A.G. Newsletter 8/22/18: Toasted Walnut Brownies, Chorizo & Chickpeas, Blair's Burger, Summer Fruit & An Improvised Caponata

A.G. Newsletter 8/22/18: Toasted Walnut Brownies, Chorizo & Chickpeas, Blair's Burger, Winston, Summer Fruit & An Improvised Caponata

Why hey there, stranger...

Thought I'd dust off the old newsletter and give it a go again. Jason Kottke, one of my favorite bloggers, just linked to an article called Newsletters Are Immortal and it made a really compelling case for keeping up a newsletter. And, really, unlike a blog--where you have to edit pictures (which really is the main reason I don't blog anymore, the photo editing is a nightmare)--here I can just AirDrop the pictures from my phone on to my desktop and then drag them into the newsletter. If you follow me on Instagram, a lot of these pictures will look familiar, but now you'll get more context for what I was cooking and why.

So last week I had one of those weeks where I decided not to go to the gym at all (I've been going to the gym a lot this summer) and, in the spirit of completely letting myself go, I decided to make brownies. Here are the brownies that I made:



The recipe came from the chocolate master himself, David Lebovitz, and his classic book Room For Dessert. I'm a bit of an agnostic when it comes to chocolate chip cookie recipes and brownie recipes; secretly, I kind of think they're all the same, what matters more is the technique (not overworking the dough with the cookies, taking them out just when they're brown around the edges).

But with these brownies, David has you really toast the nuts before you fold them in. I'd never really taken the time to do that before and the results were so wonderful, I don't think I'll ever make brownies any other way again. These had such a deep, toasty, almost tobacco-like flavor... I'm craving one right now. Too bad they're all gone.

The next day, I went to Lou Wine Shop to pick up some wine and, in the refrigerated case, I saw a Spanish chorizo that looked pretty wonderful.

I brought it home and decided to make a three-ingredient dinner with what I had around: namely, chorizo, chickpeas, and zucchini.

Here's how I did it: I took the chorizo out of it's casing (Spanish chorizo is already cooked), put it in a skillet with a little olive oil, and then I broke it up with a wooden spoon while it caramelized all over. Then I removed it to a plate, added a diced zucchini, and let that fry in the hot oil for a bit. Then I removed that to the same plate and added a can of drained chickpeas, which I patted dry with paper towels. Oh, all along I seasoned everything. When the chickpeas got golden brown, I added the zucchini and the chorizo back in and stirred it all together. Voila:



Really, it was that simple and also super good (and maybe even Paleo? Just kidding. I don't know what Paleo is.)

On Thursday last week (I think it was Thursday?), Craig said he was craving the burger at Blair's in Silverlake near my old therapist's office (my therapist moved away, but I swear it wasn't because of me).

Blair's is a bit off the radar in terms of the L.A. restaurant scene. There would never be any reason for Eater LA, or other critics, to include it in their "best of" lists because it's not that kind of restaurant. But that's what's so great about it: it's a local spot that everyone loves because it has such great atmosphere (low light, brick walls) and excellent food. Maybe the less people know about it, the better. Let's pretend you didn't see this burger:



It's modeled off a fast food burger, really pressed and griddled (I gotta try that technique at home; Kenji has a version on Serious Eats) and the fries are coated in garlic and herbs. Really, it's terrible. You really shouldn't go there.

What else?

I'm really into fruit this summer, probably because we've really made a ritual of walking our dog Winston to the farmer's market (in case you don't follow on Instagram, our dear Mr. Lolita passed away a few months ago (he was 19, so he had a good run) and, after a few months of grieving, we adopted a Corgi mix named Winston from The Animal Protectorates in Burbank, a wonderful organization). He's the cutest. Here I'll show you a picture:



So yes, every Sunday we go with Winston to the farmer's market and sample lots of fruit, like this stone fruit:



And then I buy a TON of it and bring it home and put it in my fancy bowl:



Honestly, it's so good to have really good fruit around the house. Every morning, I've been cutting it up and serving it with yogurt and granola:



(I don't know why that picture is sideways. Also: I don't know what that giant melon thing is, but the woman who sold it to me said it tastes like honeydew.)

Finally, I improvised a caponata the other night on Instagram. I didn't know that's what I was improvising, but my followers filled me in. Essentially, I sliced two eggplants in half, rubbed them with olive oil, and browned them until they were completely soft and almost pudding like and charred on the outside (but not burnt). I did this in the oven because it's less greasy than frying the eggplant in tons of oil.

Then I fried zucchini and onions in tons of olive oil, added tons of sliced garlic, then added chopped up heirloom tomatoes (from the farmer's market), all of the eggplant chopped up, and a big glug of sherry vinegar. I let that all cook together (with a big pinch of salt) until it was super thick. Then I doctored it by adding raisins (for sweetness), capers, olives, Urfa chili (just because I had it), and sliced basil.

The resulting caponata was so wonderful we used it in a myriad of ways. After eating it the first night with a spatchcocked chicken, I saved all the leftovers and made sandwiches the next day with torn up chicken pieces and big dollops of caponata:



Then last night, I slow-roasted salmon using this technique, and served it with the leftover caponata and just some plain, buttered couscous:



I served it with a dry German rose that I also bought from Lou and it was kind of the perfect weeknight summer dinner.

Well, that's all for this week folks!

If all goes according to plan, I'll churn out another newsletter next Wednesday. That seems like a good day for me to try to do them.

Have a great rest of your week...
Adam (always and forever, your Amateur Gourmet)



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