Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And Now We Return To The Recipes . . .

After lots of fun holiday pics, it's back to our regular programming. Recipes and recent, documented meals below.

Broiling in the oven an ordinary block of tofu transforms the soft, creamy bean curd into chewy morsels, crisp on the outside and with a mouth-feel close to chicken. For those who enjoy that sort of thing.

We always broil veggies alongside tofu at Cafe Drake HRV. Most will burn if not watched closely so keep checking, and turning, the vegetables after the first 5 minutes under the broiler. Carrots, parsnips and potatoes work especially well; be sure to cut into larger shapes as above. Whole string beans and button mushrooms also intensify in flavor when broiled but both have a tendency to scorch if not cooked carefully.

Broiled Tofu and Carrots, Steamed Broccoli, Rice with Shiso Powder and Tahini Sauce.

Let's make the broiled tofu and carrots together. Remember, feel free to swap out the carrots for another vegetable or mix them in with onions and potatoes, as just one suggestion. Begin by preheating our broiler to HIGH. Cover one large baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil. In a small bowl mix together: 2 T. soy sauce or tamari, 2 t. vegetable oil, a pinch of salt and a large pinch or two of black pepper. Now, dip into the mixture your chopped carrots (about 1/2 lb. or more, peeled, cut lengthwise in half and then in halves crosswise to create batons) and your firm or extra-firm tofu (1 14-oz. package drained, pressed dry with a paper towel and cut into 1X2" rectangles). As you dip each piece place it on the baking sheet. Do not overcrowd and leave about 1" of space between the tofu pieces as they will expand when broiled. Broil for 20 minutes, slightly less if anything begins to burn. You may need to remove the carrots before the tofu. Turn the tofu pieces 4 times, once every 5 minutes and give the carrots a flip now and then as well. Remove from the oven and add to stir-frys or soups and stews, or serve as a vegetarian entree by tossing the broiled tofu and carrots with some slivered green onions, 1 t. sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar. If desired season additionally with salt and cayenne pepper.

Bratwurst are traditionally braised in beer and then grilled, at picnics across the Midwest, but our cooking method at Cafe Drake HRV is simpler and just as satisfying. To begin, heat a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add to it 1 T. vegetable oil. While the pan and oil heat up, lightly prick about 1 lb. of bratwurst links with a fork. When the oil is very hot add the bratwurst and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned on all sides. The outside should also be somewhat crispy. Remove the sausages from the pan and add 1 sliced onion. Cook for a minute or two then pour in 1-2 cups of hard cider. Regular apple cider may also be used instead. Return the bratwurst to the skillet, reduce heat immediately to a low setting and cover. Gently, very gently, braise the bratwurst until cooked through, generally 15 minutes or less. Remove bratwurst and serve on a hard roll, drizzled with pan juices and onions (Wisconsin style) or with mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles.

Saute the onions for only a couple of minutes, just enough to release their flavor without browning.

A  Pilsner or any pale beer or even plain apple cider can be substituted for the hard cider.

Our cider-braised bratwurst with onions, mashed rutabagas and a green salad.

Dinners lighter than bratwurst and mashed root veggies tend to prevail at Cafe Drake HRV, even in the approaching frigid months of January and February. Blackened salmon may reek of dated 80s cuisine but it can't be beat when you're under the clock and need a protein entree in less than 5 minutes. That's right, just about 5 minutes. Here's how: heat an iron skillet over a high flame for 2 minutes or until screaming hot. While the pan is heating sprinkle both sides of a salmon filet with salt, black pepper, cumin powder, paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. When the pan is crazy hot, drizzle in 2 t. or so of olive oil and swirl to coat skillet. Place the salmon in pan and cook for a minute or two per side, pressing down with a spatula to char the surface. Don't overcook; the salmon will taste best if blackened on the outside and still medium-rare on the inside.

Serve the blackened salmon filet over a Caesar Salad if you're REALLY into that 80s pub food vibe or with any side vegetable and starch. Above, our filet nestled atop red quinoa and with yet another Cafe Drake HRV tossed salad.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Everyone!!

(Photo from the 1947 Chelsea Arts Ball in London, England. More pics and fascinating New Year Eve party history at Messy Nessy Chic.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Hudson Valley Christmas: Photo Essay by Lucie Thieuleux

As you'll note if comparing, our niece Lucie is the most talented shutterbug in the family! Below are some pics she snapped while visiting for the holidays.

God Bless Us Everyone or, Christmas 2014 at Cafe Drake HRV

Our niece Lucie, visiting Cafe Drake HRV from Paris, knows how to coax a pit bull smile from Arabella.

Arabella made Lucie feel right at home by sharing her kitchen sofa for rainy day naps.

Mother bakes cookies with supervision from Arabella.

Too many presents is a blessing.

We love these decorated pine cones, collected and glammed up by Mother.

The table is set for Christmas Eve dinner.

Multiple courses require multiple pieces of silverware. Special occasion meals are all about playful excess at Cafe Drake HRV.

To us, jewel tones compliment the traditional red and green color-scape of the holiday.

Lucie loved our house cocktail of gin, maple syrup, lemon juice and bitters.

Making drinks. As usual.

At The Beekman Arms in nearby Rhinebeck, NY.

Santa has arrived!
Lucie lights up the dining room, figuratively and above, quite literally.

The opening course of Xmas Eve dinner was a porcini mushroom veloute/soup.

Our second course was a house-made chicken liver and cognac pate, served with curly endive, toast points and curried bread-and-butter pickles.

Lucie documents the behind-the-scenes action in the kitchen.

Mimi spoils Lloyd with bits of our fish and cockles entree.

"Thank you, Mimi!"

Lucie prepared a stunning main course of poached fish and steamed cockles with a white sauce, accompanied by zucchini and peas.
Kisses from Arabella.

The cheese course was a creamy, washed-rind fromage bleu with charcoal crackers and preserved and candied green walnuts.

being lazy while Lucie grates mounds of Emmental and Gruyere cheeses for a fondue dinner Christmas night.

Lloyd Page, the Christmas Cat.
Mother enjoys a Manhattan before dinner while Arabella sniffs out cocktail snacks.

Who doesn't like to gather around a pink tabletop tree in a purple guest room?

Posing with Lucie before setting out to the Fischer Center to see Nut/Cracked, an irreverent and beautiful riff on Tchaikovsky's Christmas masterpiece.