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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Recipes with memories of Dad

Father’s day is coming up. As I have said in the past, my fathers cooking was confined to grilling. There are other food memories that I have of him.

My father was born in Boston. After graduating from Boston University, my dad enlisted in the Navy. He was sent to boot camp in New Orleans. He met my mom at a USO dance. He ended up being stationed on a troop transport out of San Francisco. My mom got a job as a civilian with the navy shipping office and she was assigned to San Francisco. While in San Francisco, they were engaged. After the war, my dad was discharged and moved to New Orleans to marry my mom.

Being the cook that my mom was, she learned to cook some of his favorite dishes. Unfortunately, many of the Boston dishes of those times were not very flavor-able. As we say in New Orleans, most people eat to live, but in New Orleans, we live to eat. So today, I am sharing two recipes that remind me of my dad, Lawrence Centola.

This is a dish that was often served with meats from the grill. I have always associated this dish with my dad, because he did the grilling. Maybe it is the name. I have not heard of this dish being mentioned outside of my house in New Orleans.

Hurkey Lurky

8 ounces Elbow Macaroni, cooked

2 tablespoons fresh Garlic, through a garlic press

1/3 cup Olive Oil

Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Fresh Parsley, chopped (optional)

Heat garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes. Toss pasta with oil and garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

This is the iconic Boston dish. Created at the Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston, a version of this dish always made its way to the table for my dad’s birthday.

Boston Cream Pie

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup cooking oil

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pastry cream, recipe follows

Ganache, recipe follows

Pastry Cream Filling:

2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


8 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup heavy cream, boiling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.

Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)

Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.

To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Here’s to all of the Fathers! Happy Father’s Day!

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