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German restaurant bid Auf Wiedersehen tonight at 'Scarf for Scharf's'

The recently announced closing of Scharf’s Schiller Park Restaurant, 34 S. Crossman St., prompted a group of fans to schedule one last fine time.

"Scarf for Scharf's" is 5-9 p.m. tonight, with a $15 buffet of German food, a lineup of German draft beer, and probably some drinking songs before the night is out. Prosit!

Recipe: Gratin of Belgian Endive and Ham, from 'Cindy's Supper Club'

Here's a recipe from Cindy's Supper Club, by Cindy Pawlcyn, featured in today's Buffalo News.

"My Belgian friend Anne says that in Belgium this gratin is served with mashed potatoes and a green salad for a satisfying and simple supper. It also makes a rich, warming appetizer, portioned at
one-half endive per person. In this menu, it plays the role of a hearty side dish. It may be assembled in advance and then baked just before serving, which makes it ideal for entertaining. It also holds well for 5 to 10 minutes in a warm oven if the timing of dinner needs to be adjusted.

This gratin may be baked in a single large dish and then plated for serving or baked in individual dishes. For the latter, I like to use either classic white French porcelain dishes or Spanish earthenware cazuelas." Serves 6

Gratin of Belgian Endive and Ham

4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

9 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise and stem ends trimmed but not cored

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg, for seasoning

A few dashes of Tabasco sauce

11/2 cups grated aged Gruyère cheese


6 large slices cooked ham (such as Black Forest or honey-cured)

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated aged Gruyère cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 In a large sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. When the butter is hot, place the endive halves, cut side down, in the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, until the edges are caramelized. Turn the endive halves and cook, adding some or all of the remaining 2 tablespoons butter if the endives threaten to scorch, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the outer leaves are tender. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until just tender. Remove from the heat and reserve until needed.

To make the béchamel, in a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until aromatic and the raw smell of flour is gone. Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly pour in the milk while stirring constantly, and then cook, continuing to stir, for 5 to 8 minutes, until thickened to the consistency of thick cream and it coats the back of the spoon. Season with the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and Tabasco. Add the Gruyère cheese and stir just until melted. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

To assemble the gratin(s), butter 1 large or 6 small gratin dishes. (The large dish should accommodate the endives, snuggly but not crowded, in a single layer.) Cut the ham slices in half crosswise, and wrap a piece of ham around the center of each endive half. Place the endive halves, cut side up, in the prepared dish(es). Pour the béchamel evenly over the top and sprinkle with the Gruyère and Parmesan. (At this point, the dish may be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake until golden brown and yummy. This could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, or more, depending on how cold everything is when you put the dish(es) in the oven. If everything looks cooked through, but the top is not nicely browned, pop the dish(es) under the broiler (make sure they are broiler safe) for a few minutes to finish caramelizing around the edges. The dish should be hot and bubbling when served.

(Reprinted with permission from "Cindy's Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends," by Cincy Pawlcyn, copyright (c) 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.)

Jolie Zhou offers 'real Chinese dumplings' at NT Farmers Market

Jolie zhou dumpling lady at north tonawanda farmers market

In yesterday's Out to Eat column, I introduced readers to Jolie Zhou, a Chinese woman from Changchun who's offering handmade dumplings at the North Tonawanda Farmers Market.

Her stand is at the northern edge of the market, which is at Robinson and Payne streets.

She might be sold out by the time you read this, but she'll be back next week. She tries to bring several varieties, including meat, fish and vegetarian types, and they run $7-$9 for 10. They're boiled or frozen, but she points out that you can fry the boiled ones at home if you prefer them that way.

My father had some of her beef-and-ginger dumplings for breakfast. Good choice, he said.

Chicken schnitzel, shawarma worth the trip at Amherst's Falafel Bar

Falafel bar chicken schnitzel

Schnitzel used to be classified as a German thing, in my encyclopedia of eating experiences, until I got to Falafel Bar's new location, at 3047 Sheridan Drive, Amherst. (I mistakenly used the old address in the newspaper version, an error I regret.)

At Falafel Bar, Oded Rauvenpoor and his cooks turn out crispy chicken cutlets flecked with toasty sesame seeds (as in the photo above). Schnitzel just like his mother used to make, said Rauvenpoor, who's from Israel. You can get it as a sandwich, or as a $13 plate with vegetables and your choice of potatoes or rice.

The chicken is remarkably greaseless but still crunchy, everything chicken fingers should be but never are.

Falafel bar chicken shawarma cropped

The chicken shawarma was a revelation as well. The Middle Eastern classic sandwich meat hasn't been done often in Western New York. It tends to dry out fast, so I've usually regretted ordering it. Not this time: Rauvenpoor's version was probably the best I've had in the 716, flavorful and drizzled with tahini sauce. It's available as a sandwich, or another $13 plate with salad and potatoes or rice.

Either of those dishes are enough reason to poke your head into the new Falafel Bar.

Recipe: Chai tea concentrate, from Beth Manos Brickey

On her gluten-free food blog Tasty Yummies, July News Cook of the Month Beth Manos Brickey explained how to make a spiced tea concentrate that makes it simple to whip upsubsequent cups of Indian spiced milk tea.

Check out Tasty Yummies for more ideas and recipes from the gluten-free, vegan-friendly yogaphile.

Chai Concentrate

You can serve your chai warm as a hot latte or cold as an iced latte. Either way, I go with a 1 to 1 mixture on the chai concentrate to a non-dairy milk. I prefer almond milk personally, but you could use regular milk or any other non-dairy milk. If you like it less strong, use less tea bags, or mix 1 part concentrate to 3 parts milk instead of 1 or 2. Play around. If you are like me, after you make this once and take the first sip, you will be sure to always have a batch in the fridge.

This concentrate would make a lovely holiday gift in a mason jar with a cute tag, some ribbon or twine, etc. Another great gift idea would be to pre-mix all of the spices and place them with the tea bags into a cute little cheesecloth pouch for an adorable chai concentrate mix packet, so your recipient can make their concentrate whenever they wish, adding or taking away any spices of their choosing. You would just want to substitute dried ginger for fresh and skip the orange zest. And of course provide the recipient with the following instructions ::: To make your chai concentrate, place 4 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup coconut, date or raw cane sugar in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and place the cheesecloth pouch in. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove the pouch, then stir in 1 tablespoon of honey (optional). Allow to cool before pouring it in an air tight container or jar and placing in the fridge to cool. Keeps up to 7 days. For a latte, hot or cold, mix one part concentrate to one part milk of your choice, warm up or serve over ice. :::

Homemade Chai Concentrate (From

Yields: 1 batch of concentrate, approximately 4 cups

4 1/2 cups water
8 bags black tea – I used orange pekoe
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split in half (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract added at the very end)
1/2 cup coconut sugar, date sugar or raw cane sugar (you can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your chai)
1 – 3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into pieces
10 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon raw honey (optional, leave off to make vegan, if you want it to be sweeter without the honey, add a bit more sugar in at the beginning)

1 small square section of cheesecloth, approximately 6″ square (if you don’t want to mess with cheesecloth, make sure you have a good strainer you can use at the end)
kitchen twine

Prepare the teabags by removing any tags if there are any and tying them all together. Prepare the spices, vanilla bean and orange zest by laying them in your cheesecloth, I leave my cinnamon sticks out to make the little pouch of spices a bit more compact. Tie the cheesecloth pouch shut with a small piece of kitchen twine. If you leave the cinnamon sticks out, just tie them together with kitchen twine.

*If you don’t wish to use cheesecloth, you will just add all of your spices directly to the pan when the time comes and strain them out after.

Add the water and sugar to a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and put in the tea bags, cheesecloth pouch and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat strain the concentrate through a sieve or just remove the tea bags, cheesecloth pouch and cinnamon sticks. At this point if you want a bit more sweetness you can add a tablespoon of honey, stir to dissolve. I don’t always do this, but it is a really nice touch. Additionally, if you didn’t use a whole vanilla bean, add your vanilla extract now. Stir to combine.

Allow the mixture to cool before pouring it into an airtight jar or container. This amount fits perfectly into a 1-quart mason jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

** To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk of your choice. I personally love unsweeteened almond milk (you can even make your own). Heat for a warm beverage or serve over ice for a cold drink.

Dinosaur BBQ aims to open at 301 Franklin St. in summer 2013

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has found its Buffalo spot, in a downtown building that was once used to store film reels, among other uses.

John Stage, Dinosaur co-founder and chief executive officer, said he just signed a lease on 301 Franklin St. The building, owned by Mark Croce, "has all these vaults, sort of, where they used to store films back in the day," said Stage.

The company likes to use older buildings, incorporating historical architectural features, and that's the plan in Buffalo, said Stage. "There’s some real interesting features inside, so we’re going to go with the architectural integrity of the building," he said. "If you look at every Dinosaur, you know that they’re all a little different, and this one will be also."

It'll be about 7,200 square feet with some additions, and will seat about 180 diners, he said.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que first opened its Syracuse flagship location in 1988, featuring Southern-style barbecue served with biker bar swagger. It now has stores Harlem, Rochester, Troy and Newark, N.J.

Locations are planned for Stamford, Conn., later this year. In 2013, Brooklyn and now Buffalo restaurants are planned.

Free Slurpees today at 7-11 stores, including 79 new WNY outlets

Emma Sapong reports that 79 of 98 ex-Wilson Farms convenience store locations in Western New York have been converted to 7-11 stores after the chain's sale last year.

Her last paragraph is a call to frozen sugar bomb junkies everywhere: today is July 11, 7/11, so the company offers free 7.11-ounce (really?) Slurpees from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can thank her after the brain freeze wears off.