Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Last-Minute Meal with Miki-san & David-san

Homemade Hummos with Bread
Gin and Tonic
Caribbean Marinated London Broil
Green Salad with Sweet Shallot Dressing
Pineapple Wedges
Butter Cookies

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dinner with Ms. Adalsteinsdottir

Raspberry Gimlets
Hummus with Peasant Toast
Yellow Lentil Soup with Cumin & Lemon
Green Salad with Feta Cheese, Pineapple and Onions
Whole Wheat Rotini in a Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce with Smoked Brook Trout
Lemon Cookies
Espresso Cordials
Candoni Prosecco Brut

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Random Posting (of Person We Love)

Because we're proving we don't JUST live in the past and worship only Golden Era movie stars a la Ava Gardner and Farley Granger. Because we said "I Told You So" about Christina Ricci a decade ago. Because she is the favorite contemporary actress at Cafe Drake. Because, alongside Rose McGowan and Jennifer Connelly she is the only film personality willing to be "darkly" fierce. Because we can.

Tasty Tunes for April 2007

TRULY open-minded guests will appreciate snacking to a new complete re-mix of John Vanderslice's entire CD, Pixel Revolt. Banished are the trademark searing vocals, but studio alchemist Scott Stolter breathes strange new electronic life to the folk troubadour's songs, and best of all, the remixes are completely FREE at www.spinner.com. Run don't walk to this valuable website/resource.

Please don't say you dislike Lily Allen just because she's currently getting heavy rotation on MTV2 and FUSE networks. Smooth but edgy enough for your spiciest entrees, Ms. Allen is presently bewitching many a dinner at Cafe Drake in this little corner of NYC. A refreshing retro breeze from Swingin' 60s London, Allen instantly transports listeners back to the days of Carnaby Street, channeling a young Michael Caine at your next dinner party. The single "Littlest Things" is so exquisite as to revive even a fallen souffle.

Cafe Drake, along with pals Jen Ruske, Jen Lazzaro and Miki Shimada, recently trotted ourselves four blocks over to Warsaw in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to witness the always soul-saving CocoRosie in concert. By any means necessary score yourself the brand new CD The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. And keep an ear out for their opening act and musical accompanist throughout the hour-long set, French human beatbox TEZ. CocoRosie's latest release, as with their classic previous two, will appeal to any and all dinner and drink guests with discerning tastes. Any dissentors should be exiled from the premises and sent back to Z-100 Hell. Radio pop is after all good enough for some people.

It's A Small World After All



Hailing from Lithuania this versatile salad is nice alongside assorted sausages or baked ham.

2 medium waxy potatoes (white), peeled and cut into cubes / Salt and Black Pepper / 2 carrots, finely chopped / 2 apples (Granny Smith is best here), peeled, cored and chopped / 1 small rutabaga (peeld and diced) / 2 T. prepared horseradish / 1/3 cup sour cream /1 T. caraway seeds

  1. Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Place all remaining vegetables and apples in a large bowl with caraway seeds and salt and pepper.
  3. Mix together separately the horseradish and sour cream. Add to large bowl of veggies and apples. Toss thoroughly.
  4. CAREFULLY fold in potatoes to avoid breaking up too much.


Caribbean in origin - Cuban specifically - this is a soup loved by most, including small children. Serve as a first course to be followed with Havana Roasted Pork Shoulder. Consume with multiple Mojitos.

1 cup peanut butter / 1 onion, quartered / 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade) / 1 cup half-and-half / Salt to taste / Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce

  1. Add peanut butter and onions to blender or processor.
  2. Blend, adding stock for easier processing as the machine is running.
  3. Transfer to a large stockpot and place over medium heat.
  4. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  5. Slowly stir in half-and-half, then season with salt and cayenne.
  6. Serve with toasted Cuban bread


Shop for mackeral fillets at your local fishmonger's shop or in any Asian seafood market. On a rare day you may find them frozen at your local Trader Joe's; these are quite good but should be dethawed carefully following package instructions, i.e. outside of the plastic wrap and slowly within the refrigerator. Be aware that mackerel is a STRONG-flavored fish, deliciously rich and oily with healthy Omega-3 antioxidants galore but not the best choice for anyone seeking a milder flavor. Good with rice (natch) or wasabi potato salad for a real taste of Tokyo. Cafe Drake often drapes these fillets over soba noodles.

1 T. salt (don't use less) / 1 1/2 lbs. mackerel fillets / 1 cup miso (red is best here but any kind will work we've discovered) / 1/4 cup sake / 1 T. fresh ginger, grated

  1. Sprinkle the salt over fish and let sit in refrigerator for 45-90 minutes. DO NOT leave longer or the texture will turn, um, unpleasant.
  2. Rinse and dry the fish.
  3. Combine 3/4 cup of the miso with about 3 T. of the sake (and a sprinkle of sugar if desired). Spread this over fillets and return to refrigerator (again, for 45-90 minutes).
  4. Rinse and dry once more.
  5. Combine remaining miso and sake and smear again over fish.
  6. Place on a baking sheet under hot broiler until cooked through. Check often for potential burning.
  7. Serve hot.

Creamy Mushrooms with Toast Points

As promised, below follows our mother's recipe for mushrooms on toast; incomparably good as advised with cocktails before dinner, we think this mixture would work well atop hot fettucini additionally. Mother recommends Whole Foods' heavily seeded Prairie Bread for the toast. Having sampled it last weekend, we agree!


4 tablespoons butter /1 lb. mushrooms /pinch nutmeg, garlic powder, pepper/ 1 or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard /white wine or vermouth to taste/ 8 oz. package cream cheese
3 oz. package cream cheese with chives/ wedge of bleu cheese (to taste)/ chopped parsley (as topping)

  1. Cut and saute mushrooms in butter until tender.

  2. Add the spices, mustard and wine/vermouth to taste. Keeping on low heat, add the cream cheese and blend until soft.

  3. Crumble in the bleu cheese, a little at a time, taste as you stir. Add more seasonings or wine to personal taste.

  4. Pour mixture into serving bowl, top with parsley, chill.

  5. Remove from refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This Little Piggie Went . . . to Cafe Drake

We were reminded via several emails from far and wide recently that Cafe Drake suffers from a real dearth of pork recipes. Let us assure you this oversight was unintentional and free of religious prohibitions; we in fact LOVE the pig and all its various products (pancetta and hot Italian sausage at the top of a long list, with Moo Shoo close behind). Below are two uncomplicated recipes freely adapted from Joyce Goldstein's marvelous coffee table cookbook Italian: Slow and Savoury. Cafe Drake has tweaked the instructions and ingredients below to make them friendlier to those of us with work lives or social schedules outside the home, but the originals should be referred to if a purer form of Italian cookery is desired. The book itself is a treasure trove of historical facts and traditional preparation methods in both Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, and worthy of immediate purchase on Amazon. The photos above illustrate our particular method of constructing Pork Shoulder with Apples (on a lazy weeknight, unencumbered by fussy rules, 90% of the cooking is left unattended while you chat on the phone or catch up on TiVo backlog), and (randomly) the azalea plant bought for $9 at Key Foods that bloomed for 2 weeks in Cafe Drake's kitchen and delivered much happiness.
As you can see above we sided the stew with a simple polenta (no cheese: just water, salt and 2 tablespoons of sour cream for richness) and steamed broccoli dressed with a light vinaigrette. The dish is classic Abruzzo and is often enlivened in Italy with the addition of fresh, peeled and seeded orange slices tossed in during the final five minutes of cooking.
Olive oil /2 lbs. pork shoulder, trimmed of excessive fat and cut into 2-inch pieces / Salt and pepper / 4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole (the original recipe calls for 10 cloves chopped, but we find even the sturdiest Merlot or Chianti can't hold up to the ferocity of so much garlic) / 1 fresh or dried red chile pepper, chopped / 3 sprigs of rosemary (if you must use dried, we'd estimate 1 t. crumbled leaves ) / 1 cup dry white wine (or vermouth, white obviously) / 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced roughly
  1. Add a generous amount of olive oil to a deep and hot skillet. Brown pork on all sides thoroughly. We've said it a million times before but DO NOT SKIMP OUT on this all-important step. It should take 10 minutes or so.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, chile, rosemary, wine and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 50 minutes while you do whatever you fancy.
  4. Now add the apples, water if the liquid is very low and continue to cook over low heat (uncovered) for about 30 minutes longer.
  5. Season again to taste with salt and pepper and if desired, add 1 orange sliced. Heat for 5 more minutes then serve piping hot with any broth accumulated.
  6. Receive unanimous praise from guests or yourself if dining alone.


These Sardinian meatballs are addictively good, perfect with spaghetti or mashed potatoes for a sophisticated rustica touch.

1 lb. ground pork / 1/4 cup bread crumbs / 2 eggs / 6 T. pecorino or parmesan cheese / 2 cloves garlic, minced / 1/4 cup chopped parsley Sauce: 3 T. olive oil / 1 onion, chopped / 2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped and seeded / 1/2 cup water / Salt and black pepper

  1. In a large bowl combine pork, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with well washed hands.
  2. Form into balls (about 1 inch in size).
  3. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat oil and fry onions for about 8 minutes until softened but not brown. Add tomatoes and water, mix well, then add meatballs.
  4. Bring to a low boil, reduce to gentle heat and simmer uncovered about 45 minutes.
  5. Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cafe Sondra of Atlanta, GA

Cafe Drake recently visited our Mother in Atlanta, GA for a belated birthday celebratory weekend. The photos above bear witness to our own creative origins and fount of inspiration. We had a lovely time both out on the town (lunches, dinner, a Behind-the-Scenes tour of the new aquarium) and relaxing in the cozy splendor of Cafe Sondra. Saturday was Mother's birthday dinner: we prepared Sweet Potato Pakoras with Brown Mustard Seed Cabbage Slaw and Cilantro Chutney as a starter, followed by a curried Chicken with mangoes entree, sided by dhal, cardamom rice and onion relish. Happy to report all was washed down with glasses of crisp bubbly. Cafe Sondra took kitchen duty the previous night, beginning with creamy mushrooms in vermouth and bleu cheese and Manhattans on the terrace, followed by a green salad accented with cheese and dried cranberries, followed even further by a casserole of Chicken Divan and mashed fingerling potatoes. Dessert was a scrumptious Frozen Key Lime Pie with Whipped Cream. A few recipes and reviews of Atlanta restaurants coming soon to Cafe Drake.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More from the Mail Box

One of the most rewarding aspects of Cafe Drake is its reach beyond the intended audience of friends and family for which it was originally created. While we cherish that core group above all else, we certainly LOVE to receive email from visitors around the globe (thanks for the Internet Village, Al Gore!) Even the occasional harsh slagging is welcome in here, though we've chosen to ignore all mail that doesn't even attempt at creative criticism. Below are a few excerpts from strangers far and wide, with responses we hope will be helpful. Keep those messages coming, even if they're not entirely full of praise! (All names and email monikers have been withheld naturally - though we were tempted to post a few and put on blast the minority of haters with excess time on their hands).

Thanks for the Cafe Drake blog. I really lik (we're hoping that's a typo) most of the recipes and some of the other suggestions for music and things. I do wish that you would focus less on liquor though. It seems like so many of the entries promote alcohol. Also alot of your jokes about being drunk or alcoholic. Otherwise though it's a good website and your pictures are really nice and especially those of the food.

- Clearwater, Fl

Dear Clearwater,

Like the noble deposed King Lear, you are not amongst the first, who attempting the best (half-hearted kudos for Cafe Drake) have incurred the worst (our annoyance). Perhaps you should practice however some of daughter Cordelia's loyalty? (We've waited along time to work in a vitriolic Shakespeare reference - sorry). For the final word on the subject: Cafe Drake approaches the tangled complexities of Life with a satirical nature designed to lessen the everyday burdens. "Jokes" regarding alcohol consumption follow a long tradition of comedic staples, from Catskill comedians of the 1940s through 50s TV and up until the point political correctness colluded with the agenda of 12-step cult members. Lighten up, Florida, and have a drink to take off the edge. We've got some great cocktail recipes online here.

Love love love Cafe Drake and the many ideas you offer for creative entertaining. I really appreciate your effort to keep recipes varied and clever, and LOVE again the music referrals and tips on dessert and after-dinner drinks. There's always coffee at the end of all meals I've noticed. What kind do you use? My husband and I enjoy a cup after a good meal but find guests shy away with worries of insomnia. Can you recommend a brand or type without caffeine? Or an alternative to coffee besides the Spiced Hot Chocolate I've seen on Cafe Drake before?

- Lincolnville, IL

Dear Lincolnville,

First let's begin by admitting we published your email mainly because of a posting above which encourages visitors to steer clear of caffeine-free coffee. But shall we let you in on a little known secret? This: American-style coffee with its high water-to-bean ratio is much more stimulating than a small cup of thick espresso and best left to the mornings when we all need a boost. Cafe Drake serves exclusively demitasses of espresso (or machiattos or even cappuccinos for those who desire them) after dinner, and has found that even the most sensitive guest will tolerate the delicious mini-portions quite well. Also remember that the powerful antioxidants in coffee are lost in cups deprived of the characteristic ingredient. Alternatively, herbal tea is always nice to have on hand. We cannot however in good conscience recommend any black tea or decaffeinated coffee product.

(Coffee) Ice Castles

Cafe Drake gal pal Miki Shimada will be flexing her blades of glory at an ice skating exhibition at Rockefeller Center, Friday April 13, 2007 at 6pm. We'll be in Atlanta visiting our mother and holding down the Dirty South, but encourage all in the NYC area to flock to midtown Manhattan for this frozen extravaganza. In the meanwhile check out Miki servin' fierce shade in the rink at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ17E6cUjJM, in all her twirling glory ("Twirl", we said, "TWIRL!") A recipe appropriate to both skating and Winter's current last hurrah here in Cafe Drake's hometown follows below.


3 cups hot brewed espresso (if you use regular American-style coffee, brew double strength or the recipe will not work out) / 1/3 cup plus 1/2 TB. sugar / 1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Put hot espresso in a bowl.
  2. Add 1/3 cup sugar and stir to dissolve.Cool to room temperature.
  3. Transfer to a shallow pan and place in the freezer.
  4. Every 30 minutes, using a fork, stir the granita, scraping it off the bottom and sides of the pan so that it freezes evenly.
  5. Continue to freeze and break up ice crystals until completely frozen, about 3 hours.
  6. When ready to serve, whip heavy cream and 1/2 TB. sugar until thickened.
  7. Spoon granita into chilled glasses and top with whipped cream.

Note: Only full-flavored espresso will really make a tasty granita. Cafe Bustello is a reliable and inexpensive brand available at all supermarkets. For heaven's sake DO NOT use any bland (and empty of antioxidants) decaffeinated hideousity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cafe Shimada Strikes Again

We're always excited to receive an invite to Miki's house for dinner, especially when her scrumptious take on Japanese home cooking is on the menu. Cafe Drake pal David Sellers joined us as well for a trip to Tokyo whilst grounded in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A starter salad of seaweed, buttery Bibb lettuce, radishes and cucumbers was refreshing and delicious, but only set the stage for a host of tasty dishes to follow: Japanese greens with sliced fishcakes, vegetable stuffed pork rolls in a ginger sauce, rice with mushrooms and fresh bamboo shoots, with sesame cookies and green tea to finish.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dinner en homage Helen Mirren

The Madness of King George (1993)

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)

Prime Suspect (TV Series 1992-2006)

The delightfully schizophrenic menu below actually has a method to its madness; namely, dishes and drinks inspired by the many, many memorable characters created by this astonishing actress and continual inspiration to Cafe Drake. It is hard to name other actresses of her generation who have brought to life so many varied heroines we adore and admire (and where's the fun in a dinner based on the admitedly glorious careers of Meryl Streep or Francis McDormand? Loving both but not as exceptionally as Dame Mirren).


Inspired by the glorious hedonistic cuisine extolled throughout Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, this is a regal first course to store away for only your most formal dining occasions.

  1. Lightly poach 4 servings of salmon filets in vegetable broth. You may add a slice or two of lemon to the broth if desired. Covered in shallow pan, the fish should take no more than 10 minutes to cook completely. DO NOT allow the liquid to ever to a boil, and remove after 5 minutes if a medium-rare fish is to your taste.
  2. Remove salmon to a covered dish and keep warm.

  3. Beat one whole egg and one yolk; gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of sugar.

  4. Set the dish over hot water, add the grated rind of an orange, one-third a cup of orange juice and one tablespoon of lemon juice.

  5. Continue beating while the sauce thickens.

  6. When thick as a boiled custard, remove to a dish of cold water, to stop the cooking. Season very sparsely with salt.

  7. Place warmed fish on a warmed plate and nestle a dollop of the sauce beside it.


From the days of King George III, serve with a Yorkshire Pudding made from the drippings, or roasted new potatoes and sauteed stringbeans.

1 4-5 lb. beef round tip roast /2 cloves garlic, crushed / 1 teaspoon salt /1 teaspoon cracked black pepper / 1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Combine Seasoning ingredients and press evenly into the beef tip roast.

  2. Place beef tip roast on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Do not add water and do not cover.

  3. Roast for 25 to 35 minutes for medium rare to medium.

  4. A meat thermometer (if you don't have one, this is a valuable kitchen tool worth purchasing) inserted in thickest part should read 140° for medium rare, 155° for medium. Let roast stand 15 minutes. (Temperature will rise about 5°.) Slice and serve with vegetables of choice.

Follow with a dessert of simply strong black coffee and plenty of good single malt Scotch in honor of hard-drinking and hard-working Chief Detective Inspector Jane Tennyson.

When in Rome

The beautiful Roman frieze atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art, visited last weekend by Cafe Drake, inspired the following duet of recipes hailing from the Eternal City (that and a recent viewing of the Tennessee Williams classic The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, a movie everyone should Netflix if you haven't seen, starring an older but still luminous Vivien Leigh, a young Warren Beatty and Cafe Drake favorite - the divine Coral Browne).
It seems we post a number of egg-based entrees here at Cafe Drake, and always get email requests for Italian recipes: hopefully we've happily combined the two in the following upload. Directions are loose here as this is the sort of dish one prepares very freely, adding salt, pepper or grated cheeses as desired. Absolute perfection for a late-night meal, after the theater or a concert, served with a green salad and simply followed by fruit and cheese or good chocolate. If serving at a luncheon meal, pair with a nice bottle of Vouvray and perhaps precede with a shrimp salad.
  1. For 6 people clean 3 small Roman artichokes and cut into long pieces.
  2. Cook them in a pan with half tablespoon of bacon fat or the equivalent of oil, moisten with a few tablespoon of dry white wine to keep them tender and season with a finely-chopped sprig of parsley, some salt and pepper.
  3. In the meanwhile, beat 6 eggs in a bowl with some salt, rise the flame under the pan containing the artichokes and when the latter appear to be tender enough, pour over the egg.
  4. Allow to cook for a few minutes, then turn over and cook the other side for another few minutes on a high flame so that the outside gets nicely cooked and the inside remains soft.


One of the most exciting culinary trends of recent years is the discovery - and translation - of ancient recipes, as below adapted to modern kitchens. For the hell of it we present the original recipe in its original Latin incarnation, for history buffs and those brushing up on school lessons of many years ago.

Patina solearum (from Apicius' De Re Coquinaria)
Patina solearum: soleas battues et curatas compones in patina. adicies oleum, liquamen, vinum. dum coquitur, teres piper, ligusticum, origanum, fricabis, suffundes ius, ova cruda et unum corpus facies. super soleas refundes, lento igni coques. cum duxerit, piper aspargis et inferes.

4 fillets of sole (or other delicate white fish) /1 onion /1 tbsp olive oil /1/2 cup Feta cheese /2/3 cup dry white wine / 2 tbsp. seedless raisins /2 tbsp white wine vinegar /2 tsp coriander seeds /1 tsp cumin /4 sprigs of thyme /sea salt to taste

  1. Slice the onion into very thin rings and gently fry these in olive oil until they become clear.
  2. Arrange these on the bottom of a large oven-proof dish and palce the fish fillets on top.
  3. Place the coriander and cumin in a mortar and crush with a pestle. Add the raisins and sprinkle over the fish fillets. Cover with a sprig of thyme.
  4. Mix the wine and vinegar together, season with salt and pour over the fish.
  5. Next, slice the Feta cheese as thinly as possible and use to entirely cover each fillet.
  6. Cover the dish with a lid and bake in an oven pre-heated to 325° for an hour.