Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday Report

I'm telling you, tongue never had it so good!  Last night's menu, while a bit daring in some circles, was pretty well received by those who chose it.  Not that many did...

The elite group of diners started their meal off with a bowl of rich beef broth, garnished with bread dumplings.  The dumplings, a bit meaty themselves, were light and savory in the deeply flavored broth.  Kevin made the broth by cooking down a bunch of beef scraps, which otherwise would have gone unused, until all that was left was their essential beefyness.   (Why isn't "beefyness" a word???)

The beef tongue entree was mostly critiqued with the comment "This isn't my mother's beef tongue".  And it certainly wasn't: 
It had been braised for hours and was as tender as a well made pot roast.  The sauce was construed from a reduction of the cooking liquid and braising vegetables, with red wine.  It was - to me - very similar in taste and texture to the short ribs we served last week, only with a little variation on the flavor.  I told someone that this was the gateway tongue dish - if this was your first time to eat beef tongue, you might tried a boiled version next and be on your way to offal heaven.  Sweetbreads!  Tripe!  Heart and Brains!

Dessert was easy - coconut cake with a white chocolate and almond filling and a dark chocolate ganache on top.  If the piece Kevin and I shared for dessert this morning was any indication, there was no controversy here.

So what if the menu only elicited 7 orders?  That tongue is going to be on the specials list today and those who missed out last night will get another chance to experience a new dish.

This month's Bon Appetit has a recipe for a coconut macaroon that I wanted to try as soon as I saw it.  I already have a really good one, but the BA one uses coconut chips, of which we have a bag purchased from Nuts Online. It's a bit of an unusual preparation, in that it uses no flour and very little egg white.  Here's how it turned out:

The coconut chips are mixed with beaten egg white, sugar, salt and lime zest, and are barely wet when all is said and done.  

They are easily mounded on the baking sheet, and I gotta wonder, what the heck is holding them together??

Baked - they sure smelled good - they were nice golden piles of coconut chips.  

But of course, that means nothing if they don't stack up taste wise...the verdict?  Texture - excellent mix of crunchy exterior and chewy interior, but a little difficult to keep together eaten out of hand.  Flavor - good coconut flavor, not too sweet, not enough lime.  Overall - if I made them again (and I think I will) I would #1 spray my parchment paper with Vegelene before putting the dough on the sheets (!! oops!).  #2 maybe add one extra tablespoon of sugar.  And #3 I used the zest of one lime, and didn't measure to see if it was the required 1 Tablespoon.  It probably wasn't, since I think a little more lime would have been good.  

So now, if you see that recipe in BA, that's a little help for you to make your first batch better than mine!

Rodrigo - who is not going to be returning after vacation, moving either to California or Minnesota (WTH?) - is in charge of evening snacks for the help.  I always bug him for some fried fish scraps, which are the otherwise useless pieces of any fish that Kevin has previously portioned for service.  Last night - catfish.  

We're really going to miss Rodrigo - he's been here for three years, and has been one of our most successful employees ever.  His sister, if you remember Maria, worked with us at the Kennedyville Inn, and when Rodrigo came in to apply with us here, he was hired on the spot.  He's from Betterton, born here in Kent County, and one of the stories we tell about him involves his non-Spanish speaking habits.  A guest came in to the kitchen one day and spoke extensively to Rodrigo - in Spanish.  When the fellow left, Kevin asked Rodrigo "What did he say to you?" to which Rodrigo gave a shrug and replied "I don't know."  Ha!

Here he is, starting the process of duck confit.  I took a long series of photos last fall to document this procedure, which someday will be a blog post, but for the moment it shows Rodrigo going about his job, as is his wont.  Thanks Rodrigo, for all you've done here at Brooks, and good luck on the road!

Vacation starts next week.  We are looking forward to some R&R, which I think will definitely become more real on Monday when it sinks in that I don't have to report to the office on Tuesday.  My goals for this annual three week break include a lot of house hold chores, a little yard work and a lot of reading.  Mostly I hope I don't gain too much weight from all the couch-sitting and dining out we are planning on!!  I will certainly be reporting on any interesting food experiences we encounter along the way, and meanwhile we hope to finish out this year with a Washington Birthday Bang!

Thank you so much for your support of our Business.  As you know, we couldn't do it without you!
Peace out!

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