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Published: Sunday, 2/26/2006

Egyptian food, decor will shine at Crystal Ball

"Egyptian Splendor" is the theme for this year's Crystal Ball, to be presented by St. Charles Mercy Health Foundation at 7 p.m. March 11 at Gladieux Meadows. With an Egyptian menu and colorful decor in rich, warm tones, the elegant evening of dining and dancing to the sounds of Summer Knights will be a wonderful event.

Imagine table centerpieces made with papyrus and water lilies with candles floating in the water, created by Keith Brooks. There will be peacock feathers, pyramids, 10-foot-tall sphinx, and jewel colors of teal or turquoise, red, and purple and lots of gold.

The menu promises authentic Egyptian recipes with an entree station of lentil soup, fried eggplant, and koshary pasta made with rice, macaroni, and lentils. There will also be zucchini with bechamel sauce, almond-scented basmati rice, and white fish "Tagen Samak" made with pieces of tilapia sauted with tomato sauce and served with roasted potatoes and lemon slices.

"I have no problem taking ethnic recipes and producing it for a large crowd," says Rick Whitehead, Gladieux Catering's executive chef.

At the salad station you'll find fava bean and tomato basil vinaigrette and other dishes. "In Egyptian cuisine, fava beans are not mixed with meat," says Penny Levine, co-chairman of the event with her husband, Ritchie Levine, and Bob and Cheryl Marquette.

Fava beans are a traditional Egyptian favorite eaten at all times of the day and served as mezze in restaurants or sold in the streets, writes Claudia Roden in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Knopf, $35).

The carving station will feature rosemary black pepper-studded leg of lamb and beef tenderloin.

At the dessert station, Chef Whitehead combines long-grain rice, vanilla, currants, and raisins for the Rice Pudding with Rum Soaked Raisins. Baklava and ice creams will complete the sweet notes of the evening.

Proceeds from the event benefit the intensive care unit at St. Charles Mercy Hospital. Chairmen of the event are Carlos de Carvalho and Carol Greenberg and Larry and Sue Fanelly. The cost is $175 per person. For information or tickets to this black tie event, call 419-696-7245. Deadline is March 10.

During these last days of winter it does seem too soon to be thinking about dandelions, but not if you consider dandelion greens a culinary delicacy.

Entries are now being accepted for the 13th annual Great Dandelion Cook-off. Recipe categories are appetizers/dips, side dish, main dish, dessert, and soup/salad. Recipes should be unique, colorful and use the dandelion flower, green, or root as a main ingredient. Deadline for entries is April 1. Finalists will be notified and should be able to prepare or finish preparing their dish at the Dandelion May Fest at 2 p.m. May 6 at Breitenbach Wine Cellars in Dover, Ohio.

For information call 800-THE-WINE or go to www.breit-enbachwine.com.

The International Association of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs will offer 37 scholarships and internships through its 2006 program. These are designed to continue the education and enhance the careers of women in the culinary profession.

Applications are available at www.womenchefs.org; the deadline is March 31. Information: call 877-927-7787.



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