Sunday, May 29, 2011

Maritime Canada (Restaurant Reviews to Follow Soon!)

Just back from a recent driving trip through the Northern Atlantic Canadian provinces, courtesy of our mother,  Cafe Drake offers below a few scenic photos and some dining re-caps.

Friday, May 13, 2011

David Sellers Visits NYC (and Cafe Drake)

Ben T. & Jen L.

A North Indian street fare treat, Dahi Vada, are fried dumplings made from ground lentils and doused with tangy yogurt and chutney.

North Indian fare was the theme of the evening. Above, chicken marinated in cream and spices then broiled on skewers.

Cucumber raita

David cradles Jorge's contribution of Ed Hardy sparkling wine!

A hungry Octavio waits for dinner.

Indian pickles

Peppers, curry leaves, onions and spices are fried before being added to a most regal dhal.

Cinco de Maya Comida con Octavio

Pozole Stew with Peppers and Vegetables
Calabacitas (spicy zucchini)
Tropical Salad of Oranges, Butter Lettuce and Serrano Chilies
Cabbage Salad
Stewed Pinto Beans

Saturday, May 07, 2011

One Year Ago, The Stars Dimmed

As is tradition in Sailor's hometown, i.e. Empire State Building lights dimmed to commemorate tragedies,  Cafe Drake acknowledges the one-year anniversary of the passing of Sailor Page with Lights Out, save for a single candle.

Thank you Sailor for so many happy years.

We'll love you forever. And referencing our favorite quote from Jen Ruske - "Sailor always loved a good dinner or cocktail party" - hope right now Sailor that you're jumping on the celestial laps of drinks-swilling Liz, Monty and Rock.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

LongBean Curry

A very traditional curry, this dish requires a few specialty ingredients. All can be found in any Indian grocery store and are quite inexpensive. If for some reason you don't find the long beans, regular string beans will suffice just fine.

2 cups chopped longbeans ( Cafe Drake cuts them in long pieces, 2-3 inches in length at least)
about 1/3 cup chopped and peeled potatoes
1 t. asafoetida powder
1 t. turmeric powder
1 t. urad dhal
1 t. black mustard seeds
salt to taste
2-3 green chilies, sliced
about 2 t. grated coconut, unsweetened, frozen and de-thawed is best
about 1 1/2 T. of  vegetable oil

So begin by heating the oil in a deep skillet over a medium-high flame. When very hot add the mustard seeds. AS SOON AS they begin to sputter add the urad dhal. When the urad dhal turns brown, reduce flame immediately and add the turmeric and asafoetida. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, then add the green chilies.

Throw in the chopped long beans and potato and a splash of water. Season with salt and, optionally, a pinch of sugar. Cover the pan and cook on a low flame until beans are tender-crisp. This may take 15 minutes or even longer so you will need to keep splashing with water if pan is too dry. 

Once long beans and potatoes are cooked through, check for salt and season as needed. Add the coconut to the pan and toss well.

Serve hot. Cafe Drake served as above with paratha bread, cucumber salad and yellow crookneck squash.

A Variation: add 1 chopped tomato in with the long beans and potato. Also add 1 t. or more of sugar.

Kofta: Turkish Meatballs, Cafe Drake Style

1 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic
3 to 4 tablespoons minced parsley
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
OR 1 teaspoon dried mint
1 pound ground lamb
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients except for the olive oil together, very well. Although not traditionally very hot, if you like add 1/2 t. of cayenne pepper to the mixture. Smoked paprika is also nice for a change of pace. What you MUST use are the black pepper, mint, allspice and cumin.

Form into small meatballs or shape into quenelles as you'll see we did above.

Fry in olive oil over a medium flame until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Delicious with yogurt or tahini sauce. Cafe Drake enjoyed our kofta with rice, yellow split peas and a green salad.

Perfect Tostones Every Time

If prepared correctly at a proper oil temperature these beloved Latin Caribbean guilty pleasures really shouldn't be too unhealthy. Cooking fast in suitably hot oil ensures less greasiness and crisper tostones. Cafe Drake loves them with black beans, rice and cilantro and cucumber salad.

Heat about 1 inch depth of vegetable oil (canola is best) in a medium saucepan or tall-sided skillet. You will want a cooking temperature of about 375 degrees, just under smoking.

While the oil is heating up, peel and chop 2 green plantains into rounds, about 3/4" in thickness. When the oil is ready, drop in half of the plantains, stir well and make sure none are sticking together. Cook for about 3 minutes or just less. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat this process with the remaining plantains.

As the second batch is cooking, smash/flatten each of the previously fried pieces with a cleaver. Return to the oil after the second batch has cooked and fry for another 2 minutes. The end product should be crispy and golden brown.

Finish up with the remaining plantains and serve all hot or warm, tossed with salt. Many love the addition of minced garlic as a plantain topping and others prefer a sprinkling of vinegar.

Cheshire Canning Products Rule!

Jen Lazzaro of Cheshire Canning invited Cafe Drake for dinner and TV at her home recently; we porked major on roasted hot dogs crowned with CC Honey Heat Sauce, Sweet Heat Pickles and grainy mustard. Almost as perfect were sides of butternut squash soup and our new favorite salad - shredded Brussels sprouts, avocado and Cheshire Canning's Sweet Beet pickles. Heaven on a hearty plate!

Guess Who?