As a youngster, Janne Rowe used the Kansas State Fair as a kind of cooking school, trying out tricks and techniques she’d seen in Hutchinson on her family at home.
“I liked to bake,” Rowe said. “I started baking for 4-H in grade school and found I sort of had a knack for it. As I got older, I really enjoyed pushing myself to try more involved dishes and techniques.”
Rowe still likes to bake, but through the years her culinary interests have expanded into many other areas as well. She’s a past board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF) Wichita Chapter and belongs to three dinner groups: a monthly progressive dinner, a monthly church group supper club and a quarterly “Tin Chef” dinner club in which participants use canned goods from the pantry.
She found a willing culinary partner in her husband, Greg, who likes entertaining as much as his wife.
“I like to eat but cooking is a magnet for friends,” he said.
The couple also host fundraising dinners for several organizations, including Rainbows United Inc., the Lord’s Diner and Kansas State University alumni.
“I love the cooking — the idea that (cooking is) helping people,” Janne Rowe said.
One of the Rowes’ most popular charity dinner menus is paella served with appetizers, salad and dessert.
St. James Cake, a traditional Spanish almond cake, naturally goes with paella, a seafood and rice dish that originated in the same country. Rowe’s grilled panzanella salad is a family favorite and perfect destination for season-end tomatoes and basil.
One bit of cooking advice Rowe offers is “follow the recipe the first time,” then make adjustments the next time if needed.
Even though she’s known for her skill as a baker, Rowe admitted that she’s usually content to let others to enjoy her efforts.
“I have never had much of a sweet tooth, so I don’t eat what I bake, but I truly take great pleasure in doing it.”
Contact Beth Bower at Beth@goodlifeguy.com
Grilled Panzanella Salad
8 oz. loaf ciabatta bread cut in 1-inch slices
4 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)
1 large sweet onion, cut in ½-inch slices
6 large tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 cup fresh basil, torn
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil, for grilling
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Brush or spray bread slices with olive oil and grill on both sides till toasted. Rub both sides of each slice with garlic cloves and cut into 1-inch cubes. Grill the bell peppers until charred on all sides and place in a closed paper bag until cool enough to handle; remove skin, stems and seeds and cut into cubes.
Brush or spray onion rings with olive oil and grill until done, then coarsely chop. Repeat with asparagus and tomato halves. Place tomatoes in a bowl to collect juices and peel if desired before chopping.
Combine bread, peppers, onion, asparagus, tomatoes and their juices and mozzarella in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Toss salad with dressing and serve.
St. James Cake
1 cup almond flour (preferably coarsely ground)
1 cup sugar (1/2 to 2/3 cup honey may be substituted)
5 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of one lemon
Powdered sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pan or muffin tins. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour mixture into greased pan. Bake until golden, 40-50 minutes. Cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Decorate top with powdered sugar, if using.