Imagine having a dinner party for a nationally famous cookbook author and a popular television actor. It's enough to make a cook nervous. But not Diane Rogers.
The prestigious guests were Italian cooking expert Giuliano Hazan and actor Peter Reckell who plays Bo Brady on Days of Our Lives. Both were in town for Cooks & the Kitchen Food Fare in late March.
Ms. Rogers, owner of the new Syd & Diane's deli-specialty food store at 5829 Monroe St. in Sylvania, prepared a four-course dinner the night before the event.
“After all those years of doing beautiful stacked food on plates, I like good European country food,” she said. It was a choice just right for the evening.
`Ugly Ripes' tomatoes taste like old-fashioned varieties.
After hors d'oeuvres, three-layered terrine was served: The layers were spinach and scallop, scallop, and scallop and saffron. “The terrine is baked in a water bath a day or two before serving and refrigerated so it can age, letting the flavors meld,” Ms. Rogers said.
Following a salad dressed with a vinaigrette, tender and delicious braised lamb shanks with garlic sauce, risotto, and asparagus were served. Dessert was lemon charlotte made with ladyfingers and lemon mousse frozen in individual ramekins. “It was a recipe from the April issue of Bon Appetit,” Ms. Rogers said.
She was thrilled to have Hazan as a guest. “His mom [Marcella Hazan] is the best cook,” she said. “My uncles gave me one of her cookbooks 20 years ago.”
It was hard not to talk Hollywood with Reckell, who is from East Lansing, Mich. (Days of Our Lives airs at 1 p.m. weekdays on NBC.) Food Town's Pat Nowak and I couldn't help but compare Michigan notes with him, too.
We talked about the food community in Northern Michigan. Although he doesn't get back to his home state often, he had taken his wife, singer/songwriter Kelly Moneymaker, to the region and was impressed.
Reckell noted how much California food has set the trends for fresh fruits and vegetables elsewhere in the country. This led me to ask Ms. Nowak about the “Ugly Ripes” tomatoes that many cooks are buying at Food Town supermarkets. This heirloom variety has all the ripples and ridges that we associate with summertime tomatoes, plus juiciness and flavor. The hand-picked “Ugly Ripes,” packed in spongy sleeves, are in limited supply.
At the Food Fare, Reckell had little time for food. His line of autograph seekers and fans was longer than any other.
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor. E-mail her at email@example.com.