I’ve always enjoyed 101 Cookbooks’ periodic “Favorites” lists, and I’ve entertained including a similar feature on my blog. I’m taking the plunge and giving it a go to share tidbits of news about restaurants, recipes, media and more.
- Sign me up, Tokyo.
- I’m curious to try Cafe China in New York City: Apparently,they’re known for their duck tongues and Dan Dan Noodles (pickled mustard greens, minced pork, chili vinaigrette and more spicy goodness).
- I’m hosting Mother’s Day brunch and brainstorming menu ideas. Here are some of my family’s favorites:
I’m a tea snob. I don’t drink coffee, but I adore a good cup of tea. Unfortunately, a decent cup of tea seems even harder to find than a good cup of coffee. I enjoy loose tea leaves, but don’t discriminate against great tea in bags. I like a wide range of types, including green tea, chai and herbal varieties, and while many grocery stores now boast a large assortment to choose from, restaurants’ tea selections often still fall short. It’s fair to say I dislike the tea served at roughly 90% of the restaurants in Buffalo. Bigelow? Lipton? McCullagh? No, thanks. My biggest pet peeve is not that casual restaurants serve poor quality tea, but that fine dining restaurants serve some of the worst tea. What is that all about?
Recently I traveled to the land where tea time persists and tea options abound: London. I wondered before we left what I would find. Did their restaurants serve quality tea? Indeed, most everywhere we encountered did, and I was assured by as many spots to get a good cuppa as coffee shops. I’ve always been fascinated by English tea time. Growing up, if espresso and coffee weren’t served, we drank English tea with milk and a bit of sugar, yet as I got older, I gravitated toward tea that did not have milk, cream or sugar. Nevertheless, I stayed interested in traditional English tea, as I became intrigued by the trappings that go along with it — and not the cream and sugar. The mini sandwiches, the scones, pastries and dry cookies that come to life when dunked in tea, and all the lovely sweet and savory finger foods stacked artfully on a beautiful tiered serving dish. Clotted cream. Assorted jams. Dozens of teas from which to choose. Gorgeous china. It’s a production, elegantly presented and artfully prepared for the pleasure of the tradition. I was thrilled by what I experienced when I had afternoon tea in London.
Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine: pale yellow egg yolks whipped as smooth as silk, and then blended with sugar and sweet marsala wine to create an irresistible custard. Next, add milk and make it a frozen treat in the form of gelato. It’s the zabajone gelato at Gelateria Luca, and it’s unlike any flavor you’ve had before. Few desserts make you mmm aloud and ask how it got so delicious long after the first time you enjoy it. There are even fewer flavors you can call truly unique. Smooth, creamy, and slow-churned, this gelato has an unexpectedly intense flavor and a gorgeous color to match. It also boasts less fat and calories than American ice cream because it is made with milk instead of cream.
Read the rest of this entry »
Few people can resist a soft peanut butter center with a chocolate shell. It evokes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, an 85-year-old favorite inspiring a plethora of homemade confections, including buckeyes, which are as time consuming to make as they are addictive. Time is hard to come by, particularly at this time of year so you might as well skip the peanut butter ball rolling and individual chocolate swirling and dunking if you can help it. Enjoy the delicious chocolate and peanut butter pairing with less work on the front-end thanks to buckeye bark. It’s as easy as melting, mixing, spreading, and setting—on repeat.
Besides being simpler to make in this form, the candy makes for a fun and unusual presentation when gift giving. Packaging ideas include: tuck in a cellophane bag and tie with a colorful ribbon; wrap in patterned tissue paper and secure with a sticker seal; or toss in small white candy boxes and call the whole thing done. If you’re really pressed for time, present the bark right in the tray and let your loved ones go to town, breaking it off, chip by chip. They won’t mind. Read the rest of this entry »
What defines a great cookbook? To me, it’s a complicated question. I love a cookbook that offers practical tips hand in hand with quality recipes. I also appreciate a cookbook with gorgeous photography, human anecdotes and clearly written instructions with candid recommendations (the how and the why behind the steps).
I received the cookbook “an edible mosaic,” by Faith Gorsky, as part of a basket of ethnic food and goodies I got from the silent auction at Buffalo Without Borders, an international food event to benefit the International Institute of Buffalo. I’ve really enjoyed the book’s style and it’s fun knowing that Gorsky is from Buffalo originally. Her cookbook has a wonderful variety of recipes, with a focus on Middle Eastern recipes, primarily dishes from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and more). While I’ve loved getting ideas and making recipes from the front 85% of the book, which includes small plates, sides and main courses, I recently ventured into the back chapters to explore the dessert and beverage recipes.
I’ve now made more than a few of them, but this recipe for butter cookies is the only one I’ve made more than once so far. My husband adores these cookies, and they’re a hit everywhere I bring them. I recently shared some with my friend, Smita Chutke, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share this easy recipe with all of you. The cookies are not too sweet and perfectly buttery — very reminiscent of a shortbread cookie. They possess a wonderfully bright aroma and slightly floral taste from the orange blossom water. Click here to see the recipe as I made it:
Read the rest of this entry »
What makes a great dish? It’s an excellent question and one that may challenge you to pause and enjoy your favorite dishes in new ways. Close your eyes and inhale. Chew just a little slower. Taste each bite completely…
If you have not yet had the opportunity to sample these two Buffalo area favorites, make a point to visit Ristorante Lombardo and Tempo soon.
Ristorante Lombardo, $13.50
Served with smoky white beans, fresh arugula, and pickled fennel, this grilled octopus is surprisingly tender and rich. Dare to close your eyes and you will have no idea what meat you’re eating. The octopus is not simply grilled, but rather, it’s tenderized and then poached in a broth of water, white wine, red wine vinegar, pickling spice, and some aromatic vegetables, for about two hours. The difference is clear in the taste and texture. The octopus possesses a serious barbecue flavor, and just the right amount of char plays off of the pairings, working especially well with the smoked paprika of the beans and the sweet and sour flavors of the fennel. Use your knife to scrape that last bit off the plate because every bite of this dish is treasured.
1198 Hertel Ave., 873-4291, ristorantelombardo.com