Monday, August 29, 2011

Topping the Current Cafe Drake Kitchen Playlist

Jen Ruske and the Silly Wabbit

Jen Ruske (not actually in a bad mood. really)

Rabbit browning.

Rabbit Braising

Rabbit Plated

Or perhaps we should say the Husthky Wabbit, so large and plumb was this farm-fresh specimen! Cafe Drake browned the rabbit in olive oil and butter before stewing slowing with tomatoes, garlic, vermouth, olives and herbs de Provence for a South-of-France inspired weeknight dinner. As you see above we were joined by fellow lapin lover Jenifer Ruske who toted over an earthy Pinot Noir for a perfect food-wine pairing! Also on the menu was an herb salad with feta cheese and Israeli pearl couscous.

The Calm After the Storm

Exhausted from the stressful 48-hour long anticipation of Hurricane Irene's arrival in Brooklyn, Lloyd Page soaks up some sun and sleep the following morning.

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Old-fashioned Southern Summer Sunday Supper with Susan

Stormy, rain-lashed evenings have become a sort of staple this summer in Cafe Drake's neck of the woods, and yet another such night provided an atmospheric backdrop to a casual catch-up meal with Susan M. After snacks and cocktails (utterly simple but refreshing Cranberry/Lime Vodkas) we dished up a main meal of Southeast standards such as Carolina-style barbecue chicken with roasted onions, hot water cornbread, baked bbq beans, tangy coleslaw and homemade radish pickles. Dessert was a nostalgic childhood throwback of root bear floats made with chai latte ice cream. When inclement weather conditions lead to meals with great friends such as this, we say Let It Rain!

Dieter of the Month: Meet Zoe Page of Atlanta

19 pounds and still losing weight!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Toorvar Dhal with Bottle Gourd

Bottle gourd is an Indian vegetable that resembles less a fat zucchini and more a fleshy, green bowling pin. Peel well and treat as you would any summer squash. Your adventurous spirit will be rewarded with flavors deeper and more pronounced than your typical zucchini or yellow squash.

Cafe Drake used toorvar dhal (dried split pigeon peas) here but red lentils will work just as well, as would yellow split peas though the latter will require a slightly longer cooking time perhaps.


Toorvar Dhal - 1 cup
1 Bottle gourd - cubed after peeling as directed above
Dried Red chillies - 5-6
Onion - 1 small
Tomato - 2 medium
Garlic - 4 cloves
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste
Vegetable Oil - 1 tbsp
Black Mustard Seeds, urud dhal - 1/2 t. of each but skip the urad dhal if you don't have 
Curry leaves  - a few (you can also omit if not handy in the freezer)

Clean the dhal (thoroughly wash in several changes of water) and put aside. Chop onions and tomatoes. Crush the garlic cloves along with the skin.

Heat oil in a large and deep saucepan. Add mustard seeds and urad dhal (if using). Now, if you have them, add a few curry leaves. Once the seeds begin to sputter, sauté onions, red chillies and garlic. Once onion is brown, add dhal and fry for few minutes.
Toss in the chopped bottle gourd and cook for another 2 minutes.
Then add tomatoes,turmeric and 4 cups of  water. Cook partially covered over a medium flame for roughly an hour or more. The dhal should be slightly soupy and very soft and disintegrating. You may need to add a bit more water, or conversely, if too much liquid remains in the pot, remove the lid during last 15 minutes of cooking.

Add salt to taste (you'll need plenty!) and serve over basmati rice or with bread.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recently Savored Meals

Courtesy of Mary Pat Lazzaro Werth and enjoyed at her beautiful home in the Finger Lakes region of NY, grilled jerk chicken, roasted veggies and an incredible salad of grilled peaches, bleu cheese and buttermilk dressing.

Even in the summer heat a dinner of homemade tomato soup and cheesey bread is hard to resist.

Dhal Version #1: Dhal, basmati rice with cumin seeds, sesame flatbread, romaine salad and curried nectarines.

Dhal Version #2: dhal, creamed spinach, zucchini cooked with tomatoes and green chilies, parsley salad and whole wheat dinner rolls.

Chicken mole, quinoa, coleslaw and watercress salad.

A favorite one-pot dish at Cafe Drake is a simple beef and turnip stew we improvised one day attempting to finish off a jar of Chu Hou paste. Brown 1 lb. of beef (or lamb) stew meat (cut into 1-inch cubes) in a T. or two of vegetable oil. Salt and pepper lightly and add to the pot: 2 T. Chu Hou paste and 2 chopped shallots and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Stir on medium heat for 1 minute then add: 2 T. rice wine, 2 cups water, 1 T. brown sugar, 2-3 peeled and roughly chopped carrots and 6-8 peeled turnips, cut into large pieces. Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer gently for about 2 hours. When the meat is extremely tender, stir in 2 T. or more of soy sauce and adjust seasoning for sugar/salt. Garnish with slivered scallions and chopped cilantro and serve alongside brown or white rice.

We could make a meal of fresh dill pickles any day, especially those above from the kitchens of Cheshire Canning.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cambodia Meets Northern Thailand at Cafe Drake

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Mint Leaves and (natch) Fish Sauce

Frog Legs poaching in Lemongrass-Shallot Broth prior to being topped with Cilantro and Chili Peppers

Rice Noodle Salad, served with Marinated Mung Bean Sprouts and Coconut Roasted Onions

A Vaguely Tropical Table Setting

Shrimp, Tomato and Watercress Salad, served alongside brown Jasmine rice and lime-marinated tofu and green chilies

Cafe Drake Visits the Lazzaro/Werths of the Finger Lakes Region

Cafe Drake bonds with our favorite bulldog, Monsieur Nando

Digital Mixmaster D. Werth

The Lazzaro-Werth Family Gathers on the Scenic Back Deck

The Family That Dances Together (to Prince!) Stays Together

Lucy Lazzarro Deals Well With the 7-Hour Car Ride

Miss Megan

Hostess with the Very Mostest, Mary Pat, Dishes out another delicious dinner


More Drama!

Our much-loved Nando

Sarah and M.

Magician Supreme, Sam

Super Model Sarah

Just two of many daily spectacular views from the back deck