Saturday, March 30, 2013

Meme Ready (Move Over Grumpy Cat)

Wait till Lloyd finds out we no longer have cable. Heads Will Roll!

18 hours of sleep a day really isn't enough, is it?

Cafe Drake HRV is working hard to convince Lloyd Page newly sprouted seedlings are not toys or "small bites".

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reuse, Renew, Reheat, Relish

Indian cocktail buffet leftovers made their way onto several lunch platters recently at Cafe Drake HRV, supplemented above with roast cauliflower, moong dal and brown rice.

Leftover brown rice and dal sat happily in another alongside an eggplant and tomato curry, rassam and pan-fried cabbage with coconut and black mustard seeds.

Cafe Drake HRV's version of St Patty's Day Dinner: Irish "bangers" sausage, tomato salad, recycled fried cabbage and the new kid on the plate, a rich rutabaga gratin.

We've posted numerous veggie burgers on this website over the years, but the Chickpea and Brown Rice Burgers adaptation may be the simplest yet. Earthy and subtle flavors are greatly enhanced with condiments - plum ketchup from The DP Chutney Collective, habanero mustard and the last remains of cocktail buffet raita (spiced yogurt sauce).

The key to frying veggie burgers is to keep the pan's heat at a steady, medium temperature and to use a binding agent to prevent crumbling. Cafe Drake HRV's Chickpea and Brown Rice Burgers: mix about 1 cup of COOKED brown rice with 1 well drained and rinsed can of chickpeas. Mash the two together thoroughly with a fork. Mix in 2 cloves of minced garlic and about 2 T. finely minced onion. Ditto with fresh parsley, 1-2 tablespoons. Add a beaten egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well one more time and  - if you have an extra half hour - refrigerate to firm. (This may not be necessary). Pan fry over medium flame in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes per side, turning down the heat if the burgers are browning too quickly. Serve hot, on buns or not.

Leftover roasted veggies reheated and served with slow-simmered black beans and buttermilk cornmeal. Arugula and sprouts supplied our greens fix.

Arugula lingering in the fridge got tossed as a salad once again, reunited with last night's black beans and served as a fresh foil against hearty cheese quesadillas (if you can see them beneath all those veggies).

Remember that buttermilk cornbread? We weren't going to just throw it away; instead we toasted it, drizzled the crispy slices with a chipotle and tomato sauce and FINALLY finished off the arugula remains.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quiet Mornings at Cafe Drake HRV

Our writing desk - used for journaling and traditional correspondence - provides a soothing respite from laptop doodling.

Sunday Morning

Wallace Stevens (1st Section)

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings
Seem things in some procession of the dead,
Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound,
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet
Over the seas, to silent Palestine,
Dominion of the blood and sepulchre. 
A few tattered mini muffins above suggest even supposedly non-stick tins should be oiled prior to baking. Slightly sweet and savory simultaneously, these Maple Oat muffins also fit the double bill of Quick and Easy, both requirements for relaxed mornings. Here's how to make: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and oil or butter a muffin tin. In a bowl combine: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 2 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt. Mix well. In another bowl mix well: 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1 t. vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mix just enough to combine and spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to freeze any extra muffins!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Guests Are the Best

Cafe Drake HRV lives for sharing weekends with treasured guests. Susan McKeever-Duys recently graced our Hudson Valley home and we ate and drank and chatted and danced (and even hiked!) our way to good times and valued memories. 

Setting the Scene/Table

After an evening stroll through Saugerties - with stops at mid-century furniture stores and our local chocolatiers - Susan worked up an appetite and was eager to dive into a first course salad of mixed greens and ginger-green mango dressing.

What's Next? wonders the 70s drive-in movie star.

To Susan: "You supplied Pinot Noir? Perfection!" Our entree was roasted Vietnamese chicken with jasmine rice, sweet chili sauce and pickled carrots.

Replete after salad and chicken but ready to serve up a cheese course of Danish blue cheese with Seville orange marmalade.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Side Dishes and Quick Meals

A beloved pasta classic of Sausage and Broccoli gets a flavor boost when using a complimentary sausage made with broccoli rabe.

Lunchtime bagels travel around the world at Cafe Drake HRV: toasted whole wheat bagels with olive oil, homemade hummus, cherry tomatoes, Moroccan cured olives, salad and the BEST harissa ever. Make this spicy North African condiment (and common tagine recipe ingredient) at home and you'll never shell out for the canned stuff again: Soak 12 dried red chile peppers in boiled water for 30 minutes. You can use any type but a variety yields more complex flavor. Cafe Drake HRV mixes Indian whole dried red chilies with dried ancho and arbol chilies. After 30 minutes, reserve the soaking water, seed the chilies and add to a blender or processor. Now add to the blender 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 t. salt and 2 T. olive oil. Blend for about 30 seconds and throw in 1 t. ground coriander, 1 t. caraway seeds and 1/2 t. ground cumin. If you have trouble, add a teaspoon or two of the chile soaking water to facilitate the process. Blend again, until smooth. Topped with just the thinnest layer of olive oil, the harissa will keep refrigerated for a month or longer. Obviously amazing with hummus, falafel, pita chips etc, Cafe Drake HRV craves it with scrambled eggs, a lesson learned from Williamsburg's brunch heaven, Cafe Mogador.

Cafe Drake HRV has been serving vegetable purees the last two decades, but this recently created version is a knockout. Although the taste profile is decidedly East Asian, this healthy, unique side dish partners well with meals of all stripes. Begin with a deep skillet and in about 2 T. vegetable oil (we use grapeseed) brown 1 chopped onion until soft and golden. Add 1 peeled and diced carrot, 1 peeled and diced small new potato and 1 peeled and diced medium-sized turnip. Be sure to chop the vegetables into very small pieces. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding: 1 T. grated ginger (or a lesser amount of powdered), 1 chopped clove of garlic and 1 chopped jalapeno pepper. Stir and add in 1 box/block of frozen spinach. Pour in 1/2 cup water, sprinkle liberally with ground cumin and ground coriander (optional), cover skillet and simmer for 20 minutes or until root veggies are very soft. Add water if needed in small amounts only. Transfer skillet contents to a blender and process until velvety smooth. Return to skillet, season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Reheat thoroughly with a couple of pats of butter stirred into the puree (optional). Top with cilantro if you like. Serve hot.

Decent flavor and texture in cherry tomatoes are reliable even in late winter. Sliced in half and tossed with minced garlic, snipped dill, olive oil and good salt, they're irresistible with broiled chicken or lounging atop crostini.

Grated apple ready for raita
This apple raita takes about 5 minutes to make but let rest at least 30 minutes before serving so all flavors meld. Start with 1 firm, crisp apple; Granny Smith or Honey Crisp are ideal choices. Peel, core and grate the apple using the largest holes on the hand grater. Toss with a spritz of lemon juice and add to a small mixing bowl. Stir in gently: 1 cup of plain yogurt (whole milk or Greek yogurt is preferable but low-fat will suffice), 1 t. grated ginger, 1/2 t. ground cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 2 finely minced, small green chilies. Season to taste with salt (about 1/2 t.) and sugar (about 1-2 t.) Excellent with all spicy meals and rich, roasted entrees. Try it as a garnish/side dish with burgers and fries!

Roast chicken quarter with sweet potatoes, grilled bread and apple raita.

Green Mango Simple Syrup

Roughly peeled and sliced green mango. Start with 1 well-washed green mango and remove about 75% of the peel, thereby adding some color to the finished syrup. It's important to use a green mango, not an under-ripe mango. Green mangoes are firm, bright green and will never become sweet or orange in color.

Chop mango pieces (leave out the small, thin seed in the middle) and puree in a blender or food processor. Stop when you reach the consistency of a slushy.

Place green mango puree into a large pot with 1 1/2 cups each water and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on a very gently for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, allow to cool and strain. Push solids with a wooden spoon against the strainer to wring out every last drop of flavor. If a tarter flavor is desired, add now lime juice and zest to taste. Store in the fridge for a month or two, using for cocktails, sodas, sorbet recipes and more. Quick Tip: Pour a tablespoon into a tall glass, add the juice of 1/2 lemon or lime, stir well and add 1 oz. gin or vodka. Stir again and fill glass with seltzer water for a Gin or Vodka Green Mango-Lime Rickey.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Rest Your Weary Minds and Feast Your Eyes

Sometimes the ease and eye candy of a Tumblr mini-blog  is what you want. Don't forget about our sister site and experiment in collage, Chutney Wallah.

Cafe Drake in the Classroom

Did you know besides blabbing about food we also teach? In April Cafe Drake will be conducting two classes at Brooklyn Brainery, one on the desert nomad cuisine of Rajasthan and also a beginner's guide to home canning. Classes tend to fill up early but nab a seat at upcoming sessions by signing up for the waiting list. See you there!

Apres-ski with Jen, Ben and Elfe

Dhokla (savoury chickpea flour cake) batter set up in Cafe Drake HRV's home-rigged steamer.

Hitting the slopes near Cafe Drake HRV is hard work. Refueling courtesy of an Indian afternoon cocktail buffet - cucumber raita, green chile and coriander chutney, dhokla, dal wada and assorted pickles.

Dinner at Cucina in Woodstock! Tastiest dishes included cod with salsify and sunchokes, tomato and sausage risotto, kale salad and duck liver crostini.

North African Turkey Neck Stew

Discovering free-range turkey necks at our local butcher's sent enough light bulbs off in our minds to illuminate the entire store after hours, loving as we do working with commonly discarded livestock parts. If an animal's going to lose its life to feed humans, the way we see it we have an obligation to honor fully the entire beast or fowl (or fish). How tragic to waste a creature that was wasted to grace our dinner plates!

Of course soup was the first idea, and given turkey dark meat's powerful flavor, something rich, hearty and seasonal seemed in order. Harira, a traditional Moroccan soup of lamb and pasta and chickpeas in a gamey broth laced with tomatoes has always been a favorite, North Africa's answer to Scotch Broth basically. The recipe below is the result of our vision, successful enough to recommend to any discerning carnivores visiting this site.

Begin with 5-7 turkey neck pieces and a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Brown them on all sides in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for about 10 minutes total before adding in 3-4 whole (but peeled) cloves of garlic, a bay leaf or two and 1-2 whole dried red chilies. Cook for one more minute and then add enough water to just barely cover the turkey necks.  Toss in 2 chopped plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, doesn't make a difference. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 2 hours. Stir once in a while, mostly to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. We don't have to tell you these are loaded with the deep, complex flavors you're gonna want in the soup.

After a couple of hours remove turkey necks and when cool, shred meat from bones and return to the soup pot. Season with 2 t. or so of raz el hanout, and a bit of smoked paprika. Add to the pot 1 chopped carrot, 1 peeled and chopped potato, 1 diced onion, 1/4 cup barley and if you have then handy, some chopped turnip and rutabaga. Simmer for another 30 minutes until the root veggies and barley are soft. You'll only need to stir a couple of times. If you like, chickpeas make a nice addition as does a garnish of slivered scallions. A healthy squeeze of lemon juice also brightens flavors.

Salt and pepper to your taste and serve hot. Please note the seasonings suggested are simply that. There's no strict rule here about what to add or delete. A tablespoon of harissa stirred in to the stew at the end of cooking is delicious as with all Moroccan soups. Fresh parsley or cilantro is another excellent garnish. A cinnamon stick and/or 1 t. of caraway seeds would be appropriate to simmer with the vegetables and barley.