My father's birthday is next weekend. My sister is coming in for a visit so instead of two, or one, or even three I'll be cooking for four. Nevertheless, this menu is perfect for two or can easily be scaled down to one or up to six or more. It features several of my father's favorite foods - which isn't difficult as he is a foodie too. I'll be transporting all of this out to my parent's house, so I want dishes I can mostly make in advance. This is going to be fun!
01 of 05
An incredibly easy and delicious appetizer with bright clear fresh flavors, it will be delicious with a glass of champagne before dinner. I like using goat cheese (chèvre) but you can also use cream cheese or even ricotta. Although these can be made a few hours in advance, they can't be made a day in advance because you want to avoid refrigerating them (which destroys the flavor of the tomatoes).
02 of 05
Dad shares my pork gene - or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I inherited his. He also adores sharp spicy flavors and grilled meat. So what could be better than this dish? It's an astoundingly good recipe - the Spaniards really know (and love) their pork. The combination of Moroccan (Moorish) spices and pork is amazing. If you prefer a leaner meat, use lamb - or even chicken - instead of pork. Beef isn't a good substitute with these spices.
03 of 05
Tabouleh is great at any time of the year, but is best with fresh local ingredients so I particularly look forward to it as a summertime treat. I like a rather tart version of the salad so add some lemon juice to the salad. Add a little to start, and then taste before adding all of the lemon juice. You don't want the salad to be too tart! This salad is a perfect match to the pork.
04 of 05
I have a confession - I love my microwave, especially for corn. Mostly (almost exclusively in fact) I use it for warming up food I've already cooked. And I've gotten quite good at using it to reheat leftovers, which means I've figured out how to warm up food without cooking it further. But in general a microwave is really bad at actually cooking food. But corn is an exception. I can prep this the day before and then zap it at my folk's house when I pull the kabobs off the grill.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Ice cream would be great after this meal, but I'm not even going to think about hauling a frozen dessert out to my parents - even in a cooler - while temps are in the mid- to high-90s. Instead, we can make this cobbler the day before, and it will be every bit as good on Dad's birthday. Besides, Dad is famous in our family for his peach cobbler, so it's really a tribute to him.