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A bold dish for your dad on his day

When it comes to food, dads are different. That means cooking for them shouldn't always be the same. Especially on Father's Day.

Men are happiest at the table when the portions are big and the flavors are bold, says Don Mauer, author of a new cookbook, "A Guy's Guide to Great Eating" (Houghton Mifflin, $17). That's easy enough, but what if we don't want to end up with a bunch of fat daddies?Mauer has that covered, too. After losing 105 pounds himself, Mauer concentrates on healthful eating. The subtitle of his book is "Big-flavored, fat-reduced recipes for men who love to eat," and in most of the recipes in the book, 30 percent or less of the calories come from fat.

"When you cut out the fat, you automatically cut out a lot of the flavor," Mauer says. "To compensate, you have to find other ways to boost the flavor."

The fastest way to do that, Mauer says, is to use lots of freshly ground pepper (Mauer keeps three pepper mills by his stove) and to use fresh herbs, fresh jalapeno peppers and spicy salsas.

And when you're cooking with Dad in mind, you can't give him half a cup of spaghetti and expect a satisfied man.

"Please," Mauer says. "A man is going to look at you like you're crazy and say, 'That's dinner?' "

We've adapted Mauer's recipe for Southwestern Linguine with Shrimp just slightly to fit our Desperation style.


8 ounces linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, (for 1/2 cup chopped)

1 red bell pepper

5 jalapeno peppers

2 tablespoons bottled minced garlic

1 lime

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound medium shrimp, already shelled and deveined

1/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

Tabasco sauce, for passing at the table, optional

Bring 2 1/2 quarts of unsalted water to a boil in a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven or soup pot. When the water boils, add the noodles and cook until just tender, 10 to 11 minutes.

While the linguine cooks, heat the olive oil in an extra-deep, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop.

Seed and rinse the bell pepper and coarsely chop. Add it to the skillet. Wearing rubber gloves, cut the jalapeno peppers in half and remove the seeds. Thinly slice the jalapeno peppers into crescent slices and add them to the skillet. Add the garlic.

Squeeze the juice from the lime and add it to the skillet. Add the wine. Chop the parsley and cilantro, and add them to the skillet. Add the salt. Add the shrimp, and cook until they are just opaque, about 3 minutes, stirring from time to time. (If the shrimp are done before the linguine has finished cooking, remove the skillet from the heat.)

Drain the linguine and add it to the skillet. Stir and toss to coat the noodles well with sauce. (Or you can toss the noodles and sauce in a large serving bowl.) Serve immediately, topping each serving with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Pass the Tabasco sauce at the table, if desired. Serves 4.

Approximate Values Per Serving: 449 calories (22 percent from fat), 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 166 mg cholesterol, 29 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, 602 mg sodium.

Beverly Mills is a former food editor of the Miami Herald food section and a mother of two; Alicia Ross, a food columnist for The Raleigh News and Observer, also has two children. They have been living the desperate life for the past seven years. Their new cookbook, "Desperation Dinners!" is now available from Workman Publishing. Send desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; or e-mail: (C) United Feature Syndicate Inc.