In many years of event planning, I connected with many individuals, including plenty of talented chefs. One of those chefs is Chef Douglas Katz of fire food and drink, The Katz Club Diner and Provenance in the Cleveland Museum of Art. A few of my most memorable meals have been at fire — my first Silver Spoon Awards Party committee brunch meeting when we ordered the ENTIRE brunch entree listing, plus our five year anniversary meal — so needless to say that I’ve been a fan of Chef Katz for awhile now.
Chef Katz and his team have been hard at work on their latest creation, the Fire Spice Company, producing a variety of handcrafted spice mixes. Those mixes are freshly toasted at Katz Club Diner, and the recipes they are used in (developed by Chef Katz and his team) are presented in a unique, beautifully designed gift box. Check out all 12 spice blends that will be available on the Fire Spice Company website.
Through the magic of Facebook, I learned that Chef Katz was seeking about 55 people to test 11 of the recipes before going into final production. The chance to be a part of something food inspired and taking place in my own kitchen? I jumped at the chance to participate!
Hans and I headed to Katz Club Diner this past Sunday to meet up with Chef Katz, who explained the recipe testing process.
He had all eleven recipes lined up on the counter at the diner. Each of the 55 testers would select one of the spice blends and accompanying recipe. The testers would purchase the rest of the ingredients, make the recipe and then fill out a survey including questions to help Chef Katz finalize the recipes for the finish spice blend products.
The hardest part of the entire process was picking out a spice blend. While the BBQ Ribs and the Pho sounded incredible, I gravitated towards the recipe for the Tomato Lamb Masala. I’ve always wanted to try making Indian food, but felt intimated to buy all the spices needed. This approach made it easy to bring this cuisine to my home, and so we left the diner with that blend and recipe.
After a quick Whole Foods run, we had everything we needed:
My sous chef supervising instead of doing the prep work.
Confession: I’ve never cooked with ginger before — another first! After assembling the needed ingredients, I secured the recipe and got to work:
I swear I have a cookbook holder, but this worked just as well.
After the prep of chopping the onions, jalapenos and ginger (I cheated with the garlic #sorrynotsorry), the creation of the sauce began. The recipe itself was easy to follow and I quickly came to realize that it was a similar approach to making a marinara meat sauce — with plenty of stirring and patience. Both paid off in the long run as the recipe came together — just in time for Monday night dinner with my husband and brother. Per Chef Katz’s recipe suggestion, I served the malasa with brown rice — plus got in a few more veggies with some steamed broccoli.
Hans is not one to get excited about Indian cuisine, and I’m not sure Drew has had it in the past. But considering both got up from the dinner table for seconds, I knew we had a winner on our hands and on the stove. The sauce was rich, hearty and spicy — but not overpowering. It was one of those meals I was so glad to make on a cold winter’s evening as it warmed us all to the bone. The best part: we had plenty of leftovers, which fits in with my recent food prep approach of having plenty in the fridge for the week.
LONG STORY SHORT: I sent back my post-recipe creation survey to Chef Katz today, sharing that I’d happily purchase the spice blend and make it again and again in the future. It’s also been fun to see fellow Clevelanders share their recipe testing adventures on social media. It looks like he and his team have something quite special on their hands with their Fire Spice Company spice blends and recipes. Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram feeds as they’ll be headed out to the market and into kitchens all over Greater Cleveland — and beyond — very soon!
p.s.: Chef Katz will be leading a Savoring the Spice Road seminar at Kenyon Institute at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio June 19-25, 2016. Learn more at the Kenyon Institute website.
Disclosure: I received a spice blend sample, a recipe and survey from the Fire Spice Company team. I purchased the rest of the ingredients with my own funds to create this recipe. I decided to share my recipe testing experience on the blog. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.