Saturday, March 29, 2014

Forget the Fatty Take-Out. Start BAKING Eggrolls at Home.

Like a sandwich or quesadilla you can pretty much stuff anything inside an egg roll although Asian-inspired flavors seem to work the best. (Must be a mental thing?) Cafe Drake HRV will soon be posting pics and recipes for a vegetarian version but for now, we made these with chicken. Begin by gently simmering 1 whole or (2 split) free-range chicken breast in water to cover for about 20 minutes. If you add a chopped carrot, clove of garlic, bay leaf, black peppercorns and celery seed as above you'll end up with 1 bonus quart of chicken stock afterwards. Basically, just cook the chicken until done and work with skin-on, bone-in breasts only for maximum juiciness. After the chicken is finished cooking remove from pan and when sufficiently cooled shred the meat from the bones, discarding bones and skin as you wish.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded chicken to a large mixing bowl along with an equal amount of finely chopped cabbage. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, about 3 T. soy sauce, 1 T. grated ginger, 1 T. sesame oil (the toasted kind) and salt and white pepper to taste. If you don't have the white variety, black pepper is fine. If you're in the mood for heat, add 1-2 minced red chilies. Mix well and set aside.

Super Quick Pickles perfect with Asian fare: thinly slice one small onion and peel and slice thinly 2 carrots. Place in a bowl and heat on the stove to just under boiling: 3/4 cup white or rice vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 t. salt. Add a minced garlic clove if it behooves you. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid close to boiling. Remove from flame, cool for 15 minutes then pour over sliced veggies. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes and store in the liquid, in the fridge, for up to two weeks. Works great with radishes too.

Place one egg roll wrapper - available at all supermarkets, generally refrigerated - so that it resembles a diamond. Take 2 T. of the chicken and cabbage mixture and place in the center. Roll up according to package instructions. Repeat until you run out of chicken and cabbage, 10-12 rolls total.

Like so.

When you've created this envelope shape you'll need to moisten the closing flap with water before sealing. Don't worry; instructions are printed on all egg roll wrapper packages.

Instead of frying, place wrapped egg rolls, seam side down, on an oiled baking sheet. brush the tops of the egg rolls with either vegetable or sesame oil. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 425 degree F. oven. Flip once during cooking and reduce temperature slightly if you notice any egg rolls browning excessively.

A dinner of Chicken and Cabbage Egg Rolls with Quick Pickles, salad and roasted string beans.

Who Needs Another Recipe for Meatloaf?

Probably no one but can we make a suggestion? If you use turkey instead of ground beef or pork, shape it into a loaf and cook on a baking sheet surrounded with seasoned, oil-tossed potato wedges for 1 hour at 400 degrees F. The meatloaf forms a tantalizing crust and stays moist inside while the potatoes do exactly the same. Remember to turn the potatoes once halfway through cooking time. We've had the same luck with sweet potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips cut into similar size and shape.

Cafe Drake HRV's Turkey Meatloaf with Sriracha Drizzle, Coleslaw, Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower Vinaigrette

Oven Fries is perhaps a better name for these roasted potato wedges?
Cauliflower at Cafe Drake HRV is almost always savored as a soup, in a spicy curry or roasted. Steaming and then dressing with a full-bodied vinaigrette is a nice alternative. Serve chilled as a side salad or at room temperature as part of an antipasto platter.

Our Contractor, Dr. Doolittle

Our menagerie at Cafe Drake HRV always clamors for attention from Matt.

Lloyd likes to be the center of attention now and then.
Everyone has to take a break sometime.

A Chilly Wet Spring. We'll Take It!

A heartening sight from the front yard - ships moving freely up and down the Hudson, no longer encumbered by the last remaining ice floes melting this week.

Arabella doesn't know what to make of a side yard free of snow!

A cold spring drizzle soon drove Arabella Page back inside.

Chola (Chickpea Curry) the Manjula Way

If you haven't discovered yet ifoodTV and its specialized RoKu channels you're missing out on a large dose of small screen, down home cooking shows. Most are low-rent in the most charming of ways, and while not ready for the likes of Food Network just yet, the DIY production values and effusive sincerity of home cooks ready for their food close-ups is addictive! Cafe Drake HRV can't stop watching the Indian Channel - natch - and particularly the queen of the micro-network, Manjula.

The recipe for Chickpeas cooked with Chickpea Flour a/k/a Chola (Chana Masala) is a stroke of authentic genius; the roasted chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour, wows as both thickening and flavoring agent.

Below, we carefully fried the chickpea flour in oil laced with toasted cumin seeds and asafetida.

Without the usual largesse of tomatoes and sweet fried onions in most chickpea curries, Manjula's version is a purist's delight. Lack of acidity combined with a profound saltiness make the curry perfect over rice and served alongside tangy yogurt.

Manjula's Chola, enjoyed at Cafe Drake HRV with brown rice, coconut chutney, zucchini and yogurt salad and braised kale. Grab this and many other recipe's from Manjula's Kitchen tonight!

We're Not Waiting Around on Lunch Today!

Need lunch now? Like, in 5 minutes. It's easy if a) you quickly toast whole wheat sourdough bread with sliced plum tomatoes, scallions, feta cheese and parsley and b) you keep in the fridge a salad that doesn't take longer than 5 minutes itself to prepare. You might wanna double this one: rinse and drain very well 1 can of navy/small white beans and add to a mixing bowl with 2 chopped scallions, 1 seeded and chopped Kirby cucumber, salt, pepper, about 1 T. grainy mustard and 1 T. each olive oil and white wine or rice vinegar. Mix gently and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Baked Spinach & Feta is Better Than You Even Know

A sort of crustless, denser quiche, this vegetarian entree saves the bother of making or buying pie or phyllo dough. There's so much going on here in the way of leafy greens you can also skip the side salad if you wish. Cafe Drake HRV teamed our spinach/feta casserole this week with roasted cauliflower, other ideal sides include marinated cucumbers, sliced tomatoes or roasted carrots. Warm pita and olives not essential but recommended. If you can't grasp the idea of a vegetarian main dish  - and really, what's wrong with you? - carefully cut squares of the baked spinach casserole make a luscious base for oven-roasted cod or, in the summer, any sort of grilled fish.

You'll need to plan an hour or two ahead simply to drain the cottage cheese. Place 1 heaping cup in a colander lined with cheese cloth or a paper towel, cover and leave to sit over a bowl (or just in the sink) for about 90 minutes. If the cottage cheese is dryer it may take only 30 minutes to drain all excess liquid. Skipping this step will result in a watery, bland casserole. 

Now let's proceed with 1 box of frozen chopped spinach. Prepare according to package instructions, taking care to not overcook, then drain and press out as much water as possible. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large, deep bowl beat well 2 eggs. Add the spinach, 2-3 chopped scallions, fresh or dried dill to taste, a handful of chopped parsley if you have it, the drained cottage cheese and 1 cup crumbled feta. Season with salt and black pepper; if the feta is very salty, err on the side of caution with the salt. Lastly, stir in 2 or 3 dashes of your favorite hot sauce and pour contents into a well-oiled casserole. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just firm and golden. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

As above, we used dried dill harvested from our gardens last Fall.

Both feta and cottage cheeses are required to obtain the springy, delightful texture of this spinach casserole.

Why ever waste energy when baking? At Cafe Drake HRV the oven always serves double duty when lit. Roasted plum tomatoes, cooked alongside the casserole, are a sublime contrasting side dish with their sweet acidity. Just slice in halves lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, honey and ground cinnamon. Cook for about 25 minutes total, flipping once.

Baked Spinach and Feta Casserole

Hey, we have three racks in the oven, why not use them all at once? Roasting is our preferred method of cooking cauliflower and to accompany our feta/spinach casserole we tossed the florets from one head with 1 sliced onion, olive oil, salt and pepper and a generous tablespoon of the spice mix raz el hanout. Best to put the cauliflower in towards the end of casserole cooking time; remove casserole to cool and crank oven to 425 degrees F. to finish cooking these veggies. Remember to stir now and then and check after 15 minutes for doneness.

above two photos: Spinach and Feta Casserole served with yogurt and cucumbers, tahini dressing, toasted pita, roasted cauliflower and baked tomatoes.

Leftovers with salad the following day.

Waiting on Spring

The deep snow is finally melting away at Cafe Drake HRV. Just in time for another predicted winter storm this week!

Gazing from the front yard at the still frozen Hudson River, Godot seems more likely to arrive than typical Spring weather.

above two photos: It doesn't get more characteristic at dinner time around Cafe Drake HRV than a plate of basmati rice, crispy pappadums, roasted asparagus and spicy eggplant curry.

We almost fell out of chairs when we heard some people actually don't like rutabagas. Cafe Drake HRV is enjoying this sweet and slightly pungent root vegetable while still found on market shelves. Gotta hurry though as they'll soon disappear until autumn! Nothing's easier than just peeling and dicing 1 large rutabaga and boiling until tender in plenty of salted water, about 30 minutes, give or take. Drain well and return to warm pot. Immediately add 2 T. room-temperature butter, cut into cubes, and mash roughly. Season with salt, black pepper and just a mere hint of grated nutmeg. For a truly velvety puree, prepare the same but boil 1 peeled and diced potato along with the rutabaga and whip in the blender with the addition of 2 T. heavy cream. Garnish with fried onions if desired.

St. Patrick's Day at Cafe Drake HRV - fried bangers (Irish sausage), roasted red bell peppers, mashed rutabagas, grilled rye bread and arugula salad.
Pizza bagels for lunch at Ruth Kopelman's Woodstock home!

Ruth always whips up creative surprises in her cozy kitchen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Welcoming the Always-Welcome Jen & Ben to Cafe Drake HRV

Jen and Ben always seem to appreciate Indian dinners at Cafe Drake HRV so we planned a simple but varied menu for the arrival dinner. Cocktails preceding, natch.

Lamb ready to marinate overnight in the fridge, doused with ground chilies, ginger, garlic and a panoply of spices including cumin, turmeric and cardamom.

Always a good idea to toss marinade and all ingredients in a sealed plastic bag, even if you're not making lamb biryani.

Fresh coconut chutney is finished off with a tempering oil including curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chilies.

An early step in the biryani process includes slow-frying lots of onions in lots of butter!

Remove the onions, add cashews to butter.

Browning the marinated, cubed lamb.

There's more going on in this confusing picture than imagined. In all that muddle: lamb, browned onions, yogurt, heavy cream and lots more spices.
Assembling ingredients for kosambri, served as a salad with biryani: soaked moong dal, coconut, cilantro, minced carrots.

Coconut chutney, completed.

An opening course of idli sambar, served with coconut chutney.

An intermezzo course preceding the biryani - pears dressed with fresh peanut chutney.

Jen and Ben still happy after several courses!

Someone else loves spicy Indian fare as well!

Knackered after a day on the ski slopes. Well, Arabella just loves to huddle with the tired and weary.

Arabella still cuddling the following morning.

Courtesy of J&B, a lovely and filling brunch at Woodstock's Orielle 9 of bacon, house-made sausage, organic poached eggs, home fries, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast.

Ruske prepares for the show inside the world's largest kaleidoscope in Mt. Tremper.

above 3 photos: trippy trippy light show inside kaleidoscope!
Ben attacks Double Black Diamond trails at Wyndham Ski Resort.
OMG. A skiing taco!
"Hey, wait don't forget about me!!" Not to worry Lloyd, we never do. Our oldest child reveled in the weekend attentions of his Auntie Jen and Unkie Ben.