Early June at Cafe Drake HRV

Another front/side yard bouquet.

Tiny blossoms from a flowering shrub.

Refreshingly simple and light supper of basmati rice, spinach puree, buttermilk curry and Gujarati black eye peas.

Cafe Drake HRV continues our exploration of the link between Indian and Southern U.S. cuisines via a traditional Gujarati dal that utilizes a Deep South staple - black eye peas. You can make by cooking your own dried peas and draining or using canned beans as we did. Let's assume you'll choose the easier path. Begin by rinsing 1 can of black eye peas and draining well in a colander. Next, saute 1 sliced onion in 2 T. vegetable oil until nice and golden. Add 1 minced clove of garlic, 2-3 sliced small green chilies and 1 T. of minced ginger. Cook for a minute then add 2 plum tomatoes, diced. Cook over medium flame until the tomatoes begin to break down. Season with 1 t. each ground coriander and ground cumin. Add salt and black pepper to taste, along with 1/2 cup of water. One tablespoon at a time, slowly stir in 3 T. total of plain yogurt. Add the drained peas, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until 50% of the liquid has evaporated and all thickened. The yogurt will curdle a bit in the beginning but finally be absorbed into the sauce. Re-season if needed and serve warm. If more tartness is desired, try a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Above 3 photos: Children, Dogs and Cafe Drake HRV plays in Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City while Thordis Adalsteinsdottir works on an upcoming exhibition in the waterside space. Happily we were also able to share a meal with Thordis - and old, dear friend Jorge Manahan and his pal Jill - in Bushwick at Fritzl's. Delish dinner included Caesar salad, clams linguine, fried softshell crab, apple and kale salad, banana cream pie.

While in NYC teaching classes at Brooklyn Brainery, we took advantage of the long strip of North African grocery stores and restaurants on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. Cheap lunch at Little Morocco (homemade merguez, salad, french fries) and when back in the HRV, cheap AND fast lunches from our hauled loot: Tunisian olives and pickled lemons, Moroccan bread and Lebanese cheeses.

Assembling Summer 2013's new Go-To, We're Tired and Hot, Weeknight Salad: Make a dressing by whisking together 5 T. lime juice, 1 1/2 T. brown sugar, 2 t. sesame oil, about 1/2 t. soy sauce and salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with 1/2 small head of cabbage (shredded), some sliced plum or grape tomatoes, 1-2 sliced jalapeno peppers and a handful of chives, scallions or slivered red onion. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

Salad with rice, chicken and fresh herbs from the garden (rau ram and shiso).

Here's a great game plan: rinse and get the rice cooking while quickly stir-frying chicken tender strips with bell peppers and onions. Thinking Ahead makes it all so much easier - the salad's chilling in the fridge and try marinating the chicken overnight (or while at the office) in fish sauce and chopped scallions.


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