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Northeast Ohio chefs share the secrets of quick cuisine
Recipes for 35 meals the chefs make for themselves when they don't have a lot of time
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


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Vivian Goodman
 
Courtesy of Kent State University Press
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If you think you’re  busy during this holiday season, imagine what it’s like for cooks and caterers.  After a long day in a hot kitchen, meals they make for themselves have to be good, but fast.   A new book takes us into the private kitchens of Northeast Ohio’s top chefs to learn the secrets of quick cuisine.  WKSU’s Vivian Goodman visits with the author for a Quick Bite.
Not fast food but quick cuisine

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Maria Isabella in her sunny, cozy kitchen on Cleveland's west side.
Along with their recipes the chefs contributed tips on quick cuisine.
Isabella's daughter Nina convinced her to write her first book about 4 years ago in a conversation over coffee in upstate New York.
The recipe is tacked up on the fridge, but it's so simple Isabella doesn't have to consult it.
You only need 8 slices of bacon.
It has to be crisp/
Isabella chose to leave the bacon strips intact, but of course they can be cut to the size of the bread slice, too.
Only the freshest french bread will do for this tasty appetizer.
The Brie cheese adds a little creaminess.
Isabella has good knives and other cooking utensils. Although some of the chef's personal kitchens were modest she found their equipment was top-of-the-line.
Four minutes in the oven and you're done.
Peach preserves add the sweetness.
Maria Isabella and her daughter Andrea with their family cookbook. It was a labor of love Isabella made for her five children as a Christmas present a few years ago, with 100 of their favorite recipes.

8 slices of bacon are coming to a crisp in Maria Isabella’s west side Cleveland kitchen.

She says the beauty of this particular appetizer is that it is sweet and salty.

“So many different textures as well. In the end you’ll see that the French bread is crispy. You’ve got the creaminess of the brie, the saltiness of the bacon, and the sweetness in the preserves.”

This recipe comes from Nolan Konkoski   of SOHO Kitchen and bar. It’s something quick and easy that she watched him make at home. 

That’s the concept of her book published by Kent State University Press, entitled “In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs.”

She wanted to learn how they entertain their own last-minute guests at home in one hour or less.” 

Maria Isabella is a personal friend of Cleveland’s most famous chef, and Michael Symon provided entrée to the homes of many others.

She persuaded 35, including Zach Bruell, Jonathon Sawyer and Loretta Paganini, to let her watch them whip up something quickly for themselves and their families.

Like Pete Joyce of Crop Bistro.

 “When I asked him what he would prepare for his own last-minute guests in an hour or less he went to his refrigerator, saw what he had in there and came up with his own dish. It does not necessarily have to be anything technically difficult. It’s what their family enjoys. Perhaps what they enjoyed as a child. Not necessarily haute cuisine.”

A copywriter who always wanted to write her own book, Isabella grew up on ethnic cuisine.

 “My mother came here from Italy and my father from Serbia. Cooking from scratch was always important in my family.”

She hopes reading recipes and tips from their favorite chefs will inspire her target audience:  foodies …pressed for time, and money:

 “They are watching food shows.  They are improving their own skills. They used to eat out much more often so they expect a higher level of meal.”

 In at least one case she was amazed by how quickly a gourmet meal came together.

“John D’Amico from Chez Francois in Vermillion did a very elaborate dinner which is very much in line with what he serves at the restaurant and yet this is what his family enjoys and this is how he loves to entertain his own guests.”

It’s cream of butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup; seared Mediterranean bronzini with verges butter sauce and sautéed fennel; roast duck breast with cherry glace de viande; and potato mousseline; and then madeleines.

Isabella says D’Amico worked non-stop and got it done in less than an hour.

That was her only requirement for the chefs, and her friend Michael Symon almost gave her a hard time about it.

His is a roasted pork on a bed of pumpkin puree with a cilantro salad. Pumpkin puree? That sounds like it would take a while. Well that was interesting because Michael, originally his recipe was to slow roast it in the oven. And I wrote back to him and I said, ‘Would you allow that we cut it up in chunks and boil it? And he said that would be fine. So we did have to work with some of the chefs to cut down the time.”

Isabella chose her 35 chefs with care. Most who contributed to “In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs”  have won either the Zagat  Award or Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon award .

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Next week we’ll re-visit Breakneck Acres to see what’s new for small farmers in the new year.


Bacon, Brie,& Peach Toasts from "In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs" by Maria Isabella
Recipe by Nolan Konkoski, chef/owner of SOHO Kitchen & Bar4
Servings (2 per person)
8 slices center-cut bacon½ cup peach preserves
8 (¼-inch-thick) slices French baguette, cut crosswise5 ounces mild Brie cheese (such as D’Affinois), cut into 8 thin pieces, rind removed if desired
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Sauté the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
3. Spread 1 tablespoon of the preserves over one of the baguette slices. Top with a piece of bacon, add a piece of Brie, and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the baguette slices.
4. Bake for about 4 minutes, or until the Brie begins to melt and the bread is just toasted. Serve warm.
 
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