Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chillin' in BuffLand

A cool day in Buffland gives you time to get ahead-- tomorrow it could and likely will be hot, too hot to cook. Too hot to grill, unless you love standing next to fire when you're already sweating. I don't.

Today is a perfect baking/stewing/crockpot day. It's also a good time to make gazpacho, since my favored recipe tastes best when it sits overnight to gather its flavors. The recipe is simplicity itself, but the best I've tasted anywhere. Do serve it no later than the day after you make it: the fresh 'matoes make it gel. But it's good on the day of, too, provided you chill thoroughly-- 4 hours at least. Luckily it takes about five minutes prep!

Rustic Gazpacho
(from NYC's Marichu restaurant, originally published in Food & Wine magazine, May 1999)

6 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (riper than those in the pic below-- that was two days ago)
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, chunked
1 green pepper, seeded and chunked
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 C water
1/2 C olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar (I use red wine vinegar)
pinch of ground cumin or ground coriander, optional-- Mari's touch
hot sauce, for serving

In a blender or food processor, blend all vegetables, water, oil and vinegar till coarsely pureed. Put through a food mill afterwards for a smoother soup if desired. Add salt and chill well, serve with hot sauce on the side.

I love this soup; I'll eat it without any sides, but a slice of focaccia isn't bad. Fresh fruit pie afterwards doesn't hurt either! I'm a bit under the weather though, so I'll have to leave the baking to someone else today.

Don't let me stop you from putting something in the oven. Remember: there's never a bad time for cornbread.

Peace, Mari

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Of Parsley and Palm Trees.. and their closing.

As we're having a few days of real summery Summer here, a review of the new-ish Mediterranean restaurant Palm Trees on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore seems a grand idea. There are not many cuisines better suited to balmy days in the garden than the offerings you'll find at places like the Palm Trees, Falafel Bar, Kosta's or Amy's Place.
Today we're under Palms, though--

My man took me there for dinner Valentine's day; we were skimming it a little, cashwise, meaning we saw a coupon for 15% off our check, and decided That was the place to be!

V-day is rough, hard to find a good meal that isn't based on bigger-than-usual hunks of dripping meat, so a place that serves stuffed grape leaves was a welcome change.

The food was wonderful-- G-man did have his meat, a Gyro dinner, and it looked like the juiciest plate of grilled anything I've ever seen. The Tzatziki sauce was rich and cool, a perfect foil, G-man said.

There were options for me beyond a bowl of Hummus, of course, though not many entrees-- Falafel, served also as a wrap. Virtually all of the appetizers are vegetarian, with an option to add beef to the grape leaves (yuck!) Everything looked good, (as does the spare, clean-cut dining room) but I chose the Tabbouli Salad and an appie of Hummus.

Some serve Tabbouli as more of a bulgur salad, but I like it in its herbier incarnation, as it was served here-- parsley heaven, lightly dressed and full of flavor and texture. Refreshing enough in February, I can't wait to try it again in the next (hot) month or so.

The Hummus was outstanding-- a small but deep bowl, topped with what I feared would be too much fruity olive oil, and a dusting of tart sumac; the amount of oil ended up being perfect when swished around with freshly toasted pita (and that was some tender-but-chewy pita, I'll tell you). The dip itself was creamy and dense but not too heavy, with the rich flavor that comes only from scratch-cooked chickpeas that aren't over-seasoned to hide their savoury goodness.

It would serve several people amply as an app-- I even let the G-man have some of mine. We asked for and received extra pita with no problem, and I made a good meal of it, as you can see above. Satisfaction!

Palm Trees doesn't serve alcohol at this time; we had big cold glasses of Pepsi. There is a children's menu, which is based on standbys like hotdogs, spaghetti... they do serve American food to grownups too, but why bother? You can get that anywhere-- this place has something better for you. They have specials as well:

"Ask About Our Daily Specials! 716-877-7797" ***

Check it out! And look in the local papers and saver inserts for coupons: they've been running them frequently, and it's a good excuse to look in on the new kid in town.

Peace, Mari

***Note-- I'm slightly embarrassed, as I found out hours after posting that this restaurant closed three days ago, and is now an Indian restaurant. Slightly, I say, as I had called them to double-check something pre-post, mentioned that I was reviewing them in my blog, and was not informed of any change in the ownership. Well, it's a pretty post, anyway.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Missing my old FM

Farmer's Market, that is. Today, and yes it later in the month than we would like, is the first day of Kenmore Village Farmer's Market.

And I am too sick to go! It's a small, friendly market with several farmers providing good basic veg and fruit and a few rarer items, such as last year's elderberries. The other vendors range from people selling flowers and herbs to Koop's Hot Sauce to local honey, syrup and jellies to handmade Nigerian jewelry and carved utensils to delicious baked goods and New Day Coffee Roaster's fresh roasted beans in a wealth of flavors.

In other words, it's wonderful. The bounty shown above is half of what I brought home one weekend last August, for about 20 bucks. Yeah, half.

The Market is open on the Village Commons at the intersection of Delaware Rd. and Delaware Ave. every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8am to 12:30 pm, until November. Go and get some real veg-- it makes all the difference to your tastebuds, not to mention your budget, and our environment.
Good stuff all around-- hope to see you there next week. I'll be the one in the black dress with a streak of violet in her hair and full bags of veg weighing her down.

Peace, Mari