Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Chicken Supper with Jen & Ben

It's easy to be intimidated preparing dinner for Ben T., especially given last week's masterpiece dinner at his Greenpoint crib of Toasted Almond and Apricot Chicken Tagine, gussied up couscous and salad of mustard and other bitter greens. Not to even mention the homemade profiteroles!

But bravely Cafe Drake plowed forward with a casual Sunday Chicken Supper for Ben and Ms. Jen Ruske. Impressing these two uber-talented hosts proved a feat but we all sank into glorious weekend oblivion via plenty of top-shelf booze and equally grand good vibes. See pics above and menu below and many thanks to our guests for their glorious vino contributions. (And kudos, Ruske, for gifting us with home-baked cookies!)

Post meal we all three retired to Cafe Drake's living room for - courtesy of TiVo - a fast-forwarded greatest hits of last week's Tony Awards. Yes we hit up Neal Patrick Harris' duet with Hugh Jackman and naturally all things Sutton Foster.


Champagne Cocktails
Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese
Sourdough Boule

Watercress Salad with Avocado and Honeyed Miso Dressing

Deviled Whole Chicken Thighs
Quinoa and Corn Pilao
Beet and Yogurt Salad
Cabbage with Hot Red Pepper Paste
Sesame Enoki Mushroom Salad

Jasmine Panna Cotta
Chocolate Almonds
Ice Wine Chocolate Truffles

St. Croix Cocoa and Coconut Cordial

Dinner en Homage: Tammy Grimes

Best known (especially in Cafe Drake's somewhat alternate universe) for her Broadway and cabaret turns, Ms. Grimes is happily STILL WITH US. So maybe she'll see this post and actually join us one evening for dinner in her honor! Possessed with an uncanny the-ah-tur voice and presence, Tammy Grimes is a force of insouciant elegance and rarefied zaniness beyond modern compare. Suggested Filmography: The Tammy Grimes Show (TV - 1966), Play It As It Lays (1972), Mr. North (1988). The sophisticated menu below is crafted to reflect Tammy's oh-so-worldly, cultivated persona.


Caviar in Aspic
Sour Cram - Toast

Persian Shish Kebab

In a very large bowl mix the following together: 3/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 cup lemon juice, 1 small onion (minced), 3 t. dried ginger, 3 t. coriander seeds, 1 clove garlic (minced), 2-3 t. curry powder, 1 T. salt and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. When well mixed add about 2 1/2 pounds of cubed lamb (leg is best) and marinate overnight in the fridge. Mix the meat well in the marinade two or three times during the marination process.

About half an hour before serving, heat the broiler and thread the lamb cubes (4 to 6 each) on metal or wooden skewers. Place on a large baking sheet - you may need to use two. Broil for 20 or 25 minutes, turning the skewers a few times as you broil and basting with the leftover marinade.

Serve hot with rice.

Orange Marmalade Rice

Cucumbers a la Hongroise

Begin by slicing 6 peeled cucumbers paper thin. Soak the cucumbers in ice water for at least an hour and drain well. While the cukes are soaking make a "dressing" by combining the following ingredients very well: 8 T. white wine or champagne vinegar, 2 T. sugar and 1/2 t. salt.

Place the cucumbers on leaves of curly leaf lettuce and top with the dressing. Sprinkle all lightly with smoked paprika and serve alongside the kebabs.

Parmesan Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream / 12 T. grated Parmesan cheese / 1/2 t. salt / 1 t. paprika / 3-4 T. minced parsley / 1/2 t. white pepper

Warm the cream gently on a medium-low flame and stir in the cheese until it dissolves. Do this divine patience and not haste! Add the other ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Cool the cream and cheese mixture for an hour or so then refrigerate overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.

Add the chilled cream/cheese to your ice cream maker and proceed following the manufacturer's instructions. Amazingly good with cheese straws.

Chocolate Mints

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Non-Related Blogs We Admire

Sometimes Cafe Drake just needs a break from the foodies. Don't be too scandalized. Doesn't everyone wish they could take an occasional vacation from themselves?

Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist is our kind of blog, self-described as "glossy and empty".

Yvonne De Carlo was always so much more than Lilly Munster. This website devotes much justified energy to her film and TV legacy.

A Touch of Tuesday Weld is really about everything 60's and 70s nostalgic, filtered through its creator's very curated mind: Encino shopping malls, key parties and McDonald's birthday celebrations.

Sort of indescribable is The Haunted Lamp, devoted to mid-century design, flower arrangement, architecture and random bizarre subjects.

Coolness is Timeless immortalizes an era when men's fashion was utterly, inscrutably cool. An awe-inspiring online photo archive.

Summer Staples Part IX: Quesadillas and Black Beans

Besides a few red Bull and Vodkas, dinner doesn't get much speedier than melting cheese on a tortilla. Open a can of low-sodium black beans and doctor deliciously via the following prescription: heat beans gently with a bit of minced onion and a few dashes of ground cumin and dried oregano. Stir in some green chilies and pile atop your quesadillas.

Summer Staples: Part VIII (Cold Sesame Noodles)

The beloved standby of every Chinese take-out menu, Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce gets a fresher and healthier spin here from Cafe Drake. Serve with a tossed green or tomato and onion salad for a satisfying cold supper or take-to-work lunch. Dress the noodles up for a weekend meal by topping with hoisin-marinated grilled chicken or shrimp.


Place 1 cup of peanut butter in a LARGE bowl and add to it 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir well with a fork until the smooth and well blended. This may take a couple of minutes or more.

Now add to the peanut butter: 4 T. of apple cider or rice vinegar, 1 t. + of salt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, at least 2 T. sugar, 1-2 T. soy sauce, some crushed red pepper flakes and about 4 T. sesame oil. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed; much depends on whether you used salted or unsalted peanut butter.

At this point the sauce will look quite runny, too runny, but don't worry as it thickens considerably once tossed with the pasta and cooled in the refrigerator.

Cook 1 lb. of vermicelli or thin spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until just tender. Drain well and add to the peanut sauce. Toss all together very well, using two forks or tongs being the most efficient way.

Chill and serve cold or at room temperature, topped with toasted sesame seeds, minced green chilies, slivered scallions, chopped cilantro or parsley etc etc.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunday Supper with Susan


Chat Masala Sunflower Seeds
Pinot Noir

Cream of Red Lentil Soup with Green Onion and Truffle Croutons

Steak Tartare
Sourdough Toast Points
Jicama and Red Pepper Salad

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rendang, Cafe Drake Style

Rendang, that slow simmered Malaysian classic, is typically made with beef, but having in the fridge a pound of heritage pork stew meat Cafe Drake constructed an alternate version. Our rendition won't replace the standard in Malaysia's largely Muslim kitchens but it sure was rich and comforting! To Begin: make a spice paste in the blender with a bit of water, 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 5 chopped slices of ginger, 2 chopped stalks of lemongrass and 15 dried red chilies. Don't freak out at the amount of spice; while hot, rendang mellows considerably from the additions of sugar and coconut.

Now, fry the paste mixture in 1-2 T. vegetable oil for about 4 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons each of: fennel seeds, ground coriander and ground cumin. Also throw in a healthy dash of ground nutmeg. Fry for another 4 minutes. This step is important in imparting a complex flavor to the rendang so don't try to cut it short! Once the spices have been well-fried in the oil and paste mixture, add 1 pound of pork loin, cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Cook until lightly browned - 3 minutes should do it. Sprinkle generously with salt.

While all is going on in the other pan, dry roast 1 1/2 cups of shredded, unsweetened coconut until brown. Be careful to not burn - the coconut turns a lovely nutty color quickly. Set aside.

Add to the browned meat: the toasted coconut, 5 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 2-3 T. sugar, 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and 1 1/3 cups water. Simmer covered for about 1 1/2 hours - no need really to stir too much. Uncover the pan and cook on a slightly higher flame for another half hour or until the sauce has become very thick and the meat is falling-apart tender.

Serve hot with rice and lime wedges. Cafe Drake has as above with braised mustard greens.

Monday, June 20, 2011

An Eccentric Meal with Octavio and Sea Snails

Octavio was a good sport and happily stuggled with the extraction of tender mollusks from their shells. Not an everyday menu item, periwinkles are surprisingly satisfying dipped in drawn garlic butter. For us the taste and texture resided somewhere between cooked oysters and periwinkles' "land" cousins, escargots.

One should always have an attractive table setting while enduring the hard work of twisting meat from periwinkle shells with pins ( or in our case, repurposed paper clips).

Watercress and Romaine Salad with Miso-Mustard Dressing

Cafe Drake is excited to score bunchs of crisp and fresh shiso leaves from our local farmers' market. This week we shredded them and added to cooked rice. A heavenly aroma followed.

House-made, soy pickled daikon.

A Cool Dinner for Hot Weather

Japanese cuisine, being light and partial to veggie, is a frequent choice at Cafe Drake on steamy Summer evenings. Above: a romaine salad with simple miso dressing (recipe below) and garlic scapes, chilled custard-style tofu with cold dashi broth and parsley and pepper puree and brown rice with toasted nori.


1/4 cup shiro (white) miso
1/4 cup prepared mustard (your choice, Dijon, grainy, etc)
2-3 T. honey
1 T. apple cider or rice vinegar

Mix the miso and mustard together well thn slowly and thoroughly beat in - with a fork - the honey and vinegar. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to mingle the flavors. If needed thin with a bit of water.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vegetable Yakisoba

Yakisoba is one of the easiest meals we know, tasty and highly nutritious, drawing its main components from Summer's bounty and most importantly, keeping you in the hot kitchen for only a minimum of minutes. A true one-dish meal for sweltering nights, Cafe Drake likes our stir-fried noodles with either plenty of ice-cold pale ale or a bottle of semi-dry Riesling.


We're pretty much talking about a stir-fry here so there's loads of room for personal tweaking based upon what's in your fridge and pantry. Asparagus, sugar snap peas and mung bean sprouts for example all make great veggie substitutions or add-ons. If you can locate a bottle of yakisoba sauce from a nearby Asian supermarket, substitute that as desired for the combo of soy and Worcestershire sauces below.

Begin by cooking 1/2 lb. of noodles of your choice until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water and drain again in a colander. Set aside for a few minutes.

Heat 1 T. vegetable oil in medium skillet on medium heat.

Add 1 sliced carrot, 1 chopped onion, and 1 sliced green bell pepper in the skillet and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add 1 cup shredded green or red cabbage in the skillet and stir-fry for a minute.

Add noodles to the skillet and pour 1/4 cup of water over the noodles and cover the skillet.

Turn down the heat to low and steam for a few minutes.

Remove the lid and add 3-4 T. of Worcestershire sauce and 1 T. soy sauce.

Stir well and serve warm, garnished if desired with chopped cilantro and/or toasted sesame oil or sesame seeds.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Goodies From the Far North

An heirloom variety and favorite of Maine, yelloweye beans are creamier and more compact and flavorful than their Great White Northern cousins. Yelloweyes take a bit longer than most other dried beans to cook (after an 8-hour soak Cafe Drake still had to simmer them for three hours) but the silky texture and surprising richness make the minimal effort well justified.

Wacky potato chip flavors from Canadia! All were tasty.

A regional passion rages in northern New England and Maritime Canada over these forest-foraged baby fern sprouts, Fiddleheads. Lots of work to clean but a simple preparation is enough to bring out their subtle flavor, closest to asparagus perhaps but earthier. Cafe Drake fried fiddleheads scored roadside in New Brunswick, CA with bacon and onions and pickled the rest!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Finally, Dinner with Julianne Z.

Julianne Zaleta is one of Cafe Drake's oldest friends and although we don't see each other nearly often enough, a meal spent with JZ is as comfortable and easy as all those summer dinners back in the 80s! 


Julianne's Sprite Cocktail (recipe below)
House-made Yogurt Cheese / Flatbreads

Dill and Coriander Broiled Chicken
Sweet and Sour Cabbage Cooked in Mustard Oil
Spicy Banana and Yogurt Salad
Sambhar (South Indian Mixed Lentil and Vegetable Stew)
String Beans with Coconut
Basmati Rice
Homemade Pickle Plate: Okra, Green Tomatoes and Fiddlehead Ferns
Green Chili Chutney

Cocoa Dusted Roast Almonds
Shiraz Dessert Wine

(courtesy of Julianne Zaleta and Herbal Alchemy)

1 jigger basil-infused vodka
2 drops yuzu dilution
1 drop black pepper oil
1 jigger tonic water

Shake all ingresients with ice and strain into a short glass.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Dinner en Homage: Natalie Wood

After too long an absence our popular Dinner en Homage series returns to Cafe Drake with an early Summer-themed menu for another of our great film favorites, Natalie Wood. NW has - since our childhood - remained one of those celluloid stars looming large in our consciousness. Another tragic victim of Tinseltown excess, Natalie was once quoted as replying to the question of how one manages the loneliness and actual isolation of being a superstar with this nugget of jaded wisdom: "Well, here in Hollywood, we have various means of dealing with that." Absolute musts on every Netflix queue: Splendor in the Grass , Love With the Proper Stranger, This Property is Condemned, West Side Story, Inside Daisy Clover, Gypsy,  and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice.


(A Very Very) Long Cocktail Hour

Chilled Avocado Soup with Crab Salad and Toast Points

When working years ago at Parker's Restaurant in London, Cafe Drake frequently made a similar version of this soup for lunch customers.

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill sprigs, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion, or half a small onion
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  1. Halve and pit two avocados. With a spoon, scoop out flesh and transfer to a blender. Add buttermilk, walnuts, dill, red onion, vinegar, salt, and 1 cup water and puree until smooth.
  2. Cover the blender and refrigerate until the soup is well chilled, at least one hour. Halve and pit remaining avocado. Cut into four sections lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch chunks. Divide soup among four bowls and garnish each with diced avocado and dill, if desired.

Orzo Salad with Dill and Green Onions
Fresh Fruit

Lemon Bars