Tag Archives: Wedding

#peaseparty: Learning to spell ‘Niagara’

This weekend, I had the immense pleasure of going to my friends Evan and Lauren’s wedding up in Niagara Falls.

It was my first time in the Buffalo area and in addition to wedding things, I did some tourist things and plenty of eating things. I learned a lot from this experience and will share this vital information with you below.

  • Niagara has three As, not two
    • Listen, I care a LOT about spelling and grammar. If you don’t use commas, I’m pretty sure you were brought up in a shed. But until this weekend, I did not realize Niagara was spelled the way it is. I thought it was Niagra. I was being the Shed Person that I so passionately judge. (Not really, but come on. Commas, y’all.)
  • My friend’s friends very quickly became my friends
    • Evan has some really terrific friends who he talks about a ton: his best man/brother (Jared), his groomsman (Brian) and his groomsgal (Jeighdeane). These are names I hear almost daily. I was a little nervous to meet them all, but I had no cause to be. When I met them, it was that sort of instant camaraderie because I kind of already knew them. It’s clear to me that my coolest friend has the coolest friends ever. I THINK that makes me cool by association. I’m looking into it.
  • Chris Pratt is my new celeb crush
    • Yeah, I still have celeb crushes, but I don’t keep my list laminated. I tagged along to see Guardians of the Galaxy with the crew on Friday night. Chris Pratt was so funny (and hunky). And Karen Gillan? Bonafide badass villain. I cannot wait to see it again.
  • Buffalo’s food is LEGIT
    • Being friends with Buffalonians and watching countless episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I’d heard tell of the wonders of Buffalo cuisine. But I had never had the opportunity to sample. UNTIL NOW. I had two “must-eats” on my list: beef on weck and some authentic Buffalo wings. DID I SUCCEED? Spoiler alert: yes.
    • Beef on Weck
      • On Friday night, I went with Evan and Tony (my friend/a reality star/the officiant of the ceremony) to Anderson’s, a local joint known for their roast beef and custard. I experienced the magnificence that is beef on weck. It’s a roast beef sandwich on a ‘kimmelweck’ roll. A kimmelweck roll is a white roll topped with caraway seeds and salt (‘kimmel’ is caraway and ‘weck’ is roll in German). This is a perfect vehicle for the thinly sliced roast beef and spicy, nose-burning, eye-watering horseradish. Hurts so good. I’m going to have to learn how to make these because I don’t want to live my life without this roll. And Buffalo is FAR too cold a place for me to live.
    • Wings and Things
      • If you are looking to find the original Buffalo wing in Buffalo, you should go to Anchor Bar. But if you want the best wings in Buffalo, you’ve got to go to Duff’s. It’s a no-frills, no-nonsense experience, and it’s absolutely delicious. I went to the original location on Sheridan Road, which has been around since 1946. The menu is diverse, but I knew exactly what I wanted: Buffalo wings with flavor but that would not kill me and some blue cheese. These are absolutely, without a doubt, the best wings I’ve ever tasted. Perfectly fried, flavorful but not spicy (I did Mild Medium, but there are spicier versions for non-wimps). Wings come with celery, carrots and tangy Duff’s blue cheese. The Buffalo wing is an art form up here and Duff’s is the Mona Lisa (or, the picture of the dogs playing poker. Everyone has different taste in art.) Chase it down with a Labatt’s because we’re basically in Canada.

        I want more now.

        I want more now.

  • The Falls are rull pretty
    • If you’re in Niagara, you really can’t not go to the Falls. They’re right there. It’s pretty magnificent. Breathtakingly beautiful and HUGE. And loud, which shouldn’t have surprised me but did. I walked around the Niagara Falls State Park for about an hour and a half and was constantly worried I was going to drop my phone into The Falls when I took a picture. Stranger things have happened, surely.

      A wonder of the world, says the welcome sign.

      A wonder of the world, says the welcome sign.

  • My friends are way cooler than I am (in a good way!)
    • This was without a doubt the coolest wedding I’ve ever been attended. Evan and Lauren are an incredible couple. They’re smart, they’re fun, they’re creative, they’re artistic, they’re goofy, they’re sweet. And their wedding was a reflection of all of that. We all laughed (slash cried) through Tony’s ceremony. We listened to jazzy covers of pop songs during the cocktail hour and played peg games. We ate amazing food (basque frenched chicken with sofrito beurre blanc and Mighty Taco late night). We played name that tune during dinner (even with some light cheating, Table 9 lost BAD). We played pinball, skee ball, Mortal Kombat, and N64. We danced. We did ridiculous stuff in the slo motion video booth. (Note to EVERYONE: shimmying in a slow motion video booth is both funny/highly embarrassing.) We ate popcorn. Evan and Lauren chose North Carolina popcorn for their wedding favors. ‘Wedding Edition’ Chad’s Carolina Corn came in 4 flavors, with packages adorned with the adorable noses of their two dogs, Reuben and Ninja. I went with Buffalo Wing flavor. Seemed apropos.
      Peg games!

      Peg games!

      Cutest popcorn ever

      Cutest popcorn ever

If you find yourself up in Buffalo, don’t miss Duff’s. Or a beef on weck. But unless you’ve mastered time travel or have you stole a TARDIS, you’re probably not going to have as much fun as I did.

Sorry, not sorry.

Me, Sarah & Jordan with the Bride and Groom!

Me, Sarah & Jordan with the Bride and Groom!

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Appeteasers: Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip and French Onion Tart

I think the food you make says a lot about you.

In this case, I’m a dip and a tart.

WINK.

On Saturday, I co-hosted a wedding shower for my friends Lindsay and Tim. It was held at our friends Emily & Paul’s house and we had a lovely low country boil. Emily and I made appetizers. Emily did the lion’s share of the appetizer cookery, but I brought two dishes along.

When selecting dishes for a large group, you have to take in mind several considerations. 1) There are a lot of vegetarians, so you need something veg friendly. 2) Some of these people are REALLY good cooks. You can’t bring nachos to a foie gras fight. Plus, Tim is one of the founders of the soon-to-be Small Batch Beer Co. Tim is all about flavors—both in his food and in his beer—so I had to bring my A game.

When all was said and done, our appetizer menu looked a little something like this. (I’m pretty sure every recipe is from Food52. No, they don’t pay me to say that. Because why would they. But if they WANTED to…. I would take their money. To buy food. To make more recipes. From Food52.)

During the party, someone asked me what I made and I actually said, “I’m the dip and the tart.” I suppose it’s better than being the devil?

Anywho, as per ushe, I made two recipes I’d never made before for this event. Cause I live on the MOTHER-EFFING EDGE. (Or rather, I take JUST enough of a risk that I may fuck up and have to pick up a quiche at the store on the way to the party.) But thankfully, my risk was rewarded.

These recipes are really easy. And really great. Particularly the dip. I love a good dip. This one had such great flavor—the roasted fennel gave such depth. It was rich and creamy. Great on a crostini or a chip. And despite cutting off a chunk of my fingernail while chopping rosemary (cause, duh, I’m dippy), this was a huge success.

PLEASE NOTE. I did not serve anyone my fingernail. Nor was there any cross-contamination or accidental vampirism. I handled that shit like a pro. No Jamie from Top Chef All-Stars “I need to go get stitches” ish. I flipped my cutting board, got a new knife, cleaned up my finger, gloved my hand up and JUST KEPT COOKING.

It's not top scallop.

It’s not top scallop. Or top stitches. It’s Top Chef.

And this tart. Let’s just say if you want to impress someone, make this tart. It takes some time but it is not hard. You make your own crust! You cut two pounds of onions, which makes you cry, bawl, and snot in your kitchen! You make the tart! You want to eat the tart, but you can’t cut through the onions because they’re all tangly! But that’s ok! It’s delicious! It’s yummy! And it’s pretty!

Just like a tart oughta be.

French Onion Tart

Serves 6 to 8

For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2/3 cups Swiss cheese, shredded

For the Swiss cheese pastry crust

  • ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour | I found this at Whole Foods!
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons very cold butter, shredded using a box grater
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold seltzer | I wound up using about 3 ½ tablespoons of seltzer

To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat as low as it can go without shutting off, and let cook until onions have cooked down and released a lot of their liquid, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Add the flour, salt, and paprika to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix the dry ingredients. Add the cheese and butter, then pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of seltzer, pulse again until a rough ball of dough comes together. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add more seltzer 1 teaspoon at a time (you may not need the entire 2 tablespoons…or you may need more like, 3 ½ tablespoons), and continue to pulse until you have a ball of dough. (Mine did not come together in a ball, but was moist enough to come together into a ball.) Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter, flatten and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Remove cover from the pot of onions, raise heat to medium, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onions turn golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. When onions are golden and very tender, stir in the sherry vinegar. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a medium bowl.

Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll it into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Fold down sides of dough, leaving a 1-inch high crust.

To finish the filling, add the egg and cheese to the bowl with the onions. Stir to mix well. Pour mixture over the tart crust and spread to the edges using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

French Onion Tart

French Onion Tart

Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip

For Roasted Fennel

  • 1 Large or 2 small fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic still in papery shell
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Cannellini Bean puree

  • ¾ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and minced
  • 2 ½ cups Cooked Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, Freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Crostini

First make the roasted fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil and spread on a sheet pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning twice during cooking. Take out and let cool. When cool squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins.

Start the cannellini bean puree. In a small frying pan heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until lightly golden, add rosemary and cannellini beans and cook for one minute more. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Take it off the heat.

In a food processor combine the garlic bean mixture, fennel, roasted garlic, lemon juice, remaining ¼ olive oil and all but 3 tablespoons of the parmigiano-reggiano. (Or….top with a lot more cheese.) Puree until smooth.

Raise oven temp to 450ºF. Transfer puree into a small baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Feel free to add more. If your dish is near full, place it on a baking sheet, in case it bubbles over in the oven. Bake until cheese is golden on top, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with crostini. Enjoy!

Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip

Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip

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