Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Re-Mixed Leftovers and Extended Mix Side Dishes (All This Scratchin' Is Makin' Me Itch)

Cafe Drake HRV is very partial this summer to the two fresh herbs cradled above - oregano and lovage. We chopped and tossed them in with long-simmering pinto beans below for a surprising depth of flavor. Both should be added when available to any and all dried beans cooked from scratch. Stir into the pot around the last 30-45 minutes of cooking time.

Our favorite bean to cook from scratch is the humble, earthy pinto bean. Leftovers don't last long and even the last spoonful is mixed with rice for a lunch of tortillas, cheese, stir-fried peppers and pickled bean sprouts. Go grab Cafe Drake HRV's recipe for the pickled sprouts right now - here! Perfect cooling mini side dish for summertime.

Cafe Drake HRV will throw anything together for a leftovers lunch. And it always works out somehow, as in the above unlikely pairing of cheese toast, pico de gallo, steamed corn, roasted plum tomatoes and Vietnamese roasted chicken. The latter, as delicious cold as when crispy and hot from the broiler, should be part of your summer picnic repertoire so here's how we make it: take roughly 2 lbs. of chicken thighs (or breasts or drumsticks) with skin-on and bone-in and marinate in your refrigerator for at least a couple of hours with 2 T. brown sugar, 2 T. fish sauce, 1 clove of minced garlic and 2 t. of 5-spice powder. Remove chicken from marinade, sprinkle generously with cayenne pepper and black pepper and roast on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Place chicken under broiler for 2 minutes to crisp skin if necessary. Good hot or cold. Note: if you decide to use white meat chicken - and really, why would you? - cooking time will lessen by a few minutes.

Baby mizuna greens don't get any fresher than this, plucked from our garden.

Plantains are best peeled with a very sharp paring knife. See where this is all going with recipe below.

Stirring seasoning into a most unusual cold yogurt and plantain curry - a hearty raita of sorts served as a main dish with rice, popular in the sweltering Indian state of Kerala.

Enough Teasing. Here's how we do it, adapted freely from the great Madhur Jaffrey: peel and dice 1/2 of a green plantain and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until quite tender. Drain and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (whole milk is best) until smooth. Slowly add in 1 cup of cold water, whisking well to incorporate. Set aside while you heat 1 T. of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet. When oil is very hot, put in 1 t. chana dal (or yellow split peas). Stir until the peas turn red/brown and then add to the skillet 1 t. brown mustard seeds. They'll pop in a few seconds - keep a lid handy as needed - and soon after toss in 2 dried red chilies (torn into pieces). Stir once and add 15 curry leaves. Immediately afterwards add 1 T. minced onion and some ginger (to taste, fresh or powdered). Stir for another minute and remove from heat. Add to whisked yogurt and water mixture. Season freely with salt and black pepper and blend in the boiled plantain. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving to blend flavors.

Okra, sliced thinly and pan-fried in sufficient amounts of oil, loses most of its sliminess. For those who mind. We don't.
Sunday Summer Supper June 2013, clockwise from center top: Chilled Yogurt Curry with Plantains; Onion Chutney; Soy Sauce Pickled Daikon Radish; Basmati Rice; Hyderabad Hummus, Okra with Tomatoes

Above two photos prove anything mixes well with everything when it comes to leftovers: stir-fried mixed peppers, rice with shitake mushrooms, fried tofu with burdock and carrots, bok choy with garlic, okra/tomatoes, toasted whole wheat rolls drizzled with our best olive oil and homemade hummus.
Crispy, salty, sour and refreshing. Now are you ready to try pickling mung bean sprouts??

Leftover and reheated Vietnamese roasted chicken thighs with a bunch of other lingering items from the Cafe Drake HRV fridge.

Lloyd's Big Brother Watches Over Him

Looks like someone has a Guardian Angel named Sailor.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Short Garden Update

Now that Lloyd has scared away and psychologically damaged forever a family of cute but voracious chipmunks, our borage is growing undisturbed. No promised blue flowers yet however.

Key Lime Tree! After soaking up summer warmth this potted citrus tree will winter on the glassed-in breezeway.

We even planted Cat Grass for Lloyd. Who could care less.

A very slow grower, Salad Burnet requires patience.

Baby radicchio and tiny Gem lettuces are sprouting!

The Cutting Garden keeps yielding gifts for the interiors at Cafe Drake HRV. These orange lilies have lasted over a week so far inside!
And carrots also take FOREVER to grow. We planted Kaleidoscope heirloom seeds and fingers crossed we soon pull up a rainbow of root vegetables.

Quick Pico de Gallo with a Twist

OK the only real twists here involve substitutions that enhance this most standard of Mexican relishes/condiments. Using sweet grape tomatoes instead of larger fruit pumps up the flavor, as does shredded lovage leaves. So nix the cilantro for one night and try this: slice in half or quarters one pint of rinsed grape tomatoes. Throw in a mixing bowl along with 1 small diced onion, 1 large minced jalapeno pepper (or two serrano peppers), juice of 1/2 a large lime, salt and black pepper to taste and about 1-2 T. shredded lovage leaves. (In case you haven't visited Cafe Drake HRV online in awhile, we're smitten with lovage, an easily grown herb with a deep, complex flavor somewhere between celery and curry powder. The emperor Charlemagne once decreed it be grown in all imperial gardens). Stir well and chill until ready to serve.

House-made Herbal Vinegars

Just picked and ready for infusing in apple cider vinegar, clockwise from top: dill heads and fronds; scallion blossoms and lovage leaves. Chive blossoms are also perfect for flavoring vinegars; use white wine vinegar and the purple chive flowers will tint the finished product a lovely shade of lilac.

The easiest all-purpose hot sauce is one you can make at home! Just rinse, dry and slit open several whole chilies. (Use whatever you like or have handy although hotter varieties such as habanero will increase to an almost demonic heat level over time). Place whole chilies in a clean jar and fill to the top with cider vinegar. Store in the fridge for 1 week then add salt to taste, shake well to dissolve and store in fridge. Keeps at least 6 months and just replenish with more vinegar as needed. A Lowcountry (i.e. southern Carolinas) variation swaps dry sherry for vinegar and isd liberally sprinkled over seafood bisques, She Crab soup and cooked greens. Skip the salt if using sherry.

Scallion blossom lending its onion-like bite to cider vinegar.

Dill vinegar makes good use of flowering dill heads. Most herbal vinegars need at least 2-3 weeks to infuse enough flavor. Just rinse and dry well any fresh herb and add to a large jar of vinegar. Store in a dark location (such as a closet) for a couple of week, strain into a sterilized jar and enjoy for months ahead. Note: label jars. Do NOT store large amounts of herbs in jar unless refrigerating.

Lloyd Whacks a Mole

Apologies to any sensitive souls perhaps disturbed by above photos! The moles devastating Cafe Drake HRV's sideyard garden are indeed cute, with soft, velvety gray fur, but their destructive appetites and burrowing habits are kept in check via their natural predator - assistant gardener Lloyd Page.

Friday, June 21, 2013

To All Witches and Warlocks: Happy Summer Solstice 2013!!

The Pagan community of the HRV reminded us once again of this legendary day, stretching longer than any other on the calendar. Fireworks currently lighting the skies above Saugerties and brave celebrant Lloyd Page (our official Cat Mascot) intrigued rather than frightened. Lloyd's enthusiasm reminds us he must be a Druid at heart!

Mid-June Catch Up & How To Make Tomato PIe

Leftovers from Jen and Ben's Belated Indian Birthday Dinner recycled. New additions include stewed summer squash, house-pickled jalapeno peppers and cold spuds transformed into potato salad via lots of mayo, minced capers and snipped tarragon leaves.

Sliced plum tomatoes, sprinkled with salt and left to drain for an hour or so . . . first step in Summer Staple . . . Tomato Pie!

Sincerely hoping none of you are still paying ransomed gold for overpriced kale chips at the local grocery store. Instead: rinse and dry 7-8 large kale leaves in a salad spinner. Remove leaves from stem and tear in half large pieces. Toss thoroughly with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. make sure the oven's pre-heated and check often to avoid burning. The only real mistake you can make is crowding the baking sheet - kale leaves crowded together will steam and never crisp so cook in batches as needed.

Salted and drained tomatoes are placed in a pie dish lined with fresh pastry dough. Clearly, Cafe Drake HRV isn't the best when it comes to crimping.

Top the tomatoes with slivered onions and jalapeno peppers. Sprinkle again with salt and black pepper.

Mix together 1/2 cup each mayo and plain yogurt. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Spread over contents of pie and sprinkle all with 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until edges of crust are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing into wedges.

This is exactly what your finished Tomato Pie should look like.

(above and below) Tomato Pie served with braised kale, crispy kale chips and lentil sprouts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Garlic Scape Pesto + Leftovers Idea + Bonus Pic!

Fresh garden garlic scapes, EVOO, pine nuts, salt and pepper? Meet the Magic Bullet.

After pureeing roughly 3/4 cup chopped garlic scapes with an equal amount of olive oil, 1/2 cup pine nuts and salt and pepper (just to taste - you won't need much salt), the creamy result is mixed with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garlic Scape Pesto is a minimalist creation so use the best of each ingredient you can reasonably afford.

Garlic Scape Pesto tossed with hot whole wheat pasta elbows and served alongside roasted broccoli and grape tomatoes with tahini dressing.

Now let's deal with the delicious leftovers. Any pasta chillin' in the fridge will work. Beat 3 organic and cage-free eggs with 1 T. of water. Set aside while you heat 1 T. of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over a medium-low flame. Season the beaten eggs with some salt, black pepper and fresh chopped tarragon if you have it. Pour into skillet and cook until just set, as you would any other omelet. When the eggs are just still shiny on the surface add 1/2 - 3/4 cup of cooked and dressed pasta of choice. (See pic below). Cook for 1 more minute and carefully fold omelet.

Your Pasta Omelet may break or tear. First Rule: Never Worry. Perfection is Boring. Season as needed with additional salt and garnish with snipped dill or chives.

Chinese take-out leftovers (above; Broccoli with Fried Tofu in Garlic Sauce, Brown Rice and Cold Sesame Noodles) dress up nicely for lunch the following morning when accessorized with shiso and rau ram leaves.

Food in a Flash

That bag of broccoli stalk slaw at Trader Joe's always sang to our philosophy of Nutrition + Non-Food Waste; the oft discarded lower half of the vegetable is staffed with nutrients and antioxidants. Trouble is we didn't love it tossed in the manner of coleslaw with either mayo or a sweet vinaigrette. Then we hit upon the idea of stir-frying the shredded stalks for a couple of minutes over super-high heat and thus our rendition of moo shoo veggies was born - heat 3 T. of vegetable oil in a wok or very large non-stick skillet over a high flame until screaming hot. Throw in 2-3 torn dried red chilies and cook for 15 seconds or until they darken. Add 1 minced clove of garlic and some shredded and peeled ginger root. In a pinch feel free to substitute dried ginger powder. IMMEDIATELY add a few chopped scallions (both white and green parts) or 1 slivered onion. Stir fast and add the package of broccoli stalk slaw. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring almost constantly, before adding 1 T. each of soy sauce, oyster sauce and brown sugar. Stir well, cook for another minute and serve hot or warm with rice. If you don't have oyster sauce handy just double the amount of soy sauce.

Too tired for words? Let alone cooking? Place chicken thighs (with skin, bone-in) on a baking sheets and sprinkle bravely with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle a full teaspoon each of za'atar over each and drizzle all with olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes before serving to crisp skin.

A Weekend with J&B

(no tiny frogs were harmed in the making of these French melamine plates!)

Above 3 photos: setting the table is an important ritual at Cafe Drake HRV the evening before weekend guests arrive.

Jen R and Ben T sit down Friday evening for an amuse bouche of house-made lentil sprouts in a sesame dressing.

A starter course of chilled potatoes with apple raita, tamarind chutney and chat masala spices.

Above 2 photos: Relaxing between dinner courses is encouraged - and often a necessity - at Cafe Drake HRV. By request we celebrated two birthdays belatedly with a meal that included pork korma, kachumber salad, chana dhal, basmati rice, string beans with coconut, pickled quail eggs, bamboo shoot curry and plenty of Manhattans and bubbly.

Summer Dessert = Root Beer Floats

Ruske seems happy with her final lunch course at Rhinebeck's Arielle restaurant.

Strawberries from the Cafe Drake HRV patch.

Our first harvest of the season of side yard-grown mizuna made for a spicy, uber-fresh salad.

We Can Pickle That! From top: quail eggs, spicy okra and carrots and garlic scapes.

Kinawa, the newest grain on the block at Cafe Drake HRV. Tastes like a nuttier, crunchier version of quinoa. Recipes to follow. Wait . . . I bet . . . We Can Sprout That!

Baking Gods Jen and Ben performed another miracle in the Cafe Drake HRV kitchen with the buttermilk strawberry shortcake pictured above (served with toasted hazelnut ice cream).

Lloyd loves the new sofa and visits from his Auntie Jen and Unkie Ben!