What's Cookin'

Need some cold comfort? Five of Orlando’s top chefs dish on their favorite recipes to help keep you warm on a chilly night.

Charred Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Alexia Gawlak, Chef de Cuisine, Siro Urban Italian Kitchen at Orlando World Center Marriott, marriottworldcenter.com

Charred Tomato Soup
15 ripe red tomatoes, medium-sized 
½ cup olive oil 
Kosher salt, to taste 
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste 
1 yellow onion, julienned 
4 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as possible 
1 sprig fresh thyme
6 cups chicken stock 
2 cups heavy cream 
Sherry vinegar, to taste  

Set broiler to high. Slice tomatoes in half, removing any stems. Toss the halved tomatoes with ¼ cup of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes cut-side-down on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the skin blisters and browns. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the other ¼ cup olive oil, the julienned onion, and the garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add charred tomatoes, thyme sprig and chicken stock. Simmer for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are thoroughly cooked and breaking down. 

Strain tomato/onion/garlic mixture and remove thyme sprig. Be sure and reserve the cooking liquid. Working in batches, purée the solids and heavy cream in a blender until smooth. Add more soup liquid as necessary to make soup the consistency you prefer—if you like it thicker, add less liquid, if you prefer a thinner soup, use more. Add salt, pepper and sherry vinegar to taste. 

Makes 8 servings

Grilled Cheese
12 slices Fontal, or other cheese that melts well 
12 slices sourdough bread or brioche

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.Place cheese slices in between bread slices. Heat butter in the bottom of a nonstick skillet until it is completely melted and bubbling. Place sandwich in the pan and toast until brown on one side, add a little more butter to the pan and toast on other side. Transfer to the oven and allow cheese to melt completely.

Stuffed Baby Pumpkins

Greg Richie, Executive Chef/Partner, Soco, socothorntonpark.com 

4 each Jack Be Little pumpkins
6 oz. fresh Canaveral shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾ cup Anson Mills farro, cooked
¾ cup Carolina Gold Rice, cooked
¼ lb. andouille sausage, casings removed, diced small
2 TBSP olive oil
½ TBSP garlic, minced
½ cup onion, diced small
¼ cup white wine, dry
½ cup chicken stock
1 sprig thyme, washed, de-stemmed and minced
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), shelled and toasted
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the top quarter off the pumpkins. Scoop out only the seeds and the loose insides. Clean the underside of the pumpkin lid. Lightly season insides and lids, and place in 350°F oven for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scoop out about half of the meat, being careful not to break through to the outside. Chop up the scraped pumpkin and reserve for the filling. 

Sauté sausage in oil until slightly crispy. Add garlic and cook 3 minutes until lightly golden. Add onion and continue cooking until translucent. Deglaze with wine, stirring the bottom of pan, and cook until dry. Add farro, rice, cranberries, thyme, reserved pumpkin and stock, and stir everything together well. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut shrimp into small-sized dice. Fold into the sausage mixture. 

Gently fill the pumpkins with the mixture until slightly overflowing. Return stuffed pumpkins to oven for 15-20 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked. To serve, sprinkle with toasted pepitas and place pumpkin lids on top of each pumpkin.

Makes 4 servings

Chicken Vesuvio

Marianne Hunnel, Content Development Manager, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and former Disney Chef

1 frying chicken cut into 8 serving pieces
4 large baking potatoes, cut lengthwise in quarters
¼ cup olive oil
¹⁄8 cup butter
1 ½ tsps. fresh finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
½ tsp. finely chopped shallots
¼ cup white wine
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. freshly chopped parsley
½ cup chicken stock
Marinade Mixture
½ tsp. sweet basil
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. black pepper
¹⁄8 cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine
½ tsp. chopped garlic
¼ tsp. chopped shallots
Flour Mixture
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. sweet basil
1 ½ tsp. freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Dash of salt and black pepper

Wash chicken in cold water, and marinate it in a closed airtight container for at least four hours in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with a disposable towel. Press chicken into flour mixture.

Combine the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic and shallots for just a minute, then add all the chicken pieces. Brown chicken lightly on both sides, then place chicken in a casserole dish or roasting pan. Place potatoes in the large skillet and add a little more oil if needed and lightly brown the potatoes. Combine the browned potatoes with the chicken. Pour the white wine into the hot skillet scraping all of the ingredients at the bottom of the pan. Pour this mixture over the chicken and potatoes.

Pour the chicken stock over the chicken and potatoes and sprinkle the cheese and parsley over it all. Bake chicken in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is tender and completely cooked.

Makes 4 servings

Prosciutto Brussels Sprouts

John Rivers, Owner, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, 4rsmokehouse.com

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
4 slices bacon, roughly chopped
¾ cup diced white onion
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 oz. sliced prosciutto, about 4 thin slices, diced
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 TBSP unsalted butter

Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts, remove any outer yellow leaves, and cut in half.

Partially cook in a large pot of boiling water, about 3 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon, and in the same pan, sauté onion for 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until golden brown on the outside, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar to coat. Stir in diced prosciutto and bacon. Continue cooking until Brussels sprouts are caramelized and just tender, about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Lower heat and add butter to coat Brussels sprouts. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

Fried Pecorino

Barbara Alfano, Executive Chef, Peperoncino Restaurant, peperoncinocucina.com  
10 medium-sized cubes of Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 oz. honey
1 TBSP crushed red
pepper flakes
Vegetable oil

Fill a deep pan to ¾ full with vegetable oil.

Run cubes of Pecorino cheese in beaten eggs. Then proceed to the flour. Fry until golden brown. Place on paper towel to allow to rest. Place on dish, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with spicy crushed red pepper flakes. 

Categories: Food & Entertaining