Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just Because . . . Lloyd & Arabella Page

Tahini Roast Chicken

Cafe Drake HRV roasted tahini-marinated drumsticks with halved red radishes.

Tahini Roast Chicken with Yellow Pepper Bisque, Salad, Roasted Radishes and toasted dinner rolls.

The roast chicken is of course also perfectly delicious cold, as above, with a salad for lunch. Cold chicken is a standby of picnics and this one holds up well!

Begin by making the simplest of tahini dressings. Mix equal parts warm water and tahini and place in a  blender with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Ground cumin and/or dill are nice add-ins. Blend until smooth and pour over skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces; you'll need just enough dressing to coat the poultry, about 1 cup per 2 lbs. of chicken. Sprinkle with your favorite hot sauce, seal in a bag and marinate for at least 6 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. 

Re-using leftover produce bags from the market is a convenient method of "semi-recycling".

Remove chicken from marinade and place in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Add chopped veggies of choice if desired. Roast at 400 degrees F. for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Dark meat will take longer to cook than white. You'll know it's ready when the skin is crisp and browned and clear juices run from the chicken when pierced with a knife near the bone. Season with a finishing salt and more freshly ground black pepper before spritzing with fresh lemon juice. Fresh herbs make a healthy and tasty garnish as do rings of shaved red onion or scallions.

Oh It's Definately Iced Coffee Weather

Though many of you drink it year 'round iced coffee for Cafe Drake HRV is a seasonal adjustment, alerting our morning taste buds to the fact that it's Summer! Cold brewing is sort of the only way to go if you make iced coffee at home and it's ridiculous easy: Place about 1 3/4 cups ground coffee (we use espresso beans, natch) in a pitcher and cover with 3 1/2 cups cold water. Cover the pitcher and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours or up to 24. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a regular coffee filter and pour the coffee through into another vessel. Either return to the now rinsed out original pitcher or keep in the one holding the strained coffee. It's a potent brew meant to be served over ice but with none of the bitter notes characteristic of hot coffee chilled in the fridge. Enjoy and you're welcome.

Note: not sure if it's time yet for coffee over ice? Get the definitive answer HERE.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Welcome Summer! xoxo, Cafe Drake HRV

Memorial Day may the unofficial start to summer but we don't wait around at Cafe Drake HRV until the 21st of June to embrace the season.

Warm weather and slow gathering dusk are best enjoyed with icy gin cocktails. This week Cafe Drake HRV is partial to the Sage Gimlet, made like the regular drink but shaken and topped with fresh herbage.

The Vault at Cafe Drake HRV a/k/a/ kitchen pantry is still harboring a few treasures from last summer's canning sessions. Above, sweet pickled jalapeno peppers with onions, garlic and allspice berries.

Flat bread pizzas crafted from refrigerated, pre-made dough are perfect for light, summer suppers and require only a few minutes in the (very hot) oven. We roll out the whole wheat dough until quite thin and bake for 5 minutes in a 500 degree F. oven on a pre-heated baking sheet before decorating with whatever toppings strike our fancy. This weekend's pizza offered subtle Middle Eastern flavors with orange bell peppers, red onions, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and Israeli black olives. After baking we dusted it all with sesame and coriander seeds and loads of fresh oregano and mint.
This year Sweet Woodruff has been added to the herb garden roster and its subtle vanilla and fresh hay flavors have made us converts. A rare herb that improves with drying we're snipping leaves already in prep for our proposed stove top smoking adventures.

Have we mentioned yet how much we love this stuff?

Matt & Arabella are enjoying some Summer Lovin'.

above: A casual mention of curried tomatoes and onions in a recent post on dressing summer hot dogs elicited three email queries in a week! So here's how to do it: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. while you cut 3-4 medium-size tomatoes into smallish wedges. Do the same with 1 very large onion or two smaller ones. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 2 T. olive oil, a pinch of salt, 1 T. brown sugar, black pepper and 2 t. good curry powder. If you like, add in 1 chopped scallion and some garlic and sliced hot chilies. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan once during cooking to prevent sticking. Best if allowed to cool to room temperature.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rhododendrons Are For Cutting!

Note that the plant/tree seems to bloom from the top downwards.

The partially opened flowers are visually striking.

A few blossoms are the size of a small soccer ball.

The bushes on the western side of the house bear flowers of a lighter shade.

Changing the vase water daily and cutting flowers in the morning or at dusk can extend their lives inside by several days.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our Memorial Day Weekend 2014 Garden Primer

Salad greens are the ideal "starter crop" for newbie vegetable gardeners. The seeds of most varieties germinate quickly and require little care once growing. Cafe Drake HRV learned last year, the Hard Way, about lettuce's cool weather preferences and a tendency to bolt once the real heat arrives. Bottom Line: This is a Cool Weather Crop! Lettuces, mache, arugula, cress and similar delicate leafy greens should be harvested before mid-summer and seeds re-sown in late Summer for early Autumn salad bowls.

Cafe Drake HRV is growing a small amount of a widening range of salad greens in 2014 - arugula, Freckles lettuce, Marvel of 4 Seasons, Chicory, Endive di Ruffee, a baby spinach known as Ricco d' Asti and petite Swiss Chard Argentana. Bottom Line: Endless options abound for tender, miniature garden greens. All should be sowed directly into the ground or a shallow, wide container. While many vegetables and flowers must be started indoors as seeds, seedlings require coddling and even under the most elaborate care have a moderate survival rate. No such worries though with the lettuces.

Borage is a flowering herb known for attracting pollinators to the garden. Once planted you can count on its return the following Spring. We dug several plants from last season but this feisty plant emerged elsewhere. Cafe Drake HRV loves having a few clumps around as soon they will covered with star-shaped, blue blooms. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, with a refreshing cucumber flavor, but best to snip a few leaves for salads or garnish prior to blooming; once covered with flowers the leaves themselves turn bitter. Bottom Line: Borage is easy to grow and a dependable perennial plant. Snip tiny flowers and freeze in ice cubes or use as colorful garnishes. A few leaves add an exotic twist to green salads.

Nasturtiums thrive on neglect, supposedly. Ours have been a bit needier. Like most things at Cafe Drake HRV. We're waiting on the colorful blooms. Bottom Line: Give a try at growing a pot of nasturtiums but make sure they receive plenty of sun. The leaves and flowers are spicy and delicious.

Remember those tiny daikon radish seedlings from 3 weeks ago? Look at them know! Bottom Line: Gardening requires patience with the weather. Unseasonable chill will delay growth of even cold-tolerant plants.

Long bean seedlings emerging. Finally. The bamboo poles are for support once the stalks begin to tower.

Tuscan kale, like all its cousins in the cruciferous family of veggies, can withstand even the chilliest Spring evenings.

They don't call it dill WEED for nothing and Cafe Drake HRV couldn't be happier with the herb's prolific self seeding skills. Dill is sprouting everywhere! Bottom Line: When harvesting dill before the first frost, allow a few stalks to "go to seed" and wither. All those fallen dill seeds will ensure a luxuriant crop next year.

From the front yard, looking east toward the Hudson River.

The triumphant return of last year's newly planted Golden Raspberry bush. This type yields berries twice a year, in the mid-summer and again in mid-autumn. Bottom Line: It seems heartless but if you want berry bushes to survive, trim them close to the ground in winter and mulch heavily. The plant will survive and grow an extensive root system underground.
Arabella Page helps a bit with pruning and weeding.

She's always ready for next garden assignment.

Bottom Line: Gardening is much, much more fun with a pit bull.

Purple irises, pic snapped prior to weeding. Bottom Line: Irises seem to actually attract weeds! Grow only if worth it to you.

Lloyd Page stopped by to help weed but then thought better of it!

Rau ram, or Vietnamese Coriander, is easy to propagate by rooting cuttings in water prior to planting. We lost a healthy pot last year however due to excessive sun exposure; these jungle dwellers like wet and only dappled light. This year our new crop has found a home under the porch awnings. Bottom Line: Many Asian herbs can be grown from supermarket cuttings. Research online their native habitats to provide similar growing conditions in your garden.

Lemon Thyme is thriving.

Bottom Line: Do not overwater oregano. Ever. It doesn't like it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Week's Worth of Eating at Cafe Drake HRV

Roasting garlic and guajillo and pasilla chiles for salsa.

above two photos: Cafe Drake HRV's newest invention - White Nachos! White corn chips with navy beans, diced onions and Monterrey Jack cheese.

Dressed with all the Fixings: dried chile salsa, cilantro, diced radishes, scallions and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted slabs of marinated tofu, ready for our Vegetarian Bahn Mi sandwiches. Here's how to do it: slice one large block of tofu into thin slices and pat very dry with paper towels. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour in the following mixture:2 T. fish sauce, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce, 1 minced clove of garlic and 4 T. minced cilantro. Vegetarians use all tamari and skip the fish sauce. If you like it hot add minced chilies to the marinade.

Gotta have marinated cukes and onions with the classic Vietnamese sandwich.

Our Bahn Mi - Toasted Pumpernickel Bread with Marinated Tofu, Mayo, Pickles and Lovage Leaves

A felicitous marriage, albeit unexpected, is green (and orange) bell peppers with miso. Cut two large peppers into thin strips and saute for 10 minutes over medium heat in 2 T. vegetable oil. When peppers seem soft, remove from heat and stir in 1 T. miso mixed with 2 T. water. Season to taste with salt, cayenne pepper and toasted sesame oil. Good warm or at room temperature.

Lunch of leftovers, all served cold, augmented with tortilla chips. Just b/c we had a bag left over from our White Nachos dinner.