Friday, March 13, 2015

Cold Nights and A Lazy Cook

Southern-style cornbread, baked in a well seasoned iron skillet and slicked with plenty of butter, warms up the kitchen on cold nights and takes all of 3 minutes hands-on time to prepare, if you cheat a little: preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, pour about 3 T. vegetable oil in an iron skillet and place it in the oven to heat as well. In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup self-rising cornmeal, 1 cup buttermilk and 1-2 free range eggs. Combine by stirring well. When the oven is preheated, carefully - with a thick oven mitt - remove skillet from oven. Pour the hot oil in to the mixing bowl and immediately stir in to the batter. Quickly pour the batter in to the skillet and return to the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. After removing the corn bread from oven, and while still hot, rub the entire surface with 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter. If a sweeter corn bread is desired, drizzle the surface with 2 T. raw honey and spread evenly. Leftover cornbread can be toasted or crumbled for stuffing and will keep well enough for 3 days refrigerated.

Chili is the perfect cold weather option for a lazy cook. Make a big batch of your favorite recipe and re-heat as needed. When you're sick of slurping it from bowls, reheat in a saucepan over a medium-high flame, stirring often, to thicken and reduce the chili. Now wrap it in a burrito or use as a quick filling for enchiladas. At Cafe Drake HRV we love the thickened chili spread inside a fluffy omelet along with grated Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, served with salsa and roast potatoes.

Warm and cozy in the Cafe Drake HRV kitchen, Arabella Page seems to be feeling a bit lazy herself.

When roasting vegetables for a side dish our philosophy is Use Whatever You Have. All combinations tend to be successful, such as the quirky mix above of broccoli, banana and hot chili peppers, turnips, garlic and red and yellow bell peppers.

Useful Tip: After rolling out pizza dough, bake for about 10 minutes in a preheated 425 degrees F. oven BEFORE adding your cheese, sauce and toppings. By allowing the dough to dry out a bit you'll avoid the dreaded soggy crust that afflicts so many homemade pizzas.

And please tell us you think beyond just mozzarella when crafting your signature pizzas at home. Fresh mozzarella is a standby at Cafe Drake HRV but we like to switch it up sometimes; for example, above, we skipped the sauce and sprinkled a fine smoked Fontina cheese on the pre-baked crust, then topped it with sliced plum tomatoes, red onions, assorted olives and fat, tangy caperberries.

Warming and nurturing Low Effort Cooking at its best - homemade pizza, roasted veggies and a parsley salad.

The leftover roasted vegetable medley topped a salad the following evening, one simply composed of green leaf lettuce, crumbled feta and radish sprouts. Toasted dark rye bread and a bowl of carrot and cilantro soup rounded out the meal.

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