Dinners at Dad’s

When I come home to Denver, my favorite nights are when we have dinner at my Dad’s. Always guaranteed to be a large production and delicious, these gatherings have been known to take 6-7+ hours, and everyone is invited. The standard crew is my immediate family: Mom, Dad, Matt, Polly, Jackie and Margot. A lot of times Emily is there too, and sometimes Mike (not ’cause we don’t like him, but he’s not always there!). Everyone helps with the preparation, so we all arrive early. Wine and drinks accompany us on our tasks – it’s not uncommon to get through a couple of bottles of wine before we sit down to eat. Appetizers are prepared and snacked on while we prep the main courses, and we never don’t have enough food. I usually have a standard request when I come – steaks and artichokes. Living in NYC I don’t have a real grill and even if I did, steaks by Dad always taste better. Matt is key to the execution – his expertise and technique help us all, as he’s somewhat of an expert somehow (even if his cutting tips are at times unwelcome!). This past trips menu included the following:

Appetizers: Prosciutto wrapped around cantaloupe and grilled artichokes, marinated in olive oil, basalmic vinegar and soy sauce

Main course: Ribeye steaks, pea shoot & arugula salad with radishes & hazelnuts, Ranch beans with hatch green chiles, corn salad, grilled ciabatta bread, grilled fava beans and grilled avocado

Dessert: Cinnamon-grilled peaches with HOMEMADE ICE CREAM.

Dinner. was. amazing. It’s okay to be jealous. I’m jealous of old me who hadn’t yet eaten all this, and then got to.

I made the prosciutto and cantaloupe. The trick is to not to eat too much prosciutto while you’re making them.

Grilled artichokes were marinated by Polly and grilled by Dad. Polly pressure cooks the artichokes, then sticks them in the olive oil, basalmic vinegar and soy sauce marinade before they are grilled for a few minutes. The marinade is so full of flavor you don’t really need any dipping sauce for the leaves, but we thought if you wanted mayonnaise, you should be able to have some.

I helped with the Pea Shoot & Arugula salad (recipe from August 2012’s Food & Wine magazine, included at end of post). The dressing was quite easy to mix, and we used a nice honey, with orange blossom flavors. We couldn’t find pea shoots, so we used Mache instead. I loved the flavor of the mache with the peppery arugula. I’d never toasted hazelnuts and peeled them – it’s ridiculously easy. Once you take them out of oven and let them cool a bit, the skins slide right off in the towel. I’m not sure how’d you’d make this salad if you didn’t have a mandoline – even the recipe tells you to use one for the radishes and fennel. Which, by the way, I do not like. We still put it in, but I picked it out of my serving, and gave it to Matt. Yuck.

Hazelnuts sans skins:

Matt with the mandoline, carefully slicing only veggies and not fingers:

Salad, before it was mixed:

Polly’s corn salad was so fresh and summery. She cut fresh corn off the cob, let it sit with diced jalepenos, added black beans, diced tomato and avocado, and tossed it in basalmic vinegar and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. So simple, but full of flavor, and a great way to use all the sweet corn from summer.

We had Ranch beans with Hatch green chiles cooking, and to spice them up, Dad added a bit of cognac and some homemade barbeque sauce. So good. I wish I could find hatch green chilies not from a can in NYC. Then maybe I could have my own green chili. But I digress. These beans just sit on the stove while we cook, flavors sinking in. If you find them getting a bit thick as they cook, just add water. Oh, and I just found Ranch beans at Whole Foods. They have their own brand, they call them Ranchero beans. So happy. 🙂

The ice cream was churning in the maker while we were prepping – it had to sit in the freezer to get hard while we ate for a couple hours as well.

And here’s three of the steaks (we had five total, and no, we didn’t eat them all).

Margot had fun with the Fava beans.

Beverages included white to start, a couple gin & tonics (which, I don’t really like, except for the gin I’m showing here. So nice, almost fruity, not too pine-tree tasting, which is my main complaint with gin) and then red with dinner.

Decanting is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

Maybe it’s so good because it’s pink?

My plate, with a little of everything. Okay, maybe a little of everything, except the steak. That was only my first helping…

Mom enjoying dinner, with a side of sunburn.

Jackie about to eat. Don’t worry, that’s not her wine glass.

Polly prepared the glaze for the peaches, while Matt and I somehow failed to properly read the instructions on the recipe (perhaps the effect of the wine?) and struggled to get the peaches onto the cinnamon sticks. We had fun though.

Ready for the grill.

I think they look so pretty on the grill, the colors of the peach mirrored by the hot coals below. We’d cooked the steaks (and by we, I mean Dad) on this grill, and our peaches came out a bit meaty flavored. I thought it made them taste extra delicious, alongside our HOMEMADE vanilla ice cream. Matt didn’t really think that was the greatest, but I think it was quite the happy accident.

Like I mentioned before, the Pea Shoot & Arugula salad was from the August 2012 Food & WIne. Here’s the link, and the recipe.


1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon minced shallot

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces baby arugula

3 1/2 ounces pea shoots

4 large radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced on a mandoline

1 fennel bulb—halved lengthwise, cored and very thinly sliced on a mandoline

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast until they are fragrant and the skins blister, about 14 minutes. Transfer the toasted hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and let cool slightly, then vigorously rub the nuts together to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the nuts.

In a large bowl, whisk the Champagne vinegar with the Dijon mustard, honey and minced shallot. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and whisk until blended. Season the vinaigrette with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the arugula, pea shoots, radishes, fennel and chopped hazelnuts and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.

And here’s the recipe for the peaches. I think they were the dark horse of the meal – and it was nice to have COLORADO peaches. They’re the best I think. And I think the steak flavor from the grill was delicious. Try it!



4 large ripe freestone peaches

8 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks

8 fresh mint leaves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

Peach or vanilla ice cream, for serving


Rinse the peaches and blot them dry with paper towels. Cut each peach in half and discard the pit. Then, cut each peach into quarters. Using a pointed chopstick or metal skewer, make a starter hole in the center of each peach quarter, working from the pit side to the skin side. Skewer 2 peach quarters on each cinnamon stick, placing a mint leaf between the 2 quarters.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the glaze boil until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Prepare and preheat the grill to high. Brush and oil the grate. Next, place the skewered peaches on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, basting with the rum and butter glaze. Spoon any remaining glaze over the grilled peaches and serve at once. Peach or vanilla ice cream makes a great accompaniment.


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