Sunday, December 12, 2010

2 Meals with Ruske . . . Here and There





Early December Dinner with Jen Ruske at Cafe Drake

Cardamom-Orange Martinis

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes
Jasper Hill Cellars (VT.) Aged Cheddar

Scottish Stew of Lamb, Barley and Root Vegetables

Blackberry Ice Cream
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Grappa











Ultra-Luscious Dinner at Jen Ruske's Swish New Pad

Gimlets

Split Pea Soup with Kielbasa and Cheese Toasts

Ribeye Steaks with Cognac-Shallot Cream Sauce
Mashed Acorn Squash
Braised Kale

Pumpkin Muffins
Calvados
Cognac

Products We're Crushing On in December








Happy Holidays from Cafe Drake and Lloyd Page

The Tree is Up at Cafe Drake. And Down. And Up.






For now the Christmas tree at Cafe D. is technically "up", all ablaze with haggardly strung lights illuminating our lovely collection of ornaments and, sadly also, many broken and misshaped branches. It was beautiful once and almost perfect (lights and all) - the weekend following Thanksgiving - but thanks to Lloyd Page our cozy symbol of the winter solstice is now tattered and torn . . . yet still sparkling and casting a cheerful light into both our living room and general mood. Crazy kitty Lloyd has celebrated his 1st Christmas at Cafe Drake by launching attacks at the tree and even ascending it, foot by foot, claw by claw, several times. Inevitably it all falls down and because we love both the Season and Lloyd we continually hoist it back into position, sweep up the debris of broken glass ornaments and live with the knowledge that there's really no such thing as an ugly Christmas tree.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thanksgiving with Dear Jen







Chicken and Almond Soup






Truly, truly unexpected is a pureed soup featuring chicken and almonds, but the texture becomes quite smooth and elegant to the mouth after slow and delicate cooking. This hearty soup is redolent of exotic flavors hard to exactly place . . . serve with toasted dinner rolls or even over a mound of basmati rice. Plenty of vegetables in the bowl already so a simple dessert of sliced pears and apples, along with a good aged Cheddar, could round out a rib-sticking winter meal.


To begin, you will need two cooked chicken breasts, skinned and meat pulled from the bone. You can obviously boil the breasts or roast them or to save time, simply purchase a rotisserie bird.

Grind 1 cup of raw or toasted almonds (not salted however) in a food processor or blender until you have a rough "flour" consistency. Set aside.

 In 3-4 T. of butter and 1 T. of olive oil saute 1 sliced leek and about a T. or more of chopped ginger until leek begins to soften. Now add the almonds to the pot along with: 1 chopped carrot, 1/2 cup frozen peas, the shredded chicken, 1 large jalapeno pepper (chopped) and 1 t. salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add a little over 2 cups of water to the pot along with 1/3 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped INCLUDING the stems (the most flavorful part of the herb). Cook, covered, on a low flame for about 1/2 an hour or until carrots are very soft.

Puree the mixture in a blender for 2 minutes - you want as smooth a texture as possible although some pleasant graininess will linger from the ground nuts.

Return all to the pot and add 1 cup of whole milk or half-and-half and simmer just under a boil for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Serve hot garnished with more chopped cilantro.