Autumn Arrives on Cool Breezes

Fall is a big time of year at Cafe Drake, loving as we do dry brisk afternoons, sepia tones, tweed, the resurgence of the gallery scene and root vegetables. As the days shorten the curtains are drawn a bit earlier, cocooning us in the soft glow of muted lamplight, while heartier stews simmer on the stove and bottles of warming rich red wines are uncorked. Soak up some autumnal splendor yourself with a picnic backdropped by blazing red leaves, sip into something comfortable and scotch-based, start that 500-page novel with tongue-twisting Russian character names, roast a chicken with wedges of acorn squash and celebrate the pleasures of a quiet night in with friends or family.

Don't be at all deterred by the somewhat long list of ingredients; most are common herbs you will already have in the kitchen (estimated amounts for dried herbs are given below, but season to your own taste). These ribs are fast to make, require no stirring or fussing and will fill the house with homey aromas.

2 tablespoons olive oil /2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary/1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt/1-1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, or 1-1/2 teaspoon ground fennel/ 2 teaspoons pepper/ 2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme/ 2 teaspoons paprika/ 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper/1 teaspoon ground coriander/1/2 teaspoons ground allspice/6 pounds pork ribs /3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, salt, fennel seeds, pepper, sage, thyme, paprika, red pepper, coriander, and allspice.
2. Rub spice paste all over ribs and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 325 F.
4. Arrange ribs on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, meaty side up.
5. Roast ribs uncovered for 2 hours or until tender. 6. Preheat broiler. Brush meaty side of ribs with balsamic vinegar and broil 6 inches from heat until browned, about 2 minutes.
7. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between ribs, or serve in slabs.


6 medium sweet potatoes/3/4 cup boiling water/1 teaspoon salt/3 tablespoons butter/1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest/1 tablespoon orange juice/1/3 cup honey/1/4 cup brown sugar/4 orange slices, cut in half
  1. Peel and halve sweet potatoes, place in a covered skillet. Add boiling water and salt. Simmer until tender; about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain off liquid, leaving about 1/4 cup in skillet. Dot potatoes with butter.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients and add to skillet. Cook uncovered over low heat until glazed, about 15 minutes. Baste frequently, turning potatoes once.


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