Thursday, March 19, 2009

I to I - At 464

“I to I: an Exploration of the Portrait”

Following the success of the “Bad Love” exhibit, 464 Art Gallery, Resource Center and Retail Space hosts its second art opening: “I to I” which will explore portraiture through visual art media. Co-owners, artists and young professionals, Jill Hart and Marcus L. Wise are collaborating with neighbor, Artsphere who will be simultaneously be hosting the event “The Camara”.

In a conversation with co-owner Marcus L. Wise he stated, “Our aim is to continue to expose the work of fresh and emerging artists, and in the spirit of collaboration, by working with Artsphere, we want to continue to reveal the wealth of artistic opportunities available to local artists not only here on Amherst street, but throughout Buffalo. We also aim to provide resources to, and enhance opportunities for emerging artists, musicians and authors in Western New York. At 464, our mission is to provide a unique space for local and emerging artists, musicians and authors to show and sell their work, host events, and provide and receive arts-based education”.

The opening for “ I to I” is Friday, March 20, 2009 from 7-10pm and runs through April 10, 2009. This event is free and open to the public. Live music performed by classical guitarist Ray Lorigo with complimentary wine and beer.

464 Art Gallery, Retail Space & Resource Center
464 Amherst Street, Buffalo, 14207

Business hours:
Tuesday-Friday 12-6pm
Saturday 11-6pm
Sunday 11-5pm by appointment or special event

Monday, March 16, 2009

If It’s St. Joseph’s Day, We Must Have Pasta con Sarde

March 19th is St. Joseph's Day, a celebration which began in Sicily in the Middle Ages when the region experienced severe drought. In desperation, the people asked St. Joseph, their patron, to intervene. They promised, if rain came, that they would prepare a big feast in his honor. These prayers were answered with rainy weather and, in gratitude, huge banquet tables were set up in the streets and the poor were invited to come and eat as much as they wanted.

Preparing a St. Joseph’s Table is a daunting and labor intensive task. It involves cooking several different dishes in order to fill the dinner table with a bounty that could feed the masses. Growing up in a Sicilian family, I looked forward to St. Joseph Day and to the feast my family would lovingly prepare. One of the dishes I enjoyed the most is Pasta con Sarde (pasta with sardines). Although my family made their sarde sauce from scratch, I have a short cut version that takes minutes to prepare, and you can get the ingredients every day of the year.

All you will need for your Pasta con Sarde is:

1 lb of pasta (I use Gondola egg noodles)

your favorite tomato sauce (I make my own but Guercio’s bottled pasta sauce works perfectly for this dish)

1 can of sarde sauce (which you can also find at Guercio’s year round)

The sarde sauce ingredients are listed as: young fennel, sardines, raisins, onion, sunflower oil, sardine puree, salt and pepper. Feel free to embellish the recipe, as I do, by adding more of any of the listed ingredients, to create a sauce full of the flavors you most enjoy. I prefer to add some sauteed chopped fresh fennel bulb and more chopped raisins to the sauce, which gives a nice fresh flavor to the finished dish.

The procedure is simple:

In a sauce pan heat the tomato sauce, add the amount of the canned sarde sauce to your liking and bring to heat on medium.
Prepare the pasta according to the package, drain thoroughly and combine it with the sauce mixture. That's it!

Most Sicilians do not use grated cheese with fish dishes, feeling the cheese may over power the flavor of a dish. With Pasta con Sarde the traditional garnish is toasted bread crumbs, which are easy to make, by lightly toasting bread crumbs in a saute pan with a little butter until browned and crispy.

You do not need to prepare a St. Joseph’s Day table in order to enjoy one of the most popular dishes from that table, and you don’t have to wait until March 19th to get the ingredients.

Viva San Giuseppe!

Guercio & Sons
250 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213

Gondola Macaroni Products
1985 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14207

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Best Of The Zest

Adding layers of flavor to a recipe is as important as being sure it is perfectly seasoned and not overcooked. One of my favorite flavors in cooking is citrus. It marries well in both savory and sweet dishes and adds bright, fresh, lively flavor to foods of every ethnic cuisine.

Now, I love my microplane and I use it for grating cheese, chocolate, garlic, onions, ginger, nutmeg and obviously to zest citrus fruit. But what do you do with the rest of the peel if you only need to use a spoonful of zest? Simple, make dried zest. Essentially - dehydrating it in the oven. Here’s how.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Using a vegetable peeler remove the peel from any citrus fruit, being careful to remove only the outer flesh and none of the white pith.

Spread the strips of peel on a sheet pan being sure they are in a single layer and not touching each other. Place the sheet pan in the oven to dry for one hour.

Turn the oven off for one more hour, without removing the sheet pan.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the dried peel cool down completely.

When completely cool transfer the dried peel to a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder used specifically for grinding spices) and grind until you have a fine powder.

Store the citrus powder in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

It remains fresh for months and may be used to enliven any recipe that call for zest.