Cerdo is Hero

by Dara Schwartz on May 3, 2013

Behind-the-Line Chef’s edition connects our favorite chefs with home cooks, weighing in on cooking methods and kitchen technique, favorite ingredients and kitchen resources to help grow your inner cook.

How one chef creates simple dishes with complex flavors
Executive Chef Jacob Hough is no stranger to Spanish cooking. Having studied under Barcelona veteran, Chef Paul, for three and a half years as Sous Chef, then taking over the reign of the Barcelona kitchen, this Ohio native brings a fusion of traditional Spanish flavor with home-style comfort food to the menu. Growing up in Ravenna, Ohio, Hough could always be found in the kitchen cooking alongside his mother, where he mastered country cooking and would often help plate homemade biscuits and meatloaf for an evening’s dinner. And while being exposed to Spanish cooking and traveling to Chicago where he had dined at seven different Spanish restaurants for inspiration, Mercat and Cafe Iberico being his favorites, Hough quickly found his voice in cooking. “I love experimenting with using just one protein and creating completely different dishes with it.”

Hough’s style of simplicity, yet strong-flavored can be found in his Cerdo dish (recipe below,) where the protein is star. Inspired by his New Year’s tradition crave of pork and sauerkraut, Hough built a dish around pork, which is often found on family dinner tables of Spain. The king-of-the-plate pork shank proudly showcases a crispy exterior (achieved by frying the shank for three minutes) and a tender juicy inside that was slowly braised in a cinnamon-spiced stock for two hours—married on top of a smoked-paprika potato purée and surrounded by crispy seared brussel sprouts and a creamy rosemary-infused mushroom sauce. As found in Hough’s food, the Barcelona kitchen hones in on something truly unique found in a restaurant kitchen. From the top down, there is a whole lot of love pouring through that kitchen. A kitchen where an apprenticeship begins with a hug. A kitchen where cooks have been self-made into superstars. A kitchen that is so contagious, you find yourself revolving back through that door for just one more fix. Welcome to the Barcelona love, welcome to Chef Jacob’s kitchen.

Join Executive Chef, Jacob Hough on June 12, 2013, at the North Market School of Cooking for a three-course meal with wine/beer pairings. Also, Barcelona’s sister, Sidecar Catering will be teaching a class on July 17. To sign up for this cooking class, call the North Market at (614) 463-9664, or register online here.  [click to continue…]

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Pastry Chef Devon Morgan: Puffed Perfection

by Dara Schwartz on March 6, 2013

Behind-the-Line Chef’s edition connects our favorite chefs with home cooks, weighing in on cooking methods and kitchen technique, favorite ingredients and kitchen resources to help grow your inner cook.

Pâte a choux, a fundamental part of the baker’s repertoire, is a versatile dough that most of us have enjoyed in it’s light, airy prime — whether used as a sandwich for ice cream or as the mold to a chocolatey-filled pastry cream, the infamous eclair. Devon Morgan, Pastry Chef at the Sheraton Capitol Square Columbus, loves choux for this reason — it’s very versatile in terms of shape, baking options and finishing techniques. It can be sweet or savory and provide a great base for hors d’oeuvres and desserts. “I love choux, because my favorite thing is to fill it with pastry cream and dip it in ganache – it’s an oldie, but a goodie.”  At the hotel, she uses pâte a choux to make profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs and gougeres. Depending on the size of the party, they can make anywhere from 50 shells to 150.

From making the dough to baking it, it’s finding that right balance for a successful finish. Piping over 5,000 choux molds in her pastry career, Devon can claim the secret to making a great choux paste. Steam is the main leavening that gives the choux its puff. How many eggs you add will help to determine the consistency of your dough and how much it will puff.

She has a great trick that she will share to making this step a success at her upcoming North Market School of Cooking Class on March 17th.

Find useful baking tips, her favorite kitchen tools and resourceful pastry books in my interview with Devon below:

One ingredient you couldn’t live without and why?
DM: Vanilla Beans – no matter what you are making the addition of vanilla can round out the flavor. Vanilla beans are what they use to make vanilla extract. You can use the seeds in your dessert or use them to make your own extract by steeping the pods in Vodka. You can also place them in sugar and make vanilla sugar.

When making custards we split the beans and remove the seeds and add to the cream or milk. We save the pod to add to our on-going batch of homemade extract or to make more vanilla sugar. We allow the cream to reach a low boil and infuse the cream with the flavor. Vanilla beans are best stored in the freezer – to keep them from going moldy due to warm temperatures in the kitchen and to keep them at their freshest.

[click to continue…]

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Nothing Says I Love You Like Coffee-Braised Short Ribs

by Dara Schwartz on February 7, 2013

Melt-in-your-mouth short ribs sure to win over your loved one.
Fork tender meat, that falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth is one form of sultry in this household. And married with my two favorite flavor players, coffee and chocolate, gets me weak in the knees every time. Marinated in cold-brewed coffee—which was steeped for 24 hours, proudly extracting the exact purities and depth of flavor from the bean’s origin—and combined with a dry full-bodied red wine is just the beginning to this Valentine’s Day indulgence. This braise is built upon layers of flavor from the smokey heat of ancho chile and spiciness of jalapeno, with a final finish of semi-sweet dark chocolate making a velvety, decadent sauce. Paired with a sweet roasted parsnip purée and brightly decorated with a roasted grape gremolata is the perfect balance to this rich centerpiece.

Keep those taste buds dancing,

Coffee-Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Parsnip Purée, Grape Gremolata and Fried Leeks
Serves 4

[click to continue…]

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Chef Steve Johnson: Not Your Ordinary Hotel Food

by Dara Schwartz on January 17, 2013

Behind-the-Line Chef’s edition connects our favorite chefs with home cooks, weighing in on cooking methods and kitchen technique, favorite ingredients and kitchen resources to help grow your inner cook.

Chef Steve Johnson-Hyatt Regency Columbus, Ohio

Executive Chef Steve Johnson, of Hyatt Regency Columbus, at Big Bar On 2

“I was born in a restaurant,” says Chef Steve Johnson, “My parents co-owned an American-Continental restaurant, called Berkeleys, which was located just five houses from where IChef Steve Johnson's first cooked meal lived. Every day, I would pick up the house keys on my way home. I worked there until I was 16.” Growing up in an Ohio household to what he defines as “normal,” Johnson’s family grew everything from kale and greens to cherry and apple trees and blackberry bushes right in their own backyard. “I grew up with well water. It’s what we knew.” Tied to his roots, it’s these ingrained principles Johnson brings to the Hyatt Regency Columbus, where he has transformed the kitchen to an 80% made-from-scratch kitchen, designing organic menus with a commitment to local farms within 150 miles radius, partnering with farms like Davis Creek Meats and Gerber Farms. “All of our desserts are made in-house,” claimed Johnson, “I’ve changed the staff’s thought process. If they can’t embrace these core values, then they aren’t going to make it in my kitchen.”

Hyatt Regency Columbus Pear and Brie Sandwich at the Market Stand Cafe

Market Stand Café pear and brie sandwich – watercress, balsamic aioli and caramelized onion on rustic walnut bread. The pear, brie and bread are sliced to order and the arugula is organic.

Flavor affair with the southwest.
Johnson’s 13-year journey with the Hyatt Regency began in Southern California, where he discovered bright bold flavors of southwestern cooking. This Ohio native carries on the southwest tradition with a twist, where he merges traditional home-cooked staples with tex-mex flair. “Your typical fried chicken will not be accompanied with the standard mashers and gravy,” said Johnson. Better yet, expect smoky notes of paprika and hints of heat from this buttermilk-crusted breast. And the neighbor side dish? Be prepared for a spiced-up mac-n-cheese explosion with chef’s secret cream infusion, tapping into classic French cooking principles. And if you stick around long enough, your palate may be blessed with a mind-blowing take on fried ice cream. What I like to call a scoopin’ bombshell. Can you get your head wrapped around a poblano pepper stuffed with vanilla ice cream, then double-crusted with crushed blue and red tortillas? My taste buds are anxiously waiting.

For Chef Steve’s Southwest Fried Chicken and Picante Mac and Cheese recipes, scroll to end of interview [click to continue…]

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Behind-the-Line Local Chef’s Edition

by Dara Schwartz on June 20, 2012

Behind-the-Line Chef’s edition connects our favorite chefs with home cooks, weighing in on cooking methods and kitchen technique, favorite ingredients and kitchen resources to help grow your inner cook.

Larger-than-life spirit and lead-with-the-heart joie de vive, Chef Hubert Seifert, of Spagio, shares childhood fond memories that has shaped him today to favorite kitchen supplies that every home cook should own.

One ingredient you couldn’t live without and why?
HS: Butter. You can finish any dish with just a spoonful of butter. It adds richness and beautiful flavor – you can’t beat that.

Must have kitchen supply or utensil in your kitchen:
HS: Big, oval, heavy-duty cast-iron pot, made by French manufacturer, Staub. I own two, but only use one. All you need is a burner and this pot and you can cook anything, from stews and soups, to sauces and roasts.

What can always be found in your refrigerator?
HS: Double-smoked slab of bacon I get from Albert, owner of Thurn’s Specialty Meats. Thurns cold-smokes the bacon and I cut the slab at home. This is the best place to get meat. They do it right and they have the real smokers, versus so many of the over-processed, machine-manufactured meat. Other items: onions and heavy bread, like a pumpernickel or a rye, but heavier.

A cookbook that every cooking enthusiast should have in their cookbook library:
HS: Books by author, Brillat-Savarin. For example, The Physiology of Taste, where he is also recognized for his famous commandment, “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. A notion stating that the food one eats has a bearing on one’s state of mind and health.

Larousse Gastronomique, presents the history of foods, eating, and restaurants; cooking terms; beginning to advanced techniques; a review of basic ingredients and how to buy, store and use them; biographies of important culinary figures, like Brillat-Savarin; and recommendations for cooking nearly everything. [click to continue…]

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5 New Stores Spread the “Ohio Loves Local” Spirit

by Dara Schwartz on March 9, 2012

Four new Columbus-based retail gift shops and a Cincinnati urban eco-boutique are now offering the STATEments apparel line, “Ohio Loves Local” tees. Local Columbus retailers include: Bink Davies, Celebrate Local, What the Rock?! and Wholly Craft. Located in the up and coming Over-the-Rhine District, retailer Park + Vine, an urban collective café and eco-friendly store, happily welcome the local Ohio spirit into their store.

“I love these shirts,” said Dan Korman, owner of Park + Vine. “There is a genuine loyalty to the state of Ohio and adding the word “local” makes it golden.”

The Ohio Loves Local tees has expanded color offerings since their launch, which include: Heather Plum for women’s fit and Heather Cranberry and Heather Lieutenant for unisex fit. Please check your local retailer for colors, sizes and availability. 

About Ohio Loves Local
Ohio Loves Local tee promotes the commitment and sustainability of local Ohio communities. It spreads the spirit and pride of supporting and strengthening our local economies. The Ohio tee is designed by local Columbus-based artist, Dara Schwartz, and screened by locally owned printer Traxler Tees. Traxler Tees uses and purchases all of their supplies from “made-in-Ohio” and Ohio businesses. All t-shirts are printed on American Apparel tees.

CINCINNATI, OHIO LOCATIONS [click to continue…]

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This Pumpkin is Getting Saucy

by Dara Schwartz on January 27, 2012

When the first harvest of sugar pumpkins hit market stands, I’ve been known to overload my tote to the point of dragging pumpkin luggage behind me, reacting as if there is some seasonal shortage of these rounded orange beauties. I soon realize that there is no possible way I can haul this load on bike and transport it to my home. I slowly (and sadly) restock the farmer’s table with each pumpkin that had a vision, “bye pumpkin flan, bye pumpkin cheesecake, goodbye pumpkin soup, …” allowing two pumpkins for myself with a destiny unknown. [click to continue…]

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How to Roast a Pumpkin

by Dara Schwartz on January 27, 2012

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Choose a firm, small sugar pumpkin, about 3-4 pounds. Rinse the pumpkin under water to remove any debris.
  2. Using a sharp or serrated knife, cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and stringy strands with a metal spoon. Set aside the seeds for toasting.
  4. Coat the pumpkin halves with olive oil. Place pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. To secure, tuck foil under pumpkin edges.
  5. Roast pumpkin at 350˚ until tender, about 40-60 minutes (depending on size.) Let the pumpkin cool and scoop out the flesh and discard the skin (often the skin will peel right off.)

Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. [click to continue…]

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Giving Thanks to Chicken Curry

by Dara Schwartz on December 2, 2011

Sri Lankan flavors bless our table from a special guest
Gathered around the dining room table at the Subel Thanksgiving you’ll hear belly laughs from recited lines of Seinfeld episodes and reenactments of Christopher Guest movie, Waiting For Guffman. Joining in on the laughter, as he passes the gravy, is our welcomed friend from Los Angeles, Chamara Edirisinghe.

As the side dishes circulate on a pass-it-to-the-right rotation, Chamara gestures to me to take a whirl of his whiskey cocktail to help soothe my raspy throat. Sure enough I took his direct orders and my throat and chest began to open up, being left with a warm, cozy tingle inside. I got a nod of reassurance that this is the right treatment plan. [click to continue…]

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Spreading the Love of Local with Flair

by Dara Schwartz on November 29, 2011

Gone giddy: the launch of Ohio Loves Local tees
I’m a proud fan of my community and being the local enthusiast that I am, I had designed a local Ohio t-shirt for myself and for friends who shared the local spirit. We soon began to get swarmed at bars and farmer conventions like OEFFA, when wearing the tee out in public. I quickly realized there were others who have gone giddy for local. I decided to go to print and spread the enthusiasm.

The Local Love.
My love for supporting my local community stems from the notion of “knowing where your food comes from.” For years, on every Saturday, I’ve been biking to the North Market Farmers’ Market to pay visit to my farmer friends. As I am usually pedaling late trying to beat the clock of tear down, I hurry to fill my tote with their in-season, fresh produce that they picked within 24 hours. After I overcome my panic of trying to find the farmer who has the last carton of free-range eggs, I join my friends on the back ledge of their produce truck and scarf down a croquette from Kitchen Little, a local food and poultry business located inside the market. [click to continue…]

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