The following recipes are from years of putting pen to paper, or today, fingertips on a keyboard (1-2 at a time). The recipes are not just a matter of measuring, but also small anecdotes of where, when and why they were cooked. Not all recipes are invented by me, but dishes that were cooked with care, and a passion for the trade. Many of the recipes to follow have seasonal inspirations, as well as daily challenges from awesome people like yourself who were craving a specific dish.
Glazed Sea Scallops in Hazelnut Custard
Scallops have always signaled softly smooth pleasure to the waiting palate, and regardless of the shape or form served, always win plaudits. I sometimes like to use nuts when I work with seafood because they bring a very earthy, umami quality to a dish whether in the form of pesto or in this case, pureed hazelnuts—sort of a “pesto” without the olive oil, garlic and basil or other herb.
● 16 sea scallops, cut 1/4 inch thick
● 4 egg yolks
● 1 cup sour cream
● 1 cup heavy cream
● juice 1/2 lemon
● 1/4 cup hazelnuts, very finely chopped
● pinch nutmeg
● Salt and pepper to taste
First toast the hazelnuts in the oven or in a pan on the stove—but watch them closely; to remove excess peel. Finely chop them in a food processor.
Preheat the broiler to high. Arrange slices of scallops (four scallops per serving, sliced) on four oven-proof plates.
Using an electric hand blender, beat the yolks, sour cream, heavy cream, lemon juice, hazelnuts, nutmeg and salt and pepper in a medium bowl until creamy. Divide the mixture equally over the scallop slices. Place the plates about 1 inch from the broiler and broil until the custard has turned golden brown. Serve immediately. The plates will be hot, so serve them on top of chargers.
“Gazpacho” a soup made of raw vegetables, served cold, usually with a tomato base, originated in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. It has ancient roots and history. Some claim that it arrived in Spain as an Arabian soup made with soaked bread, olive oil and garlic. The Romans would tickle the palate with the addition of vinegar, but once part of Andalusian cuisine, especially Cordoba and Seville, it adopted various flavor additions, the most popular one being tomatoes.
This region, rich with tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, is responsible for today’s Gazpacho. What I find fascinating is that traditionally Gazpacho was made in a mortar with a pestle, a laborious method, but I will guarantee that this method will make a better soup than the one pureed in a blender. The soup served as a simple first course or as a light meal in the middle of the day is open to accompanying condiments. Some include boiled and chopped egg and ham, chopped almond and orange segments, even non-traditional vegetables, which could grace a table as condiments. Variations of it are the result of origin, family tradition and ingredients available. Some might use watermelon in place of tomato, or keeping it “green” would entail the use of cucumbers.
Some time ago, working at STARS in San Francisco, the following version was served at lunch alongside a Sauvignon Blanc course. The addition of lobster adds a definite luxuriousness to a very basic, yet very satisfying soup.
● 1 1 1/2 lbs. cooked Maine lobster
● large vine-ripened tomatoes
● 1 red bell pepper
● 1 yellow bell pepper
● 1 English cucumber, peeled and seeded
● juice from 1 lemon
● 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
● 1 tablespoon sesame oil
● 1/4 of a jalapeno pepper
● 1 Anaheim chili pepper
● salt and pepper to taste
● fresh basil
● 1 clove of garlic
● 1baguette = toasted bread croutons
Start by removing the lobster meat from its shell, then cut the meat into 1/4 inch pieces, set aside.
Cut pieces of baguette into 1/2 inch cubes, toss them in EVOO*, season with salt and pepper, toast in the oven. Set aside.
Peel, seed and puree the tomatoes through a food mill and set aside, then add the olive oil and basil and place in the fridge.
Seed all the peppers and cut into 1/8 inch dice. Cut cucumber into 1/8 inch dice. Combine them.
Mix salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Whisk in the sesame oil, then add to the pepper and cucumber mix, and set aside.
Once soup, lobster and garnish are ready to serve, ladle an 8-oz serving into a flat soup bowl, divide the lobster between the serving bowls, arrange the cucumber and pepper garnish around the lobster, next place toasted bread on top of soup. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the soup and serve immediately.
Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup
I have to admit that eggplant never found its way to the top of my “cannot live without you ingredients.”
It was not a vegetable/ingredient that was part of my early years in the kitchen. But merely a staple in the highly influential Italians that dominated any metropolitan city’s dining scene in the USA.
It was clear to me once that my “boots” were firmly planted in USA that eggplant needed to be respected, understood and included, especially thinking Mediterranean when cooking.
I don’t think the vegetable in itself has a lot to offer when flavor is part of the conversation, but popularity and texture will always supply positive.
● 3 large eggplants
● 2 whole head of garlic
● olive oil
● 2 cups chopped onions
● 3 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
● 1/2 cup chopped basil
● 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
● pinch of red chili flakes
● 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
● salt and pepper to taste
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
Cut eggplants into 1 inch cubes, toss with salt and pepper, place on a paper towel for 20 minutes, then pat dry. Transfer to a roasting pan, sprinkle with olive oil. Cut the head of garlic in half, wrap in aluminum foil with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the package to the roasting pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove eggplant but continue roasting the garlic for another 35 minutes. In a large soup pot sauté chopped onions, basil, thyme and chili flakes for 5 minutes. Squeeze cooked garlic out from the husks and add to the onion mixture. Add eggplant, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the soup until smooth,
Once pureed, Strain the soup thru a chinois* bring the soup back to a light boil, soignee* the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste.
I hope I have inspired you to have a bit of fun, maybe challenge a dusty pot and pan to return to the stove. Otherwise, call 305-663-2100 for reservations.
Jan Jorgensen, Two Chefs Restaurant