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16 Mar 2010

Red, White and Green

More or less two month ago, Asha of Fork-Spoon-Knife announced her own challenge: the FSK-Café. Similar to the Paper Chef, the FSK-Café challenge requires us to create two or more dishes with the chosen ingredients. For the first round, Asha chose mozzarella, tomato and basil.
They are everyday ingredients but quite deceptive. It is hard to come up with innovative dishes featuring this Italian trio; salads, pasta dishes, bready ones are those that come up to mind. To make things more challenging, I chose then to stay as far as possible from starches in my dishes and this is what I came up with:
  • Mozzarella Lasagna with Tomato brunoise, basil and lemon peel served on a rosemary scented orange carpaccio;

  • Fluffy sweet mozzarella curds with candied tomatoes and dark chocolate basil boat served with a tomato caramel sauce.

And here you are how to do them by yourself.

Mozzarella Lasagna with Tomato brunoise, basil and lemon peel served on a rosemary scented orange carpaccio.
Ingredients (make 2 servings)
For the Mozzarella sheets:
  • 70g mozzarella;
  • 100g mozzarella water (the one you find the mozzarella swimming in);
  • 1 sheet of gelatin;
For the Rosemary oil:
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary needles;
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil;
  • Stuffings:
  • 10 basil leaves; 
  • Black pepper;
  • 1 stripe of lemon peel;
  • 1 small tomato, seeded (50g or so);
  • 1 small orange sliced, peeled as for making orange supremes and sliced thinly;
  • Few pink peppercorns;
  • Olive oil;
  • Fleur de sel.
Start by making the mozzarella sheets, since they will have to set in the fridge. Let the gelatin hydrate in the mozzarella water. Dice the mozzarella and crumble it with your fingers before pressing it through a medium mesh sieve. Warm up the mozzarella water and add the gelatin to it; when dissolved, take it out of the fire and let come to room temperature before combining with the mozzarella curds. Press the mozzarella mixture in a rectangular container to a thickness of half a centimeter or less (should be enough for a 16cmx12cm/6”x5” rectangle); let it set in the fridge few hours or overnight.
While you wait, prepare the rosemary oil. In a small saucepan mix the canola oil and the rosemary needles; warm the all up over medium flame till it sizzles. Switch then off the flame and let the whole steep for 1h or so. When ready, drain through a fine sieve reserving the needles.
When the mozzarella gelatin will be ready start making the stuffing. Seed the tomato and cut it in small dices, combine with the julienned lemon peel and half the reserved rosemary needles; when ready to assemble julienne the basil leaves (make the basil chiffonade).
Cut the mozzarella rectangle in half by the longest side and then cut each half in 4 pieces along the short side.
On the serving dishes lay few orange slices and sprinkle with some fleur de sel. Start then composing the lasagna. Lay the first layer of mozzarella sheet topped with one quarter of the tomato mixture, few grains of fleur de sel and a little black pepper, then a second layer of mozzarella topped with some basil chiffonade. Continue with another layer of tomatoes and top the last slice of mozzarella sheet with some basil chiffonade, some salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Drizzle some rosemary oil over the oranges along with few pink peppercorns and enjoy.

Fluffy sweet mozzarella curds with candied tomatoes and dark chocolate basil boat served with a tomato caramel sauce.
Ingredients (make 2 servings);
  • Half little tomato (20g or so, I used Roma kind tomatoes);
  • Same weight of the tomato in sugar;
  • Roughly double the weight of the tomato in water;
  • Few drops of corn syrup or lemon juice;
  • 60g mozzarella;
  • 1tsp sugar;
  • 2 or more medium basil leaves;
  • 4g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa mass; 1/2 square of a thin chocolate bar).
Cut the tomato in quarters, seed it and keep the seeds and all the liquid aside. In a small saucepan combine the tomatoes quarters, the sugar, the corn syrup and the water. Put over medium flame and candy the tomatoes will the syrup will make big bubbles (20 minutes or so). Crumble the mozzarella with your fingers and mix the curd with the sugar; let macerate for half an hour or so.
Cut the chocolate with a serrated knife and melt it over a double boiler. When it will be nice and smooth, let it come to room temperature and spoon some of it into each basil leaves. The size of the leaves will set how much chocolate you will need. Do not fill them completely; a quite thin coating is desirable.
When the tomato will be candied, gently lift them out of the saucepan over a plate and let them harden. At this point add the seeds to the saucepan warm up the caramel a little bit and let the whole macerate for 10 minutes or so before passing it through a fine sieve.
When ready to serve, drizzle the caramel sauce over the plate, place a mound of mozzarella curds on the center and side it with the candied tomato and the dark chocolate basil leaf.


  1. Al! You rock!! fantastic dishes.. I din't quite believe you when you said, one was a dessert but I am blown away! Thanks so much for joining me at the Cafe. I wouldn't want to miss out on the lasagna or the dessert.. oh! ofcourse, your company as well!! ;-))

  2. Your dessert combination is especially good. Frankly, I would have never thought up anything like this.

    In fact, I'm still grappling to getr the "Velveteer" thing right this time! :D

  3. Very inventive and beautifully presented. Great stuff!

  4. wow this is so full of color, i love this.
    such a combination of taste and beauty


  5. What an original recipe! I love your presentation. So colourful. Beautiful and intriguing.

  6. What a great challenge. You came up with some very innovative dishes. They sound wonderful!

    Wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog. : )