Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and The Eve of Meals

Cafe Drake always enjoys a visit from Jen Ruske's mom, Connie, and this year we finally got it together (sort of) enough to invite mother and daughter over for a simple, no-fuss dinner prior to Easter's extravaganza at Ruske's. Jen's deluxe brunch included amongst other things: clove-scented ham, bacon and kale quiche, divine lasagna, Caesar salad and lemon trifle. The Night Before . . . Cafe Drake whipped together a rabbit stew, goat cheese and green onion polenta and veggies sides.

Rabbit stew is built in stages: breaking the rabbit down into 6 pieces, browning, pan-frying carrots and onions . . . all prior to a very slow simmer of all ingredients with olives and Marsala wine.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cafe Drake Pal Aja Marsha Now Helms the Kitchen at MODCA!

Aja M. a/k/a Sandwich Friend is an always inventive and inspiring chef with a decidedly healthy and fresh approach to her modern cuisine. Plus she's super-nice and everyone needs to head over to Williamsburg's just opened Modca for lunch or dinner in the 'hood.

Realizing This Looks Like A Lot of Other Photos on This Site

Soup and Salad

Ginger Carrot Soup with Spicy Fried Chickpea Flakes, Brown Rice, Watercress Salad and Cafe Drake's housemade Curried Cuke Pickles

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lloyd Loves Spring

Fast and Vegetarian Weeknight Meals at Cafe Drake

Roasted Spring Veggies, Whole Wheat Cornbread, Refried Black Beans with Cilantro and Onions

Carrot and Yogurt Salad with Curry Leaves, Masala Potatoes and a new Cafe Drake fave, Stir-Fried Broccoli with Fenugreek Leaves and Fresh Coriander

Snack: Thai Deviled Eggs

Birthday Dinner for an Old & Dear Friend


Apple Cider Manhattans
Spicy Fried Chickpeas

Buttermilk and Green Herbs Shooter

Quartet of Arabic Salads: Eggplant, Beet and Onion, Lemon and Parsley, Harissa Cabbage Slaw

Moroccan Hot Flank Steak
Vegetable Tagine
Roasted Long Hot Peppers
Pickle and Olive Tray

Goat Cheese with Peppercorns

Banana Hazelnut Salty Caramel Cake (courtesy of Jen Lazzaro)
Ginger Ice Cream
Fresh Mint Tea

Honey and Whiskey Liqueur

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If You're Going to San Francisco, Be Sure To Wear a Fork in Your Hair

We may have started the Underground Food Movement in Brooklyn, but as usual the San Francisco kids are taking it much further. Kudos to Northern Cali!!

For like, the third time in 10 days, SF foodie revolutionary kids make the NY Times

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ultra Healthy: Broiled Mackerel at Cafe D.

We won't even bother posting our adaptation, as a favorite website - Not Eating Out in New York - has the ultimate directions for preparing this anti-oxidant powerhouse (and utterly delicious) sea creature. As you'll see below, cafe Drake plated ours with rice instead of potatoes, tucked next to braised daikon and carrots and a crunchy watercress salad tossed with tahini dressing.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Making the Most of a Duck (Breasts, Legs, Fat, Stock)

Whole birds can be intimidating to us home chefs, but following instructions either online or from your favorite cookbook authority can make the process both simplified and rewarding. You will need a very sharp knife and a bit of patience, but if squeamish Cafe Drake can dissect the duck above, we're sure you can as well!

Once you've removed the breasts from the duck, and trimmed the excess fat and skin attached, the logical option is to pan-sear them. Cafe Drake began by coating the breasts with a spice rub of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, ground cumin and brown sugar. Searing is a cinch if you follow a few steadfast rules: place the duck skin side down in a cold cast iron skillet over a low flame. Slowly raise the flame to medium-low - never go hotter than this. Once the fat begins to render out of the duck you'll need to pour the excess into a handily nearby glass jar. We did this about 4-5 times over the 25 minutes it should take to sear off the duck breasts. Once the skin is very dark and crispy, flip the duck over and place in a preheated, 400 degree oven. Cook for just a couple of minutes or until the internal temperature is roughly 130 degrees. Please note: if you overcook the duck beyond medium-rare it will be tough and chewy. 

Cafe Drake served the duck breasts sliced thinly over whole wheat couscous, with braised Chinese cabbage and sweet potato raita as harmonious sides.

The accumulated fat from the duck breasts should be bottled and stored in the refrigerator for future use. Such as sublime roasted potatoes.

At this point you will have removed the legs from the bird and saved for future use. With the remaining duck, roast it for 45 minutes in a hot oven and place in a large stockpot. Cover the duck completely with cold water and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, skim any foam from the surface and add to the pot: 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, 2-3 bay leaves, a few black peppercorns and a few whole cloves. Simmer on low for at least 90 minutes. Remove carcass and veggies from the pot and discard. Or give any meat/fat/skin remaining on bones to a beloved animal friend. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and cool completely in the fridge. When the stock is very cold, scrape the accumulated fat off the top and either discard or treat your pet once again. Pour the stock into freezer proof containers and freeze.

Lloyd was very appreciative of all the leftover skin and fat trimmings from our duck.

Now, you're left with the legs. Within a few days try to cook them and embrace warmly their high fat content - sure it's excessively rich but hopefully you don't make these every day. At Cafe Drake we pan-roasted (again, over low heat) the two legs in a covered skillet for about 1 hour on each side. After removing the legs we fried an onion in the rich fat in the same pan, then added 1 large can of chopped tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of dry red wine. The mixture bubbled away as we shredded the leg meat and returned it to the pan and sauce. All was seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar and then tossed with fettuccine for a thick and luscious duck ragu (served as below to Jen Lazzaro with fennel-roasted onions and braised kale).