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Dad’s special day

Old-fashioned oatmeal cake with broiled coconut frosting is a favorite for many dads.
Old-fashioned oatmeal cake with broiled coconut frosting is a favorite for many dads. Submitted Photo

Sunday June 18 is Father’s Day. For all the dads and granddads in our lives, one way to make their day a bit more special is to provide them with some delicious foods to enjoy. Perhaps make a few of their favorite dishes and if you feel adventurous, try something new that might become a favorite. My own dad unexpectedly passed away back in 1980 and he was only 56 years old. I do have a father-in-law who is 92, however, and I think his favorite food is lemon meringue pie. It’s one of my favorites, too, so I will include a recipe for that. It is nice when we can all enjoy Dad’s special feast. I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far.

Favorite oatmeal cake

1  1/4 cup water

1 cup rolled oats (You can use a single-serve instant oatmeal packet, original flavor. Takes about 3.)

 1/2 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1  1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:

 1/4 cup butter

 1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons milk

 3/4 cup dried, sweetened, shredded coconut

 1/3 cup chopped nuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a 1-quart glass measuring cup, heat water to boiling in microwave. Remove, add oatmeal, stir and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together  1/2 cup butter, 2 cups brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add oatmeal mixture and blend smoothly.

3. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to oatmeal mixture.

4. Coat a 2-quart 12-by-7  1/2 -inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched and is golden brown. (Baking time will depend on the size of the pan you use.)

5. In a small saucepan, melt the  1/4 cup butter; add brown sugar, milk and coconut (and chopped nuts if using). Spread mixture evenly over top of cake. Broil the topping until it is bubbly and browned, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Lemon meringue pie

I find that egg whites beat up to a greater volume when room temperature. Also, I have successfully used confectioners’ sugar in the meringue. Dissolves faster.

For crust:

1  1/2 cups flour

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1/2 cup shortening

 1/4 cup cold water

For filling:

1  1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons flour

 1/4 teaspoon salt

1  1/2 cups water

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter

 1/3 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon lemon extract

For meringue:

3 egg whites

 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

6 tablespoons sugar

1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 450. In a small bowl, mix flour and salt; cut in the shortening until crumbly. Gradually add the cold water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Roll out pastry to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim pastry to  1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate; tuck under and flute edges. Line with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove foil; cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven heat to 350.

2. To make filling: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Gradually stir in water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of mixture into egg yolks, in order to temper them; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the butter, lemon juice, lemon peel and extract until butter is melted. Pour hot filling into crust.

3. For meringue: In a small bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing edges to crust.

4. Bake pie at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Shrimp corn cakes appetizer

For dipping sauce:

 1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce, optional

 1/8 teaspoon pepper

For shrimp corn cakes:

 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon canola oil, plus enough for frying, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

 1/2 pound uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, finely chopped

 3/4 cup flour

 1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

 1/4 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cream-style corn

1 cup whole kernel corn

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. In a small bowl, mix all dipping sauce ingredients. Cover mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. In a large skillet, cook and stir onion in 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add shrimp; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the two types of corn, egg and shrimp mixture; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

4. Using an electric skillet, heat  1/4 inch of oil to 375. In batches, drop corn mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into oil; fry 1  1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce. Makes about 24 appetizers and about 2/3 cup of dipping sauce.

Chicken fajitas

I have been making these about once a week lately. But I season the chicken with two blends that might be a bit hard to find. One is called Garlic Gold, from Garlic World in Gilroy, made by Rossi’s Specialty Foods. The other is called Don Sazon Chicken Seasoning and I got mine at Food4Less in Los Banos.

4 tablespoons canola oil, divided

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1  1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1  1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1  1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

 1/2 teaspoon paprika

 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1  1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced

6 8-inch flour tortillas, warmed

Go alongs: shredded cheese, such as Colby-Jack, taco sauce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream

1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, lemon juice and seasonings; add the chicken strips. Seal and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours or even overnight if you wish.

2. In a large skillet, saute the red and green bell peppers and onions in remaining oil until crisp-tender and starting to char. Remove and keep warm.

3. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. In the same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5- to 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return pepper mixture to pan; heat through, if necessary.

4. Spoon filling over center of each tortilla and fold in half. Serve fajitas with the suggested go-alongs. Makes 6 servings.

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