead and make the pie the day before. Viola! Father’s Day will be the breeze you need it to be……………
Guacamole (adapted from From Warehouse to Your House, Simon and Schuster, 2007)


The most important element in great guacamole is the avocadoes, which must be perfectly ripe: they should be supple and yield just slightly when you touch them. Since it’s rare to find them in this condition be sure to buy avocadoes at least 3- 5 days before the big day. To accelerate the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag with an apple. If it’s already ripe enough, simply refrigerate it; it won’t continue to ripen in the fridge.

Guacamole can be made a few hours ahead: cover tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic comes in contact with the guacamole. This will prevent it from turning brown.

Yield: about 2 ½-cups

3 perfectly ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 small beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
3- 4 scallions, washed, roots and tops trimmed, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional for garnish
1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ -teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼- ½ jalapeno pepper or chipotle chile, finely minced (optional)
Tortilla chips

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss gently to mix. Do not over-mix, the guacamole should be somewhat chunky.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately or place plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate up to eight hours. Serve garnished with the cilantro sprigs and Tortilla Chips.

Glazed Baby Back Ribs (adapted from The Fifty Dollar Dinner Party, Simon and Schuster, 1998)


Serves 6

For the glaze:
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon five spice powder (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped gingerroot
½- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup plum sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup sherry vinegar

3 racks baby back ribs (about 2 – 2 ½ pounds each)

1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ bunch scallions, chopped, for garnish
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

To make the glaze: Place the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Place the ribs in a large baking pan, transfer to the oven and bake 1 ½ hours. Drain off the fat and coat with the glaze. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to three days.

To cook the ribs: Prepare a grill.
Place the ribs on the grill, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and cook, brushing with glaze from time to time, until deeply browned on both sides, 10- 15 minutes. Cut into 6 slabs, transfer to a platter and serve immediately, garnished with the scallions and cilantro.

Asian Slaw (Also from the $50 Dinner Party)
This crunchy, colorful coleslaw is a delicious change from the mayonnaise-laden American version.

Serves 6

For the dressing:
6 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, cut into julienne
8 scallions, finely sliced

¼ cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
¼ cup lightly toasted sesame seeds

To make the dressing: Place the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
To make the slaw: Place the cabbage, carrots and scallions in a medium size bowl, toss, add the dressing and toss again. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to 4. Add the almonds and sesame seeds just prior to serving.

Fresh Blueberry Pie (adapted from The BakeSale Cookbook, Simon and Schuster, 2000)

Some people will insist that this be served with vanilla ice cream but for me, this is perfect as is.

For the crust:
3 cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons sugar
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled or frozen, cut into small bits
4-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
2 ½- 3 pints fresh blueberries, well washed
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour or 3 tablespoons cornstarch
½- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the crust: Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and process until combined. Add the butter, bit by bit, and process until it has the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Gradually add the water and process until the dough pulls away from the sides. Divide in half and form into balls. Press down to form discs. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to 1 day.

Roll out each disc into a 12 inch circle and gently place one in a 9- 9 1/2 inch pie pan.

To make the filling: Place the blueberries, sugar, flour and lemon zest, if using, in a large bowl and toss well. Place the mixture in the unbaked pie shell and cover with the top crust.

Transfer the pie to the lowest shelf in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook until the fruit starts to bubble and the crust is golden brown, about an additional 30- 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

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