The beauty of farm fresh cooking is in its simplicity. But figuring out how to best use Mother Nature's products still requires skill. We enlisted the help of three Columbus chefs to create a summery meal using homegrown ingredients found at local farmers markets.


Alana Shock (Chef and Owner)


The menu at Alana's Food and Wine changes almost daily, and that's because the chef-owner draws her inspiration from seasonal ingredients. Alana Shock spontaneously plans some of her dishes while wandering the aisles of the North Market, where many of the vendors greet her by name. She knows the origin of nearly everything served on her plates-from the naturally raised meat to the herbs in her pesto-thanks to the relationships she's developed with area farmers. A down-to-earth approach has guided Shock throughout her career. "If you cook in season, you have to do so little to make it nice," she said. "The taste is so much better."


Alana's Food & Wine
2333 N. High St., University District
614-294-6783
www.Alanas.com

Salt and Pepper Cucumber Martini
Ingredients
2 ozs Absolut Peppar vodka 2 ozs Absolut vodka 2 ozs cucumber juice Directions
To juice cucumbers, use an electric juicer; or, in a food processor, puree the chopped, whole cucumber (seeds, skin and all) and strain through a cheesecloth.

One large cucumber produces approximately 8 ounces of juice. Rim a martini glass with salt and fresh cracked pepper (run a lemon wedge around the rim of a chilled glass and dip onto a plate with a salt and pepper mixture).

Combine the vodkas and the cucumber juice in a martini shaker with lots of ice. Shake until cold, about 45 seconds. Strain.
Makes 1 martini.


Chilled and Dilled Cucumber Chardonnay Soup
Ingredients
3 English cucumbers (washed, seeded, and roughly chopped) 1 cup whole yogurt 1/2 cup chardonnay (Alana likes Bethel Heights from Oregon) 1/4 cup dill 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper kosher salt to taste 1/2 cup heavy cream Directions
After washing, seeding and chopping the cucumbers, combine all ingredients (except heavy cream) and puree in small batches. Once pureed, stir the heavy cream into the soup. Let the soup chill for an hour before enjoying. Garnish with smoked trout or chives.

Makes 5 cups.
Note: Sour cream makes an acceptable substitution for yogurt, and substituting buttermilk for heavy cream makes for an enlightened, lively soup.


Paul Yow (Executive Chef)


As the local-food movement spreads in Columbus, more city dwellers are connecting with Ohio's agricultural roots. Paul Yow, executive chef at Barcelona, makes an effort to serve a healthy dose of locally grown foods. Access isn't a problem: Farmers have shown up unannounced at the restaurant's back door with truckloads of produce. But Yow won't buy from just anyone. "I want to know it's grown safely," he said. Many ingredients for his Spanish dishes come from the Wayward Seed Farm in Marysville, Green Edge Gardens in Amesville (near Athens) and the Greener Grocer at the North Market. "The money
does actually filter back through the local economy," Yow said. "Plus, you also get great flavors."

Barcelona Restaurant & Bar
263 E. Whittier St., German Village
614-443-3699
www.BarcelonaColumbus.com


Arroz con Pollo
Ingredients for the chicken marinade

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1 1/2 pounds chicken legs and thighs 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon salt A few grinds of black pepper Directions for the chicken marinade
Mix together all ingredients, toss well with the chicken and place in a Ziploc bag. Force out all of the excess air and seal. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Ingredients for the arroz
Marinated chicken from above 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 ozs chorizo, sliced 1/4-inch thick 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin 1/4 cup sofrito 2 cups chicken stock 4 cups cooked brown rice 1/4 cup roasted peppers 3/4 cup baby lima beans
Directions for the arroz
If using legs and thighs, cook them ahead of time. Drain well and place on a sheet pan lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick coating. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and roast in a pre-heated 350 F oven for about 25 minutes (or until the thickest part of the thigh is done). Time this so that they will be done cooking approximately 10 minutes before preparing the rest of the dish. If using the breast meat, drain well. Place a large saut pan over medium heat for two minutes. Add the olive oil, chorizo and the chicken breast. (If using the legs and thighs, they will be added later.) Add a little salt and pepper and s saute for one minute, or until the chicken begins to brown lightly. Add the g garlic and brown it lightly. Add the sofrito and chicken stock. Bring them to a simmer, then add the rice, peppers and beans. (If using legs and thighs, add them now). Return to a simmer and cook for a few minutes or until all of the liquid is reduced and absorbed. Taste for salt and serve immediately. Serves 4.


Michelle Milhous-Garland (Pastry Chef)


Black Creek Bistro
51 Parsons Ave., Olde Towne East
614-246-9662
www.BlackCreekBistro.com

The dessert menu at Black Creek Bistro shines year round, but pastry chef Michelle Milhous-Garland looks forward to summer's abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some are picked from restaurant owner Kent Peters' farm. Milhous-Garland's sweet creations include traditional favorites-made-from-scratch ice cream and strawberry shortcake-as well as the unexpected, like corn creme brulee. "Everybody wants dessert," she said. She has a vegetable garden at home and frequently shops farmers markets for the ripest selection of fruits, particularly berries, because most storebought produce is picked prematurely to allow time for shipping. Ripening continues during the trip. Local farmers, though, often pick and sell on the same day. It doesn't get much fresher. "You're getting something that's right at its peak," Milhous-Garland said.


Blueberry Cheesecake Napoleon
Ingredients
1 pint of blueberries (cleaned and dried) Ingredients for simple syrup 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup water 2 tablespoons corn syrup 1 small piece of ginger (size of a quarter, 1 inch thick) 1 slice of lemon peel Juice of 1 lemon
Directions for simple syrup
Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a pan, mix together, and slowly bring to a boil. Then add ginger, lemon peel and lemon juice. Let cool completely. Strain and set aside.

Ingredients for graham-cracker shortbreads
3 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup ground almonds 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger Pinch of salt 2 cups butter
Directions for graham-cracker shortbreads
Add dry ingredients to food processor. Pulse in butter, and keep pulsing until dough looks like fine crumbs. Press into jelly roll pan. Cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 F until light brown. Score the shortbread into 2-by-2- inch rectangles before it cools. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Ingredients for cream
1/4 cup cream cheese (softened) 1/4 cup powdered sugar Zest of 1 lemon and the juice 1 cup heavy cream Directions for cream
Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese with powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Slowly add heavy cream. Keep whipping until soft peaks form. Turn off, set aside.

To plate
Place shortbread rectangle on plate. Add a dollop of cream-cheese mixture and a few blueberries. Layer another shortbread on top and repeat. Mix the remaining blueberries in a bowl with one tablespoon of simple syrup and spoon over dessert. Drizzle some of the syrup over top. Serves 6.