Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

From steaks to milkshakes, wow dad this Father's Day with 5 recipes

Steak and potato salad with shallot-mustard vinaigrette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Steak and potato salad with shallot-mustard vinaigrette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This Sunday, we celebrate fathers.

When I started developing new recipes for Father’s Day, it got me thinking: What is food that fathers like? Is there such a thing as ‘male food’ versus food women like?

When you think of Father’s Day, there are the obvious cliches: steak, potatoes, burgers, ribs, chops. Meat. Lots and lots of meat. But many dads I know are just as interested in good health as many of the moms and women I know. So I started playing around with some of the cliche favorites.

The first recipe is a redo of steak and potatoes. A thick steak is grilled or pan-fried, sliced, and served with thick slices of crispy potatoes on top of a bed of seasonal lettuce, arugula or greens. A mustardy shallot vinaigrette is spooned on top. It’s satisfying, but also a bit lighter than the standard steak and potato dinner.

Next up is crab cakes. Whether you live near the coast and can find fresh crab meat or rely on frozen, these crab cakes are simple and show off the flavor of the crab without mucking it up with a whole lot of other ingredients. The crabcakes can be assembled hours ahead of time and sauteed just before serving. A simple herb butter is drizzled on top.

And then some nostalgia for me: Father’s Day milkshakes. My dad used to whirl up milkshakes for us on Sunday mornings (despite my mother’s grumblings) and it became dad’s special tradition. Here I offer three variations of milkshakes, whether you serve them for breakfast, a treat or snack, or dinner.

To all the dads, enjoy the day. And for all of us who have lost fathers, or never had one, this can be a triggering holiday. Give any or all of these recipes a try and establish your own traditions this Sunday and all summer long.

Steak and potato salad with shallot-mustard vinaigrette

This salad offers all the satisfaction of a steak and potato dinner, but is a bit lighter and full of seasonal greens. The vinaigrette — made with finely chopped shallots and mustard — adds a vibrancy that ties all the flavors together. The steak is pan-fried (or grilled outdoors) and the potatoes are parboiled and then cut into thick slices. They are then browned until crisp and tender in the beef fat left in the skillet.

Serves 2 to 4.


Steak and potato salad with shallot-mustard vinaigrette. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The shallot-mustard vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 small shallot or scallion, finely chopped, about 2 ½ tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil

The steak, potatoes and salad:

  • 1 ½ pound T-bone, strip steak, or porterhouse steak, about 1 to 1 ½ inches thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound small Yukon Gold, red, and/or blue potatoes, left whole and unpeeled
  • 2 cups lettuce, arugula or mixed greens


  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl or glass jar, mix the mustard and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinegar and oil and shake to make a smooth(ish) vinaigrette. The vinaigrette can be made 24 hours ahead of time.
  2. Prepare the salad: Place the steak on a plate and rub with salt, pepper, and the olive oil. Let the meat come to room temperature.
  3. Bring a medium-sized pot to boil over high heat. Add the whole potatoes and cook for 12 minutes, or until almost tender. They don’t need to be cooked through. Drain and gently rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. When cool, cut into ½-inch thick slices.
  4. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees or place a heavy (cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Place the steak on the grill or in a skillet and cook for 6 minutes. Gently flip the steak and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the thickness. Sear the fat side of the steak as well for 1 minute. The steak is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak reads 120 to 125 for rare and 130 to 135 for medium rare. Remember the temperature will continue to rise once you take the meat off the heat so plan your time accordingly. Remove and place on a cutting board.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the fat remaining in the skillet over medium-high heat.  (If you grilled the steak, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet). Working in batches, add the potato slices to the hot skillet and cook about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until crisp, golden brown and tender when tested with a small, sharp knife. Remove the potatoes to drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining potato slices.
  6. Slice the steak into ¼-inch slices. Arrange a strip of steak on a serving platter and then 3 to 4 slices of potatoes. Repeat. Arrange the salad greens around the outside of the meat and potatoes. Serve the vinaigrette on the side or spoon a few tablespoons over the greens.

Crab cakes with herb butter

These crab cakes, full of fresh herbs, can be served as a main course dinner, a lunch dish, or Father’s Day breakfast topped with a poached or fried egg. Look for fresh crab meat, but frozen it will work just fine.

Serves 2 to 4. Makes 8 two-inch crab cakes.


Crab cakes with herb butter. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The crab cakes:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot or scallions, finely chopped, about ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ pound fresh or frozen crab meat (if using frozen thaw to room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • About ½ cup panko or plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Herb butter:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, like chives, basil, tarragon, dill etc., any combination you like
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the crab cakes: In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat. Add the shallots and 1 tablespoon chives, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the egg with salt and pepper. Add the crabmeat, using a fork to break it up into small flakes. Add the sauteed shallot and chive mixture, lemon zest, the additional 1 tablespoon chives, and 1 ⁄ 2 cup of  the panko. Stir together. Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and form a round or oval cake using your hands. If the mixture doesn’t hold together easily add another 1 to 2 tablespoons of panko. Form 8 crabcakes, about 2 inches wide. You can make the crab cakes ahead of time, place on a cookie sheet, cover, and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
  3. To cook the crabcakes: Heat the remaining oil and the 1 teaspoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crabcakes, being careful not to crowd the skillet. You might need two skillets or make them in batches. Cook for 4 minutes on one side and then carefully flip over. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. While the crabcakes are cooking make the herb butter: In a small skillet heat the butter over moderately high heat. Once it starts to sizzle, lower the heat and add the herbs and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  5. Serve the hot crab cakes drizzled with the herb butter and lemon wedges.

Father’s Day milkshakes

My dad didn’t cook much. He “manned” the grill on summer weekends, flipped burgers and hot dogs, but not much else. Except when it came to Sunday breakfast. I’m not sure how the tradition started or why (my mother clearly needed a break) but my Dad would make us three kids Sunday breakfast at least once a month. He scrambled eggs, fried up bacon and sometimes, many times, would blend a breakfast milkshake. It was a great indulgence and whenever I see a milkshake I think of my father. My mother grumbled that milkshakes were not “proper breakfast food,” but that didn’t stop him. In honor of my dad (and his extremely unhealthy breakfast traditions) here are three variations on a milkshake — an ideal indulgence whether it’s served for breakfast, snack or dessert.

Three milkshake tips:

  • Freeze the glass you’ll serve the milkshake in for at least 30 minutes before serving to give the milkshake a nice frosty look and keep the milkshake cold longer.
  • Always prepare milkshakes immediately before serving. They don’t do well sitting around or hanging out in the freezer.
  • Take ice cream out of the freezer for about 5 to 10 minutes before making milkshakes to soften slightly. You don’t want the ice cream to be soupy, simply easy to scoop out.

Chocolate-chocolate hazelnut milkshake

This shake relies on Nutella (the chocolate hazelnut spread) blended with good chocolate ice cream.

Serves 1 to 2.


  • ⅓ cup heavy cream or milk
  • 2 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1 cup chocolate ice cream


  1. Place the cream and Nutella in a blender and whirl until smooth. Add the ice cream and blend until thick and smooth.

Vanilla milkshake with chocolate swirl

Vanilla milkshake with chocolate swirl. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Vanilla ice cream, vanilla extract, and milk or heavy cream make this simple milkshake. Melted chocolate is added at the end and hardens into wonderfully crunchy chocolate bits.

Serves 1 to 2.


  • 1 ounce semi-sweet, dark or milk chocolate
  • ⅓ cup milk or heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream


  1. In a small pot set over very low heat, melt the chocolate until smooth.
  2. In the container of a blender, blend the cream, vanilla extract, and ice cream until thick and smooth. Pour into 1 to 2 cups and spoon the melted chocolate onto the side of the glass so it melts down into the frozen milkshake. The chocolate will harden into wonderful crunchy chocolate bits.

Coffee milkshake

Coffee milkshake. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

A true morning milkshake!

Serves 1 to 2.


  • 2 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream


  1. Place the espresso and ice cream in a blender and blend until smooth.

Other favorite recipes  ideal for Father’s Day:

This article was originally published on

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit