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Cook's Corner

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Tidbits
I still want to learn…
A. To cook (laughs). Cooking is a continuous process. You have to continue to learn to cook even better. I want people to enjoy the food. My goal here was to get 80 percent of the residents down here to eat. I’ve done that, and sometimes it’s more.
I can’t wait to…
A. Get to heaven. That’s the first thing that comes to me.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Dan Gottfried, a chef and manager at Lutheran Life Villages in Fort Wayne, makes Speedy Peach Tart.

Chef has family roots in area’s food industry

– Some might say cooking is in his blood when referring to Dan Gottfried of DeKalb County.

Gottfried, 53, chef and manager at Lutheran Life Villages, comes from a family of 11 children, in which he is the youngest boy. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, his father (the late Alfons Gottfried), was a restaurant and country club manager around the area. One brother worked as a chef at many larger hotels in California and another brother ran many area restaurants.

“My brother Tim was disciplined, he taught me that. He was a Marine. He’s about retired. He’s got 12 years on me. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. But I’m a better cook than him,” Gottfried adds with a chuckle.

Gottfried began his position at Lutheran Life in November but before that, he was self-employed caterer.

“This is the first time I’ve worked for someone else. I’ve been self-employed. I used to do catering. My sister-in-law still has the business in Coldwater, Mich. For a while we were driving to Detroit to cater twice a week,” says Gottfried.

Among the places they catered were two churches at the opposite ends of the economic spectrum.

He notes, “One church is where Lee Iacocca got married. It had gold everywhere. They had valet parking. Then the other church was in Metro (area) and they had guards.”

At home, Gottfried says he is the cook. His wife, Connie, works as a quality manager at Elkhart Products in Geneva.

“She’s smart and worked hard all her life,” he says proudly.

One of Gottfried’s favorite pastimes is cooking for his four children, Chad, Cassandra, Douglas and Johnathon and five granddaughters, or as Gottfried refers to them as, “My little gaggle of girls.”

“My kids clamor for Thanksgiving. That’s when I go nuttier. I love to cook for Thanksgiving. That’s fun watching the kids eat,” he says.

Q. You said that up until recently you were working extra hours. Do you enjoy any hobbies when you’re not working so much?

A. I really don’t have hobbies. I watched the Packers. I love football. I used to have the best time mowing. We have four acres. I spent a lot of time talking to the man upstairs. I’m an elder at our church, First Church of Christ in Garrett.

Q. Do you have a favorite cookbook?

A. I do not. Strangely enough, the head cook gave me this, “The Cowboy Cookbook.”

Q. Do you have a lot of cookbooks?

A. At home, I have about 20. My son gave me the Culinary Institute cookbook for Christmas but it’s like three pages to make mashed potatoes.

Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?

A. Well, I can point to (my stomach) and say I don’t. I try to cut off fat and olive oil. But we use real butter here. You know “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” – they’re right. It doesn’t taste like butter. We offer fresh fruit and salads. You can eat healthier here.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

A. Bratwurst,without question. My mom and dad were from Wisconsin. I like onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard on it, nothing fancy.

Speedy Peach Tart

2 (30-ounces) cans peach halves

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large Boboli style-pizza shell

1/4 cup sugar

Drain and reserve juice from peaches. In saucepan, add cinnamon to peach juice, bring to boil, simmer until reduced by 3/4 . Let cool to room temperature. In a bowl, combine oats, butter and brown sugar until crumbles appear. Place pizza shell on non-stick silicone mat-lined cookie sheet and liberally sprinkle with sugar. Place peaches cut side up on pizza shell and sprinkle with oat crumble mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 to 25 minutes. Cool on cookie rack. Scoop vanilla bean ice cream on top and drizzle with peach syrup. Makes 6 servings.

Summer Man Salad

2 English cucumbers

4 large tomatoes

1 small red onion

1 small green pepper

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Pinch of salt

Cut vegetables into 1/2 -inch pieces. Toss in glass bowl and add remaining ingredients, mix well. Taste and adjust according to personal taste. Chill at least 1 hour. Makes 6 large servings.

Optional: Clean and pat dry 4 leaves Boston lettuce. Fill with salad mixture, top with fresh basil strips.

Rib Rub

1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1 tablespoon Smokey Grill seasoning

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons granulated onion

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

4 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper

Combine well. Liberally cover ribs. Seal tightly and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Bake, grill or broil using your favorite method. Makes 3/4 cup.

Note: Also works with chicken or beef.

Chicken Lasagna

2 pounds ricotta cheese

2 cloves crushed garlic

1/4 cup freshly chopped basil

1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 (48-ounces) jar spaghetti sauce

12 lasagna noodles boiled until pliable, rinse, set aside

1/2 pound cooked diced chicken

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, crushed garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil and Italian seasoning. Blend well, set aside. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan. Spread thin layer spaghetti sauce in bottom of pan. Lay 4 noodles on top of sauce; spread evenly 1 cup spaghetti sauce, half of the ricotta cheese mixture, 1/4 cup each parmesan and Asiago cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with one-third of the chicken. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, cheese and chicken. Cover with aluminum foil, bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until cheese slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and tent with foil for another 10 minutes to set up. Makes 8 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email dparker@jg.net.

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