Thursday, August 06, 2009

Jen Lazzaro Returns to Cafe Drake

After a brief hiatus we were thrilled to welcome J-La once again to the dinner table at Cafe Drake, albeit a most casual of meals. Aperitifs of bone-dry white wine kicked off the early evening and soon we were plowing through plates of Sicilian-Style Chicken Thighs in a Sweet and Sour Mint Sauce (recipe below), steamed quinoa, spicy jicama salad and stir-fried zucchini, peppers and onion with Italian herbs. With the help of our trusty DVR we finished things off with a sugar-free dessert of Home Sweet Hollywood and Michael and Michael Have Issues.


This recipe was freely adapted from one recently posted on Lynne Rosseto Kasper's marvelous e-newsletter The Weeknight Kitchen. Strangely enough, vinegar sauces and the use of mint as a savoury herb are quite common in the regional cuisines of southern Italy. This dish is a real knockout and super simple and economical to boot.

  1. Pan fry over medium heat about 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper both sides freely.

  2. Now add 2 cloves of sliced garlic, 1 chopped tomato and about a full T. of oregano (or quite a few sprigs of fresh if available). Stir for a minute.

  3. Add to the same large skillet, about 1 cup of wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar or honey. Throw in some crushed red chiles as the dish requires heat (which in turn will be offset by the sweetness).

  4. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer and cook, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

  5. Remove chicken from pan and boil liquid hard until reduced by about half.
  6. Throw chicken back in and heat through and serve hot with the entire dish covered in shredded mint leaves.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Surprise Visit from Audrey

A missed bus connection landed Audrey Sellers at Cafe Drake for an overnight visit and we were thrilled to have the chance to catch up with this very busy young woman. Late dinner of pork chops with an apricot curry sauce, basmati pilaf and braised mustard greens as above.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More BBQ-ing in Clinton Hill

Once again Cafe Drake spent an evening under the stars and close to the grill, enjoying as always the food, drink and company of gracious hosts Jen Ruske and Anthony Castro. Dinner started with exceptional gazpacho, tangy and fresh and spicy, followed by a South American-themed Mixed Grill. In rounds hot from the fire arrived potatoes, a plethora of Jersey fresh produce straight from the farm (peppers, Japanese eggplant, sweet corn, zucchini), crispy chicken thighs and tender flank steak. The latter protein was adorned with Peruvian-style onions (shaved Bermuda onions dressed with lime juice and parsley) and Jen's mouthwatering homemade chimichurri salsa.