Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Late Summer Requirement: Smokey Gazpacho with Almonds

Intended as a first course, our gazpacho is also superb as part of a picnic buffet or a side dish, as above, with rice and beans.

(above): The gazpacho keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, adding interest to leftover lunches - with black eye peas and greens, millet, baba ghanoush and marinated cucumbers. This is another one that requires only a blender and a few minutes from your day: add to a blender around 1 lb. of chopped tomatoes, any kind along with 1 peeled and seeded Kirby cucumber, 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped), 1/2 small onion (chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (chopped), 1/3 cup blanched almonds (if you're feeling flush why not luxuriate with roasted Marcona almonds? We didn't but sure the results would be spectacular.), 3 T. olive oil, 2 T. sherry or red wine vinegar, a large pinch or two of smoked paprika and salt and black pepper to taste. Puree and allow to chill for two hours or more before serving cold in chilled  bowls or glasses. Sometimes we like a sweet touch to our gazpacho at Cafe Drake HRV and accordingly, substitute an aged balsamic for the sherry vinegar as well as adding a drizzle of honey to the blender ingredients. Prepare the same way but serve with a fine sprinkle of coarse finishing salt on each serving.

Our Garden Bounty: Greek Stewed Green (Long) Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs

Cafe Drake HRV has always adored the tangy, soft green beans cooked with tomatoes ubiquitous as a side at Greek restaurants and diners. So we made our own with all ingredients plucked from our garden with the exception of the onions. Even if you don't have a bountiful backyard this is one recipe worth a trip to the market! Economical and surprisingly substantial, our Greek stewed beans are worthy of entree status, served with rice or bread and a wedge of your favorite Greek cheese such as Graviera, Kasseri or Kefalotiri. So, it's one step cooking. Put all of this in a deep saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 or 40 minutes or until the beans are very tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. You'll need: 1 lb. of long beans (trimmed for sure, chopped or not); 1 small onion (chopped); 1-2 small green chilies (minced); 3-4 cloves of garlic (chopped); 2 plum tomatoes (chopped, seeded or not); a moderate pinch each of ground allspice and sugar and a few sprigs each of savory and oregano; about 1/2 cup water (more if needed during cooking); salt and black pepper to taste and 4 T. olive oil. Note: we used long beans because they grow freely in our gardens but you can substitute if unavailable, regular string beans or preferably, the thinner sort such as haricots verts.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feta and Veggie Easy Oven Bake

As this recipe was invented on the fly, on a tired weeknight when we could barely be bothered to cook let alone write out the usual measurements, consider amounts and ingredients rudimentary. Mere suggestions awaiting your own elaborations. Caveat aside, this was our FAVORITE dish invented in the Summer of '14, just saying. Cafe Drake HRV began with a 1/3 lb. block of feta cheese and we crumbled in to a bowl, still wondering what would come next.

We had a pint or two cups of cottage cheese in the fridge as well and dumped that into the large mixing bowl with the feta. Ours was the no-salt variety but we'll make up for that later. For more depth and weight we would strongly recommend however using the 4% milkfat cottage cheese.

Lingering mushrooms - about 10 oz. - and 1 large green bell pepper were then stir-fried in olive oil, with onion and garlic, until just soft. These were tipped in to the cheese mixture along with about 5 T. flour, lots of chopped dill (you could use dried of course), some cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper to taste. Finally we added 4 lightly beaten eggs, stirred again and dumped it all into an oiled oval casserole. Bake for 50-60 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven.

Cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Cafe Drake HRV had our cheesey-eggy bake along with our first Pink Brandywine tomato from the garden, salad greens, olives and marinated cucumbers.

The recipe produces enough for at least 4-6 servings, or in our case a couple more days' of easy, instant lunches. Above, with pickled peppers, tomatoes, salad, fresh herbs and radish sprouts.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, xoxo, Arabella

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Millet Croquettes and Our Best Baba Ghanoush Yet

We couldn't imagine a more satisfying late-August supper than the one above - Millet Croquettes drizzled with Sriracha and Radish Sprouts, creamy and dense baba ghanoush and an arugula and yellow pear tomato salad plucked entirely from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens.

Our recipe for millet croquettes, or millet burgers if you prefer, was one of our most read and downloaded posts a couple of months ago and you can find the recipe in our archives right here. This time around we swapped peanut butter for the sunflower butter and increased the tamari by 50% to balance the natural sweetness of the peanuts. An excellent adaptation we decided.

So here's the secret recipe to the creamiest, most luscious and rich baba ghanoush you'll ever sample. Start like always by cutting a large eggplant in half lengthwise and roasting in a 400 degree F. oven for 45 minutes or until very soft. Cool the eggplant for a few minutes and then scrape out all the flesh, seeds and all, and discard the wrinkled skin. Place the eggplant in a blender along with 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 chopped scallions, the juice of half a lemon, 1/4 cup tahini, 2 T. mayonnaise (that's the trick it turns out), 1 chopped hot green chili, a small handful of chopped parsley and plenty of salt and black pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. If you have trouble with the blender add up to 3 or 4 T. of water to better facilitate processing. Adjust seasoning if needed by adding more salt and refrigerate for at least an hour before savoring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's Almost A Memory Now: Summer 2014

Just this and that, from here and there, Summer stored on a hard drive.

A still life: Cocktails with Weekend Guests

Smoking IS permitted in the gardens of Cafe Drake HRV.

above two photos: Cooking with Arabella (pics courtesy of Jen Ruske)

Above three photos also from the lens of J. Ruske.

Summer 2014 was made memorable several times with visits from Jen and Ben.

Hot off the Grill!

Best friends share the kitchen sofa.

Backyard BBQ Leftovers for Lunch: Potato Salad; Grilled Calamari, Onions, Poblano Peppers and Shrimp and Grilled Bread with Camembert.

The homegrown Yellow Pear Tomatoes and Orange Grape Tomatoes have been impeccably sweet and juicy this summer.

This spring we pulled up the patch of Black-Eyed Susan bullying the driveway, only to find a few eluding our hoe. So be it. They brighten and highlight the yellow kitchen walls don't you think?

So many flowers. So many vases. So relatively little time to savor their beauty.

The table is set for dinner on a late afternoon in late summer . . .

Summer lunches should be all about the ease of leftovers: Rice, Eggplant Curry, Long Beans fried with Tomatoes and Onions and Moong Dal.

Said it before, we'll say it again - Chinese takeout is drastically improved with fresh garden herbs and homemade hot chili oil. Soon the rau ram and mitsuba seen above will fall to autumn's chill but you can always have a bottle of toasted chili oil handy: Take 10 whole dried red chilies and drop them in a mini food processor/Magic Bullet/ spice or coffee grinder. Add in about 1/2 a tablespoon of Sichuan peppercorns (available at most supermarkets) and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Process until the dried chilies are in very small flakes. Heat 1 cup of canola or peanut oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium-heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add in the dried chili mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the chilies have darkened and begin to smell toasted. Remove from heat, cool completely and store in a clean, tightly sealed jar. The oil will stay fresh and flavorful far longer if stored in a dark, cool location i.e. inside a kitchen cabinet away from direct sunlight.

Asian long beans are aptly named. Our high-yield plants have produced pounds of the tender, sweet vegetable this summer.

There are so many ways to prepare long beans. The can be substituted for regular string beans in any re cipe and will always provide superior taste and texture. Nothing's easier than the Chinese standard method of simply stir-frying in oil, over the highest heat possible, for a few minutes and finishing with a splash of soy sauce or oyster sauce, salt, white pepper and red chili flakes. Above, Cafe Drake HRV used our garden-fresh long beans for a basic but scrumptious South Indian curry with coconut, black mustard seeds and green chilies.

Another 2014 great garden success story involves assorted Asian greens. We planted tat soi, bok choy, red amaranth, mizuna and red mustard greens seeds and 6 weeks later had a patch of thriving, nutritious greens suitable for braising or stir-frying. The younger and most tender leaves are also excellent in tossed salads. Here's a starter recipe for you. Embellish as you desire but it's sublime just as is! Rinse very very well 1 lb. of any sort of Asian leafy green and chop into large pieces. Discard any overly tough or thick stalks with the exception of greens in the bok choy family; these you'll want to slice thinly and cook with the leaves. Now heat 2 T. of vegetable oil in your largest skillet over high heat. Add 2-4 cloves sliced garlic and 4 whole dried red chilies. Stir quickly and toss in 2-3 T. minced ginger. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Quickly add in the rinsed and chopped greens and 1/2 large onion (thinly sliced). Stir-fry over high heat until the greens are tender enough to your liking. Add water if things start sticking but that's unlikely. Remove from heat when done and season simply with plenty of salt and black pepper. Drizzle 1-2 T. of sesame oil over veggies, toss well and serve hot or at room temperature.

Monday, August 25, 2014

From the Lens of Miki S.

Thanks to Miki for snapping and sharing the pics below.

4th of July Buffet Brunch at Diamond Mills Hotel, Saugerties

Lloyd napping in his/our bedroom.

With Miki S.

A grilled dinner at Cafe Drake HRV.

Mixing martinis with Ruske.

Arabella loves visiting the farm at the end of our road.

Too many Gin Fizzes at lunch?

Contemplating the gardens with Ben T.

We're so flattered that Jen Ruske writes down every word we say. Smart girl!

Checking on the grilled sausages, veggies and breads.

In Tivoli, NY.