Sunday, May 30, 2010

And Even More Chinese recipes from Cafe Drake

Visitors to this website have responded overwhelmingly positive to our posts of the last few months featuring simple and fast Chinese recipes. Here's a few more!


Cafe Drake likes this rice side dish with braised ribs or pork chops; it's also surprisingly perfect alongside spicy black beans. Unfortunately brown rice does not substitute successfully.

1 8-oz. can of crushed pineapple in natural juice / 1 1/3 cups water / 1 carrot, peeled and grated / 1 cup long-grain white rice / about 1/2 t. salt / 3 green onions, sliced / 1/2 t. sesame oil

  1. Drain the pineapple and pour juice into a saucepan. Add to the pan: water, carrot, rice and salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer UNCOVERED for about 6 minutes - you should see tiny "craters" appearing in the rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
  3. Fluff rice with a fork and add pineapple, green onions and sesame oil.
  4. Serve hot.


The perfect use for leftover rice and that bag of shelled edamame languishing in the freezer. Oyster sauce can be found in most supermarkets in the Asian food section and the toasted nori is optional as the rice will be delicious without it as well.

1 cup shelled soybeans (edamame) , thawed / 2 t. oil / 2 cloves of garlic, minced / 4 cups of cooked, cold rice / about 2 T. or so of chicken broth / 1-2 T. oyster sauce / 2 eggs, beaten / toasted nori sheets

  1. Cook soybeans in salted water till tender/crisp - about 3 minutes in boiling water. Drain.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet and heat till very hot. Add garlic and cook for about 10 seconds, then add rice. Break up rice as needed with a spoon.
  3. Stir in the soybeans and cook till rice is heated through (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add broth and oyster sauce and stir well.
  5. Now make a "well" in the center of the rice and add the eggs. Stir gently, lowering heat if needed, until the eggs form soft curds.
  6. Serve hot top with shredded nori or as desired.


Leave out the pistachios if you don't have them (or forgot to add to grocery list) but the nuts add a pleasing richness and texture to this vegetarian entree or side dish. If you like, add 1 large onion, sliced, to the mix in Step 2.

5 dried shitake mushrooms (optional) / 4 cups sliced and peeled sweet potatoes / 2 cups coconut milk / 1 cup veggie broth / 1 zucchini, thinly sliced / 1 T. or so of good soy sauce / small handful of cilantro sprigs / about 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios

  1. If using: in a bowl soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes to soften. Cut into narrow strips.
  2. In a large saucepan combine the sweet potatoes, mushrooms, coconut milk and broth. Bring to a bowl then reduce to low and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft. This may take awhile.
  3. Add the zucchini and soy sauce and return to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the cilantro and nuts.


Char siu is the Cantonese term for barbecued pork, and the real thing takes hours and loads of patience. This quickie version is almost as good, especially when served with bowls of rice and a crisp veggie dish such as stir-fried broccoli and cauliflower.

1/3 cup hoisin sauce / 1/4 cup dry sherry / 3 T. honey / 2 T. sesame oil / 1 clove of garlic, minced / about 1 T. or so of grated ginger / 1/2 - 1 t. of five-spice powder / 1 lb. of boneless pork butt

  1. Make a marinade by mixing in a large bowl all ingredients except pork.
  2. Now cut the pork into very thin strips and add to marinade.
  3. You can let it stand at room temp for 20 minutes or, and this is best, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. When ready, preheat your broiler.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange pork strips in a single layer on sheet.
  6. Broil for 7 minutes, turning once.
  7. While meat cooks, take remaining, leftover marinade and boil it in a small saucepan.
  8. Remove meat from oven, brush with marinade and let rest 1o minutes before serving.


So so easy. Almost too easy.

2 lbs. small clams in shells / 1 lemon, sliced thinly / a few cilantro sprigs / a T. or so of minced ginger / 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock / 3 T. dry sherry / 1 T. of butter, cut into small bits

  1. Scrub clams under cold running water, discarding any with overtly open shells that do not close when tapped.
  2. Place lemon and cilantro in a stir-fry pan and add clams on top.
  3. Sprinkle all with ginger, broth and wine. Dot with butter.
  4. Cover and cook over a high flame until shells open - about 5-7 minutes usually.
  5. Pour all, including cooking liquid, into a large bowl or individual soup plates and serve while hot. Make sure you have some crusty bread to soak up the juices.


Guests at Cafe Drake always ooh and ahh over this simple, lightening-fast entree, usually served with fried rice or buttered whole wheat egg noodles. Precede with a simple salad and follow the calamari with fresh fruit and you've got an uncommonly good meal for hot weather appetites.

1 1/2 lbs. cleaned squid (sliced into rings, small bodies left whole) / 2 t. cornstarch / 1/2 t. salt / 1/4 t. five spice powder / 1/2 t. cayenne pepper / 1 T. oil / 4 cloves of garlic, minced / 2 T. minced ginger / 1 large jalapeno or 2 serrano chilies, sliced in thin rings / small handful of chopped cilantro

  1. Toss the squid with cornstarch and set aside.
  2. Heat oil over a high flame and add ginger, garlic and chilies and cook for 30 seconds. Add squid and cook until edges begin to curl (2 minutes, possibly even less).
  3. Add salt, five-spice powder and cayenne and mix well. Cook for another thirty seconds then serve hot.

Three Dinners, Three Lovely Ladies

A weekend meal with Miki-san at Cafe Drake was long overdue, and in the spirit of the relaxed and playful vibe Miki effortlessly brings to such dinners, a cheeky East Indian twist was brought to that Memorial Day casual classic, the burger.

After beginning with Sangria and Smoked Wheat Soup, Miki and Cafe Drake tore through sliders done two ways: 1) topped with a mint and coriander chutney and nestled on a saffron-mayo slathered mini onion roll and 2) crowned with a cucumber raita and crisp, house-pickled daikon. Other sides included a garden salad and potato salad with curried cheese.

A week of treats and special guests included a visit from a true Cafe Drake old timer, Ms. Audrey Sellers. Down from Massachusetts, Audrey honored us by fitting Cafe Drake into her hectic and full schedule of Brooklyn nighttime carousing; see the photos above and menu and recipes below. If only we could somehow transcribe the fun and scintillating table conversation!

Blueberry and Pomegranate Sangria

Smoked Wheat Soup with Scallions and Green Chilies
Indian Crispbreads

Parsi Chicken with Apricots
New Potatoes with Spiced Cottage Cheese
Herb Salad


A specialty of Mumbai, this is an elegant but simply prepared entree good with any vegetable side, exotic, everyday or otherwise. As we always nag, do take care to carefully brown the chicken well; in this recipe it is especially important to get a dark and crispy sear without burning the onions already in the pan. Do this by maintaining an even, medium heat and frequently stirring the onions and aromatic veggies.

Begin with 1 4-lb. chicken cut into 6 or 8 parts as desired. Sprinkle poultry with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat 2-3 T. vegetable oil in a large skillet until quite hot, then add 1 large onion, thinly sliced to the skillet. Stir frequently until browning then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and about 2 T. of minced ginger. Cook for another minute or 2 then add chicken to pan, skin side down. Brown for at least 10 minutes over a medium flame or until skin is brown and crispy. Flip chicken and cook on other side for 5 minutes.

Now add 1 cup of water, 2 T. of tomato paste, a heaping T. of garam masala and as much cayenne pepper as you like. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add more water as needed if sauce becomes too dry.

Stir in 2 T. of vinegar, 2 T. of brown sugar and a handful of dried apricots. Cover again and cook on low for 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and fork tender. Check for seasoning and serve hot with rice, couscous, potatoes, naan bread etc.


Unusual flavors breath life into the often bland potato here. The curry leaves and nigella seeds (also called black onion seeds sometimes) are well worth the trip to an Indian grocer. Hint: fresh curry leaves freeze beautifully - just place in an airtight ziplock bag and freeze. Use directly from freezer as needed.

Boil 6-8 large-ish new potatoes - whole - until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet, heat 2 T. of olive oil until hot and then add: 1 clove of minced garlic, 3-4 dried red chilies, a T. of nigella seeds and 5-6 curry leaves (torn). Cook for 1 minute being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and stir in some salt and black pepper (you'll need quite a bit) and 1 cup+ of cottage cheese. Quickly stir again and add potatoes to pan. Mix very well, taste for seasoning and serve warm or cold, garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

We really needed some quality time with a dear, old friend this week, so we couldn't have been happier when Yolanda Hunt rolled into town from Southern California. Yolie topped her visit to Cafe Drake by treating us to dinner at the much-lauded South Williamsburg sensation Fatty Cue, and while we found the pork ribs undercooked and less than tender the flavors were spot-on. Crispy duck breast and rich curry sauce lived up to the eatery's promise of heavy, intensely fatty goodness, while rice, steamed buns and a veggie platter of smoked eggplant with dried fish paste (alongside green mangoes, shaved raw ginger, pickled turnips and whole scallions, quartered butter radishes and fried pork skins) lightened the load appreciably. More problematic is the pricing system, which asks far too much for small plate portions, particularly given the complete absence of complimentary sides (i.e. you shill $20 for the ribs, expect three ribs. that's it. nuthin' else).

Meet Our Newest Family Member

Sleepy Kitty (an occurrence which unfortunately rarely coincides with Cafe Drake's sleeping schedule)

Becoming Comfortable with the Camera Already

Lloyd appreciates 1500 t.c. Egyptian cotton as much as his Daddy

Lloyd is a polydactyl cat, with 6 toes on his right paw and 8 on his left. Wonder if he has relatives in Key West?

Introducing . . . Lloyd Page. While he shares our love with his older brothers Sweet Potato and Sailor, Lloyd is definitely his own unique character - just under a week at Cafe Drake and already his quirks and personality traits are emerging. You'll be seeing plenty of Lloyd in the upcoming months (and years!) so check back often for updates on this newest addition to the Cafe Drake family. We know this is a lot of kitty photos but please be patient with the indulgences of a proud new Papa.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

For Sailor: A Candle Burns in Brooklyn

The (Brief) Return of David Sellers to Crooklyn

Cafe Drake was thrilled when old pal David Sellers returned to NYC for a one-week only engagement. On his last night in Brooklyn, we celebrated not only his brief appearance in town but also an upcoming birthday. See the cocktail buffet menu below and a few photos (the ones fit to print) above. Hopefully it won't be another year before we see Dave again!

Julie's Cheese and Charcuterie Platter
Octavio's Olives and Cheeses
Okra Pickles
Tomato Basil and Lavender Walnut Vegan Pates
Jen's Homemade Stromboli
Ruske's Shrimp Cocktail
Tuscan White Bean Dip
Veggie Crudite w/ Spicy Tahini Dip
Anchovy Toasts
Devils on Horseback
Salted and Spiced Green Mangoes
Gin and Tonics
Assorted Wines
Miki's Birthday Mixed Berry Tart

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sailor Page (1996-2010)

"and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night

And pay no worship to the garish sun."

-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Quick May Updates

Addicted to marzipan since the first memory of an Easter basket, Cafe Drake exploded into outer space when we stumbled across Ben and Jerry's latest limited edition flavor. Scoop a bowl for Major Tom and join us in an out-of-this-world experience! Now, those that know Cafe Drake also know we prefer to hand-craft all our ice creams at home, so please send emails with hints on how you think Vermont's most beloved duo invented this confection perfection. And we'll share the recipe we promise!

At a recent Meet the Farmer event in Greenpoint: listening to Steve, the farmer-owner of Garden of Eve, an organic vegetable, flower and chicken farm on eastern Long Island - explain his philosophy and practice of sustainable agriculture and humane treatment of free-range poultry.

Whenever we can grab or steal a second from our chutney duties, Cafe Drake relishes (pun intended) time spent with friends . . . hosting small, casual dinners, exploring new restaurants together or just catching up over a cocktail or three, as in photos below:

We so often forget how good Chinese cabbage is, and what a light and fresh side-dish it makes when quickly stir-fried with onions and green chilies. And here's a recipe ideal for the upcoming Summer months; if you want to make dinner really really easy (and who doesn't in, say, the third week of August??), serve this salad as a main course and just top with grilled chicken or fish.


Shred or chop finely 1 large, rinsed head of Chinese cabbage. Place in a huge bowl and add to it 1 large bunch of green onions, sliced as you like.

In a dry skillet carefully toast 4 T. of sesame seeds - they burn easily so keep stirring! When lightly brown, set aside.

In a blender, whirl up the following: 1/2 cup honey, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 T. soy sauce and 1 clove of chopped garlic. Blend till combined then pour over cabbage and onions. Toss very well, season lightly with black pepper and salt and top with toasted seeds.

Cafe Drake can't justify our ice cream splurge without a healthy dinner first: red chili and garlic baked tofu, brown rice with onions and parsley and braised burdock and carrots.

Susan, Sloane and Cafe Drake recently lunched at Sunset Park's Oaxaca Revolucion del Taco.

Mexican flag on a plate? The special of the day was a piquant platter of huitlacoche (corn fungus) and squash blossom flower enchiladas, draped in red and green sauces and crema.

An artery-clogging but oddly satisfying Mexican platter devoted to fried food: cheese flautas with spicy green relish, black bean nachos, crema, pico de gallo, chipotle mayo and (bizarrely) chicken fingers and French fries.

Sloane savors chips and guacamole.