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More classy campfire recipes from Torches' J.J. Richert

Cajun corn 
Photos: Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News

Here's more recipes and techniques for campfire cooking from J.J. Richert, who runs Torches (1141 Kenmore Ave.) with his brother Kevin.

Cajun grilled corn with tequila spritz

Corn on cob, with husks
Cold butter
Cajun seasoning, like Tony Chachere's

For spritz:

1/4 cup Patron tequila
3 limes, juiced
4 tablespoons agave nectar, or honey

Pull down husks, leaving them attached to cob at end. Remove corn silk.

Rub bare cobs with cold butter, then sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Smooth husks back over seasoned corn.

Grill until corn is browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes, turning to cook all sides of cob. Some husk will burn.

Remove from grate. Pull back husk to form handle and give to lucky eater, along with a little plastic dollar-store spritzer loaded with tequila-lime mixture, to apply as they eat.

Grilled peach 

Grilled cardamom-dusted peaches with rum whipped cream

3 or 4 peaches, nearly ripe
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground guajillo chile or other chile powder
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

For cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup spiced rum

Halve and pit peaches. Put them on a plate, cut side up. Sprinkle with cardamom and chile powder.

Grill peaches until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Start them cut side down, then carefully turn them over to finish. When removing peaches from grate, leave them cut-side up, as the cups will collect peach juice. Drizzle with honey.

Whip cream with rum until thick. (Richert does not sweeten the cream, believing it focuses the eater on the peaches' sweetness.) Apply to peaches, and eat. Wipe chin.

 

Border agent helps writer shed anti-Buffalo bias

Big city journalist comes to Buffalo, and discovers that despite its terrible reputation, the city actually has its redeeming moments. There's been an anthology's worth of such stories in recent years, yet the surprise persists.

So maybe they're good for Buffalo's image, helping convince potential visitors there's still reasons to come here despite the city's perplexing failure to exploit its place in North American consciousness with a Losers Hall of Shame. (Hey, the National Buffalo Wing Festival worked, so why not?) 

Yet the latest installment, by Adrian Brijbassi of the Toronto Star, struck me for his depiction of a city full of people eager to put a shine to the old Queen City. He describes encountering pro-Buffalo pitches starting at the U.S. border, with an agent who, upon learning that Brijbassi would be writing a Buffalo story, asked about his itinerary to make sure he made it to the right places.

“I have to stand up for my city,” [the agent] said and handed back my passport. “Have a good time. Write something good about it.”

That ended the best conversation I’ve ever had at a border crossing and began a weekend in Buffalo full of charming encounters such as this.

For those of us in southern Ontario, picking on Buffalo and Buffalonians has been our guilty pleasure. We’ve laughed while fate dumps a torrent of snow on them; we’ve snickered at their failures, exchanging enough “wide right” jokes to keep us going straight on with our bias; and we’ve used their serious misfortunes — high crime rate, low prosperity — to make us feel superior about ourselves and where we live. It’s not very neighbourly, let alone Canadian.

I’ve done it, too often making fun of the city and — as I discovered this weekend — doing so without ever really getting to know it.

My previous experiences in Buffalo were always for an event: a hockey game, concert or wedding. I never lingered or explored. The routine was the Anchor Bar for chicken wings or a couple of beers at one of the tacky clubs on rowdy Chippewa Street and then back over the border in a bus or on to the hotel for the reception or party.

This time, I got to know the place and the people. Turns out, they like us, and they really want you, Toronto, to like them. Give them a chance and you will.

He goes on to recommend places like Tempo and Blue Monk, the Mansion on Delaware. He made it to Allen and College and liked what he saw, but didn't take the agent's advice to hit Hertel Avenue as well.

Despite Buffalo's warts, Brijbassi concludes, "There are more good parts than bad and lots more genuine kindness than you’d expect. It’s a fun and attractive place to spend a weekend — and that’s no joke."

 

Live chat at noon with News Food Writer Andrew Galarneau

Let's talk about great places for strawberry picking, restaurants you've discovered, or where you can find a couple pounds of pork belly in Western New York. See you at noon - and as always, chat sign-ups are easy and take but a few seconds.

To market, to market: Our list of 44 farmers markets across WNY

Famrers market
A general view on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at the The Downtown Country Market. Photo by Harry Scull Jr / Buffalo News

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

NEWS FOOD WRITER

Like the first strawberries of June, the first farmers market openings are a sure sign that the best of Western New York's fruit and vegetables is on its way.

There are new products to buy at many markets, but one thing hasn't changed: The early birds (meaning customers) get the best selections.

The vagaries of weather and Mother Nature -- including the abnormally wet spring -- mean that some crops will be delayed a week or two, and in short supply at first.

But there are people like Michael Fritz, who sell relatively small amounts of an unusual item. Fritz and wife Sarah have been growing oyster mushrooms for the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market this season, and in their first two trips to market, they were cleaned out before 10 a.m.

"You have to get there early if you want 'em," said Fritz, a sculptor who lives and grows in East Aurora.

They have been taking about 12 pounds of oyster mushrooms to the market at a time, and selling them for $2 to $4 a 4-ounce basket.

"At this point in our first year selling them, the yield isn't what we would like it to be," he said. "We were sort of surprised by the amount of interest."

Here's a list of 44 markets across New York's eight westernmost counties, including contact information where available.

ALLEGANY COUNTY, CATTARAUGUS COUNTYCHAUTAUQUA COUNTYERIE COUNTYGENESEE COUNTYNIAGARA COUNTYORLEANS COUNTYWYOMING COUNTY

ALLEGANY COUNTY

Angelica Farmers Market, Park Circle, Angelica 14709 (585-466-3787). Open Saturdays from June 25 through Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., including during Lavender Festival (July 2) and Fall Festival (Oct. 1). Vegetables, herbs, maple products, eggs, honey, plants, cut flowers, meat, cheese, baked goods and Angelica Winery wine. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition farmers market coupons.

Belmont Farmers Market, 32 Willets Ave. (Route 19), Belmont 14813 (942-3710). Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, May 21 through Oct. 27, on the Belmont Grange building lawn. Vegetables and fruit, plants, honey, maple products, cut flowers, baked goods and lunch items. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Wellsville Farmers Market, 191 N. Main St., Wellsville 14895 (585- 593-5223). Open 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, May through October. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, flower baskets, honey products, eggs, soap and more.

CATTARAUGUS COUNTY

Franklinville Farmers Market, Town Square, Route 16, Franklinville 14737 (676-9181; reapfarmersmarket.com). Open 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, mid-June through October. Fruit, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, baked goods. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Olean Farmers Market, Jamestown Community College, North Union Street, Olean 14760 (676-9181; reapfarmersmarket.com). Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, mid-May through October. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, flowers, plants, honey, poultry and bison, wine, cheese, eggs and more. Accepts EBT, WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Ellicottville Farmers Market, 53 Elizabeth St., Ellicottville 14731 (676-9181). Open 2 to 6 p.m. Fridays, June 24 through October. Fruit, vegetables, maple products, meat, baked goods, dairy products and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.Southern Tier Farmers Market: three locations, all accept WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Olean: Tractor Supply, 1900 Constitution Ave., Olean 14760 (942-3710). Open 2 to 7 p.m. Fridays, mid-May through Oct. 28. Vegetables and fruit, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, plants and cut flowers. 

Salamanca: Jefferson Park on Jefferson near Park Street, Salamanca 14779 (942-3710). Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, mid-May through Oct. 27. Vegetables and fruit, honey, maple syrup, plants, cut flowers, specialty Blue Ribbon baked goods.

Belmont: Route 19, Grange Hall. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, mid-May through October. Vegetables and fruit, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, plants and cut flowers, Catbird Griddle salads, soups and meals.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY

Chautauqua Produce Auction, 7844 Route 474, Clymer 14724 (355-6500 or 355-6391; chautauquaproduceauction.com). Opens at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, late April through mid-October. Auctioning seasonal, local produce and flowers.

Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market, 119-121 W. Third St., Jamestown 14701 (664-2477; discoverjamestown.com). Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, June 10 through Oct. 28. Fruit and vegetables, goat milk fudge, cheese, homemade baked goods, fresh-frozen meats, Concord grape products, fresh flowers, honey and maple products, jams and jellies. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Fredonia Farmers Market, Church Street, Fredonia 14063 (640-5401; see Fredonia Farmers' Market page on facebook.com). Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, May 28 through Oct. 29 (moves indoors at 29 W. Main St., Fredonia, starting in November). Maple syrup, locally raised meat, produce (organic and otherwise), honey, eggs, dairy products, cut flowers, pottery, beach glass jewelry and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons and EBT cards.

Westfield Farmers Market, Moore Park, Routes 394 and 20, Westfield 14787 (326-4000; westfieldny.com). Open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, May 28 through Sept. 24. Produce, eggs and Amish goods. Some vendors accept WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

ERIE COUNTY

Alden Farmers Market, 13119 Broadway (Route 20) Alden 14004 (937-6177; aldenny.org). Open 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, late May through Oct. 28. Vegetables and fruit, locally grown chicken and beef, baked goods, honey and maple products, fudge, plants, cut flowers, jams and jellies, specialty pasta, spices, crafts and occasional wine tastings. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Bippert's Farm Market, 5220 Clinton St., Elma 14059 (668-4328; bippertsfarm.com). Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, Easter to Christmas. Baked goods, seasonal fruit and vegetables, homegrown beef. Produce and plant live auction at 1 p.m. Fridays, late May through late October. Accepts EBT cards.

Clarence Hollow Farmers Market, 10717 Main St., Clarence 14031 (480-3920; clarencefarmersmarket.com). Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, June through Oct. 22. Locally grown fruit, organic vegetables and eggs, grass-fed beef and chicken, baked goods, maple syrup, honey, alpacas, New York State wine tasting and sale and a country store selling New York State products. Some vendors accept WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Clinton-Bailey Farmers Market, 1443 Clinton St. 882-2466. Open year round. May to November hours 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.-Fri., 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. clintonbaileymarket.com Fruit, vegetables, plants, baked goods and more.

Downtown Country Market, Main Street between Court and Church streets (856-3150; buffaloplace.com). Open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 19 through Oct. 27. Fruit and vegetables, baked goods, flowers, pet foods and homemade pierogies. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

East Aurora Farmers Market, Tops plaza, Grey Street, East Aurora 14052 (771-9590). Open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Nov. 23. Vendor produced or grown fruit and vegetables, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, First Light Farm & Creamery goat cheese and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway, 14222 (881-0707; elmwoodmarket.org). Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, May through mid-December. Vendor produced or grown fruit, vegetables, dairy products, natural meat, baked goods, honey and more. New: mushrooms, goat cheese, dog treats. Accepts EBT.

Farmers Market at Grider, 351 Grider St. (898-3509). Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays into October. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, lunches and more.

Hamburg Farmers Market, Village of Hamburg Municipal parking lot, Main and Buffalo streets, Hamburg 14075 (649-7917; hamburg-chamber.org). Open 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, May 7 through Nov. 5. Fresh produce, plants, cut flowers, baked goods, spices and herbs, pasta and pierogies, honey and maple syrup. Some vendors accept WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Holland Farmers Market, 49 N. Main St., Holland 14080 (537-9590; Hollandfarmersmarket.blogspot.com). Open 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, May through November. Fresh, seasonal produce, eggs, maple products, herbs, flowers and plants, crafts, homemade jewelry and soap and much more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Kenmore Farmers Market, 2919 Delaware Ave., Kenmore 14217 (874-1784; kenmorefarmersmarket.com). Open 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, June 25 through Oct. 29. Fruit and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, pasta, jams and jellies, wine, chocolates, honey and maple products, organic handmade soap and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Lancaster Market, Aurora at Broadway streets, Lancaster 14086. (lancastervillagemarket.com) Saturdays and Sundays, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, baked goods, jams and jellies, honey and more. Accepts WIC and EBT.

Orchard Park Farmers Market at Fox Run, Route 20A and California Road, Orchard Park 14127. (200-3564). Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays, May through October. Fruit and vegetables, coffee, hot chocolate, fudge, cheese, meat, pasta, annuals and more. 

Niagara Frontier Growers Co-op Market/Clinton Bailey Farmers Market, 1517 Clinton St., Buffalo 14206 (822-2466; clintonbaileyfarmersmarket.com). Open daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. May through October; 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, November through April. Fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables, plants and flowers. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Springville Farmers Market, Gentners Auction, 341 W. Main St., Springville 14141 (592-4062). Open year-round, Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fresh seasonal produce, livestock, plants, cut flowers, baked goods, furniture, crafts and much more. Some vendors accept WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Springville Olde Farmers Market, Mechanic Street, Springville (592-4746; springvillechamber.com). June to Oct. 29, Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local vegetables and fruit, baked goods, maple syrup, organic beef, chicken, duck; eggs, and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

University Community Farmers Market, University at Buffalo South Campus, near Main Street and Kenmore Avenue (829-6145; ourheights.org). Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, late May through Oct. 15. Fresh produce, artisan pasta, homemade jam and jellies, baked goods and desserts, plants, flowers, health food and seasonal items. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Williamsville Farmers Market, 56 E. Spring St., Williamsville 14221 (984-6572). Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, May 21 through Oct. 29. Organic chicken, beef and shiitake mushrooms, pork, local fruit and vegetables, farmstead cheeses, maple syrup and honey products, coffee. Live music and children's activities each week. Accepts Senior Nutrition coupons.

GENESEE COUNTY

Genesee Country Farmers Market, 8315 Park Road (Batavia Downs), Batavia 14020 (585-356-2358). Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, June through Oct. 28. Fruit, vegetables, meat, sausage, flowers, eggs, goat soap, wine, baked goods, maple products, and more. Grower-only market. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Downtown Batavia Public Market, Ellicott (Route 63) and Center streets, Batavia (585- 344-0900; downtownbataviany.com). Open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays June 23 through Sept. 22. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, honey and maple products, BBQ sauce, cut flowers, garden products and more. Accepts WIC.

LeRoy Farmers Market, Bank Street parking lot, LeRoy, 14482 (585-768-8553; leroyfarmersmarket.org). Open 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, June 25 through mid-October. Seasonal produce, organic vegetables, fruit, honey, maple syrup, eggs, cheese, meat, flowers, baked goods, local wine, coffee, candles, nut butters, goat milk soap, and more.

NIAGARA COUNTY

Barker Farmers Market, Main Street and Quaker Road, Barker 14012 (795-3787). Open 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 16 through September. Fruit, vegetables and more.

Lockport Farmers Market, Walnut at Cottage streets, Lockport 14094 (439-6676). Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, April 1 through Nov. 30. Fruit, vegetables and more.

Middleport Farmers Market, 81 Rochester Road (Route 31, at Wilson Farms) 14105 (735-7425). Open 2 to 6 p.m. Fridays, June through October. Fruit, vegetables, jellies and jams and more. Accepts WIC, EBT.

Niagara Falls City Market, 18th Street and Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls 14301 (946-7473). Open year-round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Fruit, vegetables, annuals, perennials, honey products, sausage on Friday and more. Most farm vendors accepts WIC.

North Tonawanda Farmers Market, Payne at Robinson streets, North Tonawanda 14120 (830-6025). Open year-round, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, coffee, herbs, annuals, perennials, chocolate, cheese, meat, sausage, soup, crafts and more. Accepts WIC, EBT starts in July.

Pendleton Farmers Market, 6570 Campbell Blvd. (Route 270), Pendleton 14094. Open 3 p.m. to dusk Thursdays, through October. Meat, poultry, eggs, fruit, vegetables, bread and baked goods, wine, organic honey, hot sauce and condiments, flowers and nursery plants.

Wheatfield Farmers Market, 2800 Church Road, Wheatfield 14120 (694-6441). Open 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, through Oct. 26. Fruit, vegetables, baked goods, meat, honey, eggs, sausage and more.

ORLEANS COUNTY

Albion/Orleans County Farmers Market, 320 West Ave. Albion 14411 (585-798-3986). Open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays in June and October, through Oct. 29; in July, August, September, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fruit, vegetables, maple and honey products, sausage and jerky, and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

Medina/Orleans County Farmers Market, Medina Canal Basin 14103 (585-798-3986). Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, June through Oct. 27. Fruit, vegetables, maple and honey products, sausage and jerky, and more. Accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons.

WYOMING COUNTY

Arcade Farmers Market, village parking lot, 17 Church St., Arcade 14009 (913-1351; arcadefarmersmarket.org). Open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, June 18 through Oct. 15. Vegetables, honey, pasta, grass-fed beef, wine, organic chicken, pork, eggs, yarn and more. 

Perry Farmers Market, Main Street at Borden Avenue, Perry 14530 (585-237-2614; perryfarmersmarket.com). Open 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, June 18 through Sept. 24. Fruit, vegetables, maple and honey products, meats, fresh breads, scones, and pies, chocolates, flowers, certified organic chickens and more.

News Staff Writer Kristy Kibler contributed to this report. Please send additions or corrections to agalarneau@buffnews.com.

Brews flowing at Buffalo Beer Week

Buffalo beer lovers rejoice, for the days of ridiculous beer riches are upon you. The events of Buffalo Beer Week are under way.

From smoked Rauschbiers with barbecue tonight at Fat Bob's (41 Virginia Place) to the name-that-craft-brew contest Saturday at Mr Goodbar (1110 Elmwood Ave.) there's a bevy of brewtastic events coming up in the next few days.

Special beers are pouring at brew hotspots including Coles, Consumers Beverages, The Village Beer Merchant, Pizza Plant, Gene McCarthy's Tavern and more. Many events have a nominal charge or provide that much-sought-after beverage: free beer. If you can't slake your thirst around these parts this week, you're not really trying.

Enjoy Persian, Kurdish favorites at Hertel restaurant

Newroz ryaz hawramy 
Ryaz Hawramy presents a plate of grilled delights.

My review of Newroz Market, in today's Gusto, explores the offerings of this Hertel restaurant, run by some folks from Kurdistan. I don't know a lot about the fine points of Persian food, but I found their chicken tika kabobs irresistible.

Another dish I enjoyed I've never seen before. Sabzi khoreshty looked like a spinach-based Indian dish but had a rich, tangy flavor from spinach, parsley, cilantro and dried lemons, cooked with hunks of lamb.

Vegetarians might still stop by for the falafel, which was crispy and fluffy inside, despite being less aggressively seasoned than some of my favorite versions.

Larkin Building celebrated with epic cake

The Larkin Building, one of Buffalo's architectural landmarks, is getting a 100th birthday cake that's almost as special.

It's a butter-frosted version of the building itself, some six feet long, duplicating the historic 10-story structure at 726 Exchange St., right down to the cell tower.

Watch this time lapse video of the cake's assembly:

"Each floor got to vote on their choice of flavor," said Zilly Rosen of Zillycakes, who started assembling the cake last night with assistant Shannon Pilarski. The result: sections of carrot, red velvet, and chocolate cakes.

"We will depict all 2,200 of the tinted green windows, the LCo signs, the cut-in lobbies, and all major elements on the roof and sides of the building, including the cell tower," said Rosen. In preparation, she ordered 180 pounds of unsalted butter for the cake, which is expected to tip the scales at about 450 pounds when complete.

The cake is scheduled to be finished this morning, in time for a noon cake-cutting ceremony.

Eats aplenty Sat. at Rediscover Amherst St. Fest

Besides all the live music and stuff for kids to do, there's good eats aplenty at Saturday's Rediscover Amherst Street Festival.

Piemakers can bring their best work, by 9:30 a.m., to Assumption Church, 435 Amherst St. After the "Best Pie in Black Rock" contest, pie will be sold.

If the fresh local strawberries are on your mind, the same church has strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Spar's European Sausage (405 Amherst St.) holds its annual Wiener Eating Contest at 3:15 p.m.

There'll be kielbasa and more at the Polish Cadets (927 Grant St.) and Ukrainian American Civic Center will offer eats too.

Recipe: Pineapple and cucumber guacamole

Truly Mexican Pineapple%20and%20Cucumber%20Guac%20pg%20107jpg[1] 

Here's a fresh spin on guacamole from Roberto Santibanez, the Mexico City-born chef at Brooklyn's Fonda, and author of "Truly Mexican," featured in today's Buffalo News.

PINEAPPLE AND CUCUMBER GUACAMOLE
Guacamole con piña y pepino
(From "Truly Mexican," Roberto Santibanez with JJ Goode, Wiley, $35)

This is yet another wonderful recipe from my partner’s mother, Delia, who lives in avocado country and is so enamored with the fruits she grows that she turns them into beverages and desserts, not to mention plenty of guacamoles. This is one of her finest inventions and gives you so much in each bite - the soft crunch of cucumber, the sweet-tart flavor of pineapple, and the creamy pleasure of this chapter’s featured fruit. Plenty of heat and lime give it life and make it a great companion for anything grilled - salmon, shrimp, steak, whatever! Because it’s more like a pineapple-avocado salad than a guacamole with a little pineapple, I often treat it as an appetizer salad and serve it to my guests in bowls with spoons

PINEAPPLE AND CUCUMBER GUACAMOLE
Guacamole con piña y pepino
(From "Truly Mexican," Roberto Santibanez with JJ Goode, Wiley, $35)

Makes 5 cups   active time: 30 minutes   Start to Finish: 30 minutes

1 (10- to 12-ounce) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (1/2 inch)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, minced, including seeds, or more to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
3/4 teaspoon fine salt, or 11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 large or 4 small ripe Mexican Hass avocados, halved and pitted
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced (1/2 inch)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided

Stir together the cucumber, onion, chiles, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl. Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a cross-hatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the bowl and gently stir together (do not mash). Stir in half the cilantro and the pineapple last so the fresh acidity is distinct from the avocado. Season to taste with additional chile, lime juice, and salt. Transfer the guacamole to a wide dish and sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top.

(Because of the acid in the pineapple, this salsa will not discolor as quickly as other guacamoles. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface. Let it come to room temperature before you serve it. This special guacamole is kept chunkier than most.)

Zillycakes bakers hit TV for Star Wars cake battle July 3

May the frosting be with them.

Star Buffalo baker Zilly Rosen and her second in command, Shannon Pilarski, are going from their Elmwood Avenue shop to television screens worldwide with their July 3 appearance on the Food Network's "Food Network Challenge."

The pair competes against three other top baking teams in a Star-Wars-themed cake battle. Which of course raises the question of what characters came to edible life. I bet a Darth Devil's Food would be enough to pull anyone to the dark (chocolate) side.

I asked the Food Network for more details but have gotten no response. The network's website says:

"Four gifted cake artists must use The Force to re-create Star Wars cakes to celebrate the grand reopening of Disney Resort's Star Tours ride. It's a Challenge filled with plot twists and Jedi mind tricks. And the competitor that can deliver an epic cake will win $10,000 and a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla."

No word if the finished product has to be cut with lightsabers.

There'll be a viewing party July 3 at The Screening Room. According to Zillycakes' Facebook event page, you have to get an RSVP on Facebook to get in. Details from the Zillycakes listing below.

Sunday, July 3 · 7:00pm - 9:30pm
The Screening Room
3131 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, NY

Join Zillycakes to watch Shannon Pilarski as lead cake artist and Zilly Rosen as her assistant as they compete against three other teams on a "Star Wars Cake" themed Food Network Challenge!

The event is free and open to all ages. However, we have to cap attendance at 100 people, so you must respond as a "yes" to this invitation on Facebook to be admitted. If you have a friend who wants to come, have them "like" our fan page and they can be invited too!

Bring a potluck dish to pass, if you wish. We'll supply non-alcoholic beverages and free cupcakes, of course! A cash bar is available on site for beer and wine.

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