Father’s Day is nearly upon us, another special day for gathering with family to break bread, tell a few stories and take time out of our hectic lives to reconnect with one another. This is especially true if siblings have scattered with the four winds. Having grown up in a very close family, Father’s Day is extra special.
Have you ever wondered why barbecues are so popular for Father’s Day? I don’t have the answer, except to say that men tend to like fire-grilled foods and we, as his loving family, want to feed Dad with foods he likes. And who can grill up big slabs of meat better than dear old Dad? So you’ll have to stand your ground and let him know, this year the family will be doing the cooking, so relax Dad – we’ve got it under control.
This year’s menu will consist of Chocolate Fudge Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting, Grilled Tri-Tip with a peppery dry rub, red potato skewers and corn on the cob grilled inside their husks, then smeared with a spicy butter. And for a colorful side, a green bean and tomato salad. The cake can be made a day in advance, just keep Dad away. He can lick the mixer after the cake is frosted, but that’s it. If there’s enough frosting left over, spread that between two gram crackers to satisfy Dad’s urge to have dessert early, but remember to stand your ground! “We love you, Dad, but dessert comes later.”
You’ll want to soak the ears of corn while the tri-tip is warming on the kitchen counter. Once the meat and corn comes off the grill, that’s the perfect time to roast the potatoes since these don’t take very long. The salad can be made anytime, then left to sit out or refrigerated to serve well-chilled. Before getting started, read through the recipes and the timetable will be easy to figure out based on how many people are assisting. Just make sure Dad doesn’t get involved. After all, it’s his special day! As the foods are finished, just tent everything to keep it warm until ready to serve.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare a 13-inch x 9 inch x 2-inch cake pan. There are two options. First is to use Wilton’s Cake Release, my personal favorite since the oil and flour are conveniently mixed in one container. All you need do is to shake well, squeeze a generous amount into the bottom of the cake pan, then use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer over the bottom and up the sides. I’ve never had Wilton’s Cake Release fail me yet. Another option is to grease the baking pan; line with parchment paper. Grease the paper; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine water and milk.
Combine the flour, cocoa, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk mixture.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove and discard parchment paper (if used). Cool cake completely.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/2 cup butter
3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the milk.
Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).
Tri-Tip with a Dry Spice Rub
Ingredients – Spice Rub
1 1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon each:
1 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoons Onion Powder
2 Teaspoons Ancho Powder
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 Teaspoons Mustard Powder
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
3 lb Tri-Tip Brisket, trimmed
Note: The rub is more than enough for a good size tri-tip brisket. If feeding a large crowd, go ahead and make two. You shouldn’t need to double the rub.
You’ll want to get a tri-tip that has as close to a uniform shape as possible. One end will be pointed and less thick than the other, which is part of the “Tip”. Although it should be trimmed of excess fat, you’ll want a nice layer of fat that will melt while the bathing the meat in a wonderful smoky flavor. Because a tri-tip isn’t exactly even, one end will be more to the well-done side while the other end will be more to the medium-rare. This is nice when feeding a crowd of varying tastes – everyone will get a slice of beef that is cooked just right.
Mix all ingredients for spice rub. Rub into tri-tip brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling. (Total marinating time is 2 hours)
Build nice bed of hot coals. Open the bottom and top vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.
Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Turn and cook 6-8 minutes longer or until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer to platter and tent loosely.
The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board. Be patient – it’s worth the wait.
Remove thick outer husks from the corn, leaving several layers of the thinner, pale husks in tact.
Peel back these layers of husks from the corn without removing them from the ears. Remove the silks, rinse ears and recover the corn with the husk. Secure husks with kitchen twine. Place ears of corn in a large pot of cold water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. (The kernels will absorb some of the water, allowing them to steam in their husks when placed on the grill.)
While corn is soaking, make spicy butter. (recipe below)
When ready to grill, remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, directly over fire; close the cover and grill. Check and turn periodically. If husks begin to burn, transfer ears and continue to cook using an indirect method. Grill for about 20 to 30 minutes. Corn should be firm but tender when properly grilled.
When corn is cooked, unwrap and brush with the garlic butter. Sprinkle squeezed with lime and garnish with chopped chives.
Ingredients – Spicy Garlic Butter
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
8 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ Habanero pepper, seeded
¼ bunch fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine butter, garlic, Habanero, and chives in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
Fire Roasted Red Potato Skewers
2 pounds red potatoes (about 6 medium), quartered
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Place the potatoes and water in an ungreased microwave-safe 2-qt. dish. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until almost tender, stirring once; drain. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; add potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Drain, reserving mayonnaise mixture. On six metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread potatoes.
Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally with reserved mayonnaise mixture or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (from about 1 medium shallot)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 medium lemons)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
2 pints (1 pound) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves and stems
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
Place the shallot, lemon zest, and measured salt and pepper in a medium, nonreactive bowl and add the lemon juice. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until evenly combined. Set the dressing aside.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to the prepared ice water bath. When the beans are chilled, drain again and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.
Place the beans, tomatoes, and parsley in a large bowl, pour in the dressing, and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Set aside at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!