Friday, July 30, 2010

Moonlight Picnic with Dhokla (and J-La and Lucy)

Dhokla steaming in Cafe Drake's makeshift double-saucepan contraption kitted out to fit such a large cake pan. There are endless complicated recipes online for South India's beloved rice and lentil "cake" but for once stick with the prepared mix. All you need to do is add yogurt, water, ginger and fresh chilies. Follow the box instructions and steam in a cake pan for 12 minutes and all is good. Semi-homemade? Yes. You can call us late for dinner, just never call us Sandra Lee!

Dhokla with all the trimmings . . . in this instance, chickpea salad and pickled carrots from The DP Chutney Collective.
McCarren Park evening picnic plate: dhokla, bread, summer sausage, chickpea salad.
Lucy Lazzaro joined Mama Jen for a 9PM picnic with Cafe Drake in nearby McCarren Park. A movie was being screened across the street but we lost interest once the outdoor cinema left McCarren Pool.
Jenny Lazzaro always makes certain we have plenty of wine to quaff with dinner . . . indoors or out!
Above and Below: 2 Views from our comfy picnic blanket. As darkness falls on Williamsburg the Kids come out from the a/c.
Whipping yogurt, honey, water and rose water for an Indian picnic dessert (transported in our trusty thermos) called lassi.
We like the Night. We like the Dark. We've watched too many seasons of True Blood.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thanks Uncle Octavio (from Lloyd Page)

Lloyd Page loves his new kitty condo, a gift from Cafe Drake's upstairs neighbor and long-time compadre Octavio Fenech.

Vaguely East Asian Salmon Cakes

Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate for 30 minutes to facilitate easier frying.
Not the prettiest plate but a delicious and easy dinner of Indian Salmon Cakes with a green salad.
Cafe Drake likes the salmon cakes served with pan-fried Steak Fries.

  • canola oil, for frying
  • 3 (6-ounce) cans salmon, drained well (Trader Joe's is a reliable brand)
  • 1 1/2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 T. of minced ginger
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, a handful, finely chopped
  • 1 hot green chili, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 T. of mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients (except oil) together in a large bowl. Make sure the mixture is "sticking" together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes while you find something else to do.

Heat about 3-4 T. of oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the salmon mixture, made into small patties with your wet hands, each no more than 1" thick. Fry for 3-4 minutes before turning and resist moving the patties or checking on them. Now flip cakes and cook on other side for 3 more minutes - the salmon cakes should be browned on both sides with a crusty top but not burned.

Serve hot.

Strolling the Grounds

On a quest for fresh blueberries and blackberries picked straight from the farms of Long Island, Cafe Drake took a return trip detour to Planting Fields Arboretum Historic Park near Oyster Bay, NY. We were gobsmacked by the acres of carefully landscaped fields, gardens, greenhouses and the 1920's glamor of Coe Hall, an historic Gold Coast mansion faithfully maintained at its height of Jazz Age splendor.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Raw and Cooked (co-starring Jen Ruske)

Crispy pancetta for a first course salad

After a refreshing Tom Collins or two Cafe Drake and Jenifer Ruske sat down to a starter of Fried Green Tomatoes with a frisee salad, herb labneh and Punjab Corn Relish from The DP Chutney Collective.
Cafe Drake's famous Steak Tartar (served as above with marinated green beans) was a welcome cold entree on a very muggy night!
A menu emphasizing simplicity, top-notch ingredients and local sourcing concluded with a NY State washed rind goat cheese for dessert.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yet Another Solo Dinner in Seconds

Summer's Best: Local Broccoli, Lentil Salad and Turnip Steamed Buns with Fresh Carrot Pickles
Straight From the Freezer to Plate in 8 Minutes: Chinese supermarket steamed buns are a time-saving miracle!
Steaming said turnip and veggie-filled buns.

Ultra Casual Weeknight Dinner for J-La

2 1/2 pounds of farm-fresh greenbeans cook with onions and spices to create a Green Bean Tagine, served with whole wheat couscous and a Cafe Drake house-made Pickle Plate.
Jen L. savors her second dry martini, a rare summertime treat at Cafe Drake.
Green Bean Tagine with couscous and Fried Green Tomatoes.

Good, nay great, friends need no pomp or circumstance to enjoy a weeknight meal. Longtime buddy Jen Lazzaro showed up on a weeknight with a marvelous bottle of dry Vignioer and Cafe Drake supplied the cocktails and victuals. It all began with a fresh Corn Chowder with Bacon and ended with laughs and Pet Shop Boys videos.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Single Dinner

Perfect Summer Dinner for One: Braised Chicken Legs, Pineapple and Olive Rice and Fried Green Tomatoes

Monday, July 19, 2010

Solo Summer Suppers

 Cheese Tortellini with Black Beans and Punjab Corn Relish from The DP Chutney Collective

Cafe Drake's version of The Ploughman's Lunch: a selection of cheeses and crackers, grape leaves and our own housemade pickles, Okra and Ginger and Honey Cukes with Golden Raisins and Shallots