Soup a la Toscana

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Yield: 5-6 portions

  • 100g garlic Italian sausage
  • 30g butter, unsalted
  • 50g bacon, chopped
  • 60g onion, diced
  • 10g garlic, chopped
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 1 liter good chicken stock (freshly made, if possible)
  • 60g celery, diced
  • 50g kidney beans, optional
  • 100g potato, diced
  • 60g carrot, diced
  • 60g zucchini, diced
  • Salt
  • White pepper, ground
  • 60g sour cream
  • 30g Parmesan cheese, grated

Fry sausage with a bit of fat in medium heat pan. Add small amount of water to create a steam then reduce. Continue cooking until light brown or until sausage starts to draw fat. Keep in a warm place and slice.

Heat up casserole and add a small amount of fat. Sauté bacon until fat is rendered. Remove excess fat from bacon. Add butter and sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add celery and sauté briefly.

Deglaze with white wine and reduce. Add chicken stock, thyme and bring rapidly to simmer. After 2 minutes, add the remaining vegetables and sausage. Allow to simmer for another 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

Espejo prefers to add a dollop of sour cream and parmesan cheese in this soup to balance the spiciness of the sausage and parmesan cheese for flavor. Do not overcook the vegetables.

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Pan-fried Fillet of Halibut on Roasted Vegetable Salad, topped with rocket arugula relish in caramelized shallots and walnut vinaigrette

Yield: 4 portions

For halibut:

  • 640g halibut fillet, 4 portions
  • 1 pc lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For roasted vegetables:

  • 200g eggplant
  • 150g tomato, peeled, deseeded, cut into wedges
  • 100g red and yellow bell pepper, cubes
  • 100g yellow onion, cubes
  • 2 pcs fillet of anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2g fresh thyme, chopped
  • 15g garlic, chopped
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh crack black pepper

For relish:

  • 30g rocket arugulas, washed and spin
  • 10g yellow bell pepper, julienne
  • 15g dried cranberry
  • 20g feta cheese
  • 30g shallots, caramelized or cooked until golden brown then chopped
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 20g walnut, toasted and chopped
  • Salt and pepper

SOUP a la Toscana. PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ALMACEN

Preheat oven at 180ºC. In a roasting pan, place eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers and onion. Add garlic, thyme, balsamic vinegar, anchovies and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well to distribute the seasoning evenly. Place in the oven and roast for 5-8 minutes. Toss the vegetable halfway of the cooking process. Let it cool, cover and place in chiller.

For halibut: Pat dry the fish with paper towel to remove any excess liquid. Season fish with lemon juice, salt and pepper. In a medium heat sauté pan, put olive oil and butter. Dredge halibut with flour and place in a heated pan. Pan fry fish until golden brown for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on the size/thickness of the fish. When cooked, place fish on a warm place for plating.

For the vinaigrette: Place the lemon juice, olive oil walnuts and shallots in a mixing bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar.

PAN-FRIED Fillet of Halibut on Roasted Vegetable Salad

For plating: Bed the fish with chilled roasted vegetables on the middle of a plate. In a mixing bowl, place the arugula or salad greens, capsicum, onions and drizzle it with the dressing, toss carefully and place the relish on top of the fish. Garnish with dried cranberry, feta crumbs and lemon wedge.

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Yogurt with Caramelized Apple Cake and Lemon Yogurt Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart ice cream; 6 portions 4-inch personalized cake

Caramelized Apple:

  • 50g sugar
  • 1 pc apple, peeled, cored and slice
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 30 ml brandy

Yogurt cake:

  • 500g Creamy yogurt plain (preferably Greek yogurt)
  • 4 pcs eggs
  • 150g sugar, granulated
  • 2g vanilla extract
  • 50g flour

For Ice Cream:

  • 250 ml milk
  • 200g sugar
  • 12 pcs egg yolks
  • 5g vanilla extract
  • 500g creamy yogurt
  • 2 pcs lemon, juice and zest
  • 250g heavy cream

For the caramelized apple: Heat pan, melt sugar and add apple. Caramelized apple nicely until golden brown. Add cinnamon and toss well. Carefully flambé with brandy and reduce. Cool, cover and place in the refrigerator.

YOGURT with Caramelized Apple Cake and Lemon Yogurt Ice Cream

Preheat oven at 180°C. In a mixing bowl, place eggs and sugar. Whisk until sugar is melted. Add yogurt, vanilla and flour. Mix well. Strain mixture using a fine sieve. Place apple onto a greased cake pan or silicon cake molder. Cover apple with batter and place in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes. When done, check the middle by inserting a toothpick and see if the inner part is cooked and not too moist. If it’s still liquid, just place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Let it cool and chill.

For ice cream: Place egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Whisk until sugar is melted. Bring milk to boil and gradually add into your egg mixture. Add yogurt and return to sauce pan. Cook in medium heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. Fold mixture with the cream, lemon juice and the zest. Cool completely on ice bath or in chiller. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and just follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and then freeze.

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