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CSA recipe of the week: Pasta with wilted greens

From the Native Offerings CSA recipe blog, here's a recipefor employing any greens you might have as a pasta ingredient.

The author, Vegephile, writes: "I might pass on using curly kale or collards and go for mustard greens, tat soi, young choi, rapini, komatsunu, even lettuces. A combination of greens is especially tasty."

Actually, that sounds like you might be able to include wild greens too, like young dandelions. First some yard work, then dinner.

Kitchen ninjas sought for Taste of Buffalo bouts

Prep cooks or others with top-notch knife skills are wanted for a July 10 contest that's part of the Taste of Buffalo.

Sous chefs - the second-in-command cooks in many kitchens - are sought for another contest a day earlier, on July 9.

Applicants have until June 10 to email [email protected]. Include your name, age, hometown, current occupation, and a few words about why you should be picked to compete.

Here's the details, from organizer Christa Glennie Seychew:

"The first is a prepping competition, ALL PREPPED OUT, where professional chefs/pro kitchen staff are asked to complete everyday kitchen tasks with speed and agility. Dicing onions, julienning carrots, separating eggs, "breaking down" chickens, and other kitchen tasks will be completed. The fastest and most accurate chef will win the trophy. (Slated for noon, Sunday, July 10)

The second event seeking competitors is NICKEL CITY SOUS CHEF, where for the first time ever, a kitchen's second in command will have the opportunity to compete in front of a live audience. Two sous will participate. Each will be expected to complete two dishes featuring a secret ingredient, before a panel of judges." (Slated for noon, Saturday, July 9)

For All Prepped Out, anyone in a professional kitchen - from dishwashers to the top dog - is eligible, Seychew said. The Sous Chef competition is for No. 2 cooks specifically.

Local strawberries starting; most two weeks away

Get your baskets ready, because local strawberries, one of Western New York's most anticipated fruit offerings, should be here in force by the weekend of Sat., June 18 despite the rainy weather.

A few quarts are coming to farmers' markets tomorrow, but there might not be enough to make it past the early-bird customers. I checked with a few local strawberry hotspots, and got a range of answers. If you want to know what youtr favorite place is doing, call or check their website.

At Greg's U-Pick (9270 Lapp Road, Clarence Center, 741-4239), they're saying June 18 for u-pick, call back to be sure.

Thorpe's Organic Family Farm (12866 Rt. 78 (Strykersville Rd.) East Aurora) says about June 10 for their organic u-pick, but check the website to be sure.

The Lexington Co-op expects to get local strawberries in by about June 14. Just in time for the co-op's strawberry canning class (.pdf) on June 16.

Five Guys burgers coming to Amherst this summer

Five Guys burgers and fries have a wide following on the East Coast, but they haven't made it closer than Rochester. That's supposed to change in July or August, with a location at Maple and Transit roads, Buffalo.com's Ben Tsujimoto reports.

"Co-owner Steve Christensen will submit his plans to the town of Amherst later this week, the final move after an extended search.  Two more locations will open in the 716 before the end of the calendar year."

Five Guys isn't a full-service restaurant, so it's hard to compare to the Red Robins of the world. But its approach has won them a legion of fans, and not just on Facebook. Its stores are notoriously devoid of microwaves and freezers, underscoring its claim to selling only freshly prepared food.

Plus, there's free peanuts.

Amy's Place celebrates 30th by giving to St Luke's

Amy's Place, the vegetarian-friendly neighborhood restaurant across Main Street from the University at Buffalo (3234 Main St., 832-6666) has been a home away from home to generations of students and Heights residents. The lentilberry sandwich and "wet shoes" french fries are classic favorites in a menu that roams from vegan breakfasts to sausage links and Middle Eastern dishes like falafel.

Today, it's celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding by Amy Betros, who now runs St. Luke's Mission of Mercy, 325 Walden Ave., with co-director Norm Paolini. The mission serves people in need in one of Buffalo's neediest areas, helping them get food, shelter and educational help.

In support of St. Luke's, the restaurant is giving the day's proceeds to the mission, said current Amy's Place owner Greg Kempf, who's run the restaurant for 15 years. "I thought it would benefit them, and raise awareness of St. Luke's," he said.

Recipe: Killer baked shiitake mushrooms

Julie Rockcastle of Green Heron Growers, whose shiitake mushroom growing operation is features in today's News, suggested this reciupe for oven-roasted shiitakes. It's from Paul Stamets' "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms."

Killer Baked Shiitake Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

2-3 tablespoons white wine

Pinch of black pepper

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 pound whole, fresh shiitake mushrooms

Mix oil, tamari, wine, garlic and spices in a small bowl. Stir vigorously, as the ingredients tend to separate. Set aside.

Cut the mushroom stems from the caps. (Stems can be dried and used for soup base or discarded.)

In roasting pan, place caps gill-side up. Do not slice mushrooms. Baste the sauce onto the gills of the mushrooms, make sure the gills becomes saturated with the sauce.

In a 350 degree oven, bake mushrooms uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Or you can barbecue on an open grill. Serve hot. Unbelievably good!

Serves 2-4.

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