Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dad's Day!

What did you do for Father's Day?  If you are like most of us, you celebrated Dad with a cookout-- with Dad doing the cooking!  Isn't that funny about Dad's Day?  On Mother's Day, a concerted effort is made (usually) to give Mom a break from cooking, but on Father's Day, well, we just assume Dad will be grilling his own steak and wouldn't want it any other way!
This is probably a true assumption for most Dads and the other's are probably just being good sports, but nevertheless, Father's Day demands an outdoor meal!
This year was no different at our house.  Ben was at the grill and in fact, did most every part of the meal on the grill because MY STOVE AND OVEN are broken!!! :(  I made the dessert ahead, but by Sunday, that appliance had completely died.  I had planned to try to make a healthier menu this year: bison burgers (one of Ben's favorites and discussed on a previous post), a light dessert-- blackberry parfait, and grilled corn.  BUT, I was also planning to make fried green tomatoes, another one of Ben's favorite summer treats.  With no stove, we had to improvise, but guess what?  Grilled green tomatoes are delicious, and I think they actually are better than the fried ones!  Heresy!  But really, they are a LOT easier, healthier, AND tastier!  Why not give them a try?
Grilled corn is easy enough, but if you haven't done it, there are a lot of recipes online that are very complicated and hard to "get right".  I cook the fresh corn in the microwave until it's almost done, then just finish it off on the grill to get the good, roasted flavor and yummy looking grill marks without any of the hassles.

Of course, you can doctor the corn up all you want with butter, roll it in shredded cheese, sprinkle with hot pepper, etc., but since we were going for a lighter meal, I skipped all that this time!  This was super fresh, local corn anyway.  It didn't really need "help" to taste fantastic!
The dessert, pictured above, was a combination of fresh blackberries from the Farmer's Market, a very few crushed vanilla wafers and pecans, and a super simple, old fashioned "pudding" that is made without eggs.  It is fairly low in sugar, too, so completely fit the bill for my Healthy Dad's Day Dinner without tasting like "no fun" :)  These types of puddings are called "blancmange" in the old cookbooks and are thickened with cornstarch.
All in all, the menu was super tasty and Ben really liked it even though he pretty much cooked it himself! :)  Super Dad!

Lighter Blackberry Parfait (serves four generously)
3 cups 2% milk (or even skim will work)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint blackberries, reserve 4 for garnish
8 vanilla wafers, crushed coarsely
2 Tbl. pecans, chopped finely

In a heavy saucepan, mix the sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Add the milk and blend well with a whisk.  Over medium high heat, cook and stir the mixture until it thickens.  Allow it to simmer gently, stirring, for about 3 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in the vanilla.  Let the pudding cool and refrigerate until cold.
Combine the pecans and the crushed wafers. In 4 small parfait glasses or regular drink glasses, put a bit of the wafer mixture in the bottom of each glass.  Add some blackberries, then spoon a generous amount of pudding into the glass.  Add more blackberries, then more pudding.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining wafers.  Add a berry and a mint leaf, if you have it, to garnish the top.  Refrigerate.  These will keep in the fridge all day, but might get mushy if made the night before.  
You might not use up all the pudding, but that's okay!  It's great over cake, fruit, just about anything!

Grilled Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (not thicker-- they have to cook somewhat on the grill, so it's easier if they are on the thin side)
olive oil
salt, pepper

Drizzle the tomato slices with olive oil and turn them so they are coated on both sides.  Put on the grill and cook, turning once.  They're done when they get a bit softer and have the pretty grill markings.  Put on a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  That's it, and they are delicious!

Easiest Grilled Corn
Fresh corn, shucked
olive oil
salt, pepper

Place the corn in a microwave safe dish that is big enough to hold them in one layer.  Add a splash of water and cover with waxed paper.  Microwave on high, turning them over once during cooking, until they are cooked through.  It takes about 10 minutes to do a 13x9 glass dish full of corn with my microwave, but you have to just see how yours works.  
Drizzle the corn with olive oil, place on the grill and cook until they get their yummy roasted look.  It doesn't take long at all.  Place on a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

These are hardly "recipes", but I hope you try them because they make the most of these wonderful summer treats!

And Happy Father's Day all you wonderful Dads!

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