Buffalo’s most exciting food finds: The British Chippy

Originally published in the December 2014 of Buffalo Spree magazine

Fish fry season is upon us, but you can indulge in the city’s new best fish fry any time with The British Chippy. Not to mention the incredible scones and clotted cream.

The British Chippy

1176 South Park Ave., South Buffalo

British ex-pats moved to Buffalo to open an international powerhouse in meat pie production, but that’s not the best part. The English Pork Pie Company owners Damian and Vicky Parker gave us a second jewel when they opened The British Chippy. Equipped with supplies and décor from the UK, the space is not designed for dining in, but its traditional British fish ‘n’ chips platter creates lines and regularly sells out. Covered with vinegar and served wrapped in brown paper, it features freshly fried cod (right in front of you if you’re lucky) and chips akin to stubby steak fries. You may feel uncertain about mushy peas, but give them an honest try. They also sell their famous meat and potato pies, British beverages, and more.

Top ten cool new kitchen gadgets and tools

Originally published in the December 2014 issue of Buffalo Spree magazine

They can help you perfect a dish, ease your frustration, cut time spent in the kitchen, or simply make you smile. Notable kitchen gadgets have a winning formula of form, function, and beauty that we can’t resist. Sometimes the simplest item can save you from a kitchen disaster, ranging from your run of the mill spilled sauce to the mess you make when tearing apart your cupboards to find that one buried item you need right now. Perhaps most amazingly, these tools can often be the extra set of hands you wish for on countless occasions. Even if you use a few of these gadgets once or twice a year, they aren’t a splurge if they make your life this much easier. Go ahead, see if they solve one of your cooking pain points.

1. OXO Good Grips perfect cut twine dispenser  ($14.99)

This may seem like a luxury, but those who have attempted to stuff meat with multiple ingredients and wrangle kitchen scissors repeatedly know this is a savior. While you wrap, stuff, and arrange, its non-slip feet keep it put. It will inevitably come in handy for a number of household projects; it comes with 300 feet of twine.

2. Kuhn Rikon smart lid with auto release valve ($30)

It’s a nuisance keeping your pan lids paired. It would be nice to reach for a single lid in a pinch and this makes that possible. Fry, steam, simmer, and braise with this universal Smart Lid. It features a clear glass center, a silicone gasket that seals nearly any pan, and a valve that can be set to trap steam in the pan or release it. Read the rest of this entry »

Valle de Mexico

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of Buffalo Spree magazine.

When I was a kid, my parents carted my brothers and me to the homes of many family members and friends. On many of those trips, we kids ended up hanging out in the finished basements of these houses during the chilly months when we couldn’t play outside. I didn’t expect to feel a familiar comfort from a South Buffalo restaurant that evokes a finished basement with kooky knickknacks and mismatching glassware on the bar, but this is Valle de Mexico in a nutshell. The casual ambiance is funky and cozy, and the wait for your food is long, but the instant you taste the food, the peculiarities don’t matter. It’s that good.

At the time of our visit the restaurant was not serving alcohol, but the server encouraged us to check out the convenience store across the street to select some beverages to complement our meal. Two of our group selected the goods and returned just in time to wait for our food and start drooling at a nearby table’s spread. It took over 45 minutes to get our water, tortilla chips, and salsa before our entrées began making their way to our table. However, in a city with a lot of talk about a desire for authentic Mexican cuisine, Valle de Mexico is worthy of our consideration. The top reason is the care with which the food is made. It is clear that a lot of love goes into the cooking in their kitchen. The large menu is almost daunting due to its length, yet it offers a variety of dishes your server will gladly tell you about if you ask. Read the rest of this entry »

Pickling recipes and tips from local chefs

Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Buffalo Spree magazine.

Brad Rowell’s pickled cherry tomatoes

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Make a small x on the bottom of each tomato and blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 5 seconds. Transfer immediately to ice water. Read the rest of this entry »

Canning tips and resources

Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Buffalo Spree magazine. 

You want to try your hand at canning, but don’t know where to begin. There are many resources in our area and at your fingertips to help you take that first step. It may seem intimidating at first, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

Websites and blogs

Ball

www.freshpreserving.com

Ball, the premier name in canning and preserving, offers recipes, product information, and discussion boards for sharing triumphs and failures. They even have video tutorials for step-by-step instruction.

Food in Jars

http://foodinjars.com

Food writer and canning teacher, Marisa McClellan, shares her preserving prowess through her blog with a fun and practical voice. The cookbook author and jarring maven delivers straightforward recipes and advice, in addition to providing useful reviews of kitchen tools and equipment.

Punk Domestics

www.punkdomestics.com

Here’s a hip spot to get recipes and techniques, learn about tools of the trade, and swap information. The blog portion of the site curates helpful videos regularly, and their content comes from registered users of the site—mostly regular folks, trying their hand at canning, like you and me.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation

nchfp.uga.edu

This is your no-nonsense source for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. This comprehensive site breaks down the “how to” of canning, freezing, drying, curing and smoking, fermenting, pickling, jamming, and storing. Read the rest of this entry »

Food Truck Guide Feature: The Sweet Hearth

As part of the Buffalo Spree WNY Food Truck Guide, I profiled The Sweet Hearth, Buffalo’s dessert food truck. Click here to view the complete guide on the Spree website.

The Sweet Hearth

Owner: Kelly Brewer
Web: thesweethearth.net
Facebook: /thesweethearth (1,104 likes)
Twitter: @sweethearthny (2,310 followers)

What they serve: The Sweet Hearth is WNY’s first and only dessert focused food truck, with everything made from scratch in small batches. Old-fashioned desserts and treats include pastries and coffee cakes, cinnamon buns, cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, fudge and seasonal candies, cheesecakes, puddings, and frozen desserts. Some recipes have been handed down through the generations, like owner Kelly Brewer’s great-grandma Zajac’s placek recipe; many are Brewer’s own creations. Read the rest of this entry »

Food Truck Guide Feature: Betty Crockski

As part of the Buffalo Spree WNY Food Truck Guide, I profiled Betty Crockski, one of Buffalo’s newest food trucks. Click here to view the complete guide on the Spree website.

Betty Crockski

Owner: Kate Hey and Dana Szczepaniak
Web: bettycrockski.com
Twitter: @bettycrockski (1,190 followers)
Facebook: /bettycrockski (1,302 likes)

What they serve: Betty features fancy pierogi and homemade sausage daily, and other Polish favorites as weekly specials. Pierogi fillings include cheese, sauerkraut, potato, and pork. Its “open ’rogi” features pierogi filling served over carrot and radish slaw on a bed of field greens with dill vinaigrette. Although Polish flavors are prominent—charcuterie, root vegetables, stone fruits, all the cheeses—Betty’s repertoire does not stop at Poland’s native tastes. These are Polish classics for a contemporary palate, with twists to combine traditional flavors and modern techniques. Think of it as new Polish soul food. Read the rest of this entry »