December Supper Club Buffalo

I’d like to start out the new year by thanking everyone who reads my blog for all your love and support. With absolutely no idea what I was doing, I started this blog a year ago as a new year’s resolution. I couldn’t be more happy that people not only read it, but actually enjoy it. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot, namely how to take better pictures (some of my old posts are REALLY ugly with iPhone-only pics), but also how to open myself up without being scared of what people might think. It’s been a challenging, yet fun and rewarding journey and I am looking forward to continuing that! To keep the positive momentum going, check out my interview on Buffalo Eats, a WNY-based food blog, where I’m now listed as a Buffalo Foodie. Woot woot! Also check out my interview with Channel 7 about a new food market that opened in Buffalo. Special thanks to my techie husband for recording it and figuring out how to post it to YouTube! Yea, I’m pretty popular these days. Ha!

Ok, enough of the self-promoting. Onto the fun stuff. BOOZE! That was the theme for our third installment of Supper Club Buffalo. Each dish needed to incorporate alcohol into it which wasn’t very hard to do for all us boozers. I made Penne alla Vodka without the sausage. I’m over a month behind on posting this, but hey, better late than never, right? Oh, and sorry for all the Instagram/iPhone pics, but that’s all I have.

the menu

the menu

some booze to go with our booze

some booze to go with our booze

cute favors from our crafty hostess

cute favors from our crafty hostess

tablescape

lovely tablescape

lovely ladies!

lovely ladies!

my penne alla vodka dish

penne alla vodka

guinness braised quiche

guinness braised onion and aged white cheddar quiche

drunken dueling chickens

drunken (and dueling!) chicken

drool-worthy tiramisu!

drool-worthy tiramisu!

Yum!

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Twice Baked Winter Squash Gratin

attendees for the November Supper Club

attendees for the November Supper Club

the delicious menu

the delicious menu

Twice Baked Winter Squash Gratin

For our second Supper Club our host chose Crockpot and Stovetop dishes as her theme, as she is in the middle of a kitchen renovation. While this dish was neither (no one ever said I was good at following the rules), I figured I could just bring it over hot. I had (and still currently have) so much winter squash left from my farm share that I really needed to use it up. And since the hubs doesn’t eat it, this was really the only opportunity I had to use some of it up. It came out pretty good for just winging it! The only issue I ran into was when I was running the onions through the food processor. They kept getting stuck around the blades so I needed to make sure to check that those got pureed. Other than that, this dish was delish!

Twice Baked Winter Squash Gratin

  • 1 butternut squash, acorn squash and red kuri squash (or any other combination)
  • 4 small onions
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus 3 tablespoons extra
  • pinch of fresh or dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds and cut the onions in half. Coat the cut sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay the squash halves, cut-side down, on a baking sheet. Place the onions under each squash cavity and place in the oven. Roast until very soft and fork tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh from the squash halves and place in food processor with the roasted onions. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with ricotta and parmesan cheese until well incorporated. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Fill a shallow dish with mixture. Sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan cheese, parsley and a light drizzle of olive oil. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Place under broiler for 5 more minutes, until top of gratin has browned.

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Quinoa and Apple

Supper Club Place Setting

Service for 10!

Supper Club Menu

The menu!

Supper Club Attendees

The gorgeous group of attendees!

Sausage, Quinoa and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sausage, Quinoa and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

I mentioned last week that I hosted my first-ever Supper Club. As the host, I was responsible for the main dish and everyone else brought sides that went with our theme for the month, Fall. I decided to go with stuffed acorn squash because I could make all the ingredients the night before and just reheat the day of. I’d say it worked out pretty well. So well that we ate and drank ourselves into mini food comas and we even had leftovers for a few days. Bonus!

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sausage, Quinoa and Apple

  • 6 acorn squash, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash in half crosswise; scoop out seeds and save for Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so they can stand upright. Season the inside of each squash well with some of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place each half, cavity side down on a cookie sheet and bake until tender when pierced, about 45 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add remaining olive oil, chicken sausage, apples, peppers, jalapeño, onions, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper. Stir often until apples are tender when pierced, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cook quinoa according to package directions, substituting the chicken broth for water. When cooked, add quinoa to the apple-sausage mixture. Fill each squash equally with sausage-quinoa-apple mixture and bake, uncovered, until filling is slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes longer.

Our Fourth Wedding Anniversary

Four years ago

Ghost of Negroni and Saz-that-rac Cocktails

Amuse-Bouche: Radish and Butter Pudding

Wagyu Beef Tartare

Gem Wedge Salad

Filet Mignon

Wagyu Filet

Chocolate Soufflé and Vanilla Ice Cream

This Thursday we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary by taking the day off, getting a couples massage and having dinner at a new restaurant in Buffalo, Mike A’s Steakhouse. The restaurant is located within the newly renovated Hotel Lafayette and it doesn’t disappoint. The interior has been lovingly restored with no expense spared. Upon walking into the space you feel as though you were transported back in time. Because all that time transporting can make you thirsty, we decided to start our culinary adventure with cocktails from the bar. I went for the Saz-that-rac which consisted of rye, cognac, flower honey, bitters and lavender absinthe. Spencer had the Ghost of Negroni which was described as pepper añejo tequila, blanco tequila, aperol, punt e mes, rhubarb amaro and clove-mescal. Ask me what half of those ingredients are and I really couldn’t tell you! Mine was too strong for my liking, so I could only take small sips, but Spencer really enjoyed his.

After our drinks we were served warm, crusty bread and an amuse-bouche of radish and butter pudding. It was an interesting flavor combination, but I enjoyed it. The radish was fresh and crisp and it complimented the richness of the butter pudding. Shortly after we received our first course, the Wagyu Beef Tartare ($16) and the Gem Wedge Salad ($8). This was my first time experiencing tartare, but I really enjoyed it and the presentation itself was stunning. It came topped with truffled yolk, onion and basil and served in a large round pita-type chip. The raw beef was chopped so thin that it melted in your mouth and all the flavors complimented it well. The salad was pretty standard, but it was well seasoned and the ingredients tasted fresh.

For an entrée I ordered the 8-ounce Filet Mignon ($42) and Spencer ordered the special, a 6-ounce 9th Grade Australian Wagyu Beef Filet ($69), because the 12-ounce Wagyu steak wasn’t available. The story behind Wagyu beef, as our server described it, is that it’s based on Japanese meat standards and is graded for it’s texture, marbling and color, hence the hefty price tag. My filet or ‘regular’ beef was presented beautifully and tasted absolutely delicious. The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned and came served with an herbed butter, potato puree, roasted mushrooms and asparagus. Spencer’s Wagyu beef was also delicious, but compared to my plate, his looked empty. His came served with potato patties topped with roasted tomatoes and onions. He enjoyed it, but was still hungry and ended up eating half of my dish.

Thoroughly stuffed (and pretty darn buzzed) we thought it was a good idea to order dessert. We decided to split the Chocolate Soufflé ($10). The warm dark chocolate came served with vanilla ice cream and was the perfect dish to end a perfect evening. If you have a special occasion and are ever in the Buffalo area I’d highly recommend Mike A’s for a great meal.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

Living in Buffalo, people assume that all we eat here are chicken wings and pizza, which is pretty accurate most of the time. However, it’s not always convenient to bring chicken wings with you to a party. That’s why some genius invented this dip. It’s super addictive and, in fact, just talking about it makes me wish I had plate of it to devour! There are a lot of recipes out there, but this one is, by far, the best. Most of them call for adding ranch dressing, but take it from a Buffalonian, ranch dressing is a BIG no-no here.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 8 oz brick of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s red hot
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add chicken breasts and poach until cooked thoroughly. Remove from water and let cool. Once cool, cut into smaller pieces and run them through a food processor until the chicken is finely shredded. In a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Transfer the mix to a 8 x 8 baking dish or round pie plate. Cover in foil and cook for 20 minutes or until dip is bubbling. Serve with celery sticks and tortilla chips.

Happy Dyngus Day!

(above) The E.M. Chrusciki Bakery is known for their Buffalo angel wings, or chrusciki, which is a lightly fried sour cream-based dough that is cut, twisted and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

(above) The famed butter lamb is a Polish tradition and a symbol of spring in Buffalo.

Now you’re probably asking yourself “what the heck is Dyngus Day?” Believe me, I also asked that question when I first moved to Buffalo. I’m not Polish and neither is my husband, but you don’t need to be because everyone’s Polish on Dyngus Day!

Dyngus Day is a Polish-American tradition that takes place on the Monday after Easter to celebrate the end of Lent. There are a lot stories that attempt to explain the origins of the day, but since 966 A.D., Dyngus Day has been a celebration of the first king of Poland being baptized into Christianity, symbolized by the sprinkling of water. In more modern times, the tradition continued when farm boys in Poland wanted to attract members of the opposite sex. It became customary to throw water and hit the girls on their legs with pussy willows. The ladies would then get their revenge by throwing dishes & crockery at the boys on the following Tuesday.

With a large Polish population, Buffalo unofficially became the Dyngus Day Capital of America with the largest concentration of festival locations and live polka music. The Broadway Market, built in 1888, is located on the eastside of Buffalo in the historic Polonia neighborhood. Famed for its ethnic old world shopping atmosphere, the Broadway Market’s fresh food merchant base is comprised of family-owned, family-operated butcher shops, poultry stands, fruit/vegetable stands and bakeries and has become synonymous with Easter and Dyngus Day in Buffalo. It’s there that you can get butter lambs, polish sausage, perogi, chrusciki and lots of other Easter favorites.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

I forgot to snap a picture, but I’ve made roasted chicken before so this is from a previous dinner.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
Adapted from http://maryandsara.com/blog/our-books/the-bride-groom-first-and-forever-cookbook/

  • 3 carrots, cut into thirds
  • 6 small red mew potatoes, quartered if large
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the carrots, potatoes, and onion in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Toss the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the vegetables to the edges of the baking dish, making room for the chicken.

Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and discard. Rinse the bird under cold running water and pat dry. Put the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the baking dish. Brush the chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season the cavity and skin generously with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Put the lemon quarters and rosemary sprigs inside the cavity. Put the garlic cloves under the chicken to prevent them from burning.

Roast for 45 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven.  Using tongs, tilt the chicken, pouring the juices from the cavity onto the vegetables, and shake to coat.  Baste the chicken with the pan juices.  If the bird is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.  Continue roasting until the chicken is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear when the tip of a knife is inserted into the thigh joint, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170 to 175 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Using the back or a spoon, mash the garlic and squeeze some lemon into the pan juices. Toss the juices with the vegetables. Carve the chicken and serve the vegetables alongside. Drizzle any remaining juices over the chicken.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Well, it’s 50 degrees and sunny here in Buffalo today. Certainly way above normal temps for January 7th! I decided it was a perfect day to whip up some yummy soup. We had a large butternut squash leftover from our farm share that ended back in November. I’ve been mulling over what I should make with it for some time now. My husband (Mr. Picky Eater) won’t dare eat squash of any kind so it’s all for me!

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Butternut-Squash-Apple-Soup-365210

  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 pound boiling potatoes
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 pound total)
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups water

Cook bacon in a 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons fat in pot. (Add vegetable oil if your bacon is very lean and doesn’t yield enough fat.)

Cook celery, carrot, and onion in fat in pot over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add cinnamon and cook, uncovered, stirring, 1 minute.

While vegetables are cooking, peel potatoes and coarsely chop. Peel and core 1 apple and coarsely chop.

Stir squash, potato, chopped apple, stock, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into onion mixture, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Puree soup in 4 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then heat in cleaned pot over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. (Add additional 1/2 cup water to thin, if necessary.)

While soup is heating, cut enough of remaining apple into thin matchsticks (about 1 1/2-inches long) to measure about 1/2 cup.

Serve soup topped with sour cream, bacon, and apple matchsticks.

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