Four Courses from Naples Chefs
Photography by Vanessa Rogers
Eating certain foods to fan the flames of desire has been been practiced since ancient times. The list of edible aphrodisiacs covers the spectrum from oysters and salmon to honey, vanilla, strawberries, figs and chocolate. Four Naples chefs created dishes incorporating multiple ingredients to ignite romance.
John Welch | Executive Chef, Avenue5
Smoked salmon with tempura banana, honey, walnut brittle, lollo rosso and Chardonnay vinaigrette
“For aphrodisiacs, I used honey, walnuts, salmon, banana and Chardonnay.”
- 2 qt salad oil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 T garlic chopped
- 1 cup champagne vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tbsp. Dijon
- 3 tbsp. whole grain mustard
- 1 cup shallots minced
- 1 tsp. tobacco
- ½ cup Chardonnay (reduce to ¼ cup by simmering)
Combine all ingredients excluding oils, gradually add the oil creating an emulsification between the oil and vinegar. Continue to add remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup sea salt
- ½ cup black pepper
- ¼ cup granulated garlic
- ¼ cup onion powder
- ¼ cup ground dill
- 1 tbsp. dry mustard
- ¼ cup Hungarian paprika
- 1 each side of salmon (pin boned and skin on)
Combine all ingredients and rub salmon covering both sides. Wrap in plastic wrap and press using 5# of product to press salmon. Let stand for three days, rinse salmon and slice.
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cup sparkling water (ice cold)
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
Combine with whisk and chill
Slice salmon, drizzle Chardonnay vinaigrette over lollo rosso, spoon honey on plate with walnut brittle (any brittle will work) dip banana in tempura batter and fry for 2 minutes using salad oil heated to 350F. Remove banana from oil, dry off on paper towel, plate as shown.
Andy Hunter | Chef, The Bay House
Champagne-poached oyster soup with horseradish panna cotta and grapefruit gelée
“What could be more romantic than to start a meal with both Champagne and oysters?”
Champagne-poached oyster soup
- 1 pint shucked oysters with their liquor
- 1 bottle Champagne or sparkling wine
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup sweet onion, sliced
- 1 cup celery root, peeled and diced
- ½ cup fennel, diced
- 1 each bay leaf
- ½ cup cream (optional)
- 1 tsp. champagne vinegar
- White pepper, ground
Poaching the Oysters
Drain and reserve the liquor from the oysters. Bring about half of the bottle of Champagne to a simmer in a small saucepan. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, drop the oysters in a few at a time and lightly poach them in the champagne. They shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to poach. They are done when they just begin to curl. Remove them from the poaching liquid and set aside until ready to serve the soup. Reserve the poaching liquid for making the soup.
Making the Soup
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the onions, celery root, and fennel. Sweat until the onions become translucent and the celery root begins to soften. Add the bay leaf, poaching liquid, and the reserved oyster liquor. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the celery root is very tender. At this point you can add the heavy cream if you are planning to. Remove the bay leaf, and blend the soup in a blender on high until completely smooth. Be very careful when blending hot liquids. It is important to cover the top of the blender with a towel, and to start off blending with quick pulses. Finish the soup with the vinegar, and check for seasoning.
Pour the hot soup into bowls and garnish with a few of the poached oysters. Finish the soup with a few drops of the remaining Champagne.
Note from Chef: I omitted the cream from my soup because I garnished my soup with a horseradish panna cotta topped with a grapefruit gelee. I also garnished with celery ribbons, cippolini onion Brulee, and fennel pollen.
You can skip the step of poaching the oysters in the Champagne and simply poach them in the soup if you would like to simplify, but be careful not to overcook the oysters or they will get very tough and chewy.
Coffee and cocoa-rubbed rib roast with vanilla root-vegetable puree, haricots verts, glazed figs and red wine jus.
“The marriage of these ingredients just works, and with a great cut of steak, you just can’t go wrong.”
Standing Rib Roast for Two
- 1 each two-bone standing rib roast (28-35 oz.)
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp. brewed espresso (chilled)
- 1 bulb of garlic (split in half)
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil and butter (for searing)
Marinate the beef over night in the mixture of cocoa powder, brewed espresso and olive oil.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F, Take the beef off the marinade and rub off any excess cocoa. Now you can season heavily with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron skillet on high heat begin to sear the entire rib on all sides with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure that you gain a nice crust on all sides of the rib. Once you have good color add the garlic, thyme and a good spoon full of butter. Begin to baste the rib with the herb and garlic scented butter. Baste the rib liberally and continue to rotate in the pan. At this point you can turn the heat off, but continue to baste. Now drain off all of the butter and oil, but leave the garlic and thyme, place in the oven until the internal temperature is at 125F. Once you have reached this temperature take the rib out of the oven and allow it to rest for a half hour.
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 cup beef or veal stock
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Reserve the roasting pan to make the sauce, as that is where the best flavor is.
In the cast iron pan with the steak, garlic and thyme removed. Place back over burner on medium heat. Add the wine and reduce by 3/4. Once the wine is reduced add the stock and reduce again by half. Once stock is reduced, turn heat to low and while using a whisk add the butter. Keep in a warm place until ready to eat.
Root Vegetable Puree
- 1 head of cauliflower (cleaned and chopped into large pieces)
- 2 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
- 1 potato (peeled and diced)
- 1 vanilla bean
- Whole milk
- Unsalted butter (2 tbsp.)
In a heavy bottom pot place all vegetables and vanilla bean inside. Cover with milk and water, add butter and bring up to a soft boil. Turn heat to a bare simmer, season with salt a pepper and allow to cook until all vegetables are soft. One the vegetables are soft take out the vanilla bean, strain off all liquid and puree until smooth in a blender.
- ½ lb. marble potatoes (split and roasted)
- 8 each baby zucchini or patty pan squash (sauteed in olive oil)
- 6 each dried mission figs
- 1 pint Brussels sprouts (blanched or roasted)
- 1 small package of haricots vert (blanched and shocked in ice water)
Warm all of the prepared vegetables and garnishes with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper. Take a large spoonful of the root vegetable puree in the center of your plate. Next arrange the vegetables onto the plates in a decorative manner, slice the roast in two pieces and the cover with the nice red wine pan gravy and enjoy
Lisa Boët | Owner-Chef, Chez Boët
Chocolate ganache tarte with black truffle, vanilla bean, strawberries and pomegranate arils.
“The earthy touch of black truffle lends a sensual flavor undertone.”
Chocolate Tarte with Black Truffle
Tarte dough Ingredients (makes two shells)
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 9 tbsp. unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 large egg
- Sift together all dry ingredients into a bowl.
- Place softened butter in food processor and mix for 15 seconds until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients into processor bowl along with 1 egg and mix just until dough forms into a mass. Do not over mix.
- Empty dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Form into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for minimum of two hours. Refrigerate or freeze second dough disk.
- Remove from refrigerator and allow one disk to soften at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Lightly butter one fluted 9.5-inch tarte pan with removable bottom.
- Place disk on lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch disk making sure pin and surface are dusted with flour at all times.
- Roll dough onto rolling pin and unroll above tarte pan. Press into pan, removing excess dough. Prick bottom with fork.
- Chill shell for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325F to pre-bake shell.
- Lightly butter sheet of aluminum foil and line tarte shell butter side down. Place pie weights on top and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove foil and weights and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes more until golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack before filling.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 8 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 small vanilla bean
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into small squares and softened
- ½ tsp. black truffle-infused oil
- One 9.5-inch pre-baked tarte shell
- Fresh strawberries, pomegranate arils for garnish
Method for Chocolate Tarte
- Finely chop chocolate and put in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add cream into a pan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the cream and add bean. Bring to boil and then remove from heat.
- Pour hot cream through sieve onto chocolate. Allow it to melt the chocolate about 30 seconds and then whisk until the chocolate is melted and consistency is smooth.
- Whisk in ½ tsp. of black truffle oil.
- Whisk in egg yolk and butter until butter is melted.
- Pour mixture into pre-baked tarte shell and refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.
- Allow tarte to warm to room temperature before serving.
- Serve with a scoop of whipped cream and garnish with strawberries and pomegranate arils.