Dinner's in session, and the verdict is delicious.
The jury was a photographer who is not a fan of broccoli. And the evidence? His plate of Creamed Broccoli Shells is clean.
"If that's not a testament ..." said the judge.
The judge is Thomas P. Gysegem, who's been serving nearly 15 years in Warren Municipal Court. The hearing was held in his dining room, complete with homemade ginger ale, a fiber optic silver Christmas tree and Trans Siberian Orchestra playing on the stereo.
Also a part-time teacher at Kent State University Trumbull Campus for the past 26 years, Gysegem, 51, said he gets most of his recipes from the Tribune.
The ginger ale came from one of those but in a round-about way when he admits to not paying close attention to the ingredients for creme brulee. He bought fresh ginger root on sale - a whole pound of it.
Creamed Broccoli Shells
Recipes submitted by Thomas P. Gysegem
1 pound medium macaroni shells
1/2 pound cooked ham, cubed
10 ounces frozen broccoli (spears or pieces)
1 clove crushed garlic (I use 3 or 4)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 pint (1 cup) whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
While cooking macaroni: Cube the cooked ham and saute in butter with broccoli (5 minutes).
Stir in heavy cream and cook on medium heat (3 minutes).
Stir in cheese, lower heat and stir until melted.
Toss with macaroni and serve.
Homemade Ginger Ale
1 pound fresh ginger root, unpeeled and cut into smaller pieces for food processing
1 container of lemongrass (can be found at Giant Eagle in Howland), containing approximately 8 3-in. rods of lemongrass, with ends trimmed, cut into small pieces
2 small fresh chiles, with stems removed - can also use a small can of diced, seasoned chiles, drained well
1 1/2 cups of sugar
Lime wedges (optional)
Combine ginger pieces, lemongrass and diced chiles into mini food processor until minced. Stop machine, scrape sides, reprocess two or three times.
Place this puree in a good-size saucepan with sugar and 1 quart water. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
Cool completely, strain very well and store in container in refrigerator.
To serve, add minimum 1/4 cup of the syrup into a glass full of ice. Fill with soda water. Add syrup and / or more sugar to taste.
For sweeter syrup, double the sugar to 3 cups during boil process.
Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.
"I thought, 'What am I going to do with all this ginger?'" he said.
So after tweaking the ingredients according to what's available at local grocery stores, he made the beverage.
"If you feel a little heat after you drink it," he said, "that's the lemongrass."
Gysegem's featured recipe came from what he calls his "Dead Sea Scrolls." One of his roommates during his second year of law school in 1982 was from Austintown. The roommate's mother was full-blooded Italian, he said.
"We knew Jim was a finicky eater, and I'll eat anything," he said. "I found myself in her kitchen dictating."
At some point those index cards with recipes disappeared, but fortunately for the Trumbull Cooks feature, they reappeared, thus earning their nickname.
"It's rich, but I don't think it's overly filling. It's a feel-good food, and it's fairly easy to make," Gysegem said.
His only advice - don't boil the cream.
Gysegem shares his culinary skills, some of which also come from a Westminster College fraternity house mother and others from early Sunday morning sessions with an Italian man with court staff when they have special events such as a Thanksgiving party.
He also enjoys cooking for his son.
"He's kind of a hard-to-please guy to impress sometimes because his mother's a wonderful cook," he said.
For his daughter's graduation party, he made a recipe for President Barack Obama's favorite peach cobbler.
Gysegem said he's come a long way as a cook. His first experience was in high school, when his father was laid up with a bad back and his mother was working midnight shift at St. Joseph Hospital.
The dilemma: The turkey needed stuffed.
"Nobody told me there were two ends," he said. So he "jammed" that turkey full on one end, and it burst open in the oven.
Gysegem is a tall, substantial man who says he's never been lean like his brother, a runner. He's been in plays at Trumbull New Theatre, including the award-winning role of the giant, "deaf-mute" Chief in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Gysegem also is proud of the history in his downtown apartment, which shows evidence of Frank Lloyd Wright influence. He's added to that with candleholders, clocks and a stained glass window in the same style.
Also an MSNBC addict, how does he find time to cook?
"You make it," he said.