Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Wild Ginger (212 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, 718/218-8828)
Lomzynianka (646 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222, 718/389-9439)
An early death and tragic life plagued by bouts of mental illness have faded the memory of model and actress Capucine into semi-obscurity. Born in Samour, France - the hometown of one of her many famous patrons, Coco Chanel - this rarified beauty and tower of elegance quickly transformed from muse of Givenchy to international film star, sharing the screen with luminaries as diverse as John Wayne, William Holden, Rex Harrison, Jane Fonda and Peter Sellers to name a few. Her closest friend was Audrey Hepburn, and the two lived merely miles apart in Lausane, Switzerland at the time of Capucine's unfortunate end. Her obituary stated she was survived "only by three cats", but her memory still burns bright at Cafe Drake, where we post the following menu below in her honor. Suggested Filmography: Song Without End (1960), Walk on the Wild Side (1963), The Pink Panther (1963), The Honey Pot (1967), Fellini's Satyricon (1970).
10 anchovy fillets (oil-packed, rinsed, patted dry & crushed) / 3/4 cup olive oil /1/4 cup red wine vinegar/ 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice / 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard /1/2 tablespoon oregano (finely minced) /1 small garlic clove (very finely minced) /salt /white pepper
- For Dressing: Combine all ingredients & refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- For Salad: Prepare & combine all salad ingredients except the egg slices.
- Present the salad, drizzle w/dressing to your taste pref, mix to distribute dressing & top w/egg slices to serve.
Works of course best with raclette cheese, but its availibity tends to be spotty. Any good cheese shop will have it, but this easy version of the Swiss national dish can be prepared effectively with supermarket Brie. Air-cured dried beef is another traditional accompaniment (Bresaola), so if you like pick up a package at the deli counter of better grocery stores or the local gourmet shop.
1 1/2 lbs brie cheese, rind removed / 1 1/2 lbs tiny new potatoes or boiling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces / 1 1/2 lbs broccoli, thick stems removed, tops cut into florets (about 1 1/2 quarts)
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, halved or quartered if large /2 tablespoons cooking oil /1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocktail onions (or cornichons)
- Heat the oven to 400°. Cut the Brie into thin slices and divide the cheese among four small ovenproof dishes or ramekins.
- Put the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets to the pan and simmer until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Drain the potatoes and, if using new potatoes, cut them in quarters when cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, toss the mushrooms with the oil and salt. Put the mushrooms on a baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, turning once, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and then turn the oven off.
- Put the dishes of cheese in the oven and leave until the cheese just melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pile the potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and cocktail onions on individual plates.
- Serve each portion of melted Brie immediately, along with the vegetables for dipping.
Chocolate (of course) for Dessert
A Good Eau-de-Vie
Note: try a Loire Valley red wine with this meal, a fruity Chinon or Saumur-Champigny. White is often traditional but a lighter red we prefer, especially with the salad and if serving the dried beef.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
- In a 2 qt saucepan, combine butter, flour, sieved eggs, lemon rind, salt and pepper. In a separate saucepan, bring milk to a boil, remove from heat.
- Gradually pour in the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring with a wire whisk. Add crabmeat, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes; do not boil.
- Add cream and remove from heat. Stir in sherry and Worcestershire sauce and serve piping hot.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
TUNA SALAD A LA LIZ TAYLOR
A defiantly Californian take on traditional tuna salad, the curious combination of ingredients actually works very well, allowing for less mayo and thereby fewer calories and minimal cholesterol. We also love that Liz wasn't giving up the mayonnaise altogether!
1 can tuna, drained & flaked / 1 t. tomato paste / 2 T. mayonnaise / 2 scallions, chopped / 1/2 pink grapefruit, segmented with pith removed / lettuce or salad green of choice
- Mix first 5 ingredients and place atop salad greens.
Friday, February 16, 2007
A simple casual table setting for two.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Everything old is newer than ever again, and the austere bowl of broth or consomme is such a severly elegant (in today's parlance the term would be FIERCE) way to begin a formal dinner. If you're not prone to meals of great formality, try it. You just might enjoy the determination and discipline such an evening or afternoon requires, and certainly your friends and family will appreciate the special treat.
A holdover from the days of Ladies Who Lunched (famously), as with most recipes from the 1940s/50s, this thin soup feels fresh again. Presented in wide, shallow soup bowls, garnished with a tiny dollop of sour cream or snipped chives, we can almost imagine Deborah Kerr next to us daintly ladling spoonfuls into her crimson lips. If it lends a further Hollywood pedigree to this already glamorous dish, we'll let you in on a secret: it was Joan Crawford's favorite starter for dinners at her Bel-Air home.
2 cans (10-1/2 oz.each) beef broth /2 soup cans of water (this is how we measure it anyway) /4 crumbled dried chiles (or 1 T. dried chili flakes, though best to use the whole chiles) /Juice of 1 lemon /1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
- Mix beef broth, water, chilies and lemon juice.
- Heat just to below boiling. Stir in avocado.
- Serve immediately. Serves at least 6 for a small first course.
A veritable classic that never goes out of style or unappreciated. Ideal for a multi-course formal dinner, but equally good as a luncheon starter, perhaps preceeding a quiche-and-salad entree or hearty pasta. Most recipes require an enormous cooking time plus lots of skimming of debris from scraped bones, so we invented this (nearly) hands-free version using that crockpot gathering dust in your cabinet.
2 shoulder lamb chops (be sure to buy these cheap cuts available at all supermarkets) /1/3 cup pearl barley /1 large carrot, peeled and cubed / 2 leeks, white part only, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups water /salt (you're gonna need quite a bit) / pepper / 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- In the slow cooker, combine the lamb, barley, carrot, leeks, celery and water.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, until meat is very tender and falling apart; add salt and pepper to taste. (You will want to remove the meat and discard the bones most likely).
- Ladle into serving dishes and garnish with parsley.
TOMATO CONSOMME WITH MOZZARELLA & TOMATO GARNISH
A great way to start an Italian meal, perfect for hot or cool weather with the addition of rich fresh mozzarella. Avoid a pasta course following with cheese or even an entree based around dairy, as it tends to feel repetative we've discovered. Do not be deterred by the lengthy instructions below; they are meant as guidelines to help you stun guests with presentation and are quite simple.
(Note to Visitors Sensitive to Cafe Drake (mis) measurements: It is impossible to give a specific amount for the tomatoes because how much "water" a tomato releases depends on many factors, including the growing season and the variety. You will need enough tomato water to fill your martini glasses, so measure their capacity, probably something between 5 and 9 ounces each. We used 7 tomatoes, about 3 1/2 lbs.)
- Chill the martini glasses in the freezer or refrigerate an hour ahead of serving. NOTE: For the most stunning presentation, make sure the glasses are heavily frosted (a freezer gives a heavy frost).
- Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper; place in a sieve suspended over a bowl and refrigerate for several hours. As the tomatoes release their juice, it will fall into the bowl, giving you an almost gin-clear liquid with lots of flavor. NOTE: If the tomato water is not clear, pour it through a fine mesh strainer. Season the tomato water to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until very cold. Reserve the tomato pulp for another use.
- Halve or quarter the mozzarella bocconcini if they are larger than 1 inch in diameter. Thread a tomato wedge, a bocconcini piece, and a cherry tomato onto each of 4 wooden skewers 4 to 5 inches long. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.
- Working quickly, divide the tomato liquid among the chilled martini glasses. Balance the skewers on top of the glasses, then sprinkle the basil chiffonade over the skewers. Serve immediately.
Two old axioms we stand by at Cafe Drake: a) A House is not a Home without an Animal and b) Change is Always Good. Shopworn sentiments perhaps, but both should be true to ensure a pleasant atmosphere conducive to regular entertaining, and more importantly, to one's own happiness and mental health. We've greeted 2007 with a good housecleaning and a few new additions (curtains, pillows, wallpaper, objets d'arts etc) and feel all the better for the shake-up. Minor alterations can produce major epiphanies, so treat yourself and your guests to a bold new look (at least one) this month, and carry through the progressive spirit by hosting a dinner comprised entirely of dishes new to your repetoire.
Cafe Drake was lucky enough recently to host dinner for three gal pals; doubly lucky for us that our guests were all lookers with hearts of gold! The evening began with festive cocktails - Pomegranate Martinis - appropriate to the occasion (not just a house full of pretty girls but also our first Official True Dinner Party of 2007). The intoxicating tartness of these drinks belies their simplicity: 2-3 LARGE measures of good gin, fresh lemon and lime juice, confectionary sugar and pomegranate molasses; shake well with ice and strain into large cocktail glasses.
First up was a broth of dried chiles and tomatoes, spiked with shrimp and herbs. The main course was a slow-stewed chicken mole, sided with baked corn spoon bread and a carrot and cilantro slaw. The ladies loved the dessert of espresso and wedges of dark chocolate (71% cacao) for dipping.
We really channeled Tallulah Bankhead with multi-servings of assorted digestifs (not to mention Lindsey's prosecco during the soup course, and deep and complex reds from Jen and Miki with the entree), including mezcal and grappa. Further Golden Age stars (namely Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire) were channeled in the wee hours as we held a dance-off in Cafe Drake's Sitting/Computer Room/Home Office. Miki was Queen of the Foxtrot, Jen brought back the 80s with a Go-Gos impersonation, while Lindsey and Drake graced the floors with a dramatic tango argentine. An exceedingly good time was had by all, at least judging from the shared full stomachs and earth-shattering hangovers the next day.