June 18th, 2013

Some of Dad’s Favorites


Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding with cocoa dusted whipped cream


Maple-Mustard Glazed Salmon Steaks, roasted golden cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and sweet onions, scallion-jasmine rice

Always start with chocolate—then work backwards.

That’s my rule, when it comes to making my dad his special Father’s Day lunch. At a spry 87 years, he doesn’t want any thing, but a well-prepared meal capped by a deep dark decadent chocolate dessert insures a happy day for the man.

First I decide on his chocolatey treat, before formulating the rest of the menu. Sometimes I make mousse; sometimes, pots de cremes. Last year, I made chocolate sorbet.

This year, I chose something treasured from his past: chocolate pudding.

For many years, his mother, my Nana, would make chocolate pudding from scratch. She would make it in big batches–chilled in a pretty crystal bowl or served in individual ceramic crocks–at least once a week when he was growing up, a tradition she continued when she came to live with us.

My sisters and I knew we’d have to be patient—puddings take an eternity to make, by a child’s sense of time. But that patience would be rewarded with the pot and spoon–which we attacked, greedily running our fingers along the pot’s sides and bottom to lap up every delicious smidge. And licking that spoon ( the prize–who would get the spoon?) like it was a great chocolate lollipop.


Chocolate pudding is uncomplicated: essentially milk, sugar, very good bittersweet chocolate, and a little cornstarch for thickening. Vanilla, coffee, creme de cacao, raspberry coulis: any other enhancements are up to you. The beauty of the pudding is in its basic premise: a delivery of creamy smooth chocolate comfort, easy-peasy to make.

The rest is all about hovering over the saucepan, stirring with diligence to insure that smooth texture, waiting for the pudding to bubble and burp. And by an adult’s time sense, it doesn’t really take that long. Maybe 15 minutes.

While the pudding cools, you can whip up the rest of the meal–beginning with the maple-mustard glaze for the salmon steaks.


Simple components: country-style Dijon mustard whisked with maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and a splash of orange juice. It does wonders in a short time, imparting dark tangy sweetness to the fish. You can marinate the salmon for as little as 20 minutes, or several hours (more time is better).

I’ve had this recipe, courtesy of Cooking Light, bookmarked for quite some time, and earlier this year, my friend Faith over at An Edible Mosaic made a variation on the theme with chicken.

I’ve made it on three different occasions–a grilled fillet flaked onto toasts for cocktail party, whole roasted fillets for a large buffet dinner, and now these steaks for Dad.

The combination works really well-a bit of an update on those honey dijon tastes. Maple syrup comes across less sweet, with more complexity. You may use a smooth Dijon mustard, but I like the pop of the mustard seeds, especially when heated. This is a recipe whose elegant result belies its simplicity.


To round out the plate:


I found this pretty golden cauliflower at Smiley’s booth at our Nashville Farmers Market. With a cooler start to our spring, it’s been nice to have some of these cruciferous veggies available in June. My dad is not a big eater of vegetables, but he loves onions and (oddly) anything from the cabbage family is tops in his book.


We’ve talked before about the ubiquitous roasting of vegetables–how it transforms the cauliflower into something crispy and sweet, the way the petals of Brussels sprouts become light caramel chips.


3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coarse grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

olive or canola oil
4 5-6oz. salmon steaks

Place the maple syrup, coarse grain mustard, balsamic vinegar and orange juice into a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Stir in salt and pepper.

Place salmon steaks into a large zip lock bag. Pour in the marinade/glaze. Seal and refrigerate. Marinate for a couple of hours.

Prepare outdoor grill, broilerpan, or stovetop grill pan with a little oil. Heat.

Sear salmon steaks–about 6 minutes per side. Baste with reserved marinade. When the fish flakes easily with a fork, remove from heat.

Serves 4


6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch sea salt
2 3/4 cups 2% milk
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70%) chopped

1/2 pint heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon cocoa–to dust over the whipped cream

Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan.* Turn on heat to medium. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly, followed by coffee and vanilla. Stir-stir-stir! Over 15 minutes time, the mixture will begin to thicken, coating the back of a wooden spoon. When the rich chocolate mixture begins to burp and bubble, remove from heat. Keep stirring.

Using a heat-proof spatula, spoon and scrape the pudding into individual ramekins. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. ( If you don’t want “pudding skin,” press plastic wrap directly onto the pudding surface.

Before serving: whip cream and dollop onto puddings. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.

Makes 6 individual ramekins.

*Many recipes call for using a double boiler, which I applaud–this works beautifully. But I will make just as smooth a pudding using my heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan on medium low heat, and that diligent hover-and-stir.


Who wants to lick the spoon?

Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Fish/Seafood, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegetables

24 Responses to “Some of Dad’s Favorites”
  1. Faith Says:

    Always start with chocolate is a rule that I can definitely get on board with, lol. What a wonderful meal you prepared for the occasion.

    I bet that glaze is fantastic on salmon – I will definitely try that! And thanks so much for the mention, my friend!

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Faith–my pleasure. thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Kath Says:

    I would love to lick the spoon! Lucky father, what a lovely meal invoking happy memories. What, though, is turbinado sugar? I am off to google it.

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Kath—turbinado sugar is raw sugar–brownish crystals, less refined than white sugar, but does not have the added molasses you find in brown sugar. I like it for its caramel nature. But you can use regular white sugar in the recipe if you like. They are interchangeable.

  5. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Oh Mercy Me…beautiful silky chocolate pudding. One of my favorite desserts, which I never ever make as I will eat it all…I will eat the pudding, scrape the pan, lick the spoon…everything.
    As children we all loved the spoon the best…it was the prelude of things to come, the anticipation of more, the very best part.

  6. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    I haven’t eaten chocolate pudding in ages, how delicious it looks.What a lovely way to celebrate your Dad.

  7. Jayne Says:

    That salmon looks incredible–and so easy to make! Can’t wait to try it.

  8. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    What a thoughtful and delicious meal you created for Father’s day.

  9. fluffy Says:

    fluf daddy says da pudding is da bomb

  10. fluffy Says:

    and the salmon’s awesome, too.

    never seen golden cauliflower before…amazing

  11. Heather Says:

    What a lucky dad!

  12. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I definitely want to lick that spoon, and sit down to the dinner you describe here.

  13. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, both recipes are awesome, I love the glaze that you have on the salmon and the chocolate pudding looks absolutely gorgeous…yum!
    Thanks for the recipes and hope you are having a wonderful week :D

  14. Tammy Says:

    What a nice post! I love how you honored the day with these recipes and I would like to try the salmon.

  15. Barbara Says:

    A fun list of your dad’s favorites, Nancy. For some reason, my dad was not a big chocolate lover, but this pudding would have changed his mind! (he was more a bread pudding type.)
    Love the salmon recipe…maple, mustard, balsamic and orange juice sounds wonderful. We eat a lot of salmon, going to try this.

  16. Wendy Says:

    Loved this post about your Dad’s delicious meal. What better gift for Father’s Day!

  17. Barbara Greene Says:

    I read this adoring blog to our dad ( and mom), yesterday during a visit. They both were very touched, dad chuckled frequently. What a lovely meal Nance, and the pudding!!! Yours looks sooo much yummier than what I remember Nana making for us! Of course, I am sure I didn’t pass any up years ago. Mmmmmm, I want to make some very soon. Thanks!

  18. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    What an interesting cauliflower :) I could def do with one of those desserts right now

  19. Madeleine Says:

    I must try this pudding. Maybe Zachary can lick the spoon!

  20. Patrick O'Rourke Says:

    Tell your dad I send my very best regards.

  21. Beth Says:

    What a great meal! Chocolate pudding is such a satisfying old-fashioned dessert. And your salmon looks wonderful!

  22. Rach Says:

    When I visit, I would like this meal please. It is rare that a pudding picture seduces me, but this did. Your writing too, it always does. Lucky dad. xx

  23. Liza Mooney Says:

    Whisk together the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla in a medium bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly as you pour to prevent the yolks from curdling. Immediately pour the egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Bring to simmer on medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and, whisking constantly, simmer, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Divide among four dessert cups or ramekins. Place plastic wrap over pudding, directly touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 2 hours.

  24. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    LOL! I love always start with chocolate and work backwards! So true and so smart:))) The dessert looks amazing and I bet a tsp of bourbon or espresso would be even better in it! The salmon looks perfectly cooked and so moist! I am wanting that for dinner tonight. Hope ya’ll had a wonderful father’s day! Much Love!

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