Monday, March 19, 2012

Birthday Dinner for Ben


Pomegranate & Blueberry Gimlets
Marinated Olives
Brown Butter Handmade Potato Chips & Homemade Parmesan Crackers with Tomato Salad
(courtesy of Jen Lazzaro)

Whole Wheat Rigatoni with Anchovies, Caramelized Onions, Peas and Mint Leaves

Broiled Lamb Chops with Arugula, Manchego and Smoked Paprika Oil

Smoked Almond Semifreddo with Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
(courtesy of Jen Ruske)

Lots More Lloyd

Friday, March 09, 2012

Kyoto Pepper and Shitake Stir-Fry

Staring at a bag of long, twisted chile peppers in our fridge for about 3 days eventually yielded a suspicion, given their color and texture, that the peppers might be closely akin to the mild Japanese variety known as shishito, a fave of Cafe Drake's when skewered and grilled at local yakitori restaurants. Wasting no more time we lightly grilled/roasted the peppers over an open stove flame then set them aside. Our recipe begins from here. 

When cooled slice the peppers thinly and pan-fry in a bit of veggie oil along with 1 thinly sliced onion. Cook over high heat and toss in some soaked and then sliced dried shitake mushrooms. You'll need to soak these dried mushrooms in boiling hot water for a few minutes to soften them. Cook all in a large skillet with salt, a drop or two of sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce. Wonderful as a salad, filling for an Asian-inspired omelet or just a slightly spicy side dish.

Not Boring Pasta

Cafe Drake has always maintained that pasta needn't be boring, even as a last minute go-to meal or when scarfed as a result of fiduciary deprivation. The recipe below is absolutely perfect for both of those target groups, but so delicious on its own merits don't wait to prepare until your checking account hits rock bottom and/or you stumble home empty stomached from a night of hard drinking. And yes, as per the images above, we did bust out the tennis racquet shaped pasta for this one. Cafe Drake knows no shame.

Begin by cutting 1 large bunch of broccoli into florets. Be sure to leave a bit of stem as it's every bit as tasty as the rest of the veggie! Toss the broccoli with 1-2 large red onions, cut into thick rings. Add 2-3 T. olive oil and plenty of salt and black pepper. If you have it around, this is a good time to throw in some fresh or dried thyme leaves. Make sure you have cayenne pepper or dried red chilies in the house and add that to your desired level of spiciness. Turn all the veggies out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. if you don't have a large one use two smaller. Roast the veggies in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until becoming slightly charred and tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, cook 1 lb. of dried pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until just tender (al dente). Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Please do not rinse the pasta.

Now, toss the pasta with the roasted veggies, the reserved cooking water and about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. If it's all looking a bit dry add more olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Toss once again. If you have a lemon on hand, add it's grated zest to the dish and toss again.

Serve the pasta dusted with additional cheese and pepper if you wish.

Lots of Little Dishes for Dinner, including Jen & Ben

Tropical pineapple salad was a nice accompaniment to both a basmati rice pilao and tandoori-style shrimp.

Spinach Raita with cardamom and onions.

Sweet Potatoes with Red Peppers and Black Sesame Seeds

Tomato-Shallot Sambal with Curry Leaves (we liked this especially with Baked Beans Nigerian style, i.e. slow-cooked in the oven with tomatoes, curry spices and peanut butter)

The Easiest Salmon Burgers Ever

It should all start with a small can of skinless salmon. Cafe Drake likes Trader Joe's variety because it's reasonably priced and wild caught. (We know you don't need us reminding you but farmed salmon is both lacking in flavor and devoid of many healthy antioxidants present in wild fish) 

Take your can of salmon and flake it in a large mixing bowl, then add and mix in very well: 1 cage-free egg, 2 finely minced shallots (onion may be substituted), a inch piece of ginger, grated or minced very finely and 1 T. soy sauce. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. At this point you can also add, if you have around the house, any of the following: 1 minced clove of garlic, a few snipped chives and minced green chilies.

Slowly stir into the mix whole wheat bread crumbs, adding them until your mixture becomes thick and relatively stiff. Throw the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Remove mixture from fridge and form into patties of a desired shape. This recipe will make 2 large burgers. Fry the burgers over medium heat in vegetable or olive oil until browned and crisp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Try not to overcook lest the burgers become too dry.

Pat dry on a paper towel or dish cloth and serve along with rice or on a bun, topped with lettuce and tomato for example. Above, Cafe Drake utilized a homemade buttermilk English muffin (a gift from Ben T.) for our salmon burger, all slathered with toasted sesame mayo.

To make the mayo just mix together 3 T. mayo to 1 t. sesame oil. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for color and heat.

Again, This REALLY is How Lloyd Spends His Day. Every Day.