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Published: Saturday, 11/9/2013

There’s nothing finer than dining in a friend’s home

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNIST
Mary Alice Powell Mary Alice Powell
BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Here’s one way to tell a true friend: When you say, let’s go out to lunch, and she responds, “No, you come to my house, I insist.”

That’s a sampling of the conversation between Janet George and I last week. Needless to say, she was on the cooking end of the deal and I was the winner. My cooking has slowed to a low simmer, so home-cooked invitations are a welcome break, especially if it’s someone who has made food and recipes a priority.

Janet admits she doesn’t like to bake, but she loves to cook, which is lucky for her husband Joel, their sons Joel, Jr., and Tony, their wives, and the many friends who know better than to decline an invitation to the Georges.

After I had extended the appropriate thank yous and hugs to Janet and Joel, she did what just comes naturally for this hostess. She handed me the recipes she used for our lunch and packed the “leftovers” for me to take home.

The praline salad, so named because of the sugared walnuts, and pumpkin roll contributions were appreciated the next day for lunch and the Shrimp Appetit for dinner was almost as good as it was the day before. Notice, I said almost, because with good food, good conversation is always a bonus.

Janet says shrimp is her favorite seafood, which accounts for Tom Chipps, Rohr Fish Co. owner, being one of her choice friends. She only uses fresh shrimp and is disgusted when she is served shrimp in a restaurant that is limp and does not snap when you bend it like fresh shrimp does.

She enjoys the challenge of trying new recipes, but for our lunch she clicked into her extensive computer file. Shrimp Bon Appetit, from the Fort Lauderdale restaurant by that name, has been favored since she demonstrated it on Toledo, Channel 11 in 2005.

She was the director of the Cooking School at the former Gourmet Curiosities for several years. Janet always says that a recipe is easy. I know that the shrimp dish is good enough to try so we’ll see how easy it is. Clam juice and white wine, in equal amounts, are flavorful distinctions in the marinara sauce.

Shrimp Bon Appetit

1 pound angel hair pasta, or use fettuccini, if desired

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

3 to 4 minced garlic cloves

3 tablespoons minced shallots

½ cup white wine

1/​2 cup bottled clam juice

½ tablespoon black pepper

1 pound medium shrimp

1/​3 cup minced parsley

1/​3 to ½ cup commercial marinara sauce

Thickening of flour and water if necessary

½ lemon

Cook and drain pasta. Return to pot to keep warm.

Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet. Add garlic and shallots and sauté over low heat 2 minutes and stir often. Increase heat to medium high and add wine, clam juice, and pepper. Simmer another 2 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer 2 minutes or just until shrimp are opaque. Be careful not to overcook. Stir in marinara and parsley.

To serve, squeeze juice from lemon over warm, drained pasta and mix in. Pour sauce over pasta. Mix thoroughly, but gently. Or serve individual servings of pasta topped with shrimp and sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

Lakeside Dining

When Rick Tropiano opened his second restaurant at the Hillsdale, Mich., golf course, he didn’t worry about thinking of another name. He simply calls it Johnny T’s, the same name of his popular place in Hillsdale, near the fairgrounds.

The name recognizes John Savarino, who operated Savarino’s where Johnny T’s is located, for many years. The T, of course, stands for Tropiano.

The golf course location overlooks Baw Beese Lake and is especially impressive now because of the excellent foliage color in southern Michigan. Unlike Devils, Round, and other southern Michigan lakes that are better known than Baw Beese to Toledoans, the scenery on the other side of the lake from the restaurant is not a solid mass of cottages.

The large acreage is owned by the city of Hillsdale and is preserved as a sprawling nature park. Baw Beese, named for Chief Baw Beese of the Potawatomi tribe, is a large lake covering 414 acres.

I was pleased that Mr. Tropiano reported limited hours through December, and perhaps longer. Otherwise it would have been useless for me to write about the $12 all-you-can-eat flounder dinner the evening I attended. From several choices of Chef Mark Davis’s flounder preparations I chose it sautéed with sesame ginger sauce. The steamed spinach, one of two sides included, was a welcome change from ordinary vegetable offerings and when Marquis Dula, the waiter, mentioned bread pudding for dessert somehow I was not as full as I had thought.

Chef Davis is a graduate of the culinary school at Jackson Community College.

The current hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday. Mick Tropiano, Rick Tropiano’s brother, manages the location.

The road into the golf course from M-34 near Hillsdale is Ashtewette.

Contact Mary Alice Powell at: mpowell@theblade.com.



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