Father’s Day supper on the barbeque

Food Editor Leslie Savage

Baked potato chips, commercial
Eric’s Burgers
Jamie’s Seared Tuna Steaks in Salad Niçoise with Local Asparagus
Strawberries dipped in chocolate fondu
Zebra torte

Men are often unsung heros of the kitchen even when, as in our house, the male task is usually clean-up. Father’s Day is a great time for the guys to show off their grilling skills, and an even better time for kids to take over and show Pop how much they care by doing the prep work and the clean-up that dad often does. Of course, they’ll need some supervision, but these hamburger and salad recipes can be done in stages. Vegetarians can have a Portobello burger or stick with the seared tuna in the Salad Niçoise. Kids can leave off the ‘shrooms and pickle, and pick the olives off the salad. Or make themselves a whole plate of raw cucumber instead.

Using Portuguese buns made at Cooper’s makes these burgers into really substantial fare — I’ve yet to see

The onion, mushrooms and tomatoes need to be whole or in thick slices when you put them on the BBQ. Leslie Savage photo

anyone eat two. The quantities make 6-8 burgers. The easy companion to hamburgers is a package of chips. The new ones are baked and contain about a tenth the calories and fat of the deep-fried ones. They are every bit — I think more — delicious. This is one meal that really can do without fuss, and anyway, the salad is chock full of fresh veggies.

Grilling the burger companions (tomato, onion, mushroom) separately on the grill is a nice touch that turns a routine meal into a treat. Slice the onions thickly, cut half-ripe tomatoes in two, and grill mushrooms whole. Using portobellos offer the option of a meatless burger, and for a mushroom meat-burger you slice them.

Beer is the natural companion to BBQ fare. We recently made a batch at the U-Brew, an amazingly good honey lager — a light ale, but with a touch of definite hoppy bittersweet flavour that makes it distinctive. No preservative makes home-made a little different. We also tried to do a beer tasting with a Mount Begbie selection and some imports,, but realized all of us  (we were six, of assorted ages) lack the vocabulary to adequately describe the differences between malty, hoppy and herby beers.  Besides, everyone was just plain thirsty, so my notetaking got back-burnered.

This makes a big burger—eating it is the diner’s problem! Leslie Savage photo

Eric’s Burgers

I was talking to Eric Wiley about recipes, in between trips up the ladder (his) and caulking jabs at a window frame (mine), when he suddenly put down the lumber he was working on and dug into his pocket. He took out his wallet and produced a tiny much-folded scrap of paper on which was written his recipe for “the best burgers ever.” He tells me it’s an old Revelstoke Italian family recipe. These burgers are my favorite now too—a step up from the beef-crumb-egg–ketchup mixture that’s been my stand-by for years.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground pork (if you don’t eat pork, use two lbs beef, one lean and one regular)
1 cup bread crumbs (or one hamburger bun shredded and crumbed)
6 beaten eggs
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 cup finely minced onion
1 tbsp. ground garlic, or 3 tbsp. minced fresh garlic

salt and pepper

Mix everything thoroughly and shape into firm flattish burgers. Grill for 5-8 minutes per side over a medium to hot fire, or until done, on a clean oiled grill. Garnish with lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, mayo, mustard and or ketchup, to taste.

Jamie’s Seared Tuna

This salad nicoise with seared tuna is perfect for summer. Leslie Savage photo

“If you like sushi,” says Jamie Burke who gave me this recipe, “you will love this tuna.”

The fish vendor from Grand Forks was here two weeks ago in his yellow school bus (parked outside Zala’s). He comes every five weeks, with an amazingly good selection of frozen seafood. He tells me his frozen, unmarked tuna is the okay kind (See www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch for fish recommendations.)

Jamie’s instructions were short but precise: roll the tuna steaks in soy sauce with cumin, then coat in sesame seeds. Grill for no more than one minute per side, then slice diagonally.

2-6  tuna steaks, thawed, but only just. Amount depends on budget and appetites. (If this is the main dish for dinner, count on six people eating 4 steaks and more if your guests are young and hungry.)
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sesame seeds
1 tsp. cumin, ground

Wash and pat dry the tuna steaks. Mix the cumin with the soy sauce and drench the steaks in this mixture. Press them into a plate of sesame seeds. Sear them for one minute on each side, on the barbecue or on a grill over charcoal. Slice crosswise and serve on their own or in Salade Niçoise. The tuna will be rare in the middle.

Salade Niçoise with local Asparagus

for 6
½  big leaf lettuce, washed thoroughly in warm water then dried well
1 lb grape tomatoes
4 eggs
2 lb asparagus (1 lb is definitely not enough for 6 people)
3 lb small new potatoes, fingerlings if possible
20 Kalamata olives
3 tbsp best olive oil
½ cup plain yogurt, full fat
1 tbsp pomegranite balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Maletti balsamic vinegar
juice of two limes
1 tsp honey
1 tsp mustard
6 large fresh basil leaves
2 lemons
Wash the lettuce, dry it in a tea towel, and arrange on a large plate or shallow bowl.

Cut the potatoes into quarters (sixths if they are larger than an egg) and put the potatoes plus the eggs into your large camping pot and cover with water. Boil the water. When it’s rolling, put into it the asparagus for exactly one minute, then remove the asparagus spears and set aside. After nine more minutes, remove the eggs and put into a bowl of cold water. Peel them and slice into halves.

Continue to cook the potatoes for 10 more minutes. Drain.

On a griddle over the fire or directly on the grill, put the asparagus spears crosswise, and the potatoes. Brush these with the Maletti balsamic mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil. Grill the asparagus for about ten minutes and the potatoes until they poke easily with a skewer. Don’t turn too often, but don’t let them burn.

Make the dressing: mix yogurt, 1 tbsp olive oil, pomegranite vinegar, honey, lime juice and mustard in a bowl. Add salt to taste.

Assemble the salad. You will need a large flat platter, not a bowl. Everyone should be able to see all the ingredients. On the lettuce bed, arrange the seared tuna, grilled potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, sliced eggs, and the olives. Don’t mix this up. Shred finely the basil leaves and strew on top. Serve, and pass the dressing and some lemon quarters.

Strawberries and chocolate fondu

This is the perfect adult dessert when the children are downing s’mores—be careful though—these are so good the kids may prefer them to the marshmallow concoction. Can also be done with cut-up fruit such as pineapple, apple, orange, mango and banana.

serves 6 generously
2 pints organic strawberries
1 lb Callebaut dark semisweet chocolate
long bamboo skewers

Over a Magic heat or Sterno-type camp cooker n the table, melt the chocolate in a sturdy pot. Let everyone skewer their own berries and dip them into the melted chocolate. (Be careful not to let even one drop of water get into the chocolate as it melts, or it will turn into a horrible mess.)

Zebra Torte

My father used to make this for us when we were kids. We were always agog at the zebra effect of white on black stripes in a dessert. The recipe is sometimes printed on the back of Christie’s Chocolate Wafer package. It’s simple, once you have the whipped cream. (If you’re camping you could buy this in one of those terrible-for-the-landfill pressurized cans, but be sure to get the real cream variety—otherwise you’re eating petroleum. Make this at least one hour before you plan to eat it. The wafers need time to soften in the cream.

1 package chocolate wafers
1 pint whipping cream, whipped stiff. If you’re camping, you can do this with a wire whisk and a good half hour.  Formidable kids’ end-of-day task, with the right encouragement.  Don’t add sugar.
1 piece waxed paper

Put a long piece of waxed paper on a table. Put a dollop of cream on the waxed paper. Start with three wafers. Spread with whipped cream and sandwich together. Stand these upright in the bed of cream. Continue with one wafer after another, spreading with cream and adding to the log. Try to make the thickness of the cream the same as the thickness of the wafers. When all the wafers are used up, spread the remaining cream over the top and sides of the log. Roll up in the waxed paper and twist the ends tightly. Keep refrigerated in your cooler on ice, or in the fridge, until time for dessert.

To serve, undo the waxed paper and slice on the diagonal, so that you have eye-candy slices of striped zebra cream and chocolate. This can be done with ginger wafers to equally good, but very different, effect, in which case it’s more of a wildcat torte.