It's Not (Always) Pretty Being Easy

No spoon-brushing or tweezers were employed plating the following meals, but all were delicious. These dinners and lunches, like that pound puppy you've been considering, may not be ornamental or pure bred, but will love you just as much. Did we mention they're easy?

Cafe Drake HRV doesn't make pasta that often. When we do two requirements are enforced in these parts: 1) the pasta dish be quick from start to finish and employ no more than 2 pans 2) the pasta dish be fabulous in taste beyond conception. This Quickie fulfills both demands. We want you to start by putting water on to boil in a large saucepan. While the water heats up, pour about 2 T. of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute in that skillet 1 small onion (minced) along with 2 dried red chilies (or a t. of red pepper flakes) and 2-4 cloves of minced garlic. Stir often and then after 5 minutes add in 1 can of WELL DRAINED AND RINSED chickpeas. Cook for another minute or so and toss in 1 chopped tomato. Lower heat and simmer until tomato begins to fall apart. Throw in a handful of chopped arugula and set aside after stirring well. When the water boils add 1/2 Lb. pasta shells along with a T. of salt. Cook until al dente (or just barely tender), drain and return to pot. Stir in chickpea/tomato/arugula mixture, drizzle with a bit of your best olive oil, season to taste further with salt and black pepper and serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan or Romano cheeses.

As long as you remember to marinate them, Cafe Drake's Taiwanese Pork Chops - thin as paper and cooking in 2 minutes - make a soulful meal when completed with rice and pickles. Want QUICK Asian pickles cukes? Here's how: Roughly peel and then slice thinly 2 Kirby cucumbers. Rub in a bowl with 1 t. sugar and 1/2 t. salt and 1 T. rice or white vinegar. Let sit for 20 minutes, drain any accumulated liquid and toss further with a dash of cayenne pepper and 1/2 t. sesame oil.

Cafe Drake made meatloaf with ground chicken, hence the lovely golden hue. Just swap ground poultry for beef in any recipe and serve the loaf with spicy brown mustard and roasted sweet potatoes (cooked alongside the meatloaf, on the same baking sheet). Did we mention this entire post was going to being both quick and easy?

The ingredients for multi-functional pineapple condiment/side salad: Fresh diced pineapple, minced and seeded habanero pepper, chopped cilantro and roughly chopped sweet onions. Season with rice vinegar or lime juice. We don't know whether to call it a relish, fresh chutney or sambol.

Street Food at Home - Cafe Drake's Torta Vegetariano

Marinated radishes happily meet toothpicks as nibblers during Cafe Drake's looooong cocktail hours, and serve double duty as crunchy condiments with beans and rice and grilled meats. If you can wait three hours to eat - and have 2 minutes to spare - here's how we do it: wash and trim the ends of 12 red radishes (or any kind you like) then slice in half lengthwise. Combine and mix with 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. cayenne pepper and 1 T. red wine vinegar. Toss now and then but basically just set aside for 3 hours. Store any leftovers in fridge.

Those delicious open-faced tortas again. Whenever we have refried beans for dinner there are always leftovers. Don't toss them, spread them at lunch the next day on slices of whole wheat baguette. Decorate with rings of red onion and plum tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake until the bread is just crisp. Finish tortas off, out of the oven, with sliced jalapeno peppers, crumbled white cheese and cilantro sprigs.

The spicy pineapple salad and marinated radishes both enhanced a "kitchen sink" leftover lunch platter.

Marinated and roasted tofu. Slice blocks of firm tofu thinly and roast on an oiled baking sheet for a crispy, brown finish.

So simple, so refreshing, such complex flavors: basic Indian salaad. Mix together in a bowl a cup of peeled and diced cucumber, about 7 quartered cherry tomatoes and a thinly-sliced shallot. Season with 1/2 t. salt, some freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 t. ground cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 T. lime juice. Stir well and let sit for about 30 minutes before enjoying.


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