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Recipe: Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Afghan Sauce, from 'America's Best BBQ Homestyle'

Here's a recipe from "America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards," by Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk, featured in today's Buffalo News.

Pepper Monkey Lamb Meatballs

Makes about 48 meatballs, serving 10 to 12

We had to include this fantastic recipe because the marriage of fresh ginger, garlic, mint, feta cheese, spinach, and freshly ground lamb with complementary spicy seasonings grilled over direct heat yields an outstanding flavor. Cover them with Spicy Afghan Green Sauce and you’ll be serving one of the most remarkable backyard barbecues ever. Friends who think they don’t like lamb will rave about these meatballs.


1 bunch fresh cilantro

1/2 to 1 jalapeno, depending on how spicy you want your sauce

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

3 cloves garlic

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon agave nectar


1 tablespoon cumin seeds (see Notes)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

Seeds from 4 cardamom pods

Seeds from 2 star anise

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

3 tablespoons seasoned salt

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cayenne

4 to 5 pounds ground lamb (see Notes)

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup cooked spinach, chopped

Make the Spicy Afghan Green Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food proces­sor and puree until smooth. This can be done 1 to 3 days in advance. It is best to make the sauce at least 1 day in advance to give the fla­vors time to blend.

Preheat a grill to about 375 F for direct cooking.

Make the meatballs: Place the cumin, cori­ander, cardamom seeds, and star anise in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Add the turmeric, seasoned salt, black pepper, cinnamon, and cayenne and mix well.

Place the ground lamb in a large bowl. Add the spices along with the onion, ginger, garlic, mint, feta, and spinach and mix well, but do not over­mix as this will result in a tough texture. Form the mixture into meatballs 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter.

Place the meatballs on the grill grate and cook for about 14 minutes, or until the internal tem­perature reaches 160 F on a meat thermometer, rotating the meatballs frequently to ensure that they caramelize evenly.

Serve with the dipping sauce.

Notes: You may substitute store-bought garam masala for the homemade spice mixture here.

You can have a butcher grind the meat, or you can do it yourself at home, using a meat grinder or food processor.

(From America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards, By Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk, Andrews McMeel)


Shalimar Garden adds Chinese-Indian fusion, Kashmiri dishes to WNY menu

Shalimar gardens 046

Hot garlic paneer at Shalimar Garden


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Chinese cooks living in India have developed a distinct set of dishes that merge the two great culinary traditions in delicious ways. Paneer stir-fried in garlic sauce, chicken with fresh chiles and soy sauce, and fried shrimp fritters in red chile "Manchurian" sauce are classic examples of what is often called Hakka cuisine.

Until Shalimar Garden (3192 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, 835-0700) opened recently, you could find Manchurian dishes here and there, but Shalimar, which I reviewed in today's Buffalo News, has more than 20 Hakka dishes.

(Toronto's Danforth Dragon is an excellent choice if you're in the Great White North. Do not miss the pakoras, available in chicken, fish or shrimp, 10 for $12.)

If you enjoy lamb, I submit Shalimar's Kashmiri Rogan Josh to your attention. It was the most deeply flavored lamb curry I have had in recent memory. The bone-in pieces make you eat slowly, but I didn't mind.

Shalimar gardens 050

Lamb rogan josh, a Kashmiri dish at Shalimar Garden


Chef Bruce Wieszala's menu wows Buffalo Eats at Amherst's Tabree

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Alli Suriani and Donnie Burtless of Buffalo Eats dropped in on Tabree (4610 Main St., Snyder, 844-8477) to see what Chef Bruce Wieszala was up to in his new French bistro setting.

Here's the report on their "fantastic" meal, including color photographs that will make you hungry. From ricotta-stuffed squash blossom to pork belly banh mi to deconstructed Oles Farm strawberry "deconstructed" cheesecake (which Suriani delared worth-the-trip-alone good), the Buffalo Eats team found lots to love.


Beyond kettle corn: Nominate your favorite farmers market snack

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Lots of interesting businesspeople show up at farmers markets, besides the farmers. At the North Tonawanda market, there's fresh doughnuts, breakfast sandwiches, soup, Chinese dumplings, pork rinds and more for shoppers to snack on as they stroll.

But I haven't been to most farmers markets in Western New York. So, dear readers, what would you recommend? What farmers market strolling food deserves celebration? Anything that doesn't 

Where and what would do, for starters. If you can supply a name, phone number or website, that would help. 

Please send nominations to


Free tours of 6 Buffalo ethnic groceries Saturday, courtesy Slow Food Buffalo

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

If the Taste of Buffalo isn't your jam, learn about some of Buffalo's leading ethnic groceries by joining Slow Food Buffalo guides for a tour.

The tours are free, can you beat that?

Here's all the details.

From the post:

"The ethnic grocery stores to be featured and the tour guides at each are:

9:30 a.m. — Guercio & Sons, 250 Grant St., tour guide Michelle Stevens

10:45 a.m. — Horsefeathers Market, 346 Connecticut St., tour guide Niki Klem

11:00 a.m. — Sinbad Market, 2896 Delaware Ave., tour guide May Shogan

11:45 a.m. — West Side Bazaar, 25 Grant St., tour guide Erin St. John Kelly

1:00 p.m. —  An Chau Asian Market, 3306 Bailey Ave., tour guide Scotty Harris

2:00 p.m. — Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, tour guide “Airborne Eddy” Dobosiewicz"


A Buffalo food trucks guide

By Rebecca Bratek

Trying to decide which truck to chase? Here’s the Buffalo News Food Truck Guide. (Send truck news, changes and additions to

Click on the truck to see more details.

Lloyd Taco Truck | Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs | R&R BBQ | ThaiMeUp | Knight Slider | House of Munch | Hot Off The Press | The Sweet Hearth | Pizza Amore | Rolling Joe's Café | Roaming Buffalo | Amy's Truck | The Black Market Food Truck | The Cheesy Chick | The Whole Hog

Lloyd Taco Truck


Phone: 863-9781

Twitter: @whereslloyd



Lloyd Taco Truck, self-proclaimed “street food on the edge,” was started three years ago – the first food truck in Buffalo – by childhood friends Pete Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo, and they’ve tried to pave the way for the growing food truck craze by pushing for more reasonable laws and restrictions. They serve what they call “Southern California-style Mexican,” specializing in made-to-order, fresh tacos and burritos made with cabbage slaw instead of lettuce. “You can do anything with a taco. It’s basically just a vessel,” Cimino said. They’re on the road Monday through Saturday, with one truck – the white “OG” – hitting the city, and the green “Dos” truck roaming the Northtowns. A third truck is opening up soon, and the duo hopes to frequent more Southtowns locations.


Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs

Frank hot dogs

Phone: 440-9397

Twitter: @FindFrankNow


Website: Still in the works.

Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, dubbed a “hot dog cart on steroids” by co-owner Frank Tripi, has been on the road for about six months. Tripi and his brother, Paul, wanted to take an American classic and put a “gourmet twist” on it.

They serve about 12 different hot dogs – which range from traditional dogs to homemade veggie dogs and sausage – with unusual toppings, such as blueberry barbecue sauce, guacamole, coleslaw and cream cheese. The Proud Mary, which Tripi says is the truck’s most popular offering, features Tijuana cream cheese and caramelized onions atop a bacon-wrapped frank – it’s even in the running to be served at Fenway Park.


Phone: 472-7130

Twitter: @RnRBBQTruck



R&R BBQ, which debuted on the Buffalo streets 2½ years ago, holds the title of being the Queen City’s second official food truck. Started by Renee Allen, who then opened a brick-and-mortar location in November 2012, R&R boasts a menu full of homemade comfort food – the city’s only barbecue-themed truck.

The truck serves mostly barbecue sandwiches – pulled pork, brisket and chicken – and a few wraps. It also boasts an array of homemade sides and desserts, including mac and cheese, coleslaw, chili and corn bread. An expanded menu can be found at the permanent location in Elma.

Thai Me Up
Thai me up

Phone: 880-0259

Twitter: @ThaiMeUpTruck


Website: none, email is

ThaiMeUp, launched in the beginning of June, is one of the newest food trucks in the game. The truck is owned by the same family that runs King and I in Amherst – a restaurant that serves traditional Thai cuisine. Kim Suphankmout and his wife wanted to start an Asian-Thai cuisine-themed truck because nothing else like it existed in Buffalo.

The truck has only been out a handful of times since opening, but Kim says he’s obtained his Amherst permit and has joined the WNY Food Truck Association, and he’s looking forward to following the other trucks and finding new places to park. The most popular offering? Pud Thai, which is a famous Thai dish of rice noodles sautéed with egg, bean sprout and green onion and served with chicken.

Knight Slider
42950 Knight Slider GEE2

Phone: 855-KSLIDER

Twitter: @TheKnightSlider


Website: none, email is

Knight Slider – the name sounds familiar, right? That’s because it’s derived from the ’80s TV show “Knight Rider,” and many of the menu items feature names with references to the program. Ayoub “Mike” Abboud opened the truck in September 2012, after toying with the idea of a restaurant, but he thought food trucks were “trendier.”

And while many consider a slider to be a typical burger, Abboud has a more liberal definition and considers anything between two buns to be a slider. His truck has served elk, ostrich, eggplant, oysters, pork belly and tuna, to name a few, on freshly made bread. The beef patties aren’t ordinary hamburger patties – the Knight Slider has its own Grade-A cuts made with steer and chuck sirloin.

House of Munch
House of munch
Phone/email: 866-0106,

Twitter: @HouseofMunch



House of Munch started in the concession business in 1976, and three years ago, owner Mike Albarella – along with his wife, Karen, and two kids – decided to close HOM’s two storefronts in the Galleria and Eastern Hills malls and make the wares more mobile. They specialize in festival “snack” foods, like fried dough, birch beer, French fries, cotton candy and lemonade.

The truck mostly caters special events, but you can find them at the Food Truck Rodeo and many concerts at Artpark and Darien Lake. If asked, House of Munch can also do sandwiches – the most popular being a Philly cheese steak sandwich – and wraps, along with other carnival-type fare, like deep-fried hot dogs.

Hot Off The Press
Hot off the press

Phone: 997-2625

Twitter: @PaniniTruckBflo



Hot Off The Press, one of Buffalo’s newest food trucks, opened on June 7. The bright orange-and-green truck was started by Nicole Burke, after her search for a marketing job in Buffalo proved futile.

Burke’s truck offers panini, a hot-pressed Italian sandwich, and she swears by her Tater Tots – something she says is unique to her truck. The customer-favorite spicy Buffalo chicken panini, which is Burke’s take on the city’s specialty, features cream cheese with the typical hot sauce and blue cheese condiments.

Hot Off The Press is one of few trucks that tread into the Southtowns – Burke grew up in Hamburg – and she regularly stops at Town Hyundai in Orchard Park on Fridays. She’s hoping to expand into Hamburg soon and is working with the Town Board to create a food truck permit process.

The Sweet Hearth 
Sweet hearth

Phone: 989-1777

Twitter: @SweetHearthNY



What’s dinner without dessert? The Sweet Hearth, Buffalo’s first dessert truck, which opened just over a year ago, is the perfect companion to the growing list of mobile food vendors in the city.

The Sweet Hearth specializes in anything and everything sweet – cupcakes, cookies, pies, Danishes, puddings, muffins, cheesecakes and more. The menu rotates regularly, but the Sweet Hearth has so many options, customers are likely to find something for their sugary cravings. Try the peanut butter iced box pie, which owner Kelly Brewer says is her No. 1 seller, or the hummingbird cake, which is a layer cake made with bananas, pineapple and pecans.

Pizza Amore
Pizza amore

Phone: 775-5975

Twitter: @MobileWoodFire



Pizza Amore, which opened in 2012, is one of the few wood-fired pizza trailers in the country. And it all started from a backyard hobby. Owner Dave Perri had built a brick oven in his backyard and served his pies to friends and family, and a friend joked that he should put his oven on wheels and come cook at a party – the food truck was born. Shortly after the mobile restaurant opened, Perri opened a permanent shop on Grand Island.

Pizza Amore sells many specialty pizzas, all of which are cooked in 3-5 minutes in a 750-degree fire. The most popular items include chicken wing pizza, prosciutto arugula pizza and a margherita pie – all of which are made with organic tomatoes and homemade sauces and fired by locally sourced wood.

Rolling Joe Café


Twitter: @RollingJoeCafe



Rolling Joe Café is Buffalo’s “coffee house on wheels,” according to owner Rich Spears. His truck – more of a beverage truck than a food truck – has been on the Buffalo streets for two years.

Spears specializes in a range of coffee- and espresso-based drinks, both hot and cold, and he boasts more than 100 different drink options. He has his own line of gourmet drinks, called “creamy iced coolers,” which are essentially milkshakes without the ice cream, he said. Try the drinkable banana split (it tastes exactly how it sounds), one of Spears’ more creative mixtures.

Spears has a contract with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, so Rolling Joe Café can mostly be found at Shakespeare in Delaware Park or other events within the park system, rather than out in the city like the other trucks.

The Roaming Buffalo
Roaming buffalo

Phone: 548-4344

Twitter: @RoamingBuffalo1



Chicken wings. Beef on weck. Sahlen’s hot dogs. Weber’s mustard. Loganberry. The Roaming Buffalo, started two years ago by Chris Taylor and his wife, Valerie, focuses on the Queen City’s prized delicacies.

The Roaming Buffalo serves all local products, made fresh each day, and Taylor says his truck is the fastest one on the streets. The classic burger was voted the best in Buffalo by Buffalo Spree for 2013, though Taylor says the “WTF!?!?” burger – topped with bacon jam and crunchy or creamy peanut butter – is the truck’s most popular item. They also serve a bison burger, a breakfast burger and fried bologna and onions, along with Buffalo’s staples.

Amy's Truck 
Amy's truck

Phone: (716) 812-9953

Twitter: @amys_truck



Amy’s Truck is the mobile sibling of Amy’s Place, the Lebanese-Middle Eastern-American diner on Main Street near the University at Buffalo’s South Campus. Amanda Amico, former manager at Amy’s Place, is attempting to bring the comfort-food favorites to other parts of the city.

Amy’s menu, which is set and doesn’t rotate like other food trucks’, is derived from the diner’s offerings. The most popular seller is a lentil berry sandwich, which Amico describes as more of a “lentil burrito,” and it features the restaurant’s signature lentil spread, a wheatberry spread and hot sauce rolled into a flatbread wrap. The Margie meal – which consists of charbroiled chicken, fajita fries, tomatoes, garlic spread and hot sauce in a pita wrap – is another customer favorite. Any of the other sandwiches or wraps can be made vegan or vegetarian upon request.

The Black Market Food Truck


Black market food  truck

Phone: (716) 481-0127

Twitter: @TheBMFT



The Black Market was started just six months ago by a couple of high school friends after their catering business had turned too sluggish for their tastes. Only those who contracted the pair knew about the food, and Mike Dimmer and Christian Willmott wanted to expand their audience.

Dimmer said Black Market’s food style can’t be pigeonholed, but if he had to describe his dishes, he would call it a mobile “gourmet deli.” The menu is always changing, and customers may not find the same thing from week to week. The one constant, though, is the Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich, which consists of fresh cilantro, pickled carrots and onion, white bean pâté, cucumber and spicy chili aioli with whatever protein catches the chefs’ fancy that day. And everything BMFT produces is made from scratch – from the fresh bread to all of the soups and sauces.

The Cheesy Chick
Cheesy chick

Phone: 289-4613

Twitter: @thecheesychick


Website: Still in the works

The Cheesy Chick debuted in early 2012, and many in Buffalo were disappointed when the truck closed this past February. Stefanie Rowan and her family took over the truck soon after it closed and reopened on June 21.

The menu has changed under Rowan, and the new truck’s menu is a build-your-own deal, and she treats the truck as customers’ personal kitchen. They have most any cheeses, vegetables, meats and breads that you could want, and customers are charged one price for any sandwich they want to design. They offer a few creations of their own, and Rowan recommends the grilled Buffalo chicken pita, which has chicken strips, blue cheese crumbs, hot sauce and barbecue sauce.

The Whole Hog
The whole hog

Phone: 638-0810

Twitter: @WholeHogTruck


Website: Under construction

The Whole Hog was founded by Kathleen Haggerty in spring 2011, and her nephew, Brenden Haggerty, took over the truck, which went through a brief hiatus, early this May. Brenden built his roots in the Seattle food scene before moving back to Buffalo, and he spent five years as a chef at Tabree. He wanted to “move out of the kitchen and into the heart of the city.”

Brenden says the Whole Hog strives for an “experience of picnic table meets white tablecloth, ” and he describes the cuisine as “modern American, with classic and global influences.” While the truck features a changing selection of sandwiches, soups and sides, he said the most popular item is the pulled pork sandwich topped with chipotle barbecue sauce and served with a side of mac and cheese.

Most of the produce that the truck uses is sourced from locally owned farms.


Poster-worthy 'Taste of Buffalo Game' can help fine-tune your grazing strategy

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Serious Taste of Buffalo freaks are already planning their strategy. Days ago they downloaded the 2013 Taste of Buffalo guide, or picked one up at Tops, and have annotated its pages with Post-Its and several shades of highlighter.

What's the most efficient route among the booths, factoring in the assistance of friends and loved ones to bring back selected edibles to the rendezvous point? There are so many important questions to hammer out that shouldn't be left to the last minute.

Does it make any sense to wait in line for the fried-fish taco glory that is Ms Goodie's Junkyard Dog (crispy fish, cole slaw, spicy sauce in fresh pita) and buy only one? So many important questions.

To whet your Taste appetite, we offer this snazzy mini-game, (PDF) which in my opinion is suitable for breaking out the color cartridge for your laser printer. Even if it might be a wee bit shallow in the gameplay department.

Buffalo News artist Daniel Zakroczemski fashioned a rollicking visual feast from the suggestions of Anne Neville, Evonne Austin and Jason Silverstein, and I. (Bruce Andriatch punched up some of the lines, as usual, except this time he's getting credit.)  

Check it out here.

(The full Buffalo News article, with the restaurant list and other helpful information, is here.)


Pumpernick N' Pastry bakery closing July 20, ending sweet 40-year run

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Pumpernick N’ Pastry, one of Buffalo’s last great traditional bakeries, is closing its Kaisertown store on July 20.

The Kaisertown bakery, famed for its bread, cakes, cookies, paczki and more, will end its 40-year history with New York State taxes as one culprit. Another cause was the big supermarkets and warehouse chains shouldering their way into the bakery business.

“After 40 years of serving the community Pumpernick N Pastry Shoppe will be turning off the lights for good at the end of business on July 20, 2013. It has been a great run and like all good things must come to an end. If you want to order last minute goodies you can do so up until July 19th noon. Please make sure to call us a day ahead as we have limited inventory right now due to Summer being traditionally slow. Thank you for your support and well wishes!!!”

Ben Tsujimoto of has more background here.

In 2004, Jen Aronoff offered Buffalo News readers this snapshot of the challenges facing Pumpernick:

All pastries are not created equal. Marvin and Norma Linde can tell you that.

They also know, and can show you, that pies taste best made with real whipped cream, that an oven needs steam in order to produce good bread crust, and that nothing puts a smile on a child's face like a free cookie.

They have spent most of their lives in the bakery business. Since 1974, they have owned Pumpernick n' Pastry bakery in Kaisertown, and today they run it with the help of four of their children, two in-laws and 46 other employees.

During their 54 years of marriage, the Lindes have seen bakeries come and go. Mostly, they have seen them go. "On Clinton (Street), there used to be five or six bakeries over the years, and I'm the only one left," says Marvin. "It's tough. It's a dying breed."

Buffalo was once bursting with bakeries, and they reflected the heritage of those who migrated to the city, especially from Poland, Italy and Germany.

The 1940 Buffalo city directory lists more than 220 bakers; by 1970, that number had dropped by 100. Today's phone book lists around 70, excluding supermarkets and national chains.

Even more are gone today. I tried to find a phone book to count, but can’t remember the last one I saw.



Buffalo Food Truck Guide is your map to track Erie County's 15 mobile kitchens

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Intrepid Buffalo News intern Rebecca Bratek tracked down the characters behind Buffalo's growing fleet of food trucks. She shares the most up-to-date information on how to find them, what they offer, and most importantly, a good old-fashioned phone number

Bratek lists all their Twitter handles, Facebook pages and websites. She also got working phone numbers from 14 of 15, everyone willing to provide one, so even people without Twitter or Facebook have a shot at finding satisfaction. 

We hope to have the Buffalo Food Truck Guide updated at when circumstances merit. Send notices of new trucks, menu changes and the like to


Recipe: Pasta with peas, two ways, by Beverly San Filippo and her dad

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Here's two ways to cook the home favorite pasta and peas, from Beverly San Filippo, the News July Cook of the Month.

Dad’s famous macaroni and peas

3/4 cup chopped spanish onion

4 ounce can tomato sauce

1 large can peas

4 ounce can water

1 dash garlic salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 dash pepper (white or black)

3 tablespoons white sugar (secret ingredient)

1/2 pound pasta, ditali, ditalini, small shells or small elbow macaroni

1/3 cup vegetable oil, preferably Wesson

Sauté onion in oil till limp (not brown). Add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Cook uncovered over medium/high heat for 15-25 minutes. After peas have cooked 10 minutes, mash with potato masher (while they’re cooking).

Cook pasta in another pan. Drain. Mix half the pasta with the peas. Serve the remaining pasta as a side dish for everyone to add as desired.

Serve with grated cheese if desired.

(Recipe of Anthony San Filippo, of Buffalo.)

Revised recipe, by his daughter Beverly:

Delicious macaroni and peas

1 cup chopped spanish onion

4 tablespoons Wesson oil

15 ounce can Hunt’s tomato sauce

15 ounce can DelMonte peas

15 ounce can water

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon pepper (white or black)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons white sugar (secret ingredient)

1 pound pasta, ditali, ditalini, small shells or small elbow macaroni

Sauté onion in oil over medium heat till limp (not browned). Add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes (set your timer).

After peas have cooked 10 minutes, mash with potato masher, about 10 strokes (while the peas are cooking). Lower the heat to medium and cover for the last 10 minutes. Cook pasta in another pan. Drain pasta and mix half of the pasta with the peas. Serve the remaining pasta as a side dish to add as desired.

(Beverly said: "I like to serve this delicious quick meal in a pasta bowl with romano cheese over the top.")




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