Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Visit from Mimi and Auntie Shelia

An appetizer of Asparagus Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter, Parmesan and Pea Shoots.

Heirloom black Forbidden Rice looks sinister when cooking but adds a nutty flavor and dramatic flair to Thai-inspired dinners.

A casual dinner of leftovers in the kitchen.
All of us here at Cafe Drake HRV were thrilled by a recent visit from Mimi and Auntie Shelia; Arabella and Lloyd lapped up the love they received with vigorous appetites while we humans feasted on numerous dishes including Thai Tofu and Long Bean Curry, Minestrone and Parmesan Toasts, Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Dried Cranberries and more. We also had some spectacular lunches at old faves (Miss Lucy's in Saugerties) and new discoveries (High Falls' Kitchenette).

Autumn's Favorite Cocktail

We're calling this one the Leaf Peeper, with its golden-brown color and a flavor that seems the very essence of Fall in a Glass. Begin with a glass that holds approximately 1 cup / 8 oz. liquid; the short, squat one seen above is our officially designated Leaf Peeper vessel at Cafe Drake HRV

From here on out measurements get sort of vague, as they tend to do when home mixologists like ourselves start inventing alcoholic libations. Pour in  to the glass about 1/2" of vodka. Fill the glass 3/4 full now with GOOD QUALITY cold apple cider. Add a few ice cubes and finish with a tiny float of (very) dry hard cider on top. 

An optional garnish might include a slice of dried apple or a twist of lemon or orange rind but embellishments aren't really needed.

Amazing things happen if you switch out the vodka for a smokey Scotch. You'll almost swear you're sipping before a bonfire of burning leaves.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What We Eat in Late September at Cafe Drake HRV

above two photos: Many have developed aversions to tempeh, the result of our unfamiliarity here in the West with this scrumptious soy product. The only two tricks to working with tempeh are slicing it quite thinly and marinating for at least 2-3 hours prior to preparing. Here's a foolproof marinade with proportions based on the typical 8 oz. tempeh package sold at supermarkets and natural food stores everywhere. In a large ziplock bag mix well 2 T. tamari or soy sauce, 2 T. apple cider or rice vinegar, 1 T. natural ketchup, 1 T. ground coriander, a couple of healthy splashes of Tabasco or other hot sauce, lots of ground black pepper to taste and 2 cloves of minced or pressed garlic. Place the thinly sliced tempeh in bag and shake well but carefully; try not to break the tempeh in to pieces. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight. One hour before cooking tempeh, remove from fridge and allow to marinate at room temperature. You can then bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F. (flip slices halfway through cooking time) and enjoy as is, or add to your favorite tempeh recipes. As an alternative do as Indonesian cooks do and marinate 8 oz. of sliced tempeh in 3/4 cup coconut water heavily seasoned with ground coriander and salt.

Home-baked chewy Chocolate and Dried Cranberry Cookies are a rare occurrence at Cafe Drake HRV!

above two photos: Based on a recipe for Palestinian Fried Tomatoes from Madhur Jaffrey, Cafe Drake HRV used one humungous Pink Brandywine specimen (almost 2 pounds!!) from the garden. Too simple to taste this good: heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Gently fry 2 cloves of sliced garlic and 1 minced hot green chili pepper for about 1 minute. Now add, in a single layer, thick slices of tomato, enough to cover the entire skillet. Sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Fry for 1 minute over a higher flame, flip and fry for another minute. Pour in 3/4 cup tomato juice and a handful of chopped parsley or cilantro. Remove from heat and serve with rice or bread to absorb all the delicious juices.

Pan-fried garden tomatoes with Rice and Lentil Pilaf, Tahini Sauce, Cilantro and Red Onion Salad.

Simmering the base for Pumpkin Liqueur. it's that time of year so grab the recipe here at Food Republic. We're already addicted to an after-dinner sip almost every night. Note: the recipe post neglects to list cinnamon as an ingredient. Use about 1/2 t. ground cinnamon.

Leftover fried tomatoes and their tangy, spicy sauce are a juicy complement to rice and lentils. Roasted pumpkin seeds add texture and a nutty flavor.
The leftovers never stop at Cafe Drake HRV - refried beans with cheese, toasted flat bread, coleslaw and roasted cabbage and carrots.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making a Meal of Rice, Tomatoes and Cheese

We can hardly wait for lunch at Cafe Drake HRV when we have leftovers like these in the fridge! Rice and Mushroom Pilaf reheats like a dream and is just as delicious the second time around with more sliced tomatoes, red onions and olives. Why break up a great team?

Our Mushroom and Brown Rice Pilaf may just become your next go-to weeknight supper. Begin by frying 1 chopped onion and 1 diced carrot in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Use and oven-proof vessel and cook slowly, over a low flame, until the onion is beginning to brown. Add 1 clove of garlic (chopped) and 1 whole dried red chile (broken into pieces). Cook a minute or two and then add 1 cup short-grain brown rice and 1 cup chopped mushrooms of choice. Stir-fry for 2 minutes and pour in 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock. Season with salt and black pepper and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and bake, covered tightly, for approximately 40 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven. When ready, all of the liquid should be absorbed. remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, still covered, and then fluff with a fork. Prepare for your new favorite rice dish.

The pilaf with arugula, Manouri cheese and tomatoes from our garden.

The homegrown heirloom tomatoes at Cafe Drake HRV need little other than a good finishing salt.

Most supermarkets and all gourmet food stores now stock a selection of Greek cheeses beyond feta. Ricotta salata makes an excellent substitute for Manouri.

Are They Pizzas or Flatbreads? Doth it Matter?

Neither a flatbread or pizza, an open-faced torta (Mexican sandwich of beans, cheese, jalapenos and other ingredients) is still constructed from many of the same basic building blocks. Above, with coleslaw and green salad.

(above two photos): Before & After (the Oven). An easy, mouth-watering vegan flatbread is assembled with a thin layer of refried beans followed by sliced onions, jalapenos and yellow pear tomatoes from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens. Everything gets doused with nutritional yeast which adds a decided cheese-like texture and flavor. Broil for 2-3 minutes and then top with pickled peppers and cilantro.

Flatbread/Pizza with Aged White Cheddar (local, natch), Roasted Tempeh, Onions, Seckel Pears (peel first please), serrano chilies and finished with grated Romano cheese. Maybe our favorite yet.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Have You Tried These Yet??

After an epic Cafe Drake HRV kitchen fail, attempting homemade tortillas from scratch, we were thrilled to stumble across a solution in the supermarket dairy aisle.

The package instructions require a bit of coordination but soon enough you'll get the hang of the specifics. The raw tortilla goes into a pre-heated pan (please please use non-stick or as we did, a cast iron skillet) and is cooked for 10 seconds on one side, carefully flipped and cooked for 30 seconds and then flipped again and cooked for 20 seconds. After the second tortilla we timed it by eye; when both sides of the tortillas are slightly puffed and dotted with delicious spots of browned dough, flip it on to your plate!

Some will break, it's inevitable. Doesn't affect the taste so proceed without caring. Prying the uncooked tortillas apart is a little tricky however and should be done with care. Like, white gloves level of care. These things crack and tear if you look at them sideways.

The fresh tortillas evoke memories of the flavor and texture of handmade ones we've so enjoyed in Ridgewood and Sunset Park's myriad tiny taquerias. Cafe Drake HRV could hardly wait to wrap the warm corn tortillas around heirloom tomatoes from our garden, to scoop greedy amounts of raw jalapeno relish, to dip in spicy lentil stew, to encase wedges of sharp, crumbly cheddar cheese.

Bonus Recipe Alert! Well, not so much a recipe as a general guideline for creating the most addictive Mexican condiment: add to a mini food processor (Magic Bullet etc) 4 roughly chopped jalapenos (do not remove seeds or ribs), about 3 T. roughly chopped red onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, 3-4 T. chopped cilantro, the juice of 1 small lime, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. You'll need at least 1/2 t. Process/blend for just a few seconds until you have a paste-like texture. Season with more salt, sugar or lime juice as needed. Simple, sublime, but also very hot; use sparingly or with abandon, according to your preference.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Favorite Leftovers Lunch

Broiled Tofu "Steaks" in an Indonesian and Vegetable Coconut Sauce, Sambar (spicy South Indian dal stew), pappadums, basmati rice pilao with cumin and caraway seeds and home-grown tomatoes. Grab our recipe for the Indonesian Coconut Veggies here.

Another Glorious Birthday, Part III

The merriment of Saturday night was followed by a celebratory brunch on Sunday afternoon at Depuy Canal House in High Falls, NY.

Indeed, a glorious birthday.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Glorious Birthday, Part II

A celebratory dinner is prepared:

Moussaka is created in several steps; above, ground lamb is simmered with red wine, garden tomatoes, onions, oregano, allspice and cinnamon.

The meat sauce is then layered between slices of fried eggplant.
And above, hot from the oven with a perfectly browned custard crown of eggs, bechamel sauce, Greek dry cheese and grated nutmeg.

Of course there were vegetables on the menu as well. And a quartet of desserts courtesy of  J&B.

Black Eyed Pea Pate with Toast Points, Baby Lettuces from the garden, House-Pickled Peppers and Mustard Flowers.

Roasted Vegetables with Toasted Parmesan Crumble

The evening began promptly at 8 with cocktails on the porch. A light rain fell on a chilly evening but all stayed warm with a selection of libations throughout the night including a newly minted cocktail dubbed Kissed By A Pit Bull (brandy, amaretto, lime juice), our first ever red Sancerre, champagne, micro-batch Widow Jane whiskey and more.

Jen, Kristin and Ben gather around the table for a toast.

Meanwhile, Dolce seeks a bit of quiet time on the kitchen sofa:

Stay Tuned for Part III !!