Fresh Summer Rolls & Cold Tomato Soup, by Silvina

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Silvia Savini is an Argentinian chef who has been living in Spain for the last 8 years. As a little girl, while living in Buenos Aires, she enjoyed cooking with her Italian grandmother and watching cooking tv shows. Her growing interest in this subject led her to a career in the culinary arts.

She learned the basics of running a commercial kitchen while working at her parents market in Buenos Aires. A few years later, looking for something new and different, she decided to move to a small Spanish town called Ribes De Freser, where she began working in a remote mountain lodge. Due to her passion for cooking and her skills in the kitchen, she was giving the opportunity to create new dishes for the daily specials.

During the high season, veteran chefs from other cities would come to the hotel to run the kitchen. “I learned a lot from them, I always tired to pick up something new from each chef I worked with. We all have our own techniques, our own way of organizing our work place, and different ways of using the same ingredients”, she explains.

“I had the opportunity to work with some crazy chefs from other times, with wild stories and without formalities, but with a lot experience to share. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today”. Later in other jobs, she met chefs from newer generations and different styles, and she was able to feed her creativity, passion and appetite for learning new things.

Silvina studied in Bellart, the Professional Cooking and Baking School of Barcelona. She also took some other specific courses but according to her “there is no better school than the kitchen itself, its infinite possibilities for learning and the freedom of expression that it offers”.

What attracts her to cooking the most is the wide range of flavors, aromas, colors and textures that are created by different cultures using the same ingredients. “The basics ingredients used in Chinese, Moroccan, Italian or Venezuelan cuisine are the same but the way they are prepared varies. With the same ingredients you can reach so many different results: crunchy, creamy, sweet, salty, cold, hot, fresh, dark, saucy, sautéed, etc.”, she says.

Silvina is currently working at two places in Barcelona: a Japanese restaurant, where she is learning new techniques and expanding her oriental culinary knowledge, and a natural foods restaurant where she is responsible for the creation of the menu. She also identifies with the types of food served in these kitchens, something that she thinks it’s not easy to find in a job.

“Be open to try and cook new things. At work or at home, cooking can be a fun and surprising experience. Taste, taste, taste new things! Please! And for those who only eat cheese on bread, you are missing out on a lot!”

Silvina’s goal is to open her own restaurant and decorate it with her collection of cook books, pictures, and items that remind her of her travels and life experiences. “The menu would be an abstract of my gastronomical acquisitions and the restaurant would be an avenue for me to continue creating and exploring the vast lands of the cuisine world”, she envisions.

Fresh Summer Rolls

Fresh Vegan Summer RollsDelicious and fresh rice-paper rolls stuffed with a mix of lettuce leaves, avocado and cucumber.

Ingredients:

  • Rice-paper wrappers (you can get these at the international or Asian store)
  • Lettuce mix, or your favorite type of lettuce
  • Avocado (sliced)
  • Tomato (remove the seeds and cut in small cubes)
  • Cucumber (peel and cut in thin strips)

Dressing:

  • 1 cup of fresh basil
  • A handful of cilantro (optional)
  • ½ cup of dried fruits (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, whatever you)
  • 1 cup of olive oil

Mix lettuce and tomato, and dress with the sauce. One by one, soak rice-paper wrappers under water for a couple of seconds then place on counter top one next to the other in the shape of a semi-circle.

Place the lettuce-tomato mix, avocado slices, and cucumber strips in a line along the straight edge of the semi-circle (try not to put too much stuff because it will make it more difficult to wrap the roll).

The dampened rice-paper wrappers should be flexible by now. Take the straight edge of the semi-circle and roll it over the filling, then turn the corners of the dough in and keep rolling. In order to get a tight and firm roll apply pressure to the filling while you roll.

Once your roll is closed cut it in six slices and plate. Garnish with some hot sauce or a soy sauce reduction.

Rice and tofu are great additions to these fresh summer rolls too. Get rolling and come up with your own veggie combinations!

Sopa fria de tomate (cold tomato soup)

Spanish Cold Tomato SoupThis fresh soup doesn’t require any heat or cooking. Simply blend all the ingredients together then add water and bread (personally, I like it thick so I add more bread).
Ingredients:

  • 8 to 10 ripe tomatoes (quartered and without seeds)
  • ½ red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 small carrot (sliced)
  • ½ cucumber (without the seeds)
  • 2 to 3 ounces of hard bread
  • 2 cups of water (add little by little depending on how thick you like it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic (optional)

Blend everything until you get your desire consistency and strain.

Serve with some olive oil on top and croutons!

ROMESCO sauce

This sauce is excellent for spicing up the “fresh summer rolls” or for garnishing a grilled vegetable dish.

Ingredients:

  • 10 to 15 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 whole garlic clove (10-15 individual garlic cloves)
  • 2 ounces of dried fruits
  • 2 ounces of toasted bread
  • A shot of balsamic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Bake tomatoes and garlic cloves. Once the garlic cloves are soft and the tomatoes start browning, remove from oven and let cool. Peel the tomatoes and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Blend everything together and add olive oil little by little until you reach your desired consistency.

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