Father's Day

Tropical Salsa


In our family, Mother's Day involves a cookoff. Everyone participates in some way. We pick a theme, some people cook, some set the table, some help clean up and so on. Then we all eat what we have cooked and everyone wins a prize for something, like: best looking; most delicious; most unusual.....

It's been so much fun over the years and we all believe it beats going to a restaurant which, because it's a holiday, is usually crowded and noisy and the service awful.

This year's theme was "dips."

My son-in-law and one of the grandkids made a hot French Onion Dip; one daughter and granddaughter made a spicy Red Pepper Dip; another daughter and child made a chocolate dip for dessert.

It was all awesome.

This was my entry, which got the award for "most refreshing" and "most attractive" as well as "most perfect for summer" awards.

It's so easy to make too.

Also, it really is perfect for summer.

And it is actually refreshing and attractive.

So -- for summer company or just for yourself, try my award-winning Tropical Salsa. Serve it on Father's Day. Or July 4th!

By the way, this is also a good side dish with grilled meat, poultry or fish and can be used to top a hamburger.

Tropical Salsa

  • 2 cups diced fresh papaya
  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lime peel
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt
  • corn chips or other favorite chips

Place the papaya, mango and avocado dice in a bowl. Add the jalapeno pepper, lime peel, lime juice and cilantro and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Taste and add salt as needed. Serve with chips.

Makes about 3 cups

My Bat Mitzvah Chocolate Cake


Today is the anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah. It took place a LONG time ago! In the 1950s to tell you the truth.

Back in the day Bat Mitzvahs were not such a thing. In fact, I was the first girl from our newly established synagogue to reach this momentous occasion.

I have to confess, our rabbi mentioned the notion when we first joined the synagogue and I told my parents I wanted to learn some Hebrew and prayers and do whatever I had to, not so much because I had any particular religious feelings, nor was it because I wanted a big party -- the big themed events we see today didn't exist back then -- but because my two older brothers had Bar Mitzvahs and I couldn't understand why a girl wouldn't be treated equally.

My mother always said that when I was born I came out a feminist.

Still am. (So was she.)

Girls are equal to boys, women to men. Let's not even contest that one.

Still, my brothers did have a Saturday Shabbat service Bar Mitzvah and I was only allowed to have one on Friday night. I was content with that, it was a start.

We had a small party at home. I was allowed to invite one friend, and of course my family was there -- aunts, uncles, cousins, including my cousin Leslie, who, to this day, is like a sister.

I remember my dress: white with red and black lines. 

I don't remember what my Mother made for food.

But I do remember dessert. Because I made it: a dark chocolate cake with fudge frosting.

I didn't keep the recipe. I don't actually know whose recipe I used. I just remember what it looked like and that it tasted fabulous and that I made the cake for my own Bat Mitzvah.

So today I celebrate with Chocolate Cake. This one is a riff on the famous Hershey Black Cake with a few changes to make it dairy-free, less sweet and more to my tastes (you can change the frosting to dairy using 12 tablespoons of butter in place of the coconut milk and coconut oil). 

This is a good cake for a festive occasion, even one's own Bat Mitzvah.

Black Chocolate Cake

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • water
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong, cooled coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans. Pour the lemon juice into a liquid (pitcher) measuring cup and add enough water to measure one cup. Set aside. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix at low speed to combine the ingredients. Add the eggs, the lemon-water, coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla extract and beat the ingredients at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, or until well combined and smooth. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto a cake rack to cool completely. Frost and serve.

Makes 8-10 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt

Place the chocolate chips, coconut milk and coconut oil in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth and uniform. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Let cool, whisking the ingredients occasionally. Refrigerate until firm enough to be spreadable.


Roasted Lemony Brussels Sprouts


My husband once told me that if I ever made Brussels Sprouts for dinner he would want a divorce.

So, none of that particular vegetable for at least 10-12 years into the marriage.

Then I got an assignment from a food editor at the paper I wrote for, to do an article on --- Brussels Sprouts. I made several recipes.

We hate food waste at our house, so Ed tried them all.

Surprise! He loved them all.

It's been a Brussels Sprouts bonanza ever since. Turns out this is one of his favorite vegetables.

So I am making this for Father's Day.


Roasted Lemony Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon peel
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half (or smaller, depending on size) and wash under cold water. Drain and place the Brussels sprouts on the parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and lemon peel and pour over the vegetable. Toss the Brussels sprouts to coat all of them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-18 minutes, turning the sprouts once or twice during roasting, or until tender and lightly golden brown.

Make 4-6 servings

Grilled “Korean Style” Chicken


Barbecue for Father’s Day: Ribs and Chicken

For years and years on Father’s Day our family, my brothers, parents and I, went to an extended family barbecue (called a “cookout”) at my Aunt Min’s house. All the cousins were there so it was a generally raucous event. My Uncle Herb made hot dogs and hamburgers.

I didn’t like it. I wanted to be with my father and and not everyone else’s. It wasn’t as if we never saw the cousins. There were always plenty of other occasions during the year.

Besides, I wanted my Mom’s delicious food. Uncle Herb was a nice guy and all but he tended to overcook everything so the hot dogs were shriveled and the burgers were like hardened play dough.

So one year I got really brave and told my mother I didn’t want to go.

Wow — she agreed! It was like a miracle. She loved the family thing (it was her family, not my Dad’s) so I was really surprised. Maybe she was looking for an excuse not to go? Maybe all the little, noisy kids were too much for her? Maybe the traffic was a hassle?

In any event, after that our family went solo with our own cookout and that’s the tradition I follow with my own children. It’s raucous enough just with us! 

We change the menu from year to year, but it’s always something on the grill plus a few veggie and grain salads and maybe potato salad.

I just bought some beautiful beef ribs for Sunday. And some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Here’s the recipe I’m going to use (it’s for the chicken, but you can use the same marinade for the beef ribs).

Grilled “Korean Style” Chicken

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup agave or honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 thick scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 large skinless and boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

Combine the soy sauce, agave, brown sugar, vegetable oil, sesame seed oil, garlic, scallions, ginger and black pepper in a dish large enough to hold the chicken breasts. Mix the ingredients well. Immerse the chicken and turn them a few times to coat all surfaces. Marinate for 2-3 hours, turning the meat from time to time. Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill the breasts, brushing occasionally with the marinade, for about 8 minutes, turning once or twice, or until the breasts are cooked through. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds if desired. Makes 4 servings 


Tagged: Father's DayGrilled ChickenKorean Barbecue Sauce