Matthew is a stylist, writer, author, photographer, lifestyle editor, and noted style expert. Matthew is the official food photographer for the Associated Press and is a regular contributor to Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, and Oprah.com. He has also written several books and produced countless magazine spreads and ad campaigns for companies such as Pottery Barn, Dove Chocolate, Target, and Stonewall Kitchen.
Nothing makes a better centerpiece then a bountiful steam pot of fresh shellfish, chicken, sausages and potatoes. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
I know a little something about Father's Day. I've been a dad for a while and have an inside track on how to celebrate the day. I enjoy being with family and working together on a meal that can include my own father, my wife's father, and any other siblings, cousins, friends, and relations that like to be a part of the day. For us, an old-fashioned clam bake is a great way to celebrate. Lots of hands make light work, so there is a little something for everyone to do.
A crisp cold beer is a great accompaniment to a plate of clambake foods. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
Start by dressing-up your deck or patio or any outdoor table with some casual plates, napkins (I like dish towels), and lots of fun and delicious foods. Friends bring salads, fresh breads, and we make pies for dessert (blueberry is a favorite).
Rub fresh corn with herbed butter and sea salt for tasty bites of the season. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
Lattice topped blueberry pie will be eagerly awaited by each and every guest. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
We place a graniteware pot filled with shellfish in the center of the table with plenty of extra lemons so guests can add flavor and prepare lots of fresh summery-vegetable side dishes. Lots of things can be steamed on the grill over hot flames. I make up extra dishes of herbed melted butter to brush new potatoes and grilled peppers and zucchini. Finally, we use pretty clear glasses for punch (you can make several kinds and add alcohol to some if you wish).
Potatoes with rosemary are a simple and easy side dish to accompany all the foods on a clam bake. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
Citrus punch with ice and fresh fruits isn't only refreshing, but in a glass vessel is beautiful and engaging. Just looking at a pitcher of punch is thirst quenching. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
I plan my gathering for 2 or 3 pm under a shaded tree with the grill close by. I make sure all the guests have a drink in hand, and while the aroma of the food is filling the air, we chat about memories and the things we are especially thankful for regarding our fathers. It is during this meal that I am actually able to take the time to enjoy my family all around me and take stock in being all together. Dinner is served and helpings unfold into full bellies and then a walk and a game of wiffle ball in a make-shift diamond. Dessert ends the event with the pie as the center piece and cookies and berries as additional snacks
Cookies and berries round out dessert for lingering guests. Photo Credit: Matthew Mead
CLAMBAKE ON THE GRILL
There is something primal about the grill, and most Dads enjoy working the BBQ or at least enjoying food from it. A clam bake makes use of many different foods and allows tasty dishes for any taste buds all cooked together. Try this recipe for the grill.
2 pounds live clams
1 pound live mussels
1-1/2 pounds small new potatoes
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 sausages (such as chorizo)
4 live lobsters (about 1 pound each)
6 ears corn on the cob
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Rinse the clams, discarding any that don't close tightly when tapped.
Rinse and scrub the mussels, pulling off any tough beards, and discarding any tightly closed mussels.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, and cook the potatoes until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
Prick the sausages with a fork and grill briefly to brown, about 3 minutes, then set aside.
Create an aluminum foil disk that will almost cover the top of your grill. Be sure to leave about 3 inches around the perimeter of the disk so heat can circulate up and around the meat.
Layer all of the ingredients onto the foil-covered grill. Start with the lobsters, place the shellfish on each side. Place chicken and sausage around perimeter. Place potatoes and corn cobs atop the arrangement of meats. Cook the clambake for 25 minutes without opening the grill's lid. While the clambake cooks, melt the butter and keep it warm for dipping.
After 25 minutes open grill to check for doneness. Lobster should be red and antenna should pull easily from the lobster. Turn and prick chicken and sausage, place cover back on grill and cook for ten more minutes.
Arrange the meats on large platters, place shell fish in large graniteware pot, and serve with slices of lemon. Spoon the melted butter into individual serving dishes and let your guests help themselves.
BLUEBERRY PIE WITH ZEST
This delicious pie is traditional and memorable–a decadent finale to this celebratory meal.
1 package store bought double pie crust found in refrigerated section
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (I use a Micro plane grater)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch table salt
6 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned, and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons milk 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar or granulated sugar
In a medium bowl, stir the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Add the blueberries and toss to coat.
Place bottom crust in a metal 9-inch pie pan and crimp edges.
Stir the fruit filling a few times and scrape it into the pie shell.
Cut second pie crust into 1-inch strips and weave across top of pie in a lattice design.
Lightly cover the assembled pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. After 30 minutes of chilling, set an oven rack on the lowest rung, and put a foil-lined baking stone or baking sheet on it. Heat the oven to 425°F.
When the pie has chilled for 1 hour, brush the lattice with the milk and sprinkle on the sugar.
Set the pie directly on a baking sheet. Bake until the juices are bubbling all over 40 to 55 minutes. Let the pie cool on a rack until the juices have thickened, 2 to 3 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
DAD'S CITRUS SMASH
This refreshing punch can be made in a large glass jug or cooler with spigot and placed in a large pail of ice. Place additional fruit and ice in glasses.
2 medium lemons, sliced thin
3 oranges, sliced thin
1 lime, sliced thin
1 dozen green grapes cut in half
3 750-ml bottles off-dry white Riesling wind, chilled
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, and halved
1 cup simple syrup (bottled)
1 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed, and chilled 4 to 5 lemons
3 cups white grape juice
3 cups pineapple juice, chilled
4 cups sparkling water, chilled
Juice the lemons and oranges and strain the juice.
At least 3 hours and up to 6 hours before serving, combine the syrup, lemon juice, grape juice, pineapple juice, wine, and strawberries in a large bowl or pot. Chill in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, pour the punch into a large chilled punch bowl or glass bottle. Add the sparkling water and gently stir.