Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monday Night Dinner with David

Rum and Ginger Ale

Broiled Shrimp with Fresh Herbs and Green Onions
Potato Puree
Brocolli with Dried Red Chiles

Columbia County Riesling

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Moroccan Chicken in a Hurry

Cafe Drake often trots out our slow-simmered chicken with pickled lemons and green olives when we run out of dinner ideas, but the version below is much faster and uses far less ingredients (and all easily found at a corner grocer). We paired it on a lazy Sunday night before an awards show (to snack on in front of the TV) with Mustardy Chinese Cabbage and whole wheat couscous. Both recipes below are freely adapted from Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cookbook, a volume on historical par with The Joy of Cooking.


1 lemon / 1 3-lb chicken, cut in pieces / salt and pepper / 2 T. butter / 1 T. olive oil / 2 scallions, chopped / 1 fresh green chile of your choice / 1 clove garlic, minced / 1 cup chicken stock / 1/4 cup chopped parsley / pinch of oregano

  1. Peel lemon and cut into very thin strips. Juice the entire lemon. Reserve all.

  2. Heat oil and butter in large skillet and brown chicken on all sides, sprinkling liberally with salt and pepper.

  3. Remove chicken once browned to a plate and add scallions, chile and garlic to skillet.

  4. Cook for 2 minutes then add chicken stock and scrape all browned bits of goodness from bottom of pan.

  5. Reduce liquid by half.

  6. Return chicken to skillet and add lemon peel, lemon juice, parsley and oregano.

  7. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.


Serve this very, very well chilled.

1 head of Chinese cabbage, chopped coarsely / 2 T. dry mustard powder / 2 T. soy sauce / 2 t. white wine vinegar

  1. Boil cabbage in water for 1-2 minutes then drain well.

  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss in cabbage. Cool then refrigerate for an hour at least.

Stellar Feast (!) Hosted by Kevin & Miwa

Shrimp & Mushrooms Marinated with Mustard Seeds
Salami, Prosciutto & Cheeses
Brie with Carmelized Onions & Black Truffle Oil

Smoked Salmon with Salad and Citrus Dressing

Fried Cod with Daikon, Carrots and Radish Sprouts

Swiss Fondue

Green Tea Ice Cream with Shaved Chocolate and Japanese Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate and Blueberries

Red, White, Bubbly and Port Wines

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hangover Cures Part II

As inevitable as the IRS and a sagging jawline, hangovers seem to exist as part of the Human Condition, a necessary evil for those celebratory of the species anyway. And who doesn't want to celebrate?? Frequently. With abandon.
Cafe Drake knows you too well, my dears, and thus kindly offers up two more quick-fire cures sure to settle upset tummies and sooth hurting heads.

Alcohol's less-discussed side effect of course (after roiling stomachs and throbbing temples and cottony mouths) is the emotional fragility that often occurs after a particularly lively evening. The recipes below belong firmly in the category of Comfort Foods - drink strong black coffee and perhaps a quick Bloody Mary before attempting to prepare if you're on your own The Day After. Shaky hands don't mix well with sharp cutting implements!


Also delicious chilled for those summer hangovers; if you know you're gonna be burning the proverbial candle at both ends, make a batch before leaving the house and refrigerate overnight!

4 medium zucchini, sliced thin / 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin / 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth / 1 cup light cream / 1 tsp. ground coriander /Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium soup pot bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat.

  2. Add salt and pepper, zucchini and onion.

  3. Boil for about ten minutes until zucchini and onion are tender.

  4. Turn down heat and puree zucchini and onions to desired texture. (This can be done in a blender or in the pot with hand held blender.)

  5. Stir in cream and coriander and ladle into soup bowls.


If you can't bear the smell of gin in the morning . . . then stay in bed till the late afternoon. And promptly upon rising make these soul satisfying chops, guaranteed to chase away the post-drink blues. Measurements are very approximate here and forgiving of shaking hands. Plan your hangover by marinating the night before.

4 center cut boneless pork chops / 4 jiggers of gin / 2 jiggers of vermouth / 1 each medium red, yellow, and green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced / 1 medium yellow onion, sliced /1 tbsp. olive oil / Salt & Fresh ground black pepper

  1. Place chops in a deep dish and rub with the olive oil.

  2. Place diced peppers and sliced onion in dish, heaping them on top of chops. Pour in gin and vermouth, and stir.

  3. Cover chops and refrigerate overnight, turning chops over and mixing liquid and veggies every 4-6 hours.

  4. When you're ready to cook, oil your grill pan (or prepare your barbecue grill like normal).

  5. Re-season chops with salt and fresh ground pepper, and place in grill pan. Sear both sides and then cook each side for about five minutes.

  6. Place reserved peppers and onion mixture in pan and grill along with chops.

  7. Serve chops with grilled veggies on top.

SoundBites January 2008

Is anyone listening to anything else now besides Mr. Wainwright's latest double CD, Rufus does Judy at Carnegie Hall? A full 26-song recreation of Judy Garland's famous 1961 concert, enacted at the same venue with letter-perfect orchestration, the event throbs with the theatricality of an homage taken to the level of performance art. Ever nepotistic, Rufus brings in Sis and Mom for cameos but soars on his own through 2+ hours of beloved classics perfectly suited to his timeless vocal stylings . . . Mad pleasure being derived from Alicia Drake's new chunk of brilliant and bitchy reportage, The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris (Little, Brown, 2007). This compulsive and handsome read dwells happily on every decadent, tawdry detail of the two fashion icons' halcyon days, encompassing a cast of hundreds of beautiful and (sometimes) doomed misfits. Cafe Drake spurted a vicarious nosebleed just from the (endless, one to yet another) party descriptions . . . If you're in LA this weekend, your first stop should be Meridith Pingree's solo show at Molten Sprouts Gallery, and if you can't make it - check out the intriguing sculptures at her website . . . still whining about the writers' strike? No worries: check out re-runs of Mad Men which you shouldn't have ever missed in the first place but we all did. Cafe Drake thinks it's the niftiest show on television with its depiction of 50s/early 60s Madison Avenue and a time when executives actually had 3-martini breakfasts (in addition to lunches) . . . another respite from the desert of decimated American TV programming is BBCA America's aces hot Torchwood - think X-Files updated and made hawter . . . given our location in Brooklyn, Cafe Drake has no shortage of primo pizza parlors to choose from, but right around the corner is the newly remodeled Nina's 1 (635 Meeker Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718/389-8854), a family-run Paison Pleasure Palace dishing out single slices of impeccably crusted pies. Our current faves (all $3 each) are Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, Calamari and Black Olive and the mushroom-laden Chicken Marsala.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Quick Fix

Cafe Drake recently found ourselves with double cancellations on our hands; two scheduled dinners - over consecutive evenings - nixed at last moments and us all dressed up with nothing to cook. A pantry and fridge raid turned up a few paltry items and within an hour we sat down in front of Sundance Channel with a nifty meal of Creamy Polenta with Manchego Cheese and Roasted Peppers, a few Gaeta olives and a salad of pears and carrots dressed with a curry vinaigrette. The recipe for polenta below is the basic one we always begin with - use a building block and dress up with leftovers and lingering bits and pieces around the kitchen. Cheese is the most obvious choice of add-ons and frankly, any variety will do.


6 cups of water / 1 3/4 cup cornmeal / 2-3 t. salt / black pepper / 2 T. butter or olive oil

  1. Bring water and salt to a rolling boil.

  2. Slowly whisk in cornmeal.

  3. Add pepper and reduce heat to a slow simmer, stirring frequently.

  4. Add butter or oil and pepper, season to taste and throw in anything you like.

  5. Serve soft and quite hot.


High time we posted this recipe for a versatile salad dressing, given the numerous requests and accolades received for what is really a simple preparation. Wonderful with any salad featuring fruit, it can also be drizzled over broiled or baked fish and steamed vegetables.

In a blender combine: 3 T. white wine vinegar, 1 T. curry powder, 3 T. honey, 1 chopped fresh hot chile and a pinch or two of salt. Blend very well until all is smooth. With the blender now on Low, stream in about 5 T. good olive oil, or more if you prefer. Blend until thickened.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

From Our Bookshelves: January 2008

January and February are ideal months for catching up on all that reading you neglected during the chaos of the holi-daze, so find below a few of our recent favorite books . . . and of course, you can always check the ever-rotating selection from Cafe Drake on the sidebar located on the right.

Quick and Easy Indian Cooking - Madhur Jaffrey; 2007

Ms. Jaffrey is widely acknowledged as the grande dame of Indian home cooking, although her rare beauty and personal grace have led her as well to a film career in England. A glamorous lifestyle has not jaded or spoiled Jaffrey however, and this latest ode to quick meals whipped up with little effort and a minimally stocked pantry reveal a working woman who comes home and wants dinner fast! Lovely photographs accompany most recipes and one of our particular faves is reprinted below. As with most of the dishes in this book, the spinach side below need not be relegated to an Indian theme dinner only; Cafe Drake has served it alongside broiled steaks and baked fish with tomatoes and olives.


1 inch piece of ginger, peeled / 3 T. oil / 1 1/4 lbs washed spinach / 4 fresh green chiles, minced / 1/2 t. salt / 1/2 t. garam masala / 1/2 t. sugar / 1/4 t. cayenne pepper

  1. Mince ginger and oil to very hot oil in large pan.

  2. Cook for 30 seconds then add spinach and chiles. Stir until spinach is wilted.

  3. Add salt, garam masala, sugar and cayenne and cook for 5 more minutes.

  4. Serve warm.

Epicurean Delight: The Life and Times of James Beard - Evan Jones; 1990

A complex look at a complex man - kind but prone to pettiness and an obsession with vindicating ancient slights or personal attacks; embracing of world cuisines prior to any current vogue yet oddly, mildly racist in his usurpation and oversimplification of various cultures; extravagantly surrounded by a wealth of friends while remaining lonely at heart. And even more fascinating are the many tales of Beard's culinary growth, stemming from a genuine love of experimentation and exotic travel. Handfuls of classic Beard recipes are scattered throughout this handsome volume.

So Chic - Margaret Russell; 2007

We all know we eat with our eyes prior to our mouths, and an attention to visual detail should go beyond plating to actual table settings and an environment conducive to pleasurable, easy dining. no shortage of rooms we'd love to sup in here, as Elle Decor editor-in-chief Russell has scoured the best of her magazine's offerings to craft a sumptuous display of wildly varied abodes. Each, like the menus we construct and serve as hosts, reflect the personal tastes of their owners and allow glimpses into the rich tapestry of inspiration all around us.

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook - Matt Lee and Ted Lee; 2006

An odd looking duo of brothers spin a completely new take on Southern cuisine in a mammoth volume destined for the top shelf in your kitchen. Sure there's the ubiquitous fetish for local ingredients and small farms and artisinal producers, but the recipes and unique take raise this collection of must-have recipes far above even the Mason-Dixon Line.

Cream of Green Bell Pepper Soup

Served at the dinner seen just below, this thin, silky soup makes a wonderful starter course and is perfect for vegetarian guests. Light in texture yet rich on the tongue, a small bowl sided with a toasted sandwich would make an excellent luncheon entree as well. For maximum flavor prepare the day before serving.

2 T. butter / 1 T. olive oil / 2 very large green bell peppers, chopped coarsely / 1 small onion, chopped / 2 T. flour / 2 12-oz cans vegetable stock or broth / 1 t. dried oregano / salt and pepper / 2/3 cup heavy cream

  1. In a medium saucepan saute peppers and onions in olive oil and butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Do not let the veggies brown.

  2. Add flour, stir well and cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add broth and stir well to dissolve flour. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer - with oregano now added - for 15 or 20 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then puree in blender until very smooth. You may need to further push through a sieve or food mill to obtain velvet-like texture.

  5. Return to sauce pan and over very low heat season with salt and pepper and add cream.

  6. Continue to heat but do not allow to boil. Serve with croutons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cena con invitados por Amigos Buenos

Catalan Dinner for Thordis, David H and Jorge

Gin and Tonics
Spanish Marinated Olives

Cream of Green Bell Pepper Soup
Cayenne Croutons

Baked Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Onions
Brown Rice

Manchego Cheese with Toast and Fig & Quince Preserves

Candies and Cookies
Solo Reggiano Medici Ermette (sparkling red)
Kris Pinot Grigio 2006
J. Lohr Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2005

Check out our whimsical and wistful playlist created especially for this meal on Radio Cafe Drake - FIRZ-FM here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Happy Dinner with David & Audrey

Longtime compadre/close pal David Sellers always brings a welcome note to Cafe Drake for school night meals, but especially when lovely daughter Audrey is in tow! We're loathe to admit (revealing age!) we babysat this firecracker when she was but a precious child, but are happy to report she has grown into a lovely young woman wise and mature beyond her years. Forever a treat to have Dad and Daughter over for a festive meal, Cafe Drake busted out our more obscure Caribbean repertoire for the occasion. See photos above and menu below (recipes perhaps to post soon, as these basic dishes can be reinterpreted wildly for all tastes and dietary restrictive dinners).

Raspberry Daiquiris (straight up - NATCH)
Homemade Curried Pimento Cheese with Toast Points)

Lime, Rum and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken Breasts
Yams with Coconut and Dried Chiles
Braised Greens

Marzipan, Peppermint Shortbread, Double-dipped Chocolate Maltballs

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dinner & Double Birthday Party

Cafe Drake had decided on a relatively quiet Friday night after the holiday mania, but not realistically a feasible option after another delicious dinner prepared by Thordis Adalsteinsdottir and David Herbert . . . supremely moist tilapia baked in white wine with veggies and crowned with a dusting of smoked cheese (very Scandinavian combo, yes?), bowls of couscous and an assortment of red and white wines. Amanda and Oded supplied additional fun and quirky conversation (giant iguanas and cat tales featured prominently in dinner discussion), as well as the wheels that carried us all to the dual birthday party in a Bushwick loft of Brian and Gabriel. See if you can spot the birthday boys in photos above (or check out on August, September (2007) and January 2008 postings on this site. We were so enjoying ourselves on bourbon and ginger ale and a packed mirrored dance floor (!) our aim and focus behind the lens took a backseat to a good time.