The Day Belongs to Dad

I’ve heard from a number of men that “the best gift you can give Dad on Father's Day [this Sunday, June 16, in 2024] is a full stomach” — preferably one filled by someone other than himself! The day belongs to Dad, so let him step away from the grill — no standing over a hot BBQ making sure everyone’s steak is cooked to perfection. No flipping burgers or turning hot dogs for the kids. This year, Dad, the day is yours, with these mostly make-ahead meals that someone else has prepared! You’ll find these and other Dad-pleasing recipes in my new cookbook “Delicious Ireland.” To order a signed copy, visit

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Serves 2

 Bluebell Falls Goat Cheese is produced near Charleville in North Cork from milk that comes from a mix of breeds – white Saanen and brown Toggenburg goats from Switzerland, and black and white British Alpine goats. The graze happily in picture-perfect fields outside the cheesemaking facility, enjoying a diet of lush grass and wild shrubs that infuse their milk with the perfect balance of richness and taste — to say nothing of how adorable they are! The O’Sullivan family, with Breda as cheesemaker-in-charge, makes plain and flavored (garlic, honey and thyme) soft goat cheese, either one of which is perfect for stuffing these chicken breasts. Wrap them in prosciutto for an elegant meal. Serve the chicken with a green salad and Mini Potato Gratins (recipe follows).

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts


Ground black pepper

4 ounces goat cheese, plain or flavored

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus 2 to 3 sprigs, for garnish

2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 slices prosciutto

8 ounces vine tomatoes

4 shallots, peeled and cut in half

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Split the chicken breasts almost in half from one long side; open out. With a rolling pin or meat mallet, flatten out the breast. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Spread half the goat cheese on each piece of chicken; sprinkle with the thyme and parsley. Fold the chicken over to enclose the cheese; wrap each one in two slices of the prosciutto.

2. Lightly oil a shallow ovenproof dish. Place the chicken in the dish; surround with tomatoes and shallots. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with thyme sprigs.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 mins, or until the prosciutto is crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165°F. Serve with gratins.


Makes 12 

These individual potatoes are show-stoppers with steaks, chops, chicken, and fish. They require a little more effort in assembling them, but they’re well worth it for their cheesy taste and lovely presentation—they also reheat beautifully if you have any left over. 

3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling

3 ounces grated Swiss cheese, such as the Kerrygold brand, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a standard muffin pan with butter flavor no-stick cooking spray. 

2. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the butter, olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper; stir to coat. Add half the cheese; toss again.

3. Layer the potato slices evenly into each muffin cup, filling to the top. Pour some of the cream over each cup. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. 

4. Bake the gratins, rotating the pan halfway through, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp on top and tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the cups to loosen. Serve immediately; garnish with thyme and a few grinds of black pepper.


Serves 6

 As its name indicates, summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are the main ingredients in this stunning dessert. But don’t be fooled by the word “pudding” in its name, since the other ingredient is white bread or brioche! I was surprised when I discovered it, probably sometime in the early 1980s, although its history dates to the early twentieth century. After the fruit and bread mingle overnight, the result is a colorful dessert that almost looks too pretty to eat. Serve the pudding with whipped or clotted cream.

5 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

7 slices firm white bread or brioche, crusts removed

Whipped cream or clotted cream, for serving

Fresh berries, for garnish (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries and sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the berries soften and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; let cool for 10 minutes. Strain the berry mixture, reserving all the juice and berries.

2. Line a 1-quart soufflé dish or mixing bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on both sides to cover the pudding. Cut one piece of bread to fit the bottom of the bowl. Line the sides of the dish with four slices, overlapping each slightly, to fill in any gaps. Drizzle some of the juices over the bread.

3. Spoon the berries into the bread-lined bowl. Cover the fruit with the remaining slices, cutting to fit. Drizzle the remaining juice over the top. Cover the pudding with the excess plastic wrap. 

4. Set the bowl on a plate to catch any juices that might spill out. Lay another plate on top with  a weight (like a can of coffee or beans) to ensure that the bread absorbs all the juices; refrigerate overnight.

5. To unmold, remove the weight and plate. Unfold the plastic wrap from the top of the pudding. Place a clean plate on top; quickly invert the pudding. Remove the plastic wrap from rest of pudding. 

6. To serve, cut the pudding into wedges; top with whipped cream or clotted cream. Garnish with fresh berries, if desired.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her cookbooks, visit,