There was no better way to end 2013 than meeting  Tiziana Stefanelli, winner of Masterchef 2 Italy!

Tiziana is a successful lawyer in Rome, one of those people who knows from the beginning what they want to become, and persevere until they reach their goals.

It’s easy to understand that when she registered for Masterchef 2, she took it as a game, but she already knew there was no option for her than to win.

Sometimes it was hard, sometimes overwhelming but at the very end, passion and endless nights improving her cooking skills paid off, she earned the most desired title for a home cook.

I was jumping off my shoes at the idea of being in a kitchen with her. I didn’t want to make a boring interview, so I decided to challenge her with a game, the famous Mystery Box.

When I knocked at her door, I was a little worried, “What if she thinks I am a complete idiot? What if she’s not up for the challenge?” I would think.
She opened the door with a huge smile and welcomed me with a warm hug, I was already feeling at home!

I challenged Tiziana with an interesting Mystery Box pulled together with simple healthy ingredients, to see how gourmet she could turn a basic fish and few vegetables. Potatoes,onions, fresh herbs, cod fillet, they sounded just the perfect test for a determined person like Tiziana.

 

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She has been able to cook amazing plates out of nowhere during Masterchef, expressing the real meaning of fine dining: using the most simple ingredients to make creative combinations ( I’m still drooling at the thought of her Chestnut Passions with mascarpone cream and meringues).

It’s time to start, so gather all your mystery box ingredients together and get ready to follow her instructions, you will see how easy it is to create a restaurant dish in less than half an hour!”

Ingredients:

  • For the caramelized onions:

3 small red onions, finely sliced

3 bay leaves

2 tbsp white sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

A splash of Extravirgin Olive Oil

  • For the Potato cream:

2 large potatoes

2 cups water

1/3 cup Extravirgin Olive Oil

few sprigs of fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp crumbled pistachios, to decorate

  • For the poached Cod:

2 (120gr each) clean fresh cod fillets

1 stalk of lemongrass, halved and a little crushed

1 leek, green top removed, halved

1 pod of vanilla

1 pint of milk

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In a small saucepan, heat the oil over med-low heat. Add the sliced onions, bay leaves, sugar, vinegar. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are caramelized, about 15 mins.

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Start by peeling the potatoes, then cut into small cubes. Arrange on a sauce pan, and pour in water and olive oil. Add the sprigs of thyme and bring to a boil, then simmer until soft and cooked through.

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Once potatoes are cooked, transfer into a blender and pulse until you reach a creamy consistency ( add a little of the cooking liquid if necessary). Season to taste and set aside.

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Pour the milk into a saucepan, together with the lemongrass and leek. Cut the vanilla pod in half and with the help of a knife, scrape the inside into the pan. Heat over med-low heat until reaches 160°F/ 70°C as measured with an instant read thermometer.

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At this point, gently add the fish to the milk. The liquid should fully cover the fish. Don’t let it boil; it should remain at around 160°F/ 70°C. At the proper temperature, you should see very few bubbles. Cook for about 5 mins, or until the fish is just done without being overcooked, then remove it with a slotted spoon.

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Arrange the poached cod on a serving dish and top with the caramelized onions, spoon the creamy potatoes on the side and sprinkle with pistachios if you like. Decorate with chives and serve immediately.

As I looked at her dish I was astonished, in 20 mins she was able to create a mouthwatering dish, with the same simplicity I put my shoes on.

Sorry guys, now it’s time to eat. Buon Appetito!”

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