A new book published by Buffalo Spree is a food lover’s treasure-trove. Food for Four Seasons showcases more than 80 recipes from 56 area restaurants. Spree food editor Christa Glennie Seychew compiled this full-color tribute to culinary delights. As part of our continuing effort to give readers a behind-the-scenes peek at how regional books are born, we asked Christa to share some insights.
Q: Why did you decide to compile Food for Four Seasons?
While Buffalo Spree has been covering various aspects of living in WNY for nearly 50 years, we’ve never published a book before. Assembling a cookbook full of recipes that, together, accurately reflect the variety of independent, locally owned restaurants we have in our region seemed like an exciting and purposeful way in which to enter the world of book publishing.
Q: How did you go about the gargantuan task of choosing recipes and local chefs for inclusion in the book?
Rather than handpicking chefs, we really wanted Food for Four Seasons to include recipes from all kinds of restaurants, from soup and sandwich lunch joints to fine dining establishments, from pubs to ethnic eateries. We really reached out to everyone. We used a variety of methods for obtaining recipes—we sent multiple letters via snail mail to every restaurant we could think of. I also called a lot of chefs personally. Finally, for our more tech savvy chefs, we provided an online link for uploading a digital recipe.
Q: What were a couple of the most interesting facts or "nuggets" that you
unearthed that perhaps surprised even you?
Because we allowed the chefs to submit any recipe they wanted, we ended up with a book chock-full of their personal favorites. Chefs love to eat! So the book includes an appreciable number of lamb dishes and quite a few recipes calling for pork. Pork has come a long way in recent years, not only with the bacon mania that seems to have taken American by storm, but also with the appreciation of good, locally raised heritage breed pork—something many WNY chefs are lucky to have access to.
As we were cataloging the recipes, another interesting trend that became apparent is the use of eggs. Ten years ago, eggs were for baking or for breakfast. Today eggs are used as a delicious and economical way to add protein and flavor to all kinds of recipes. Warm poached eggs are a welcome addition to a spring salad; gently fried they can elevate pizza, pasta, and a sandwich or burger instantly. We received so many recipes that called for a poached egg that we created a universal recipe for the process and included it in the back of the book.
Q: Are there one or two recipes that stand out as personal favorites?
There are so many recipes, and such a variance in the degree of difficulty, that it is hard to choose. I think Elm Street Bakery’s healthy and very appetizing quinoa salad is a miracle. It has just a few ingredients, couldn’t be easier to make and, if seasoned properly, is utterly delicious. I also love the dish that’s on the cover; it’s lamb with gnocchi, spring vegetables, and mint pesto. It’s from chef Bruce Wieszala at Tabree. There are a lot of steps, but it’s not difficult—I hope a lot of intermediate cooks give it a shot. Finally, Own No Koksware (sic.) from Sun Restaurant is the most delicious chicken soup you’ve ever had! We are so lucky to have a Burmese restaurant here in Buffalo, and I’m so thrilled Kevin Lin chose to share the recipe with us. It would be tough to find anything on his menu that a typical diner wouldn’t find both comforting and tasty, and there’s the added bonus of the sense of adventure one feels when discovering the flavor profiles of a new cuisine.
For more information on Food for Four Seasons, visit our web site at www.buffalobooks.com. While you’re visiting the site, you might want to check out another popular local cookbook. Buffalo Cooks With Janice Okun serves up tasty recipes and many fascinating tales about the region’s love affair with food.