Gotta Go Out?


Celebrating Father's Day by taking my dad out to eat was a hard sell. His response was always the same: "What can you get at a restaurant that isn't better at home?"

True, my mother was an excellent cook, but I think dad preferred eating in the comfort of his own home, knowing where the food was coming from, and not having to make any menu decisions.

Having grown up in Eastern Europe, his taste buds never quite adapted to American restaurant fare, even though this reluctant gourmet certainly loved to eat. So Father's Day in our house was always a time that my dad got to select his favorite foods for a festive dinner.

There were never too many surprises … his first request was always "soup, but make sure it's thick and hot." Brisket and "any kind of potatoes" was next, with chocolate-nut torte the grand finale. Salad as we know it never entered his body (except potato salad). He often expressed his dismay at the American diet's preoccupation with greens and vegetables, saying that "grass is for cows."

But when he sat down to this feast with family all around him, his sighs and smiles revealed his genuine pleasure, and we knew that no restaurant in the world could have made him happier.

Onion-Braised Brisket

1 piece brisket, 4 to 5 lbs.
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine

Trim almost all the excess fat from the brisket. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Make a paste of the oregano, thyme, garlic and olive oil.

Spread over both sides of the brisket. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°.

Place the brisket in a roasting pan. Cover with onions and then pour wine over all. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 31/2 to 4 hours, basting every hour with accumulated juices.

Remove the brisket to a platter. Degrease the pan juices and pour over meat.

Refrigerate overnight for easy slicing. Slice and reheat with pan juices.

Serves 8.

Roasted Potatoes

3 Tbsps. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. small red potatoes

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, shallots, paprika, salt and pepper.

Add the potatoes; toss well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes on it. Do not crowd the potatoes; use two baking sheets, if necessary.

Roast for about 20 minutes.

Turn potatoes over and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until potatoes are brown and tender.

Serves 6 to 8.

Bean-and-Barley Soup

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 cup cooked white beans
1 cup cooked red beans
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Cook the onion and garlic until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the stock and barley. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the beans and cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove about 1 cup of soup to blender or food processor and purée. Add back to soup and stir well. Reheat, if necessary.

Taste for salt and pepper, and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 8.

Chocolate Carrot Cake
(Pareve or Dairy)

5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
11/2 cups ground pecans
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
12 pecan halves for garnish

Glaze Ingredients:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 stick margarine or butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease and flour an 8-inch springform pan.

Beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar until creamy and pale. Gradually beat in the chocolate.

Stir in the carrots, nuts and breadcrumbs.

Beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake about 11/4 hours, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before removing from pan.

To Make the Glaze: Melt the chocolate and margarine. Stir in the honey and spread on cooled cake. Garnish with pecan halves.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. E-mail her at: [email protected].



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