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Tonight you'll get a phone call -- it's your sister. The usual chitchat ensues and then the question: "So, what's the plan for Sunday?"

You're quiet for moment, then quickly ask, "What's Sunday?"

"It's Father's Day, of course," she replies. "Isn't the summer just flying by?"

You start breathing rapidly, but play it cool and respond, "Of course, of course -- do you want to have everyone at your place this year?" Now you'll be off the hook.

"That's the plan," she says and instructs you to tell your brother -- and that you're on duty for the main course.

You're a bit frazzled because Father's Day has somehow snuck up on you, but you don't let it show as you say good-bye. You hang up the phone and realize you don't even have a gift for dear old dad.

Don't panic: here's how to handle it.

We all know food can speak volumes. So why not honor the occasion with a home cooked meal your dad's sure to enjoy?

Put some thought into it -- it's Father's Day, right? Let's focus on the man of the house and start with some nice steaks and burgers or maybe swordfish.

A great meal and gift in one package could begin with a box of Kansas City prime aged

rib-eye steaks.

You can have them sent ahead to party central and then concoct a memorable marinade to bring along, so everything is barbecue-ready when you arrive on Sunday.

Here's my recipe, which is simple, flavorful and needs less than a half hour of marinating time. And its versatility lends it to anything from steaks and burgers to fish, crab and shrimp -- one will be sure to please even the pickiest of padres.

Orange Marmalade Marinade

Serves: 6

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1 12-ounce jar orange marmalade (English, if possible)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 tablespoons A1 steak sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

4 10-ounce rib-eye steaks OR 6 8-ounce sirloin steaks OR 12 4-ounce burgers OR 3 lbs. flank steak

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients, except the meat and salt and pepper. Set aside 1 cup of the marinade, add meat to the remaining and toss gently to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to overnight).

2. In a small saucepan, boil the reserved marinade for 5 minutes, or until thickened to a glaze consistency.

3. Heat grill: When it's too hot to hold your hand six inches above the grill for more than 5 seconds, it's ready. Remove meat from marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill until rare to medium-rare, about 4 minutes on each side. Let rest for five minutes.

4. To serve, brush the reserved marinade over meat; if using steaks, cut against the grain into thin slices. Serve warm.

Now that you have a bold main course, why not throw together a bold summer salad to go with it? I always love a great salad to complement my grilled meat or fish.

This deceptively simple tomato salad will bring some nice acidity to the plate and balance the richly marinated meat.

Zesty Tomato Salad

Serves: 4

4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced (preferably heirloom)

1/3 cup red onions, minced

Finely grated zest of 2 large or 3 small oranges

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fan tomato slices on four plates. Scatter onions and orange zest over tomatoes and dress with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. This dish can easily be made ahead and transported to party central.

What if your dad prefers something a little more complex? Try this classic salad -- it takes a little more work, but the result is well worth it.

Roasted Beet Salad With Goat Cheese

Serves: 4

3 large beets, trimmed and scrubbed

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1/2 cup walnut or extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 cups arugula

2 cups frisee lettuce, roughly chopped

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sprinkle beets with salt and wrap each separately in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast in oven 40 minutes, or until tender throughout when pierced with a skewer. Remove from sheet and set aside. Keep oven on.

3. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and toast in oven for 6 minutes, until dark brown and fragrant. Set aside. (Beets and walnuts can be made and stored separately one day in advance.)

4. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, sugar and vinegar. Pour oil into the bowl in a slow, steady stream, while whisking vigorously. Stir in tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Slip skins off cooled beets, and slice each crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Fan several beet slices on four plates. Layer crumbled goat cheese, arugula, frisee and walnuts on beets, and drizzle each with the vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

See? With a little thought and a few of these delicious dishes, you can make the father of the house feel special. Only you will know how easy it was to prep everything at the last minute!

Just don't forget to call and invite your brother; tell him to bring the lame potato salad. Oh yeah, and don't tell him what you're making either. That way, you'll steal the show -- and be dad's favorite.


: Rocco is shooting his new TV show, and he's looking for people with a dramatic situation in their lives involving food. Worried about that engagement dinner with your picky mother-in-law? Trying to win back that ex-girlfriend who's still mad at you for cheating on her? Trying to bury the hatchet with that outcast uncle at your family reunion cookout? Rocco wants to help you! Please

email with your problem and we will contact you!

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Rocco DiSpirito was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. His culinary experience and love of "the good life" through cooking and dining began at age 11 in his mother Nicolina's kitchen. By the age of 16, DiSpirito entered the Culinary Institute of America, graduating with honors in 1986. DiSpirito's career highlights include opening Union Pacific in New York City's Gramercy Park as chef and owner in 1997, being awarded three stars from the New York Times in a 1998 review, and three more in 2002 from the New York Observer. DiSpirito was also named Food & Wine's Best New Chef in 1999, and "America's Most Exciting Young Chef" by Gourmet magazine in 2000; his show "The Restaurant" first aired on NBC in 2003. DiSpirito is the author of three cookbooks: Flavor, Rocco's Italian American, and

Rocco's 5 Minute Flavor.