Sunday, November 30, 2014

Four Lovely (Bonus) Thanksgiving Pics from Jenifer Ruske

According to her apt FB post, "before the Tallulah Bankhead jokes":

So Many Reasons to Be Thankful

We hope everyone has had as lovely a Thanksgiving weekend as we have, here at Cafe Drake HRV. Now that the season is upon us, Happy Holidays to All!!

Thanksgiving Eve dropped a foot of snow over the Hudson River Valley. Thankfully, again, so many reasons to be appreciative, our guests made it here safely and even shoveled the driveway!

After brining the turkey (white wine, water, salt, juniper berries, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, mustard and coriander seeds etc), Ruske chopped and fried giblets (liver, gizzard, heart) to create a potent, luscious stock employed the following day in both gravy and baked dressing.

 Lloyd kept Jen company in the kitchen . . .

Much to Arabella's delight, Ben arrived shortly after and set about creating a scallops appetizer and a sublime corn pudding with fresh chanterelle mushrooms. Not to mention a layered pumpkin/sour cream/bourbon cheesecake!

Even the large fridge at Cafe Drake HRV couldn't hold all our various stocks, sauces, marinades and white wines so the breezeway (lightly chilled) was employed for Thanksgiving spillover.

The snow continued. Ruske stole some much-deserved down time. Ben snapped pics of the snowy porch and front yard.

After 24 hours in the seasoned brine, our free-range bird was draped in wine and butter-soaked cheesecloth and baked for 3 hours until golden brown.

Dark outside before 5PM and time to light candles, finish styling the table and prepare for arriving guests Kristin and Dolce Ploucquet . . .

A looooong cocktail hour is essential, anytime really but most of all, before multi-course holiday feasts.

Our Thanksgiving meal began with a Sweet Potato and Ancho Chile Bisque with Pumpkin Seeds and proceeded merrily to a second course of Pan-Fried Scallops with Rosemary followed by Corn Pudding with Mushrooms and then, the bonanza main course of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and string beans (both lovingly contributed by KP), cranberry relish and braised red cabbage. The Wine Flight included bubbly, two dry, sharp whites and a Beaujolais.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When We Can Barely Be Bothered To Cook . . .

The holidays are fast approaching and that means, for those of us planning and hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, it's time to take things easy in the kitchen for a week or two. Follow our lead and please, save up that energy for the big meals! Above, leftover Sweet Potato Rice Pilaf (recipe in post below), quickly curried chickpeas, lettuce and radish sprouts, roasted chilies, onion pakoras and almonds. Most of this meal was reheated in the microwave, straight from the fridge, and if you keep the house stocked with leftovers, just add a salad to freshen things up.

These Onion Pakoras don't require deep-frying which means no messy clean-up afterwards. If you missed it, here's our recipe for the pakoras.

More of that leftover Sweet Potato Rice Pilaf with roasted veggies, fresh salsa, sour cream and Cheddar-Chipotle Quesadillas. For a superb snack in seconds, combine 1 cup grated cheddar with 1 T. sour cream and 1 chopped, canned chipotle pepper. Stir in some of the adobo sauce from the can as well. Use as a filling for quesadillas. Devour them all; repeat.

It's tempting to decry quesadillas as an uninspired dinner. Except they're just so scrumptious, all that melted gooey cheese encased in a crisped tortilla, a hint of heat from chilies perfectly cutting through the richness along with the acidic/sweet bite of just-chopped pico de gallo.

Sweet Potato Rice Pilaf

This time of year, at Cafe Drake HRV, dried cranberries embellish at least 25% of all dishes. We do love our tasty, autumnal antioxidants!

Our Sweet Potato Rice Pilaf with a chopped salad and baked tempeh.

Our Sweet Potato Rice Pilaf is almost substantial enough to serve as a lunch entree, especially if served with a green salad. For dinner, try it alongside steamed veggies and/or stewed black beans. For a one dish meal delivering complete protein, use the the pilaf as a base for thick lentil soup or vegetarian chili.

Begin by heating 2 T. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Fry 1/2 cup diced red onion and 2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped) until soft but not browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1 and 1/3 cups long grain white rice (regular or basmati) along with a large dash of turmeric powder, 1 t. ground cumin and 1/2 t. each salt and black pepper. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly, making certain all the grains of rice are coated in the spiced oil. 

Now add to the saucepan 2 diced sweet potatoes - the pieces should be no larger than 1/2 " each. Cook for another minute. Don't worry if the sweet potatoes begin to stick a bit because now you're going to deglaze the pan by pouring in 3 cups vegetable stock. If you don't have veggie stock on hand, use water and increase the spices and salt amounts. Non-vegetarians of course can use chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to very low. Allow to cook, covered, for 15 minutes. All of the liquid should have been absorbed. Let rest, still covered, for 5 minutes and then fluff the rice with a fork. 

You're good to go or, if so inclined, add a handful of dried cranberries and/or chopped cashews, mix again well and serve hot or very warm.

Lloyd & Arabella Page Adapt to the Cold Weather

Actually, Arabella always prefers the indoors to the outdoors, and after a long walk on a chilly day, the kitchen sofa feels even snugger and warmer.

Lloyd's morning patrol of the front, back and side yards is a brief affair once temperatures dip below freezing. Above, he signals to us that it's time to come back inside. Time to plant himself in front of the furnace vent.

Everyone's warm and cozy inside.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kitchen Snapshots: Drying Herbs + Salsa and Nachos

The arrival of sleet and snow flurries means a final trimming for our herb garden. Above, final survivors oregano and dill are cut and ready for drying at Cafe Drake HRV.

The day may never come when we tire of rice, beans and salsa for dinner at Cafe Drake HRV. Above, two of our favorite condiments with recipe links from our archives: Salsa Cruda and Tomatillo and Chile de Arbol Salsa.

And what more can we say about our passion for nachos? A new obsession is the combo above of stewed black beans, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, a tomatillo and chile de arbol salsa, black olives, sour cream and chipotle chile powder.