Now this list is in no way scientific…I don’t want dads out there to think I’m reducing them to cheese eating, beer-chugging, carnivores (as sexy as that look is). But in my experience, when cooking for my own dad, husband, and father-in-law I’ve noticed a few things that are always appreciated, and it’s not quinoa:
1. They LOVE blue cheese. Particularly when sprinkled over a salad or whipped with something creamy to make a dip. I have a distinct memory from my childhood of my father taking a jar of Marie’s brand blue cheese dressing and doctoring it with the contents of an entire carton of blue cheese. Below is my sligthy less hardcore homemade version, which is great for dipping veggies as a pre-dinner snack, slathering on a burger, or serving with BBQ chicken wings. It’s pretty much good with everything.
2. They like meat…but not just steak! Falling in line with every cliché: The men in my life love their beef. So much so that after the birth of my first child I was in the recovery room, hopped-up on morphine after an emergency c-section, my mother hand-feeding me ice chips like a mama bird, when my father and husband announced that they were going to go out for a celebratory steak dinner (mind you, it was 10am). So yes, even surgery (“she’s fine!”) or time of day could not keep them away from a piece of rare sirloin. But an even more creative way to wow a meat-loving dad is to serve him a bloody mary for brunch and replace the celery stick with a piece of beef jerky as a swizzle stick. The spices from the jerky meld into the drink as it’s stirred, and I promise dad will freak over the taste and think you’re very clever.3. They love pasta carbonara–the richer, more heart-stopping the better. I once was talking to a young co-worker who told me she wanted to impress a new potential boyfriend by cooking something for him. Her plan was to go home and bake him some banana bread, to which I replied “absolutely not”. A guy will not ask you to be the mother of his children over banana bread, no matter how good it is; but he might if you have a good carbonara dish in your repertoire. I base mine on several versions I’ve tried over the years but my standard is this:
- In a large bowl whisk together 5 large eggs (yes, they are raw, but will cook from the heat of the pasta), 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of pecorino romano and fresh ground pepper.
- Cook 1 lb of spaghetti until al dente, then reserve 1 cup of cooking water drain (it’s good if there’s some of the cooking water still on the noodles).
- Add pasta immediately to egg mixture, tossing vigorously to combine. Add a bit of the cooking water if it seems dry.
- Add crisped pancetta (about 6 oz, give or take), salt and pepper to season, and parsley (if you like).
- Toss and serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze on top. If you want to attempt to make it a bit more healthful you can do what Jamie Oliver suggests and add julienne zucchini to the pasta, using penne instead of spaghetti so they’re the same size.
That’s my Father’s Day food hat trick, but I’d love to hear, what is your no-fail, always-make-him dish?
Recipe for Blue Cheese Dip
Combine 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 pressed or finely chopped garlic clove, 1 chopped scallion, and a bunch of chopped parsley. Stir in 1 cup of crumbled blue cheese and a squeeze of lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.