"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Triple Chocolate Brownies and my lunch at Aquatini

Whoa, you may be saying. Triple Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Tart--that's a lot of chocolate.

Well, you're right. This family loves chocolate. But I looked in the freezer a few days ago at my cookies stocks and realized that we had almost NO chocolate cookies. That just won't do, not with the family coming for the fourth.

One of my little tricks at work to use up leftover: ice cream sauce, candy, jam, etc is to fold whatever it is into brownie mix. (I haven't quite worked up the nerve to put in the gumdrops left over from the gingerbread house construction at Christmas...what do gumdrops do when baked?)

So the last time I made brownies, I added some quince paste that's been kicking around with assorted other chopped chocolates. And I tried to get it past E., who has a dislike for fruit/chocolate combos but loves brownies...but she's too discerning and picked up the quince.

When I went to make brownies again, I ALMOST threw in the hamanatashen filling I had leftover (that's prunes and walnuts), but took pity on poor E., because I like her, and instead made Triple Chocolate Brownies.

These are classic brownies, rich and chocolaty. I defy anybody to not like them.

Regular readers will recall my mentions of Yanks, and in particular the pastry chef there, Alec Maxon, from whom I learned a tremendous amount about pastry and cooking in general. We were good friends, and for somebody just starting in the cooking industry, I couldn't have found somebody with more insight, intelligence and humor to be a mentor. He has often crossed my mind, for one reason or another, since the...six years? Seven years? that we worked together.

You sort of keep track of people that you've worked with (sometimes by reading the police notes), and I knew that Alec had taken a job as head chef at a place in Newburyport. Last Friday, O'Malley and I went up there and had lunch, at Aquatini.

I told the waitress that "I was placing myself in the chef's capable hands" (make sure the chef has some talent if you're going to try this at your local bistro), and got a superb scallop dish. I'm going to tell you why this dish was so great, because all meals at a restaurant should be like this.

First of all, it wasn't too big. Three large scallops, accompanied by seafood risotto and tomato-braised green beans. I ate the whole thing--a perfect amount.

Second, it was cooked perfectly. This is often not the case with scallops, and ESPECIALLY with risotto. I'm actually afraid to order risotto in restaurants because I love it so much and am so crushingly disappointed when it comes out badly.

Third, the flavors were balanced. The risotto was creamy and rich, the tomato-braised green beans were acidic, and the scallops were neutral.

Fourth, it was beautiful. The risotto had a little basil oil around it (bright green), and the green beans were in a deep, rich, red tomato base. It popped on the plate.

That's why you should go eat at Aquatini. Go on Wednesday or Thursday night, or for lunch on Friday, or Sunday--they are quieter times, according to Alec. And say that Melissa sent you.

P.S. Alec, if you're reading this, I'm going to use the ramp butter on baked mussels this weekend.

1 comment:

Eve said...

thanks for sparing me the fruit/chocolate combo. twice in a row might have pushed me over the edge