MEZZA MEDITERRANEAN, LIVINGSTON
We oohed and aahed our way through a totally gratifying dinner at Mezza Mediterranean in Livingston. Do try this new restaurant and make a reservation especially on the weekend. It was packed when we were there on a Friday night.
Our waitress was spot-on when she said that the hummus would be the best that we have ever experienced. Small creamy chickpeas added texture to the incredibly smooth hummus that was artistically presented with the mixture spread to the rim of the serving bowl. Equally delicious was a roasted eggplant with lemon, olive oil, and red and green peppers served with warm pita bread and peppery olive oil. Another winner was the scrumptious, crispy cauliflower which had an interplay of flavors from the herb-infused tahini, sweet raisins, toasted pine nuts and scallions.
Some of the entrees that tempted us were seafood couscous, shrimp orzo, lamb shank and coriander crusted duck breast, but we opted for the most exotic offering of Moroccan chicken tajine to share. As the conical top of the earthenware pot was removed, a scent of cinnamon wafted out and further stimulated our appetites. Presented with couscous, eggplant, preserved lemon, apricots and currants this entrée was an explosion of tastes. It contained one large chicken breast, however we felt that a variety of smaller cuts of chicken such as a thigh, leg and wing would have made this dish more interesting.
Don’t miss dessert. The halva ice cream with tahini, date syrup and vanilla ice cream topped with shaved halva was voluptuous. Other options were chocolate soufflé, ricotta fritters with lemon cream and chocolate dipping sauce, homemade baklava, rice pudding caramelized and ice cream.
Mezza, which can seat about a hundred people, is stunning with tile floors, Persian style lamps, a candle wall, Hamsa hands hanging throughout the space and other interesting artwork. Service was attentive.
Mezza Mediterranean, 277 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston 973-992-9300; mezzalivingston.com BYO
ROSIE’S SHOUT OUTS
CALDWELL SEAFOOD MARKET AND CAFÉ, CALDWELL
Caldwell Seafood Market and Café serves exceedingly fresh fish that tastes as if it just jumped out of the ocean. This small neighborhood restaurant, which gets its product from the Fulton Fish Market, recently reopened after a six-month renovation. Seafood-themed pictures decorate the walls and white tablecloths and napkins embellish the tables. Service is friendly and portions are large.
A humongous seafood salad with shrimp, calamari, octopus celery, pepperoncini, olives, sweet vinegar peppers, extra virgin olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs was devoured and one of the best renditions of this dish that we have experienced. Sweet grilled diver sea scallops, six to the order, were accompanied with sautéed fresh spinach and beans while a whole meaty orata was flanked with mashed potatoes and strips of carrot and zucchini. Other menu items include clams oreganato, mussels, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas featuring seafood, and fish entrees. Filet mignon is the only meat offered. Bindi desserts were bypassed.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. If freshness counts this is where you want to eat.
Caldwell Seafood Market & Cafe, 390 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell 973-226-2031 https://caldwellseafood.net BYO
Photos above by Lowell Saferstein
Recipe from Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo; photo by Antonis Achilleos; Chronicle Books/October 2017
Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor Michigan was always a “must stop” for us when visiting our daughter at college. While we often order food gifts from their catalog, we now can recreate some of their bread, cookie, cake and soup recipes using their new cookbook, Zingerman’s Bakehouse. Among the 65 recipes to try are: Just Rhubarb Rhubarb Pie, Bakehouse Bagels, Foaccia with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions, Tunisian Orange and Olive Oil Cake and Moroccan Challah. Here is a recipe for rich, fudgy brownies that we loved.
BAKEHOUSE BROWNIES— BLACK MAGIC, MAGIC, AND BUENOS AIRES
MAKES 12 DELI-BIG BROWNIES
Black Magic Brownies
Chopped unsweetened chocolate 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp (195 g)
Unsalted butter 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (195 g)
Pastry flour 11/2 cups (218 g)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Large eggs 4
Granulated sugar 23/4 cups (540 g)
Sea salt 1 tsp
Vanilla extract 2 tsp
Walnut pieces 11/4 cups 150 g
Buenos Aires Brownies
Dulce de leche 3 cups plus 6 Tbsp 546 g
Demerara sugar for sprinkling top
Sea salt for sprinkling top (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C] Spray a 9-x-13-in [23-x-33-cm] pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the pastry flour and baking powder. Mix with a whisk to eliminate any lumps of flour and to distribute the baking powder evenly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat with a whisk until well combined and aerated, about 5 minutes. If you are using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment on medium speed for this step. Add the melted chocolate/butter mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine evenly. Stir in the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment for this step and mix on a low speed.
- if you are making Black Magic Brownies, you are done mixing and can move to Step 6. If you are making Magic Brownies, toast the walnuts. Place the walnuts on a sheet tray in a 325-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re a deep golden brown. Let cool. Add the toasted walnuts to the batter and mix gently simply to distribute them evenly, then go to Step 6. For Buenos Aires Brownies, see the directions that follow.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Carefully spread it to the corners of the pan in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. Cut into 12 squares, using a sharp knife to avoid crushing the top. Chilling the brownies before cutting may help the squares look more beautiful, but they taste better at room temperature.
Buenos Aires Brownies
- Warm the dulce de leche slightly, on the stove or in a microwave. This will make it more spreadable. Place two-thirds of the brownie batter in the pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom. Spread the dulce de leche out evenly over this layer of batter. Top with the remaining brownie batter and spread to cover the dulce de leche. Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar. If you like sweet and salty desserts, also sprinkle with a little sea salt.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and then enjoy. These cut more easily if they are refrigerated.
DULCE DE LECHE
Unfamiliar with dulce de leche? It is a staple sweet spread, like a milk jam, used in South America in baking and as a condiment on things like bread and ice cream. It literally means “sweet of milk” and is made by slowly heating milk, sugar, and vanilla. The mixture thickens and then the sugars caramelize, and it turns a butterscotchy color. There are many recipes available to make it yourself.
Prefer to purchase it? Our favorite brand is La Salamandra from Argentina. They make it with only milk, sugar, and vanilla, no additives or preservatives. La Salamandra is located near the historic towns of Lujon and Capilla del Señor (50 miles from Buenos Aires). They use milk from their own grass-fed herds
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