It’s a day named for dads – the one time of the year we get to honour them. And these days, it is important to celebrate, well, just about everything! We asked one of Canada’s stellar chefs, Michael Smith, for special breakfast or brunch ideas, so you can treat Dad to a memorable day he won’t soon forget.
One thing for sure, we know how to appreciate the important things in life now. Actually, Chef Michael has made it his mission to do exactly that. He’s a huge advocate of gathering everyone around the table and focusing on what really matters. He knows what he’s talking about – his cooking shows are viewed around the world, he’s authored more than a dozen cookbooks and he and his wife, Chastity, run two five-star inns in Prince Edward Island.
This is the best time to commemorate any holiday, says chef Michael. “I think we’re all at our best when we come together around food and celebrating anything in life – like Father’s Day, 100 percent.”
We’ve all been forced to up our game in the kitchen, something Chef Michael has been pushing for years, encouraging people to get cooking with the message that real food is easy to make, delicious and good for you. “I'm hearing people say over and over again, ‘Wow, it feels so good. I’m sitting down with my family three times a day, and that’s the best time. I wish somebody had told me this years ago!’” he says. “And I'm just sitting there with a smile on my face thinking, Yeah, OK!”
As for Father’s Day breakfast or brunch ideas, he suggests keeping it simple, like eggs. And if you want to up the ante, then go for it. “Let’s knock it out of the park with Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart,” he says. “That’s my single most viral recipe ever…it’s a showstopper dish, but as crazy as it looks, people nail it the first time, you just have to be patient.” All you need is a fresh salad on the side. For dessert, he suggests Flaming Bananas, and maybe Dad can get this one. “You get to show your kids that even Dad goes in the kitchen and rocks it now and then, and what dad doesn’t want to learn how to set bananas on fire to impress the kids?” he asks.
As for Chef Michael, he won’t be cooking at all on Father’s Day. “In my family, I don’t cook on Father’s Day or any holiday,” he says. “Really I’m happy with anything,” he says. And then, he adds, they will get out for some kind of adventure, get in a game or two, have dinner and watch a family movie together. “So, for me, it will be an awesome day,” he says happily.
Success in the kitchen
Everyone can cook healthy, nourishing meals. It starts with believing in your abilities and building confidence, says Chef Michael Smith, who offers good info and tips to get started.
• Focus on who is at your table, because it matters more than what’s on the table. You don’t need to impress your family and friends. So don’t be afraid to go with the things that you’re comfortable with, the things your family loves, the things that you have mastered over time.
• There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics to create simple and healthy meals that don’t cost a fortune. That builds competence and with that comes confidence in the kitchen. Try not to get bogged down with too many details or coming up with new complicated dishes.
• If you are looking to try something new for a celebration, maybe try something different for a first course, side dish or dessert; this way you aren’t sweating over a super-complicated main course, and you can enjoy the meal too.
• Number 1 Tip: Invest in high-quality, heavy-duty cookware. That’s why he stands by Canadian-made stainless-steel Meyer cookware, manufactured in P.E.I. as well, which features a special heat-conducting base. “Stay away from all the bells and gadgets, and don’t go buying those $39 sets with 64 pans!” he cautions. And that is how you set yourself up to create great meals in your own kitchen.
"Life is lived at the table, and I think we’re all at our best when we come together around food and celebrating anything in life." says Chef Michael Smith
Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart
- 2 pounds (1 kg) room-temperature bacon
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups (1 L) shredded aged cheddar cheese
- 5 or 6 large baking potatoes, unpeeled
- Sea salt
- 1 onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Carefully arrange the bacon in a radial pattern from the center of the bottom of a 10- or 12-inch (25 or 30 cm) round nonstick baking pan; arrange the bacon so that it fits along the bottom of the pan, continuing up and over the sides. Let the ends hang over. The slices should overlap slightly around the sides of the pan. To reduce the thickness of the bacon in the center, stagger every other piece, starting it 2 inches (5 cm) from the center and extending it further than the adjacent slices.
- With the palm of your hand, flatten the center area, leaving no gaps in the bacon. Season the bacon with lots of pepper. Sprinkle several spoonfuls of shredded cheddar over top.
- Slice the potatoes as thinly and uniformly as you can, about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Arrange a circular pattern of overlapping slices around the inside bottom edge of the pan. Continue arranging overlapping layers of the potatoes until the bottom is evenly covered. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
- Mix together the onion and garlic; sprinkle some of the mixture over the potatoes. Continue with a layer of the shredded cheddar. Cover with another layer of the potato, pressing down firmly before continuing with alternate layers of the potatoes, onion mixture and cheese, insetting each a bit from the edge of the pan until the top is 1 inch (2.5 cm) or so higher than the rim of the pan. Fold the overhanging bacon neatly up and over the top of the potatoes.
- Trim a small piece of parchment paper; place it in between an ovenproof lid and the bacon. This will prevent the bacon ends from pulling back and shrinking during cooking.
- Place the pan on a baking sheet; bake for 21/2 to 3 hours. You’ll know it’s done when a small, thin-bladed knife inserts easily.
- Pour off as much of the fat around edges as possible. Let the tart stand for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.
To learn more about Meyer's cookware and to discover new recipes, visit meyercanada.ca