Favorite Dishes for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day almost at hand, many of us are planning celebrations outdoors. I’ve turned for inspiration to The Big Book of Backyard Cooking, which I authored back in 2004. The recipes in this collection always seem to please my husband, the dad and granddad in our family. He loves any dish if coded with the letters BLT, plus slow-cooked barbecued ribs, grilled lamb chops or rib-eye steaks simply garnished, homemade or purchased artisanal ice creams, and any summer dessert that includes cherries or peaches. Looking through the book, it didn’t take long to find a trio of dishes certain to please his palate. Lamb Chops with Roquefort, Figs, and Rosemary, BLT Pasta Salad, and Best Ever Caramel Sauce that could be used for peach sundaes jumped off the page.

The recipe for the lamb chops is just as tempting today as it was over  a decade ago. Wine marinated lamb chops (either loin or rib) are grilled and then topped with crumbled Roquefort, wine-soaked figs, and chopped rosemary. The slightly charred meat combined with the salty cheese, sweet fruit, plus an herbal accent of rosemary makes a stellar dish.

For the pasta salad, crispy bacon, multi-hued cherry or grape tomatoes, and coarsely chopped arugula are the primary accents to a cooked pasta such as farfalle or penne, all tossed in a Parmesan mayonnaise dressing. This side dish can be assembled an hour ahead and makes a fine partner not only to lamb, but to grilled chicken or steaks as well.

I’ve never met a caramel sauce I didn’t like, but this one, due to the addition of cream cheese and butter, is noteworthy for its extra creaminess. For sundaes you place a couple of scoops of purchased vanilla ice cream in a bowl or wine glass (I used small glass canning jars minus lids), then top with fresh sliced peaches, and a generous drizzle of caramel.

Happy Father’s Day this Sunday, June 21st, to all the dads and granddads out there!



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Lamb Chops With Roquefort, Figs, and Rosemary; BLT Pasta Salad; Peach Sundaes with Best Ever Caramel Sauce

Lamb Chops with Roquefort, Firgs, and Rosemary

Lamb Chops
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for pan grilling chops
3/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
3/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
Scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Scant 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Eight 5- to 6-ounce loin lamb chops, about 1- inch thick and trimmed of excess fat or 12
3 to 4-oz rib lamb chops trimmed of excess fat)

Fig and Roquefort Topping
3/4 cup dry red wine
16 dried Black Mission figs  (or 16 dried figs such as Orchard’s Choice mission figlets )
6 oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled
3/4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

1.For chops, combine wine, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place chops in a shallow nonreactive dish. Pour marinade over them, cover, and refrigerate. Marinate two hours or longer.

2. While chops are marinating, prepare topping. In a small saucepan, heat wine until hot. Place figs in small bowl and pour wine over them. Soak until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove, pat dry, then cut figs, lengthwise, into thin slivers. In a mixing bowl, gently combine figs, cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary. Set aside        

3. When ready to cook lamb, oil a grill rack and arrange about 5 inches from heat source or oil a stove top grill pan set over medium high heat. When hot, remove meat from marinade and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Grill chops about 4 1/2 to 5 minutes per side for loin chops and 3 minutes per side for rib chops or until browned on the outside and just pink in center. Watch carefully as time can vary depending on type of grill used and intensity of heat.

Remove chops to serving platter and top each generously with some of the cheese/fig mixture. Garnish each chop with a rosemary sprig. Serves 4 with 2 chops per serving or 8 with 1 chop per person.

Adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2004)


BLT Pasta Salad

1 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta or penne or other similar pasta
Kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
8 ounces sliced bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup regular or reduced fat (not nonfat) mayonnaise
1 tbsp white wine vinegar plus a little extra if needed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Pamigiano Reggiano, divided
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper plus more if needed
4 cups grape or cherry tomatoes (multi-colored is nice), cleaned and halved lengthwise
1 cup chopped sweet red onion
1 1/2 cups (about 3 to 4 ounces) cleaned, stemmed, coarsely chopped arugula (See note.)

1.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook, until al dente (just tender to the bite), then drain and transfer to a large, shallow nonreactive serving bowl.  Toss pasta with olive oil and set aside.

2.In a large, heavy skillet set over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp and golden, then drain on paper towels.

3. To make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, half of the Parmesan cheese, and pepper. Add to bowl with pasta and toss well to coat pasta with dressing. Add the bacon, tomatoes, onions, arugula, and remaining Parmesan cheese, and toss well to mix. Taste and season salad with more salt and pepper if needed or with a few more drops of vinegar. (Salad can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at cool room temperature.)  Serves 8.

Note: I love the assertive taste of arugula in this salad, and prefer large leaves of regular arugula to baby arugula.

Adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2004)


 Peach Sundaes with Best Ever Caramel Sauce

Best Ever Caramel Sauce
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup light or whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp water
3 tbsp unsalted butter, broken into chunks

4 medium yellow peaches (about 1 to 1 1/4 pds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
1 quart best quality vanilla ice cream
Mint sprigs, optional

1.For the Best Ever Caramel Sauce, whisk together cream cheese and light or whipping cream in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.

2. Combine sugar and water in a heavy, medium saucepan over low heat stirring and swirling pan occasionally until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, without stirring, until syrup turns a light golden brown color, 6 to 8 minutes or longer. Remove pan from heat and stir in cream cheese and cream. Be very careful as mixture will bubble vigorously. Whisk in butter. Use warm as a sauce or let cool to room temperature when using as a glaze or icing. (Caramel sauce can be prepared 3 days ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated. Reheat to warm over low heat.)  Makes a 3/4  to 1 cup.

3.When ready to assemble sundaes, peel peaches and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges and place in a medium bowl.

4.Place 2 large or 3 smaller scoops in each of four dessert bowls or medium, wide- mouthed wine glasses. Garnish each serving with sliced peaches and with a few tablespoons of warm caramel sauce. Garnish with mint sprigs if you like. Serves 4.

Recipe for Best Every Caramel Sauce is adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2004)


2 thoughts on “Favorite Dishes for Father’s Day

  1. I just discovered you in The Gambier Cookbook – Kenyon is my alma mater, and folks in this cookbook know their stuff. One of the recipe contributors mentioned how wonderful your recipes are and I feel like I discovered a new friend in the kitchen. Especially now, your guidance is so wonderful. Thank you from a new fan!

    • Hello Stephanie,
      Thank you for your thoughtful note. I am delighted to welcome you to my blog, and hope you’ll enjoy the recipes and stories I post!
      Peggy and (the late Tom Turgeon, who used to live in Gambier, were teachers at La Belle Pomme in Columbus, the cooking school I directed at Lazarus.They were gifted cooks so I know there’s a great cooking community in Gambier. Best, Betty

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