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Bless Your Spoon: Make meat the centerpiece for dad’s day meal

Whether you celebrate your man with an artisan grilled cheese sandwich or marinated steak right off the charcoal grill, today’s recipes include one Dad will savor. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing – the entrée needs to be the main event.

There’s a reason for the self-described “meat and potato guy.” Remember when cooking for others – you don’t have to make every side or dessert a gourmet dish.  Just choose a recipe – make it the meat on Dad’s day – and knock it out of the ballpark.

The perfect complement to the meat will be summer’s fresh bounty. Salsas made from chunky fruits or vegetables not only boost the flavor but also add contrasting color to the meat.

Pick a couple of fresh, simple veggies or salads as your sides with a delicious bread selection to wrap up the meal. No culinary traditionalist would allow summer to pass without at least one gelatin mold. Those congealed southern salads are still favorites – and always refreshing side dishes alongside any entree.

One delicious dessert recipe – the Cherry Clafouti – is nothing more than a big French name for an easily made dessert. The finale is just cherries baked in pastry so, don’t be intimidated by the name. French Apple Pie is their version of a most popular fruit dessert that’s a tad different than our classic pie – but every bite as delicious. For an even lighter final course, try simple, fresh sliced fruits topped with whipped cream – with or without a toasted slice of homemade pound cake.

Finally, I had to include a couple of favorite summertime foods from childhood – one was my mom’s Fruit Filled Melon Basket.  Dad’s culinary favorites made the shortlist: peanut butter, pickles, sardines, and dogs. Who remembers those bacon-wrapped stuffed frankfurters? Yes, they’ll always be a favorite meal memory from my southern food heritage. Bet you loved them, too.

Dads and dogs – you gotta love ’em.

STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

6 boneless, skinless breasts, pounded ½-inch thick

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1/3 cup Dijon-style mustard

6 thin slices of prosciutto

¼ lb. goat, blue, or gorgonzola cheese, divided

18 trimmed, parboiled, asparagus spears

Halve each chicken breast. In a bowl, combine olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, and mustard.

Whisk to make vinaigrette. Brush each chicken half with vinaigrette. Place slice of prosciutto on one breast lengthwise. Spread a little goat cheese over prosciutto. Place 3 asparagus spears on top. Roll into a bundle, and tie securely with twine about 1 ½ inches from ends, trimming any excess twine. Brush all over with vinaigrette. Repeat with all breasts. Cook on medium-hot grill for 20 minutes while turning on all sides. Serves 6.

Two Melon Salsa

14 oz. well-drained plum tomatoes

¼ cup white wine vinegar

½ cup pineapple juice

2 juiced limes

½ tsp. hot sauce

6 minced garlic cloves

½ cup chopped cilantro

½ peeled, ½-inch cut cantaloupe

½ peeled, ½ inch cut honeydew

1 finely diced medium red onion

1 finely diced red pepper

In a food processor, puree tomatoes. Add wine vinegar, pineapple juice, lime juice, hot sauce, garlic, and cilantro. Pulse for an additional 5 seconds. In a serving bowl, pour the puree. Stir in the chopped melons, onion, and bell pepper. Serve alongside grilled meats.

SWORDFISH WITH PEPPER SAUCE

2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

2 juiced limes

4 Tbsp. tamari

8 slices peeled, fresh ginger

3 crushed garlic cloves

4 – 3/4 lb. and 1 ¼-inch thick swordfish steaks

Pepper Sauce

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 chopped garlic cloves

2 roasted, peeled, large red bell peppers

1 juiced lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine oil, vinegar, lime juice, tamari, ginger, and crushed garlic, and whisk to combine. In a baking dish, place steaks side by side. Pour oil mixture over steaks and turn to coat with oil. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. To make sauce, heat olive oil in a skillet and saute garlic. In a food processor, place peppers and lemon juice. Pulse until it makes a thick salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before grilling, bring swordfish to room temp. Grill for 5 minutes on each side while repeatedly basting with marinade. Serve with sauce on side. Serves 4.

GRILLED MIXED SAUSAGES AND PEPPERS

4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 seeded, quartered, green bell peppers

3 seeded, quartered, red bell peppers

3 peeled, quartered Spanish onions

14 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 lb. kielbasa

1 lb. turkey sausage

1 lb. Italian sausage

Rub peppers with olive oil, and set aside. Cook sausages on a hot grill for 10 minutes while frequently turning until they begin to brown. Add quartered peppers, onion, and rosemary to grill and cook additional 10 minutes.  Veggies should be crunchy and sausages should be well browned. Slice meat into serving-sized pieces and arrange with vegetables on a serving plate. Add more fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish. Serves 6

RUBBED PORK WITH FRUIT MARMALADE

1 Tbsp. bacon drippings

1 peeled, chopped yellow onion

4 peeled, chopped ripe tomatoes

3 minced garlic cloves

4 Tbsp. minced fresh basil

½ tsp. salt

6 – 1 ½ -inch thick slices pork loin

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. dried oregano

In a saucepan, heat bacon drippings. Add onion and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, and salt. Simmer for 45 minutes on low heat until thickened while occasionally stirring. While cooking, rub the meat slices with pepper and oregano. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Grill covered on low heat for 20-25 minutes, turning at halftime.  Serve with a spread of warmed store-bought marmalade.

STUFFED BACON-WRAPPED DOGS

6 all-beef hotdogs

Dijon or yellow mustard

6 slices bacon

6 slices American or cheddar cheese

12 Tbsp. sauerkraut (optional)

6 thinly sliced dill pickles (optional)

Toothpicks

6 artisan buns (optional)

Cut a long slit lengthwise into hotdog without cutting through to other side. Brush one side of dog with mustard. Fill with a slice of cheese and 2 Tbsp. sauerkraut.  Wrap the dog with bacon in a spiral fashion. Fasten both ends of bacon to dog with toothpicks. Grill on medium heat while turning until bacon is brown and crisp.

SUGAR & SPICE RUBBED T-BONE STEAKS

2- 16 oz., 1-inch thick, T-Bone steaks

6 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. Kosher salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. dried basil leaves

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

1 tsp. dried thyme leaves

In a bowl, combine sugars, salt, pepper, powders, and herbs. Rub steaks with 1 Tbsp. mix per side of each steak. Cover steaks and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Grill while covered over medium heat for 13 minutes, turning once for medium-rare. Longer cook times for well-done meat. Leftover spice mix is good on beef, pork, or chicken. Serves: 4

ULTIMATE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

8- ¾-inch slices artisan-style bread

5 Tbsp. softened, salted butter

2 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 minced garlic cloves

4 slices Gouda cheese

4 slices fontina cheese

4 slices provolone cheese

8 slices Roma tomato

In a bowl, combine soft butter, grated cheese, thyme, and garlic. Spread one entire side of each piece of bread. Grease a griddle and heat to medium. Place 4 slices butter side down on the griddle. Layer cheese on each bread slice, and top with slice of tomato. Grill for 3-4 minutes or until browned and turn to other side and grill until toasted and brown. Remove from griddle, cut in half, and serve warm.

CARRIBEAN BURGERS

3 Tbsp. prepared mustard

3 Tbsp. prepared catsup

1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce

2 lbs. ground chuck

½ cup finely chopped onion

2 tsp. salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 beaten eggs

Softened, salted butter

Grilled pineapple slices

In a bowl, combine mustard, catsup, and soy sauce. Set aside. For burgers, combine beef, onion, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well. Shape into 8 patties. Brush each patty with melted butter and grill 10-20 minutes on both sides to desired degree of doneness. After grilling, brush burgers with sauce. Then, top each burger with a grilled pineapple slice. Serve on buttered, toasted buns.

SUMMER SUNSHINE SALAD

2 cups boiling water

6 oz. orange gelatin

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 pint softened orange sherbet

1 can drained mandarin oranges

7 oz. drained, juice retained, crushed pineapple

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool. Add lemon and drained pineapple juices. Chill until a jelly-like consistency. Beat in softened sherbet. Fold in oranges and pineapple. Place in lightly oiled mold or glass dish. Refrigerate until firm. Serves 10

GRILLED SLICED SWEET POTATOES

2 lbs. peeled, sliced, sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary

Cut potatoes into ½-inch slices. In two batches, microwave 6 minutes while covered and vented. Turn once during cook time. In a bowl, combine oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Brush on potato slices. Place slices on oiled grill grid. Grill on medium for 5-8 minutes or until tender while turning and basting often.

WILD RICE SALAD

16 oz. pkg. cooked, wild rice

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 juiced lemon

¼ cup tahini

2 garlic cloves

Dash of cayenne pepper

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 peeled, diced avocado

12 halved cherry tomatoes

2 chopped scallions

Cook rice according to pkg. directions and set aside. In a food processor, combine wine vinegar, lemon juice, tahini, garlic cloves, and cayenne pepper. Puree while adding oil in a slow stream until slightly thickened. In a bowl, add cooked rice, diced avocado, halved tomatoes, and scallions. Toss with dressing. Serves 6.

BLUE BUTTERMILK CORN STICKS

1 beaten egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup honey

3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

1 cup blue or yellow cornmeal

1 cup unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add buttermilk, honey, and melted butter and blend well. Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Heat generously greased cast-iron cornbread stick pans in a 400-degree oven. When hot, remove from oven and fill with batter. Bake in 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Yield: 12 sticks.

HERBED BUTTER

1 stick softened, salted butter

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

In a food processor, combine softened butter, parsley, dill, and thyme. Blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Spread into ramekin and chill.

FRESH HERB SPOONBREAD

2 cups whole milk

½ cup water

2 Tbsp. salted butter

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 beaten eggs

1 cup self-rising cornmeal

2/3 cup sour cream

1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese

½ cup chopped fresh chives or other herb

In a saucepan, combine whole milk, water, butter, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Whisk in cornmeal a little at a time. Continue to constantly whisk for 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken and pull from sides of pan. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add 1 cup of the cornmeal mixture while constantly whisking. Stir egg mixture back into the cornmeal mixture. Add cheese and herbs while stirring until cheese melts. Bake in a greased 1 ½ quart baking dish in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Allow to stand before serving warm.

CLAFOUTI AUX CERISES (CHERRY)

3 cups pitted sweet cherries

4 beaten eggs

1 ½ Tbsp. melted salted butter

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup whole milk

¼ cup confectioners sugar

Whipped cream

Place pitted cherries in a greased and floured plain or fluted, deep pie pan. In a mixer, beat eggs. Add butter, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add flour while alternating with milk. Blend until smooth. Pour batter over the cherries. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Dust surface with sifted confectioner’s sugar. Serve hot. Serve with a bowl of whipped cream for topping. Can be made with peaches, apples, plums, or other fruits in season.

FRUIT FILLED MELON BASKET

½ watermelon balls

1 cantaloupe balls

1 honeydew melon balls

1 qt. strawberries

1 qt. blueberries

1 qt. seedless, green grapes

Fresh mint leaves

Half a watermelon lengthwise, leaving 2 inches in middle to form a handle. Make large watermelon balls from the one half leaving only the shell and handle. With sharp knife trim edge of watermelon shell. Cut 1-inch triangles all the way around and up sides of handle to form a sawtooth edge. To do this, insert the knife slanted, make an incision 1-inch deep. Next to it, make another incision slanted in the opposite direction to form a triangle point. Fill shell with melon balls, strawberries, blueberries, and green grapes or your favorite fruits. Pile fruit high in the shell. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.

DELICIOUS FRENCH APPLE PIE

1 box prepared pie crusts (2)

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

5 cups thinly sliced baking apples

Line deep dish pie pan with crust prebaked for 5 minutes in a 350-degree oven. In a mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add apples and gently mix until thoroughly coated. Fill the pie plate with apple mixture. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until golden. Don’t let crust burn.