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Live chat at noon with food writer Andrew Galarneau

Join me at noon for a live chat.

Looking for a recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner? Trying to figure out a menu problem? Wondering why anyone would make a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin, which I wrote about today?

Stop on by. It's easy to participate.

Buffalo food truck committee inches forward

There's a hearing set for 2 p.m. today to discuss food truck regulation in the City of Buffalo.

Aaron Besecker reports that the committee will hear from more people about whether and how to permit mobile kitchens in the city. A committee of brick-and-mortar restaurant representatives and food truck types have met in recent weeks, but no progress towards compromise has been reported.

The meeting is in the Council Chambers on the 13th floor of City Hall. North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. said the committee has until early November to offer recommendations.

Nickel City Chef celebrates book release with all-star party, casting call

As Buffalo's answer to "Iron Chef" heads toward its fourth season, it's throwing a party tomorrow night. Everyone's invited.

It's Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 5:30-9 p.m., at Artisan Kitchens, 200 Amherst St. Yes, there will be food. To attend, RSVP at its Facebook page, and bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the WNY Food Bank.

The event celebrates the stars that have made the show's three successful seasons possible. Not just the folks in chef's whites, but some of the people in jeans and boots who raised the vegetables and meat and fruit they exploited so well.

It also celebrates "Nickel City Chef," a book-and-DVD set authored by NCC organizer Christa Glennie Seychew. Now some of the best recipes unveiled by competitors, along with glimpses inside the lives of cooks and producers, are available for $24.95. The DVD features interviews with "chefs, farmers, foodies and fans."

Nickel City Chefs Krista Van Wagner of Curly's, Brian Mietus of Bacchus, Adam Goetz of Sample, and J.J. Richert of Torches, will be there to chat, and sign books, and try to relax in that kitchen for once.

The "Iron Chef"-style culinary show, which pits the home team Nickel City Chefs against other local kitchen ninjas, gives competitors 60 minutes to exploit a secret, locally-produced ingredient. Professional cooks from Western New York - whether toiling in fine dining kitchens or food trucks - can apply through the Nickel City Chef site.

Application deadline is Dec. 2.

Taste the possibilities at Ormsby Center career night

Culinary students will be serving up crepes, Bananas Foster, pork stir-fry and more tomorrow night, Thurs. Oct. 20, at the Ormsby Educational Center in East Aurora.

For 50 cents to $1, visitors can sample dishes that will also include pizzas and soups. Watching the students demonstrate the dishes is free.

So is information about the BOCES Culinary Arts Program, which graduates high school students with a leg up on culinary careers. Students who successfully complete the program can waive the experience requirement to enter the Culinary Institute of America, according to a press release.

It's Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6-8 p.m.The Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Ormsby Educational Center, 1010 Center St., East Aurora.

Live chat with News food writer Andrew Galarneau at noon

Stop by from noon to 1 p.m. to see what people have to share about markets, restaurants, recipes and more. It's easy to ask a question or contribute to the conversation.


Recipes: Spicy potato fritters (bonda), plus cilantro-mint chutney

Raj Gohil, the talented artist and chef who shares recipes in today's Buffalo News as our October Cook of the Month, had these appetizers ready before I arrived with photographer Sharon Cantillon. They're not beginners' work. Between making the seasoned potato mixture, batter, chutney and frying the little balls of delight, Gohil estimated he spent three hours making them.

(Spicy Potato Croquettes in Chickpea Flour Batter)

Ingredients for the potato filling:
1 ½ pounds potatoes (boiled until very soft)
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons split white gram beans (urad dal)
1 cup chopped onion
3 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Ingredients for the batter:
1 ½ cups chickpea flour
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/3 cups warm water (110° F or more as needed)
Corn oil to fill the pan up to 3 inches

Directions for the filling
1. Peel the potatoes and mash them coarsely. Blend in the turmeric and curry powder.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium high heat until very hot. Add mustard seeds. When seeds spatter, cover the pot with the lid and add the gram beans and fry, shaking pan, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add onions and chiles and cook for 4 minutes.

3. Add mashed potatoes and continue cooking for 5 minutes, until they begin to brown slightly. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, salt, and fresh coriander. Mix well. After cooling, roll into 1-inch balls. (It will make 16-20.)

Directions for the batter
4. Mix the chickpea flour, cayenne pepper , baking powder, salt and enough warm water to make a pancake-like batter. Cover and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a frying pan to 375°. Dip the potato balls one at a time in the batter. Then, very carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry 3 to 4 balls at a time until they are golden brown all over (about 3 to 4 minutes). Use extreme caution in the frying process. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

6. Continue with the remaining balls the same way. Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh chutney.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney
1 ½  cups cilantro - packed fresh washed and dried, roughly chopped
1/3 cup mint, packed fresh washed and dried, roughly chopped
1/3 - 1/2 cup of water
2-3 fresh hot seeded chilies , roughly chopped
½ inch fresh ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until finely pureed. Taste the
mixture for seasoning. Cover and chill until needed. Keeps well for 2-3 days covered.

Big thoughts on food and beer today at TEDx Buffalo

TEDx Buffalo, an eclectic "conference about ideas" running today at Canisius College's Montante Center, includes Ethan Cox, a community beer activist, and Patrick Lango, whose White Cow Dairy makes artisanal yogurt and dairy products that are sold primarily in Manhattan and Buffalo.

Cox cofounded Community Beer Works, which wants help to return beer culture to Buffalo, and have a lot more beer made around here, employing a lot more people. (He spoke at 9 a.m.)

Lango is an evangelist for small-scale dairy operations. (He's scheduled to speak at 11 a.m.) One tiny batch at a time, Lango's White Cow Dairy products have gotten the attention of Manhattan and Buffalo consumers, and won critical notice from the New York Times, Bon Appetit and Saveur magazines, and other press.

There's lots of folks talking about other interesting things, too. It's streaming live on the Internet today, and people are gathering to watch it at satellite locations. But you can watch parts whenever you like after it happens at the TEDx site.

Special dinner menus set at Seabar, Tuscarora Inn

At Seabar, guest chef Edward Forster will collaborate on a dinner on Wed., Oct. 12 devoted to wild game, with Seabar's Mike Andrzejewski.

The nine-course menuincludes dishes like pheasant three ways, foie gras and tuna, breast of squab, wild caviar and langoustine, timbale of langoustine tail with quail egg and caviar dressing, boar belly "Cuban style,” slow-roasted venison loin, and for dessert, chestnut panna cotta.

The dinner, served at 7 p.m., is $95 per seat, plus tax and tip. Call 332-2928 for reservations.

On Wed., Oct. 12, the Tuscarora Inn (128 Walnut St., Lockport) will hold a Brewmaster's Dinner with Flying Bison Brewery.

Each dish in a five-course dinner will be paired with one of Flying Bison's Buffalo-crafted brews.

Seats are $42, including tax and tip, for the 6:30 p.m. meal. Call 434-1288 or email for reservations.

Recipe: Pasta alle Briciole, 'poor man's Parmigiano,' and more Tuscan peasant cooking

Here's a couple of recipes from Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking, featured in today's Buffalo News. Italian food expert Pamela Sheldon Johns writes that this simple bread crumb prepatation is used on lots of dishes besides pasta.

Pasta alle Briciole
Pasta with Spicy Bread Crumb Topping

The topping for this pasta is sometimes called poor man’s Parmigiano and represents cucina povera at its most frugal. Women would save every bread crumb until there were enough to dress pasta, garnish soups, or flavor roasted or grilled vegetables. For this recipe, the breadcrumbs are tossed with garlic and spicy red pepper flakes that have been sautéed in olive oil. The finished topping is crunchy with a wonderful, spicy flavor.

1 pound pasta (such as pici, bucatini, or spaghetti)
3 cups coarse dried bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the bread, garlic, and pepper flakes until the crumbs are golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and let cool.

Drain the pasta, add the topping, and toss. Serve at once.

Serves 6

—From Cucina Povera by Pamela Sheldon Johns/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pomodori, Fagioli, e Cipolline
Roasted Tomatoes, Beans, and Onions

This hearty vegetable casserole needs no meat to make a satisfying meal on a cold night. If the small, squat onions known as cipolline are not available, you can substitute 4 quartered sweet red onions or 4 heads of garlic with the tops removed.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds cipolline onions, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, trimmed and peeled
1 bulb fennel, cored and cut lengthwise into eighths
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes, onions, and fennel in a roasting pan. Add the olive oil and
toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roast, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and roast another 10 to 15 minutes, or until
the potatoes and cipolline are fork-tender and golden brown. Add the beans, garnish with thyme, and serve
at once.
Serves 8 to 10

—From Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking by Pamela Sheldon Johns/Andrews McMeel Publishing