Man of the moment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 June, 2008, 12:00am

However much you might be tempted, avoid firing up the barbecue today; if your father is at all typical, he will want to assume control of the cooking. Today is Father's Day, so let him relax with an ice-cold beer or a glass of wine (or a shot - or two - of whisky, if that's what he prefers), while you cook this simple meal for him.

Maple-glazed ribs (pictured)

Ribs should be cooked long and slow to make them tender and allow most of the fat to drip out. They taste even better when cooked in a covered barbecue over an indirect heat - but save that idea for another day.

2 racks of pork ribs, about 1kg each

250ml maple syrup

1 small onion, finely grated

2 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 or 2 bird's-eye chillies, finely minced (or to taste)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

15ml fresh lime juice

30ml fresh orange juice

Finely grated zest of one orange

20ml soy sauce

15ml Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp paprika

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

If the butcher hasn't done it, remove the tough membrane from the concave side of the ribs. Use a sharp knife to make slits in the meaty parts between the bones. Whisk the maple syrup with the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, mustard, lime juice, orange juice and zest, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and salt and pepper. Rub the marinade into the ribs and leave at room temperature for two hours, or in the refrigerator for up to eight hours.

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Drain the ribs(reserve the marinade) and place in one layer on a metal rack set in a large baking tray (to make cleaning easier, line with aluminium foil). Bake at 120 degrees for at least two hours, or until the ribs are tender. Baste the ribs occasionally with the marinade but let them finish cooking undisturbed for the last 30 minutes. If the ribs are too pale, turn the heat up to 200 degrees for another 10 minutes. Serves four to six.

If you're going to cook the kabocha squash gratin (see below), remove the ribs from the oven, cover loosely with aluminium foil and turn the temperature to 180 degrees.

Kabocha squash gratin

Kabocha is a Japanese squash with a matte-green rind and beautiful orange flesh. Take care when cutting the rind because it's very hard.

1kg kabocha squash

30ml extra virgin olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)

100 grams finely grated gruyere

200ml cream

30 grams finely grated parmesan

30 grams panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Unsalted butter, for greasing the ramekins

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Scrape out the seeds and fibre from the cavity of the squash and carefully cut away the hard shell (it's okay if there's a bit of green on the flesh). Cut the squash into 5mm-thick slices and mix with the oil, garlic, chilli, gruyere and black pepper. Grease four to six shallow individual-portion ramekins with butter and divide the squash between them (you can use one large ramekin - allow for a longer cooking time). Pour the cream over the squash then sprinkle with parmesan and panko. Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Chocolate pots de creme

This is a very rich way to finish a meal. This custard should be baked in advance and chilled for several hours.

450ml cream

150ml whole milk

150 grams bittersweet chocolate (with a cacao content

of about 70 per cent), chopped

6 large egg yolks

70 grams sugar

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

10ml vanilla extract

30ml cognac, whisky or brandy

Unsweetened whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat until it's simmering. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it melts. Whisk the egg yolks with the salt and sugar. Ladle about 100ml of the chocolate-cream mixture into the yolks and whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, add the chocolate-cream to the yolks in a steady stream. Stir in the vanilla and liquor then strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Place eight 120ml ramekins on a 3cm-deep baking tray.

Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins. Place the tray in the oven then pour in hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely drape a sheet of aluminium foil over the ramekins then bake at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done; the custard will be a little wobbly at the centre when you shake the ramekin. Allow to cool at room temperature then wrap each ramekin individually in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for several hours. Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. Leftover pots de creme can be refrigerated for three days.

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