Monday, February 15, 2010

Caramel Apple Skillet Cake

Cafe Drake makes a classic dessert almost healthy and guilt-free by incorporating whole wheat flour and free-range, Omega-3 rich eggs.
  • 4 whole To 5 Whole Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into Six Equal Pieces
  • 1-¾ stick Butter
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • _____
  • 1 stick Butter
  • ⅔ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • ½ cups Sour Cream
  • 1-½ cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 whole Small Granny Smith Apple, Peeled, Cored, And Chopped Finely
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9 to 10-inch skillet, melt 1 3/4 sticks butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir around, then place apple slices, wedge side down, in the pan. Don’t pack them too tightly, but try not to leave overly large gaps. Allow this to cook over low/medium-low heat while you make the cake batter.

In a large bowl, beat 1 stick of butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in 1 chopped apple.

Remove skillet from heat. Spoon batter over the top, then spread gently so batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and bubbly. Allow cake to sit in skillet for five minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Mushroom Chutney

An impressive and deceptively simple winter treat: dust 4 thin-cut pork chops with flour seasoned heavily with salt and black and cayenne peppers. Brown well over very high heat for a couple of minutes then place skillet in a 425 degree oven. If pork is too dry splash lightly with white wine or vermouth and bake for 2 minutes per side. Serve over baby spinach leaves and crowned with Mushroom Chutney ( recipe can be found on the website of The D P Chutney Collective).

Winter Wonderland, Brooklyn Style

Cafe Drake generally loves long strolls through snowstorms, but last week's was so intense with high winds and stinging, icy snow that we only made it two blocks before returning home and promptly warming the kitchen by baking a Caramel Apple Cake!

Wok & Roll with Cafe Drake

Jen and Lucy Lazzaro enjoy an atypical Chinese meal at Cafe Drake.

Black Tea Braised Spare Ribs

Firecracker Chicken with Anise Seed Rice and Sesame Broccoli


If you can't easily find daikon then substitute 1 small package of trimmed red radishes but do not chop them.

1/4 cup dark soy sauce / 2 T. regular soy sauce / 2 t. cornstarch / 2 lbs. pork or beef spareribs / 1 T. vegetable oil / about 2-3 T. sliced ginger / 2 green onions, sliced / 4 cups chicken broth / 6 bags black tea / 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry / 1/3 cup brown sugar / 1 whole star anise / 2 cinnamon sticks / 1 lb. daikon, cut into large slices / 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large slices

  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl and toss with ribs. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Place a large saucepan over high heat and swirl with oil. Add the onions and ginger and cook for 15 seconds. Reduce heat and add broth, tea bags, wine, brown sugar, cinnamon and star anise and ribs.
  3. Bring entire mixture to a boil then reduce to low heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. No need to stir!
  4. Add the daikon and carrots and continue to simmer another hour or until the meat is supremely tender and falling from the bones.
  5. Delicious served with brown rice and a bowl of au jus on the side.


Cafe Drake likes with rice and broccoli stir-fried over high heat in toasted sesame oil! Although very hot we'll bet our yuan you make this one over and over. Adjust the level of spiciness according to your preference and tolerance.

3 t. soy sauce / 1 t. cornstarch / 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into 1" cubes or strips / 1/3 cup ketchup / 1/2 cup chicken broth / 1 T. chili-garlic sauce (found in most supermarkets ) / 1 t. sugar / 1 T. oil / 1 jalapeno chili, sliced / 8 small dried red chilies / 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly / 1 onion, sliced thinly

  1. Mix soy sauce, cornstarch and chicken together and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Next let's make the sauce in a large bowl: stir together ketchup, broth, chili-garlic sauce and sugar. Set aside.
  3. Add oil to a hot pan and over high heat cook the jalapeno and red chilies until the latter begin to darken (about 20 seconds). Add chicken and onions and bell peppers and stir-fry just until chicken is no longer pink in center.
  4. Add the sauce and stir well to coat all.
  5. Serve hot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Turkey Kerala with Bulgur Pilaf

Sweetness and depth of flavor are achieved in most curries through the deep browning of onions at the start of preparation. Don't skimp on this important step!

Cubed turkey breast is seasoned, browned quickly and then set aside while the sauce simmers.

Skinless and boneless turkey breast can be substituted for chicken in virtually any curry but two things to keep in mind: 1) turkey often has less flavor than its cousin and 2) turkey meat is much drier than chicken and needs to be cooked with more fat or liquid to retain moisture and encourage tenderness.

1 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into 1-2" cubes / 1 large onion, thinly sliced / 3 cloves of garlic, crushed / 1 t. black pepper / 1 T. minced ginger / vegetable oil / 1/4 cup stock / 2 T. tomato paste / 1/2 T. soy sauce / 2 t. cayenne pepper / juice of 1/2 lemon / 3 tomatoes, chopped

  1. Toss turkey pieces with garlic, black pepper and ginger. Fry in about 2 T. of vegetable oil till lightly browned then remove from pan.
  2. Add onions and fry till nicely browned. Remove from pan.
  3. Put the stock, tomato paste, soy sauce, cayenne and lemon juice in the pan and cook till reduced a small bit. Add the onion, chopped tomatoes and reserved turkey and cook just until meat is tender. This will take only a couple of minutes.
  4. Serve with rice and a salad.

Cafe Drake served the Turkey Kerala above with an easy pilaf of bulgur wheat and Indian flavors. Try this or a simple variation next time you tire of rice or bread.


Saute 1 chopped carrot and 1 chopped onion in a bit of olive oil. Now add 1 t. of turmeric and a large pinch of cumin powder to the pan. Next throw in (if you have them) 10 or 12 curry leaves and fry until they become dark and a bit crispy.

Add 1 cup of bulgur wheat to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Now throw in 2 cups of water (or vegetable stock) and salt to taste. Once everything has returned to a boil reduce heat, cover tightly and cook on very low heat for about 25 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Let rest covered for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Possibilities for a starchy side dish like this are infinite: add chopped stringbeans along with the carrots and onions; spice it up with dried red chilies; toss in a handful of frozen tiny peas at the end of cooking. And on and on.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Another Beautiful Meal at Miki-san's Home

Miki-san and roomie Jason O prepare Cafe Drake for a delicious meal on the Eve of the Blizzard

Perfectly cooked al dente linguine adorned with calamari and shrimp and veggies.

Miki prepared a Japanese multi-culti starter of genuis seared beef dressed with ginger, shoyu and scallions.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Cozy Winter Kitchen

Coriander and cumin seeds, fried in oil then stewed with tomatoes, garlic and green olives add a vaguely Moroccan touch to baby new potatoes. Good as below with fish and stir-fried broccoli.

Halibut baked in a quasi-harissa sauce. The following recipe employs the general seasonings of the ubiquitous condiment of North African cuisine, but is much thinner in texture and ideal for marinating or as a baking sauce.


Soak 4 dried chipotle peppers and 4 Ancho chile peppers in boiling water to cover. After 30 minutes puree peppers and water in a blender along with: 2 cloves of chopped garlic, some salt and black pepper and 1 T. each of coriander and caraway seeds. Season with a bit of sugar, more salt if needed and add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend until very smooth and slightly thickened.

Marinate chicken or fish in sauce and then bake till cooked through, basting with plenty of sauce and serving more on the side.

Cafe Drake roasts just about everything in the winter months; we're addicted to the resulting deep and concentrated flavors and, being housed in a 100+ year old building, appreciate the heat in our drafty Brooklyn kitchen. Above we sliced up 3 or 4 of the slender, smaller eggplants and tossed with honey, olive oil and 2 sliced green chilies. We then roasted for 35 minutes at 425 degrees and seasoned with salt and pepper for an astonishing side dish. Do not salt until the end to prevent the eggplant from releasing too much water during cooking, thereby steaming and not roasting the vegetable. With eggplant . . . not a pretty picture.

Apricot and Red Pepper, Pear Cardamom with Red Chilies and Blueberry chutneys from The D P Chutney Collective spiced up a recent dinner party at Cafe Drake.

Ethically concerned carnivores need no longer pine for veal! The good news is many small farms are now raising the calves in a humane fashion without the traditional (and barbaric) method of crating. Search your local butcher and better supermarkets for veal labeled "humanely raised". Whole Foods is a good, reliable source.


It's no secret that veal is a pricey protein choice and even more so when purchasing humanely raised meats. The breast is the cheapest of all cuts but also among the most flavorful. Downsides include a disproportionately large amount of bone and fat, however long and slow cooking renders the meat delicate and supremely tender. Don't fret over the cooking times below as the veal breast requires no effort . . . put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours.

Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Take a 3-4 lb. piece of veal breast (bone in) and season it well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now brown the veal on all sides in 2 T. of olive oil. If done properly this will take 15 minutes or longer.

Once the meat is well browned and nicely colored place it in a large baking dish. In the same oil used for browning, in the same skillet, fry 2 chopped carrots and 1 chopped onion for 2-3 minutes. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic and cook for another minute or so. Now add 1 14-oz can of whole tomatoes to the skillet, using all the juices to deglaze the bottom of your pan. Pour all of this around the veal breast in the baking pan. Sprinkle veal and veggies with thyme and basil and marjoram, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 3 hours.

After 3 hours remove foil, add 1 can of navy beans to baking dish and stir well. Cover again with foil and bake for 45 more minutes.

When done, serve veal sliced in wide bowls alongside beans, veggies and plenty of the delicious broth. Cafe Drake likes this with a scoop of brown rice but a crusty, whole wheat baguette is also superb.

Quick & Healthy Mid-East Meatballs

Combine 1 lb. of ground turkey with a cup of seasoned breadcrumbs, some chopped onion and garlic, a handful of chopped cilantro, 1 egg, salt and cayenne pepper and healthy dashes of ground coriander and cumin. Mix well, shape into balls and simmer for 30 minutes in a mixture of tomato sauce, honey, cinnamon and a bit of apple cider vinegar to taste. Serve drizzled with plain yogurt.