October 5, 2013 Leave a comment
The concept for Sea Salt, Naples’ top culinary adventure, came to Venetian-born Chef Fabrizio Aielli in a dream, he tells me. About to make a transition from success story after success story in Washington, D.C., he awoke one night thinking – “the sea, the salt – it’s perfect for a Naples restaurant!”
He also told me, over the past five months I’ve been researching, testing, and writing his first-ever cookbook: “Every time I make a recipe I take a little trip in my mind.” Gotta love this guy’s creative process (he listens to Pink Floyd or opera for inspiration).
With recipes such as Kumamoto Oysters in a Foggy Day in Venice, Caesar gelato with tomato caviar, watermelon gazpacho with arugula sorbet, and saffron taglierini carbonara made with sea urchins instead of cured pork … you’re bound to want to take that little trip with him.
Working on the cookbook has been its own adventure. Every recipe has a story… and a twist. His mission with the book is to make readers feel at ease in the kitchen.
“I cook by touch and smell and taste,” he says. “In your own kitchen, you should not be intimidated; you should develop your own rhythm and senses.
“Just cook with a glass of wine and a smile on your face. Everything tastes much better.”
With that advice in mind, I tested his leek and potato soup with crème fraiche today. Per his advice, I followed his technique, but made some of my own rhythm. His calls for fried quail eggs and caviar. I loved it in its more rustic, simple form.
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
8 leeks, white stalks washed and diced
4 ounces prosciutto from hock or side cut, whole (I substituted a couple of thick slices of applewood bacon that I had on hand)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
5 5-inch sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 quarts house-made chicken stock
1 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped chives
In a large stock pot combine potatoes, leeks, prosciutto, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Cut a 4-inch square of cheesecloth and wrap thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in it, creating a pouch. Use kitchen string to secure at top and add to pot with chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook on medium-high heat for about 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Remove and discard cheesecloth pouch and prosciutto (or bacon). Allow soup to cool somewhat, then blend in a blender until smooth. Return soup to stock pot and stir in crème fraiche. Bring back to a simmer and heat for 5 minutes. Serve in bowls; sprinkle chives on top.