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One-night truffle menu wows Bistro Europa diners

Last week's $200-a-seat winter truffle menu at Bistro Europa had lots of people wishing their dining budget was larger. If you were among the masses, here's a video by Buffalo Spree's Christa Glennie Seychew that shows you just what you missed.

Chefs Steven Gedra and Bruce Wieszala of Bistro Europa, the bistro's pastry chef Ellen Gedra, and SeaBar's Mike Andrzejewski served the following courses:

Housemade Truffle Ricotta Crostini with Lardo

Truffle Caviar in the Style of El Bulli

Truffled Nantucket Bay Scallops

Truffle Dashi with Tiny Mushrooms

Truffle Quail Egg Raviolo in Brodo

Truffle Soup Dumpling

Truffle French Escargot Vol-au-Vent

Truffle Soufflé

Homemade Truffle Spaghetti alla Chitarra

Squid Noodles with Truffle Ink

Truffle Braised Beef Short Ribs & Duck Confit “Cadeau”

Truffle Skirt Steak “Filet”

Truffle Chestnut Cake with Frozen Fruttato Custard

 

This (fixed) cheese puffs recipe makes swoonworthy appetizer

Gougeres cheese puffs platter by bill wippert 

With a few minutes' work, gorgeous gougeres can be ready in an hour. (Bill Wippert / Buffalo News)

Four eggs. That's how many eggs should be listed among ingredients for the gougeres, or cheese puffs, recipe in the Taste section of today's News. My apologies for the error. Our web site has been corrected, and we'll print a correction tomorrow.

Give gougeres a shot anyways. The recipe was a revelation to me, rewarding a modicum of effort with a wonderful bite of taste and texture that will remain on my short list for parties. Try it - with (sigh) four eggs.

Here's the Elements video, produced by Bill Wippert.

That crunch when I bite into one? All natural sound. Gougeres are awesome, no mistake about that.

 

And the corrected recipe:

Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)

Makes 40-50 one-bite puffs

1 cup water

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, such as extra-sharp Cheddar, Gruyere or Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/8 cup thinly sliced scallions or chives

Heat oven to 400. Grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

In a medium pot, heat water, butter and salt together. When it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and add the flour, all at once.

Beat mixture with wooden spoon until it forms a single clump and starts pulling away from the sides of the pot. Dump it into a large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

While still warm, beat in the eggs one at a time. Using the wooden spoon or an electric mixer, beat the mixture until the egg is incorporated, then add another. Don't be alarmed if the dough becomes a lot of little lumps after an egg or two. It should come together and get stickier as you proceed.

After all the eggs are incorporated, the dough should be shiny. Stir in the dry mustard, chives, pepper and cayenne, if using. Then stir in cheese.

Using two spoons, drop pieces of dough onto the baking pans. A teaspoon or two will make singe-bite puffs. A tablespoon makes a two-bite puff (which, after baking, could also be split open and filled). Sprinkle a bit of extra shredded cheese on top if you like.

Bake until puffy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. If you want extra crispy puffs, pierce each one slightly with a sharp knife about 5 minutes before they're done. That lets the steam out.

Best eaten the same day. Can be stored in airtight container and rewarmed in oven.

Turkey still frozen? Here's how to save Thanksgiving

Of all the times I have wished for a time machine, the Thanksgiving that my brother forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer holds a special place in my heart.

I'll spare you the rousing game of blame-pong we played. Let's just say we got pizza.

If only I had known the technique related in this Lifehacker post, we could have been roasting the turkey before the argument was over. It's the turkey technicians at Butterball to the rescue with an authoritative video on the fast way to defrost the bird without poisoning your entire guest list.

Basically, submerged in in cold running water. But if you're not used to doing it, you need the calm, steadying hand of a professional turkey thawer at your side.

Meat eaters: Meet the Iraqi shish kabab

Shish kabab platter at Shish Kabab Express by Bill Wippert 
The shish kebab platter, minus the loaves of Iraqi pita bread. (Bill Wippert / Buffalo News)

I tried my first shish kabab from Shish Kabab Express a month ago. Since then, when I've tried to figure out a place to eat, part of my brain has compulsively calculated the time and distance to 1207 Hertel Ave.

Call it the Kabab Effect.

When I re-read my Cheap Eats review of the place in today's Gusto, I was trying to figure out precisely what attracts me so. These are, after all, just skewers of seasoned ground beef.

Here's what hooked me: it's the smoky, crusty richness, like the exterior of a brilliantly grilled hamburger, bite by bite, with enough fixings to keep it interesting - crunchy dill pickles to cut the fat plus onions and tomatoes for more flavor. Instead of the dripping cheddar of a fine cheeseburger, there's garlicky mayonnaise or tahini sauce.

Satar Hussein at Shish Kabab Express 
Owner Satar Hussein holding a basket of homemade bread and a shish kabab platter. (Bill Wippert / Buffalo News)

For the 3,000 or so Iraqis in the area, mentioned by owner Satar Hussein in an April Buffalo News story, it's home cooking. The way Satar Hussein and his cooks grill it up, it's a faraway flavor that hits close to home.

Bistro Europa throws Italian truffle love-in

Flown in direct from Italy, a batch of fresh winter truffles will star in a one-night-only menu dreamed up by Bistro Europa's Steven Gedra and Bruce Wieszala, and Sea Bar's Mike Andrzejewski.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23, Bistro Europa will host a cadre of truffle lovers for "a full palette of truffle-centric dishes" set to run at least nine courses. They'll include house-made truffled pasta in truffle cream, truffled soup dumplings, and more. Even the dessert courses prepared by Bistro Europa pastry chef Ellen Gedra will feature the precious fungus, which can cost more than $2,000 a pound, Andrzejewski said.

There are 20 seats available, at $201 per person, including tax, tip and wine. Buy tickets through BrownPaperTickets.com. You can get more information from organizer Michael "Danger" Bernhardt at 867-3663.

 

 

 

 

 (484 Elmwood Ave.) ,

E. Aurora co-op planners present speaker

Organizers of the East Aurora Cooperative Market, a group trying to start a member-owned East Aurora food center, has scheduled a presentation by nutritional biochemist Colin Campbell.

Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University, co-authored "The China Study," which explores links between diet and diseases such as cancer. He will speak on "Why Is Food and Health So Confusing?," according to Terence O'Brien, education director.

His appearance was arranged by the East Aurora Cooperative Market, a group trying to establish a food co-op in East Aurora. Its members have established a website, eacoop.com, and are trying to sign up 1,000 members for a prospective 2012 opening. The first 500 memberships are set at $150, with the rest to go for $200.

The lecture will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, in the East Aurora High School auditorium, 1003 Center St., East Aurora. Admission is $10 co-op members, $12 others.

 

How to make Buffalo Fried Turkey, bleu cheese optional

Deep-fried-turkey-07 by robyn lee
Photo by Robyn Lee at Serious Eats

Not to bore you with more deep-fried turkey talk, but I had to report that Food Lab's J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has put his newfound turkey frying skills to work and come up with the ultimate Buffalo Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Buffalo fried turkey. I will be the first to nominate him to the Nobel committee.

Thanksgiving plans for vegans, meat lovers and everyone in between

Conscientious cooks everywhere are laying out their battle plans for one of the most memorable meals of the year. Here's a few articles you might digest for ideas before you shop.

From the New York Times, check out Mark Bittman's collection of 101 make-ahead side dishes, organized as relishes and chutneys, soups, stuffings and grains, vegetable sides, salads, breads and crackers, and desserts. The one-paragraph recipes are are sparse, but that's isn't called The Minimalist for nothing.

Restaurant critic Sam Sifton offers Thanksgiving tips from Manhattan chefs. Surprise: The pros don't roast whole turkeys, because the breast will overcook before the legs are done. Other tips: Don't peel your own chestnuts or pretend you can do without a digital meat thermometer.

(The Times also dishes up an array of 30 vegetarian favorites with lovely photographs, plus a vegan Thanksgiving menu with recipes, ending with a Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding.)

Epicurious, the online end of Bon Appetit magazine, has a spiffy Thanksgiving guide complete with how-to videos. So does Martha Stewart.

Considering heritage breed turkeys? Here's a link to Buffalo area heirloom turkey farmers listed on LocalHarvest.org - there are more out there, but it's a start if you're looking for a breed other than the supermarket standard.

 

Food Lab fried turkey update: 'OK, deep fried turkey is awesome!'

How's that for timing? Hours after I pointed readers to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's exploration of the deep-fried turkey phenomenon, he posted his new verdict.

In a word: awesome.

Coached by commenters to his first post, which found deep-fried turkeys dried out and lacking flavor, Lopez-Alt adjusted his cooking times to account for increased carryover cooking from the deep frying method.

The result? "Fried turkey can be good. Really good. Excellent. Lip-smacking, finger-licking, crispy crackly, moist and tender, juice-explosion good, even."

He offers his own list of deep-fried turkey tips for other rookies. That might not be the end of his fried turkey exploits, either. He ends his post with four tantalizing words.

"DEEP FRIED BUFFALO TURKEY."

Bird battle: The fried turkey, demystified

Intrepid food blogger J. Kenji Lopez-Alt checks out the deep-fried turkey, which became famous a decade ago as an exciting alternative to roasting the Thanksgiving turkey.

Every year there's a rash of Thanksgiving fires in the United States attributed to improper turkey frying. Does the results justify the risk? Is the bird actually juicier, as many of its fans aver?

Lopez-Alt took two identical kosher turkeys, roasted one and fried the other. Check out his findings in this post, entitled: "How to Fry a Turkey (and Is the Whole Thing a Sham?)".

It's fun to read, if for no other reason that the meticulous Lopez-Alt listened to some of the copious feedback and went back to test more turkeys. In the end, it seems, the Internet taught him a lesson, just in time for Thanksgiving.

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