Fathers Day

makers46Even though my father doesn't drink it, bourbon just seems like the quintessential spirit for dad. In my visit to bourbon country, I learned the distilleries were all pretty much family ventures, though now mostly owned by conglomerates. Even if you don't drink bourbon, a visit to this beautiful part of the country outside Louisville is a treat.

I was a guest at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto which feels more like a national park than anything else. Historic wooden buildings with touches of their trademark red are set against a lush green backdrop. The tour of the distillery is very worthwhile. It's so old fashioned and small scale you might be surprised, I loved seeing the buckets of yeast and beautiful copper distillation pots.

Maker's Mark is made from corn, barley and local wheat. It is smooth and has featured prominently in my recipe development efforts. It has a sweetness and rich caramel and toffee notes with a hint of citrus.

If you like Marker's Mark, try 46, which is also made from Maker's Mark, but is aged with more specially charred oak staves, it's a bit higher proof but still mellow and has more spice and vanilla to it.

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michaelfrank.jpg If lonely J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons, for me, the measure has been in roasting, sautéing, and grilling, making meals for my family. As a parent, what your kids really think about you, is pretty much a mystery.

On my most recent birthday my sons, Frank (23) and Michael (17), decided I didn't need another pot or a kitchen gadget, because I pretty much have every kitchen tool imaginable. They decided instead to write me a memory about my cooking.

From Michael:
Every Thursday night when I was younger, doing homework, I would wait in my room for my dad to come home. He would bring home a whole chicken that he would marinate with rosemary and olive oil. My brother and I could tell when he put the chicken into the oven, because it made the whole house smell amazing.

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grilledlobsterSince Father's Day coincides with the start of summer, grilling is the best way to celebrate male parenting.

For me, nothing is better than a platter of grilled Italian sausages with sautéed onions, deveined shrimp seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, corn on the cob, charred red peppers mixed with capers and garlic and lobsters split open and doused with pats of sweet butter.  With a tossed arugula and carrot salad, a loaf of freshly baked bread and a fresh fruit salad and I am happy.

When the boys come to the house to celebrate a birthday, mother's day or father's day, they frequently take command of the grill. As my younger son, Michael, reminds me, they are my sons so of course they are good cooks. And that makes me very very happy.

Our other son, Franklin, doesn't regard a meal a proper meal unless there are appetizers. So to add to the celebration, I offer three of my favorites. They are all easy-to-make. The tapenade and lavash crisps can be made a day or two ahead. The grilled corn salsa is best made fresh.

All three are addictive so you may find you'll be eating them all summer long.

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