Hello! Sunday is Father’s Day. The time spent cooking for the men in my family who are fathers bring me joy.
I have wonderful memories of my dad. He had a great laugh and loved to share a good story. Dad had ice-blue eyes that twinkled with mischief and fun. He never met a stranger, finding instant repertoire with almost anyone. That maakes perfect sense to me: he was a hard-working, award-winning salesman until retirement. He was devoted to his family and took good care of us.
His kids were the world to him. Dad taught us many things that shaped our beliefs and appreciations. He was talented, with skills as a wood carver, oil painter and restorer of sailboats. He loved to hunt, fish and sail, appreciating the outdoors and nature. We always had a dog, Brittany spaniels, that he trained to flush out and fetch when hunting pheasants, ducks and geese. When they weren’t busy as his hunting companions, they were beloved family pets.
In the summer he grew beautiful flowers in our Wisconsin yard. He appreciated good food and ate with gusto. I recall times he would come home from a long, hot humid summer day working for Pepsi-Cola, delivering it all over central Wisconsin, with a basket of raspberries or some fresh sweet corn he picked up from a little farm stand to share with us.
The Other Fisherman is a loving and fabulous father to our two sons, who are now both grown. The oldest has taken a path of being a different sort of father. He is in school to be a doctor, devoted to caring for others who seek help and healing as his own, as their lives depend on it. The youngest is a father of a son and daughter. I cannot tell you how wonderful he is with them. Grandkids are the best. We are extremely proud of our sons and thank God we are blessed with our treasured family.
I don’t know a man who doesn’t love good food. I can still see my Dad devouring king crab with wild abandon, butter dribbling down his chin many Christmases ago. Soon after I met the Other Fisherman, I realized he enjoyed a good home cooked meal and couldn’t have been more pleased, as I love cooking and he loves eating. Both our boys would join me in the kitchen often while growing up and are great cooks. Now and again I learn something from them while cooking together. Nothing pleases me more than preparing a good meal for my guys and watching them enjoy eating it, except having them join me in preparing it.
All the Robl men have a sweet tooth. Homemade ice cream, pie, cake, cookies and candy, anything sweet will satisfy it. Dad’s favorites were fruit pies, angel food cake and ice cream, but if the only thing he could find in the house was a package of store-bought cookies, those were just fine by him.
This pie is a celebration of perfectly ripe, summertime strawberries. Only two cups of the berries are cooked down into a quick jam, which holds the rest of the fruit together for a delightfully fresh pie. With a crunchy shortbread crust and a cloud of freshly whipped cream, it’s reminiscent of strawberry shortcake — but maybe even better.
Fresh strawberry pie
(Courtesy New York Times and Samantha Seneviratne)
For the crust:
• 10 ⅔ ounces shortbread cookies (two 5 1/3-ounce packages)
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup butter, melted
• Pinch of salt
For the filling:
• 2 ½ pounds strawberries (about 8 to 10 cups), hulled
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 5 tablespoons strawberry preserves
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
For the topping:
• 1 cup cold heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• Pinch of sea salt
1. Prepare crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine shortbread cookies, sugar, flour and salt and blend until you have fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a medium mixing bowl. Add butter and mix with a fork until crumbs are evenly moistened. Tip crumbs into a standard 9-inch pie plate and press them in an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until golden brown and set, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
2. Prepare filling: Cut each of the strawberries in quarters or eighths, if they are large. Transfer 2 cups berries to a small saucepan and crush completely with a potato masher. Set aside the remaining berries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, preserves, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water and salt to the saucepan.
3. Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium heat and then cook it an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add strawberry mixture and lemon juice to the strawberries in the bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared crust and gently tap it down into an even layer. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
4. Just before serving, whip cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla, if using, to soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream.
This White Halibut Chili is a great alternative to the traditional white chicken chili we all love, and makes a simple, yet completely delicious dinner. If you would rather use chicken, 2½ cups roasted rotisserie chicken cut up is excellent in this recipe. Now that it’s halibut season, try replacing chicken with the famously perfect white fish of Kachemak Bay, halibut.
White Halibut Chili
Makes about 8 cups
• 1 small yellow onion, diced
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
• 1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
• 3 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp ground coriander
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1 (8 oz) pkg Neufchatel cheese (light cream cheese), cut into small cubes
• 1 1/4 cup frozen or fresh corn
• 2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans
• 1- pound boneless, skinless halibut, cut into bite size pieces
• 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
• 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
• Tortilla chips or strips, Monterey jack cheese, sliced avocado for serving (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a 6-quart enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer.
2. Add chicken broth, green chilies, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Drain and rinse beans in a fine mesh strainer or colander then measure out 1 cup. Set whole beans aside, transfer 1 cup beans to a food processor along with 1/4 cup broth from soup, puree until nearly smooth*.
4. Gently stir in halibut pieces. Simmer gently about 5 minutes.
5. Add Neufchatel cheese to soup along with corn, whole beans and pureed beans and stir well. Simmer 5 minutes longer.
6. Stir in fresh lime juice and cilantro. Serve with Monterrey Jack cheese, more cilantro, avocado slices and tortilla chips if desired.
*If you don’t own a food processor you can mash the beans with the soup broth until creamy.
Happy Father’s Day and remember to keep yourself and Dad healthy. Wear your mask, wash your hands and socially distance. Share something delicious with the people you love in your life. Soak up the sun.