Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Okra in Indian Coconut Sauce

Okra is among Cafe Drake's most beloved vegetables and one we prepare weekly, in many different forms, so adaptable is this delicious green. The recipe below, while vaguely East Asian in flavor, makes a perfect accompaniment to many Western entrees.

Heat 1 T. of canola oil in a large skillet until quite hot. Now add 6 curry leaves (if you don't have, skip this part but try to snag some for the future - they keep forever in a freezer bag, frozen) and 1 t. cumin seeds, 4 chopped shallots, and either a few dried red, or fresh green, chilies. Cook for a minute.

Add 1/2 lb. trimmed okra (do not chop - leave whole - just trim a tiny bit off the top stem), 1-2 t. salt and about 1/2 cup water. Stir quickly then cover and simmer on low heat for 6-7 minutes.

Toss in 1/2 cup coconut milk and heat for 2-3 minutes more.

Serve hot.

Green Tomato Curry

Heat 2 T. canola oil in a large skillet; when hot add 1 chopped onion, 2 hot green chilies and 8 curry leaves (if you have - frozen are perfect but you can leave out if you must). Cook over medium heat until the onion is browning but not burning. Add 1/4 t. ground fenugreek (available at all supermarkets in the spice aisle), a dash or two of turmeric, 1 pound of chopped green tomatoes and 2 t. or so of salt.

Cook for 15 minutes. The tomatoes should soften and begin to break up nicely. Add 3/4 - 1 cup of coconut milk (canned of course; unsweetened, natch) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit. Season to taste with 1 or 2 t. of sugar. Cook for another minute.

Serve hot or just warm with good bread or buttered basmati rice.

Simmered Spiced Soybeans

We all know about the super food status of soybeans, loaded as they are with complete protein, amino acids and antioxidants, but few of us (including yours truly, Cafe Drake) can manage to incorporate them in to our menus aside from the occasional tofu dish, cocktail-friendly edemame or soy milk smoothie. The recipe below offers new hope and ideas; tailor to your own tastes but by all means prepare this side dish (or vegetarian entree if served alongside a grain and vegetable) very soon. Shelled and frozen soybeans are available many places now ( Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Asian supermarkets) and easy to acquire. First, heat 1 T. mustard oil (or veggie oil) in a skillet over high heat. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped clove of garlic, a T. or so of chopped ginger and 1-2 fresh, hot chilies. Cook until the onion is soft then add: 1/2 t. turmeric, 1 t. ground cumin and about 1 t. salt. Toss in 1 chopped tomato and cook until the tomato gives off liquid. Add 2 cups frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans) and stir. Throw in 1 cup of water and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


A New Blog for All Cafe Drake's Thirsty Little Monsters

Cafe Drake's dear friend from way, way back, Julianne Zaleta, has always been a kitchen alchemist, conjuring up lotions, potions and essential oils distilled from her own urban herb garden. Now this kitchen (good) witch has brewed up a blog devoted to infused liquor and cocktails enhanced by such heavenly treats. Best of all, you can order some of the hand-crafted essential oils from her online store and add immeasurable swagger to your own home libations. Get ready to slurp alcoholic beverages dressed to impress at Alchemologie.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In a Pickle: A Day Spent Canning

Okra like most vegetables should be "plumped" prior to pickling - do this by covering the veggies with ice cubes, cold water and generous amounts of kosher salt.
Cafe Drake's sweet and spicy Green Tomato Pickles are becoming legendary in these parts. Above, the slices soak in a spiced vinegar solution prior to canning.
The penultimate step at the near end of a long day of pickling: okra is packed into sterile jars alongside fresh dill, garlic, red chili peppers and covered with a spiced, salty brine.

Watermelon and Cayenne Agua Fresca

There's not much time left to relish locally grown watermelons, so if you can find one treat yourself to a refreshing beverage satisfying enough to substitute for a mid-day meal. And don't worry if the fruit is not at its peak; this is a great way to truly enjoy a less than perfect melon.

Process in a blender the following: 7-8 cups of chopped and seeded watermelon (large cubes are fine), juice AND zest of 1/2 a lime, 1-2 T. of honey, 1 cup cold water, 5-6 ice cubes and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper.

Blend till liquefied and gulp from a tall, frosty glass. Additional add-ons might include a few sprigs of fresh mint or basil and/or a small handful of sliced strawberries.

BBQ Chicken Sliders from Jen Lazzaro

Jen tosses a signature salad of baby arugula, shaved fennel and Parmesan.
Biscuit visits with his stuffed counterpart and twin.
Cheshire Canning's sweet and spicy pickles add just the right touch and crunch to Jen's Pulled Chicken BBQ Sliders.
Dinner in assembly stage.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recent Cafe Drake B'day Photos Courtesy of Jenifer Ruske

Never Too Many Pictures of Lloyd (we're sure you agree)

Greetings From Red Hook, Brooklyn

The amazingly good papusas from Red Hook Mercado.
Red Hook is a neighborhood made green by its many Latin residents; hailing primarily from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Red Hookers have carved colorful and vibrant urban gardens with a taste and style reminiscent of their homelands.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Daily Candy wants you to eat Sweet Tomato Chutney with Black Mustard Seeds for breakfast. So do we over at The DP Chutney Collective. Check The Collective website for lots of new updates and a complete list of upcoming tastings and events in September and October.

Old Bay Boiled Shrimp for Dinner? Yes!!

Late Summer's Perfect Bedtime Snack


Another Wonderful Birthday

Another year past, another lying ahead, and we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate both milestones than with dear friends in our cozy abode known as Cafe Drake. See the menu below and photos above as proof that a grand time was had by all. We'd like to take this moment to get all publicly sentimental and say Thanks! to all our dear friends who stood by us through times good and not so great. Cafe Drake loves you all.


Ginger and Cayenne Roasted Almonds
Rose Spritzers
Sweet Tea Vodka with Lemon

Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Marinated Carrots
Stringbeans with Garlic
Roasted Baby Eggplants with Honey and Mint
Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovies
Roasted Peppers
Tomato Salad
Charcuterie Platter
House made Green Tomato Pickles and Okra Pickles

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Our Current Favorite Chicken Curry Recipe

It seems there are nearly as many chicken curry recipes as citizens in India, with each region quite naturally contributing multiple versions reflective of the local cuisine. The following preparation has quickly become a weeknight stand-by at Cafe Drake - serve with buttered basmati rice or good, crusty bread and a green veggie or salad and Voila, dinner is done!

The inspiration for the Cafe Drake recipe below came from a dish entitled New Bride Chicken Curry and featured in the practical yet creative cookbook, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate.

4 T. oil / 2 onions, chopped / 2 t. cayenne pepper / 1/2 t. turmeric / 1/2 t. ground cumin /  water / 3 tomatoes, finely chopped / about 3 lbs. of boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cleaned and cut into 2" pieces / 1-2 t. salt / 1 T. cider vinegar / 1 1/2 t. sugar

  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet and cook onions until they begin to brown. Add the garlic, cayenne, turmeric and cumin with a T. or so of water and cook for another five minutes over medium heat. 
  2. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down - be careful to not burn at this stage.
  3. Add chicken and toss well with contents of pan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the salt and a cup of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Now lower the heat to a low flame and simmer, uncovered, for for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  5. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 1 more minute.