Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dinner . . . Dug Up

Forgive our recent lapse in posts . . . like everyone else in NYC we succumbed to the dreaded "bad cold" infecting our metropolis, akin to a mild flu but leaving one coherent enough to crawl to work for a half-day and the corner deli for essentials (orange juice, yogurt, fresh rolls, smokes). We dug up a past good time at Cafe Drake however and present below a lovely evening spent with Jen Ruske, David Sellers and three perfectly fresh halal lamb shanks.


Rosewater & Orange Martinis

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Feta, Oil-Cured Olive Confit, Pickled Lemons, Harissa and Toasted Pita

Oven-Braised Lamb Shanks
Whole Wheat Couscous
Parsley Salad

Baklava pastries
Oak-Aged Small Batch Bourbon
Moroccan Coffee

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some Uber-Easy Weeknight Meals

Slices of Vietnamese Meat Loaf (recipe in posting below) atop a Bulgar pilaf and crowned with roasted red peppers. To make the pilaf: saute 1 onion in a good bit of olive oil and add a healthy dash of turmeric powder. Throw in 1 cup of Bulgar wheat, saute for 2 minutes then add about 1 3/4 cups of water or broth. Salt and cover and simmer till done - about 25 minutes on very low heat.

Simply toasted 7-grain bread with cheddar and plum tomatoes. Side with Parsley Root Salad (as in photo above and recipe below) and Frisse with Sliced Pears.

Super Fast: While chopped savoy cabbage is frying in a tablespoon or three of butter, boil up some pumpkin tortellini and top with chopped olives and feta cheese. Drizzle pasta well with very good olive oil.

Dinner for Jenny L

Cafe Drake and Jen Ruske stopped by Jen Lazzaro's West Village bachelorette pad recently to prepare a SuperFoods meal of Turkey and Black Bean Chili (with various dried chiles), Spinach Salad with Mushrooms and Whole Wheat Bread and Butter. We had a blast: in the kitchen, with Miss Lucy Lazzaro and while watching back episodes of Gossip Girl (natch). Cafe Drake should always be so lucky to dine with three lovely ladies!

Dance Party USA

Lord knows we love a dance party at Cafe Drake!

From the Kitchen of Jenifer Ruske

And Jen was kind enough to prepare both of these dishes for us here in our own test kitchens, so we can personally testify to their tastiness. A big Cafe Drake THANK YOU to Jen R for sharing the recipes below.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
4 red peppers /1 onion /1 Large garlic clove /3 c. veg stock /1tbsp flour /1/2 cup whole milk

Clean and quarter the peppers. Roast on a baking sheet for about 20-25 minutes until black. Transfer peppers to paper bag, close the bag and let set for 20 min.

Peel the skin off the peppers.

In a stock pot heat the roughly chopped onion, smashed garlic clove and 2/3 c of stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min. Lower the heat and once the onions are soft and beginning to color, sprinkle in the flour and stir until the flour's cooked and then add the remaining stock.

Add the peppers to the pot, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 5 min. Let the soup cool and puree it in a blender. Season it, reheat it and add 1/2 c of whole milk.

Fresh Papardelle with Herbs and Ricotta

1 lb fresh pasta /Herbs, see below /2 tbsp butter /Salt for boiling water /Pasta water /1/2-1c. Fresh ricotta /Grated Parm cheese

Roughly chop an assortment of strong peppery and bitter herbs and greens.You can use: basil, chives, arugula and radicchio. Feel free to substitute or add rosemary, thyme and endive. Melt butter in frying pan, add herbs and saute for up to 5 min.Set aside herbs when done.

Cook fresh pasta in boiling water with 1tbsp kosher salt until half cooked,about 1-2 min. Put frying pan over low heat, add pasta (scoop out pasta, do not drain.You'll want the pasta water) and add 2 tbsp or more of pasta water.

Add ricotta and season with salt and pepper.

Once you plate this, you can also add fresh flat parsley or lemon zest and grated cheese.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Please notice in the right-hand column of this page a few new neighborhood links, comprising the Axis of Evil Temptation within which Cafe Drake resides. Also, plenty of new, ultra-succinct restaurant and bar reviews from Cafe Drake at YELP (link also to right) and dozens more to follow within the next two weeks. Don't forget Radio Cafe Drake - FIRZ FM, especially as we've updated a few playlists including Cafe Gossip and The Tetchy Nature of October. We've also added Samurai FM to our highly select and judiciously edited list of featured links; after years of providing us with sonic souvenirs from so many dinner and cocktail gatherings at Cafe Drake we felt it only right to initiate the best radio station on the web into our Links Hall of Fame.

Random Refrigerator Views (Part 6)

Random Sailor Views (Part 94)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Evening, Vietnam

Seems our recent Vietnamese recipe postings have been especially popular and several of you have created in your own kitchens with pleasant results. Because we aim only to please, below are a few more of our favorite South East Asian standards. All have withstood the test of time and never failed to ingratiate us to guests!


We like to throw a culinary curve ball here and plate these chops with roasted Brussels sprouts and green chile-garlic bread.

2 T. fish sauce / 1 t. soy sauce / 2 t. sugar / 1 T. brown sugar / 1 T. oil / 1 T. garlic, chopped / salt and lots of black pepper / 4 large, bone-in pork chops

  1. Mix all ingredients except chops together then toss with pork in a sealed zipper bag.

  2. Marinate for about 2-3 hours in the fridge, then 1/2 hour at room temperature.

  3. Sear chops in hot skillet till browned well on both sides.

  4. Add a bit of marinade to the skillet, reduce heat to quite low and cover.

  5. Cook until just tender, less than 10 minutes.

  6. Serve hot.


5 dried shitake mushrooms / 1 lb. ground pork / 2 T. chopped shallots or onions / 2 T. fish sauce / 1 T. black pepper / about 1/2 t. salt / 1 egg

  1. Soak mushrooms in warm water till soft. Drain and chop well.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  3. Combine ALL ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands.

  4. Transfer to a small loaf pan or casserole dish and bake until firm and fragrant, about 35-40 minutes.

  5. Remove from oven and sit aside to cool slightly for 10 minutes.

  6. Slice and enjoy.


This is delectable with garlic mashed potatoes!

1/4 cup soy sauce / 2 T. fish sauce / 1 t. toasted sesame oil / 1 T. brown sugar / 2 t. five-spice powder / 1/2 t. or so of salt / 1 chopped clove of garlic / 2 t. chopped ginger / 3 lbs. chicken pieces (as always, thighs work best)

  1. Combine ALL ingredients in a large zipper bag and shake well to mix.

  2. Marinate in refrigerator for at least a couple of hours; overnight is better.

  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken on a baking sheet and roast till crisp and browned, at least 40 minutes.

  4. Serve hot, warm or even cold.


Very authentic and a sublime first course for a meal of any nationality.

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock / 3/4 lb. catfish fillets - or substitute salmon, cut into chunks / 5 plum tomatoes, chopped rather small / 1 T. fish sauce / salt to taste / a large pinch of chunky-ground black pepper / 2 thinly sliced green onions / 1/4 cup roughly chopped dill

  1. Bring stock to a rolling boil over high heat.

  2. Add fish and lower heat to a gentle boil.

  3. After 2 minutes stir in tomatoes, fish sauce, salt and pepper, green onion and dill.

  4. Immediately remove from heat, stir well and serve hot.

Our TV Tray

Brown Rice with Dried Red Chiles


Toasted Nori Sheets

Massaman Curry with Red Snapper and Vegetables

(How to Do It: dump out a can of the above-featured brand and simmer carefully with fresh fish or poultry and veggies of your choice - we used green bell peppers and chunks of organic carrots)

Saturday in the Park (Part III) with Sloane & Julian

Parsley Root Salad

Cafe Drake's favorite French restaurant in town, La Grenouille, sometimes serves, upon being seated, a tiny dish of celery root salad . . . creamy shards of the boiled vegetable tossed in a light dressing. We've tried to recreate this dish - perfect for an antipasto platter or to be nibbled on over a glass of chilled Vouvray - but swapped out celeriac for parsley root, fresh from the day's farmer's market.

Basically: peel parsley roots and slice into thick matchsticks. Boil in salted water for only 4 minutes or so; they should have a bit of crispness still. Drain and dry well and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together: a few tablespoons of good olive oil, a healthy dollop of grainy mustard, a pinch of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Whip well and toss with parsley root. Allow to marinate for a few hours.

Serve chilled.

Dinner with David & Bro

David Sellers' brother Keegan dropped by NYC recently for a visit from Portland(see above at Roberta's in Bushwick) and we enjoyed their famous calzone pizza (arriving puffed at the table), a white pizza with prosciutto crudo and juicy, fatty slabs of long-baked lamb breast (atop a pile of creamy sweet potatoes). Afterwards we retired to Royal Oak for cocktails, the standout of which was a house speciality of gin, lemon juice and blackberry brandy dubbed The Bramble.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For the Strongest Stomachs Only

Yes, it's a real mouse. Yes, it's a bit wee shocking. Yes it's Sailor's natural prey and among his few (hunting) pleasures left in his final months. In an effort to be non-speciest on our foodie blog we ask: Shouldn't Sailor have a gourmet meal as well as the rest of us?

Toby Mix at Radio Cafe Drake

We all know October is a temperamental month, at least in the Northeast, so find below an appropriately bi-polar mix for all your Toby parties and gatherings. The schizoid playlist includes Broadcast, CSS, Fleet Foxes, Jenny Lewis and The Zutons amongst many others:

Communal Sunday Supper

Jen Ruske recently dropped by Cafe Drake to while away a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon, cooking up a storm and supplementing our own menu with dishes we were eager to learn (as soon as we pry the recipes for Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Pappardale with Ricotta, Endive and Fresh Herbs from Ruske's tight fist we'll share with you here). We supped on Jen's creations, potent Bloody Marys (Cafe Drake's house version - extra spiked with sherry), dill chicken, an Indian riff on peas and carrots and pineapple-yogurt salad (instructions for all three found in posting below). Jen also treated us to a bottle of Alsatian Gentil and we rounded the evening off with cookies and our favorite tunes from Radio Cafe Drake (link in right-hand column).

Friday, October 10, 2008


Jacob's Ladder high-speed head turning crazy. Book club President-exiled crazy. Three too many Gulab Jumans (cloying Indian dessert) crazy. Toxic gossip crazy. Cat-obsessed crazy. Lacquer happy crazy. Patsy Cline "Crazy." French fries and guacamole crazy. And what we're CRAZY for right now:

Snail-stuffed pancakes and Shrimp Burgers at Pegu Club (NYC)

Seda France Moroccan-spiced candles

Ale-8-One small batch spicy Ginger Ale (available from Kentucky factory online by the case)

The Fratellis' CD Costello Music

40s French brass wall sconces

BBC America's naughty teen drama Skins

Twitter's simplified, stripped-down, three-second version of Facebook

Malin + Goetz Peppermint Bar Soap (gasp - $14)

Laboratorios de Pueblo Florida Water Refreshing Astringent (gasp - $1.99)

Trader Joe's Punjab Spinach Simmering Sauce

Sonoma Farm's Hot Pepper California Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pfizer's Neurontin (just try to not go down the rabbit hole before sleeping for 10 hours)
DC's Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam's Lemon-Cashew Rice (best on planet and secret recipe below):

2 cups basmati rice (14 ounces)
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup salted roasted cashews
1 cup drained canned chickpeas
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the rice and a generous pinch of salt and boil until barely al dente, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain, shaking out the excess water. Return the rice to the pan. Cover tightly and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, cover and keep warm.
  3. In a large, deep nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to pop, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the onion, bay leaves and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the cashews and chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and lemon juice and toss to combine. Discard the bay leaves.
  6. Serve hot or warm.

Toby 2008 Soundbites from Cafe Drake

Land's End (2005), courtesy of www.dianakingsley.com

We're still burning up Lady Gaga's new CD, badass yet secretly insecure, all conveyed via her dissonant (but pleasant!) combo of rap bravado tempered with icy and fragmented beats, more akin to electro than crass hip hop.

New Weird America may not be shouting so loud anymore, but dammit Cafe Drake needs our alt-folk now and again; we're hollahing back at the genius of Department of Eagles. Missed their show last week but we can all savor the genius new long player . . . a soundtrack must for granola brunches and farm-to-table artisinal produce feasts.

Sweet, salty and fatty as hell? Sign us up! And put yourselves of the list of cool kids who snack without restriction. Our Tiki Mix is especially welcome accompanying that classic cocktail, the Mai Tai (see posting below).


8 very thick slices of bacon (you will need to buy slab for this) / 3 cups salted and roasted peanuts / 4 candied and dried pineapple rings, cut into small pieces / 2 T. sesame seeds / 1 T. soy sauce / 1 T. honey / lots of cayenne pepper / kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Bake oven on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

  3. Now toss bacon (torn into 1-inch pieces) with everything else except the salt.

  4. Put on a clean baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 350 again.

  5. Allow to cool and season with salt as desired.

  6. Try not to snort entire serving bowl before guests arrive.

Think you can't afford French wine without a twist cap? Think again. Think along the lines of Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Petit Caprice 2007. Scored 85 points by Wine Spectator but you can score a bottle for a tenner. A mix of Grenache and Syrah, Cafe Drake likes its bold tannins with rare meats such as pan-fried flank steak or flash-roasted duck breasts.

Blasts from the past are the best! Cafe Drake cyber-reconnected with our old pal and photographer Diana Kingsley. And subsequently began drooling over her luscious large scale prints and video projects which you can check out at her cool, and appropriately named, website - http://www.dianakingsley.com/.

With our favorite month now here - Toby - Cafe Drake doesn't mind in the least roasting pork shoulder for 4 hours, or braising (humanely raised!) veal breast all afternoon, but we need something to read while these slow pokes work their magic. The stack we're plowing through now includes: Class Act: William Haines, Legendary Hollywood Decorator (a jewel box of a coffee table tome full of rare photos and blessed with equally chic book design); Faraway Places ( an obscure novella from master storyteller and wordsmith Tom Spanauer, the magician behind the life-affirming classic The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon); Edmund White's new digest-sized biography of the infamously decadent boy genius/poet, Rimbaud and a superlative, self-proclaiming vintage cookbook The Henri Charpentier Cookbook. Monsieur C. lays claim to the invention of Crepes Suzette and peppers his spicy prose with wildly entertaining narcissistic rants.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cocktail Classics: The Mai Tai

Little surprise that Cafe Drake visitors are a thirsty lot; no matter how many drinks recipes we upload there is a neverending demand for more high-octane sippers. In the past we've strived to bring you some home-invented creations and reconstructions of more familiar cocktails, but now the day has come to return to simpler times, and Cafe Drake will be posting a series of classics everyone should be able to whip up for unexpected guests without consulting Mr Boston's!

FINALLY, bartenders are beginning to crack open their history books and expand their repertoires, bringing distinction and respect back to the noble profession. Your best bet for a nostalgic libation such as a perfect Singapore Sling (besides 9th Street's legendary hideaway Angel's Kiss) may still be a tatty old Midtown hotel bar, shaken by a white-haired expert in a clip-on bow tie, but times are changing and you too, as a host/ess, should be adept at much more than a gin and tonic.

Don't get too big for your high-waisted denim britches once you conquer the Mai Tai however - the new breed of mixologist is wowing us with infused sakes, rare sojus from Japan and Korea and homemade bitters. Baby steps for now . . . baby steps.


It's best to actually measure these with a handy jigger, at least in the beginning until you really learn the proportions. Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup found in every coffee shop and cafe across the country; if you have a hard time finding, just ask where they order or buy from. We find it on the shelves of gourmet grocery stores, Italian pastry shops and even the odd supermarket. Of course you can always order online - either way you WILL need it for this recipe. [Also good in coffee as mentioned and over ice cream etc]

1 ounce Dark Rum
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Orange Curacao
2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Dash Orgeat
Dash Simple Bar Syrup

Mix all ingredients and pour over crushed or shaved ice in a glass.

This is one time you may garnish to your campy heart's delight with any combo of fresh fruit.

More Easy Indian Food

Requests for yet more quick and simple Indian recipes seem to be the most popular with Cafe Drake visitors. Luckily for all of us they also happen to be our favorite to prepare and post. Please do not be intimidated by the number and variety of spices utilized below - it takes but one trip to the market to stock your spice cabinet.


Many are surprised to learn fresh dill is a common component of many South Indian dishes. Cafe Drake avoids skinned and de-boned chicken breasts as a rule, but a lengthy rest in the marinade and careful cooking yield a moist product here. Serve with a spicy side dish or mango chutney and pickles.

2 T. lemon juice / around 4 T. oil / 1 T. garam masala / salt / about 10 sprigs of fresh dill / 2 garlic cloves, chopped / 4 skinless chicken breasts / melted butter

  1. In a ziplock plastic bag combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, dill, garam masala and garlic. Add the chicken, seal, shake well and marinate overnight in the fridge.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place marinated chicken in a roasting pan. Discard the dill and any remaining marinade.

  3. Bake for 30 minutes, basting with a little melted butter from time to time.


2 T. oil / 1 t. cumin seeds / 2 large carrots, peeled and diced / 2 cups frozen small peas / 1 t. cayenne pepper / 1/2 t. turmeric powder / salt/ water

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry cumin seeds until they begin to sizzle over a high heat.

  2. Add carrots and peas.

  3. Add dry spices and salt and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes, adding a little water if spices begin to stick or burn.

  4. Reduce heat and add about 3 T. of water to skillet. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.


This is so very good with lamb chops.

2 cups plain yogurt, whipped / 1 t. cayenne pepper / 1 t. cumin seeds, quickly roasted in a dry pan / 1 cup chopped pineapple / salt / about 1 T. of oil / 1 t. black mustard seeds / 4 curry leaves (optional)

  1. In a bowl mix together the yogurt, cayenne and cumin seeds.

  2. Add pineapple and salt to taste. Mix again.

  3. Heat oil and fry mustard seeds and curry leaves until seeds begin to "pop". Remove from heat and add to the yogurt mixture. Stir and serve soon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Triumphant Return of AKS to Cafe Drake


Canadian Smoked Salmon Spread
Toast Points
House-Pickled Cukes and Red Onions
Gran Parma cheese

Wilted Oak Leaf Lettuce Salad with Maple Vinegarette and Toasted Pecans and Dried Cranberries

Roast Duck Legs
Sweet Potatoes

Mordavian Spice Cookies
2003 Palladio Rosso Di Montalcino

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yelling at YELP DOT COM

Cafe Drake just can't keep our big mouth shut. Check out a few of our mini-reviews of neighborhood bars and restaurants at www.yelp.com. A link to our personal Yelp space can be found in the right-hand column of this webpage. Please check back every few days as we intend to speak our minds about eateries and watering holes near and far, in our hometown of NYC and many more based on our travels around the globe. If you haven't yelped yet, do visit the site for Cafe Drake's and many thousands of other personal reviews of establishments you're thinking of visiting - we've found the site to be incredibly useful and the comments (very) specific and trustworthy and above all, unbiased.