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Cooking for your hero

By VICKY VELOSO-BARRERA, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 22, 2023 5:00 am

Cooking Dad’s favorite dishes is a fun way to express your gratitude for all that he is: your number-one fan, your sturdy rock, your protector, your gaming partner, your guiding light, your trusted counselor.

If you want to see what a real-life hero looks like with superpowers of patience, DIY, and fearlessness (when it comes to you), just look at your dad. He is not perfect, but he loves you as perfectly as he can.

Dad’s favorites: Twins Elijah and Enzo Liao whip up Korean and Japanese dishes.

Your dad makes a lot of sacrifices you know nothing about to keep you safe and provided for as best he can. Kids may not have a lot of spending power but they can certainly make their dads feel appreciated with recipes using easy-to-find ingredients and staples that they’re bound to have in the kitchen.

Joshua Yu, Christian To, Noah Hipolito, Josh Dee and Jermaine Sitotsa with Dad-pleasing burgers, sushi and more

Foodie kids know just how their dads like their meals to taste, too. One of my students, Xian, tweaked my recipe for fried rice because he said his dad liked his with a tablespoon or two more of soy sauce. And if they are boys working in the kitchen, the common denominator will be beef in some form or another.

Caleb Nua’s steak sandwiches are sure to make Dad happy.

That means burgers, steaks and yes, pasta, too.

Here are budget-friendly recipes my students use to let their dads know that they are special, appreciated and very much loved.

Drake Ching, Radley Pacheco and Caleb Kaw with their cheeseburgers

Combine in a bowl:

  • 3/4 kilo ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

Form into 6 patties and pan-fry or oven-bake.

Toast 6 hamburger buns and spread the bottom half with a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup. Top with lettuce and sliced tomatoes, then the burger and sliced cheese.

* * *

Kids love pasta: Carbonara, lasagna, and spaghetti with meatballs. But no one will request the salty and spicy Puttanesca unless it’s for their dad.

Xian Chan and his spaghetti Puttanesca: He’s also making doughnuts on the side.
Pasta puttanesca

Heat in a frying pan:

  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • Add:
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets with some of the oil
  • A generous pinch of chili flakes
  • Mash the anchovy fillets then add:
  • 1/2 cup black or green olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsps. capers
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, sliced

Combine with 200 grams cooked spaghetti. There is no need for salt because of the anchovies and usually very little need for pepper because of the chili flakes. Add more olive oil plus anchovy oil if the pasta seems dry.

* * *

A sweet dessert is very much in order. Never mind the temporary sugar overload because the most beloved activity in my school, Tiny Kitchen, is cake and cupcake decorating. It doesn’t matter if they are boys or girls, kids or teens—make them bake a cake, teach them to use an icing bag and for the next 30 minutes they will be seriously concentrated on this task.

Siblings Xian, Summer and Winter Chan make colorful Funfetti cakes for their dad.
Funfetti cake

Mix together well:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Blend in:
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles

Pour the batter into a parchment-lined, 6-inch baking pan and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched and is pulling away from the sides.

Frost with buttercream icing:

Mix together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup shortening and 2-3 tbsps. water.

Decorate with sprinkles and colored candies.

Sean Mavi Go started at age three: Cupcakes make a lovely treat for Father’s Day.

Try using a rectangular pan and decorating the cake to look like a shirt with necktie in a box. In the end, any design made by a child is charming and will warm his heart.

You can whip up something as easy as pancakes from a mix and some bacon, or a simple cookie baked in a toaster oven, or even mini pizzas using pan de sal as the base.

As long as you cook with making Dad happy as your goal, love is that secret ingredient that transforms any child’s creation into a yummy taste treat that then transforms again into a sweet memory.