Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Goi Ca (Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad)

Vietnamese cuisine is best known for using fresh ingredients and having a light clean taste. This refreshing salad is no exception. The flavors are bright and aromatic with a crisp and crunchy texture.

Goi Ca (Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad)

For the dressing:
8 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons sugar
Bring to a boil and let cool.
zest from 2 garlic cloves (I use a microplane)
the zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon Sambal (or to taste)
Mix well and set aside.

For the salad:
4 cups cooked chicken shredded
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (chiffonade)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (chiffonade)
1/4 cup ground roasted peanuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To plate:
In a mixing bowl toss cabbage, carrots, mung bean sprouts, mint, basil and peanuts with half of the sauce. Place a mound of salad mixture on a chilled salad plate.
In the same mixing bowl toss the shredded chicken with a few tablespoons of the sauce. Place the chicken on top of the salad mixture.
Garnish with more bean sprouts, mint, basil and ground peanuts. Serve extra sauce on the side. Serve 2-4.

I make a double batch of the sauce and use it as a marinade for shrimp, chicken and pork before grilling.

To make this salad vegan and vegetarian friendly simply replace soy sauce for the fish sauce and Tempeh or firm tofu in place of the chicken.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cavatappi With Roasted Cauliflower, Olives, Garlic Confit And Toasted Bread Crumbs

I love pasta! No matter the shape, or the preparation or the other ingredients, I love pasta! It’s a comforting versatile food staple that is uncomplicated and quick to cook. It’s the perfect canvas that is stable enough to stand up to layers of flavors without loosing it’s integrity and it can hold it’s own when paired with sauces ranging from a light garden fresh tomato sauce to a luscious rich cream sauce.

A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower may be white, green or purple. A one cup serving of cauliflower has about 30 calories and is an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as folate and has 3.35 grams of dietary fiber. A very good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), tryptophan, omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). And a good source of potassium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin), magnesium and vitamin B3 (niacin). When selecting cauliflower look for firm compact heads and fresh leaves.

In honor of St. Joseph’s Day, I took culinary liberty with combining ingredients commonly found in several of the dishes served at a St. Joseph’s Day Feast.

Cavatappi With Roasted Cauliflower, Olives, Garlic Confit And Toasted Bread Crumbs:

For the garlic confit:
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few gratings of nutmeg
Simmer on very low heat in a small sauce pan for 1 hour. Do not brown.

For the toasted bread crumbs:
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
Gently toast in a dry saute pan until nicely browned, stirring often. Set aside.

For the roasted cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower cut in small flowerets (about 8 cups)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup large green olives sliced in to 8 slices
Toss all ingredients (except the olives) on a sheet pan and roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add olives, stir and roast for 10 minutes longer.

For the pasta:
1 pound Cavatappi
Boil pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Please do not over cook.

For the garnish:
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fennel leaves
grated Romano cheese
toasted bread crumbs
olive oil for drizzling
freshly ground black pepper

To plate:
Drain pasta and gently toss with cooked cauliflower and garlic confit. Spoon into warm pasta bowls and sprinkle with lemon zest, fennel leaves, Romano cheese, toasted bread crumbs, a drizzle of your best olive oil and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Buon appetito e Viva San Giuseppe!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Chef, The Garden and The Mansion

In light of the recent Nickel City Chef Season Three opening event, I thought it to be an appropriate time to republish this story I wrote about Chef Jennifer Boye. Chef Boye was the challenger to Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly's in the first of four events this season. It was a very close competition, only one point in favor of Chef Van Wagner.

This story was originally published August 10, 2008 on Buffalo Rising online. I could never have guessed that when I set out to interview Chef Boye that it would lead to my good fortune of making a new friend. A most pleasant surprise!

The Chef, The Garden and The Mansion

August 10th 2008 By Michael Franco

On a recent summer afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with one of Buffalo’s leading chefs, Jennifer Boye. My visit with Jennifer took place in the Fireside Salon of The Mansion on Delaware Avenue where she is currently the Executive Chef for special events.

During our conversation I learned that Chef Boye, who is Buffalo born and raised, began her career in 1997. After graduating from the Erie Community College Culinary Arts Department she started working for one of her instructors and mentors, Chef Mark Wright. At the time, Chef Wright was the Executive Chef at The Transit Valley Country Club and he was insightful in knowing that Chef Boye had great potential so he was quick to hire her as part of his team in charge of baking and pantry.

In January of 2002, Chef Boye accepted the position of Executive Chef at Fiddleheads Restaurant on Allen Street, where she became known for her contemporary style of cooking. In June of 2005, she sought out the opportunity to work in her current position as Executive Chef with The Mansion on Delaware Avenue. Knowing full well that The Mansion is not a traditional restaurant, Chef Boye embraced the challenge of working with guests and clients on a new and exciting level. Given her past restaurant experiences Chef Boye is well-versed in both classic and contemporary cuisine, deeming her a very well qualified choice for her position at The Mansion.

At The Mansion, Chef Boye and the catering team confers with each client to customize their special event. “If a client has a favorite family recipe and would like to incorporate it into the menu, we work with them on the details in order to create a menu that personalizes the occasion, making it a memorable one. One of the signature dishes that we offer is a sweet corn crusted sea bass with a pine nut, tomato compote, and a salad of sweet corn, gorgonzola and arugula.”

My conversation with Chef Boye continued with a walk through the kitchen and then outside to the Mansion’s garden. “Betsie Menchetti of Metrogardens lovingly tends to our garden. She has been with us for years and has made a wonderful contribution to our kitchen with her garden. I am grateful to be able to step outside of the kitchen and pick fresh herbs and vegetables. I can choose from herbs like basil, purple basil, rosemary, sage, thyme or from more than a dozen other herbs. Also I can choose from fresh vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes, baby eggplants, swiss chard as well as edible flowers. Betsie’s garden is pesticide and hormone free allowing our produce to taste its very best. Here at The Mansion we believe its all about the special touches”.

Chef Boye was kind enough to offer me a tour of the choice of rooms clients have for their special events. Included is the Salon Hugo which is the room that once was the famed Victor Hugo’s Restaurant. “We will assist you in planning an event from 10 to 200 people. Be it a business meeting, a bridal or baby shower, a wedding, graduation, retirement or anniversary party, we will work with you to ensure you that your event will be all that you want it to be.”

In the June 2008 Buffalo Rising piece “The Mansion is an Asset to Buffalo”, Buffalo Rising writer Jennifer Lawandus shares the good news that The Mansion received the Key Bank Small Business of the Year award. To read about the history of The Mansion as well as some of the services provided to guests, click here. In addition to the Key Bank Small Business of the Year award, Zagat has awarded The Mansion the honor of being the Top Boutique Hotel in the U.S.

One of the best ways to get to know the Zagat-awarded Mansion would be to take advantage of the Feed Your Soul (the new endeavor of former BR YUM editor, Christa Glennie Seychew) event on August 13th, 2008. This event will combine a continental breakfast at The Mansion, transportation via limousine to and from the Chautauqua Institution for a lecture given by Mr. Tim Zagat, an exquisite French-inspired lunch at the stunning Athenaeum Hotel and back to The Mansion on Delaware Avenue for cocktail hour and a guided tour. The Mansion’s owner, Diana Principe will be along for the ride. For detailed information about this spectacular event go to:

You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the room rates are more affordable then you might imagine, making The Mansion the perfect weekend get away without ever leaving Buffalo.

The Mansion On Delaware Avenue
414 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14202

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nickel City Chef Season Three Dates & Ticket Sales Announced!

Nickel City Chef’s production company, Feed Your Soul, has been hard at work lining up secret ingredients, judges and challengers for our third season of cooking competitions which will feature celebrity judges, WNY’s top chefs and WNY's very own homegrown ingredients.

Taking place in the stunning loft showroom of Buffalo’s Artisan Kitchens & Baths, Season Three’s schedule of dates is listed below. Tickets for Season Three go on sale Friday, January 14th. Tickets are $35 each and include catered gourmet snacks and access to a cash bar during the event. We do not recommend this event for children.

Links to online ticketing are available on our website at

This year some of our favorite judges have returned, along with special celebrity guests like Kevin Brauch from the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, acerbic food writer Regina Schrambling, Toronto food writer Ivy Knight, Canadian food writer and television producer Mary Luz Mejia, talented Chef Don Salamone of Philadelphia, and wildman Chef Matt Mytro of Cleveland. We are all looking forward to an excellent season.

Many thanks to our sponsors: Jenn Air, SubZero, Wolf, GE Monogram, Wegmans, Mansion on Delaware Avenue, Kemper Cabinets, the Buffalo chapter of the Chaine de Rotisseurs, and our partners: Buffalo Spree, Artisan Kitchens & Baths and Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops.

Below you will also find Nickel City Chef’s Mission Statement. Please contact us if you are in need of hi-resolution photos or HD video footage. Each show is hosted by WBFO's Bert Gambini and Buffalo's top chef, Chef Mike Andrzejewski of SeaBar.

Sunday, February 20th
Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly’s
Challenging Chef Jennifer Boye of Mansion on Delaware Avenue
Featuring judges Chef Jim Guarino, Mary Luz Mejia & Nelson Starr


Sunday, March 6th
Nickel City Chef Brian Mietus of Bacchus
Challenging Chef Mary Ann Giordano of Creekview Restaurant
Featuring judges John Bourdage, Chef Matt Mytro & Chef Don Salamone


Sunday, March 27th
Nickel City Chef JJ Richert of Torches
Challenging Chef James Roberts of Park Country Club
Featuring judges Kristen Becker, Kevin Brauch & Chef Ivy Knight


Sunday, April 10th
Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz of Sample
Challenging Chef Louis Zanghi of The Delaware
Featuring judges Alan Bedenko, Chef Steven Gedra & Regina Schrambling

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Not a chance!

It is difficult to believe that we are living in the second decade of the 2000 Millennium. Where did the time go?

There have been many changes in the past 10 years and as I look back on those years I am immersed in emotions. I am nostalgic for the people who have passed away, I feel fortunate for the new people I’ve met and I am most grateful for the friendship that they have extended to me. They all have touched me in ways I could never have imagined and my life is richer because of them. I thank you all!

So, when I listen to the melody of this version of Auld Lang Syne and the beautiful words and voice of Dougie MacLean I am reminded that people are too important and that life is too short to risk unspoken love.

Happy New Year 2011!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beans And Greens

As a birthday present this year, my dear friend, Christa Glennie Seychew, gave me a gift bag from Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, a boutique online store specializing in Italian cured meats and heirloom dry beans. Inside the bag I was elated to find packages of wonderful heirloom dry beans along with a package of fennel and cinnamon seasoned salt from Trapani, Sicily. Inspired, I quickly put these special ingredients to good use.

After cooking with these remarkable beans I took a photograph of the finished dish and sent it along with the recipe to Christa to share my excitement and gratitude. Imagine my surprise to find that Christa published my photograph and recipe in a post on’s Recipe of the Week.

Because these beans are so special, I kept the broth clean and light, not thick or starchy. For me, this dish is all about the beans. This is my own recipe, so the ingredients—and the amount I used of each of the ingredients—is open to interpretation.

Beans & Greens

Soak beans overnight:
1 cup Fagioli Grossi
1 cup Fagioli Pisani
1/2 cup Ceci Toscani
Drain and rinse.

In a dutch oven add the beans with some rosemary and sage. Add water to cover by 6 inches. Cook until desired doneness. Set aside.

In a soup pot cook onions, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil until just tender. Add enough chicken broth to barely cover the vegetables, then add chopped red swiss chard (which lends a beautiful rose color to the broth). Cover the pot and cook until the swiss chard has wilted.

Add the cooked beans to the pot along with some fresh rosemary, sage, salt (I used a fennel and cinnamon salt from Trapani) and pepper. Simmer until heated through.

To serve:
Ladle into warm bowls and drizzle with your finest olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. You can sprinkle with grated Romano cheese, but, why would you mask the clean, light, nutty flavor of these gorgeous beans? As much as I love pasta, and lord knows I love pasta, do not add pasta to this dish. It will get cloudy and starchy, and that would be an unforgivable crime.

For a glimpse of a prolific food writer at work, follow this link:

Thank you, Christa! You rock!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daniels Restaurant Wine And Food Pairing Dinner November 2010

DANIELS RESTAURANT cordially invites you to a Wine And Food Pairing Dinner

Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm


Bouvet Brut N.V. (Loire Valley, France)

with sundried cherries, sage butter and parmigiano-reggiano
Duca di Salaparuta “Colomba Platino” 2009 (Sicily)

with quinoa risotto and prune Gastrique
Duca di Salaparuta “Calinica” Rosso 2008 (Sicily)


with brussel sprout leaves and bacon and a pink peppercorn sauce
Duca di Salaparuta “Kados” 2009 (Sicily)

with flageolets and lamb demi-glaze
Chateau d’Or et Gueules 2007 (Rhone Valley, France)

with toasted pine nuts and olive oil gelato
Castello Banfi “Florus” 2007 (Montalcino, Italy)

Reservations 716.648.6554
Price per person $90.00 plus tax and gratuity

Dinner begins promptly at 5:00 pm.

Daniels Restaurant
174 Buffalo Street
Hamburg, New York 14075