Thursday, July 30, 2015

Some Favorite Summer Meals (now that it's REALLY getting HOT!)

1. Leftover Pizza

This fast, cracker-like pizza crust is ideal for reheating. We place leftovers directly on the oven rack and heat at 350 degrees F. for only 5-10 minutes. The toppings for our Garden Pizza were, besides the cheese, sourced entirely from the side yard: fresh mozzarella; grape, pear and cherry tomatoes and hot chili peppers.

2. Ginger Tofu

Baked Ginger Tofu, Curried Millet, Bok Choy Kimchi, Mushroom Pate, Lemon Cucumbers and Chinese Five Spice Cauliflower

The longer the tofu bakes, or if cooked at a higher temperature, the chewier (and meatier) it will become. Although the denser, drier tofu is perfect for autumn and winter, at Cafe Drake HRV we prefer an airier texture in hot weather. Not to mention less minutes running a hot oven.

The recipe for Ginger Tofu is adapted from The Kind Diet by actor Alicia Silverstone, a cookbook packed with recipes and vegan lifestyle tips both practical and easy and some reserved for special occasions. Start things by patting dry, and then cutting lengthwise into 4 large slices, 1 block of extra-firm tofu. Set the tofu aside, wrapped in a kitchen towel to absorb more moisture, while you whisk together in a small baking dish: 1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce, 1 T. sesame oil, 2-3 T. minced ginger, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 t. maple syrup, a large pinch of sea salt and 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes. Place the tofu in the marinade and cover. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature, flipping the tofu every 15 minutes or so. When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pour most of the marinade into a small bowl, leaving about 3 T. or so in the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes and flip the tofu pieces. Add more marinade, a very little bit, and bake 15 minutes longer. Serve hot, warm or even cold, in sandwiches or sliced over a salad. Refrigerate the remaining marinade for up to 3 days and use for marinating vegetables for the grill, for tempeh or even to make this delicious dish again tomorrow night!

3. French Lentil Salad

We first sampled - and fell in love with - this salad in a no-frills cafeteria in Paris back in 1989, the sort geared to office workers needing lunch in a hurry. By now the salad has graduated to All-Stars status and appears on the menu of almost every NYC and Hudson Valley bistro, as a side dish or, more frequently, as a bed for roasted fish. However you wish to enjoy, this summery salad deserves a place in your fridge. At Cafe Drake HRV, a covered bowl has its own refrigerator parking spot! To make it, you must start with either tiny black Beluga lentils of the miniscule French Le Puy green lentils. Regular brown lentils, perfect for so many things, will only end up a gray, messy mush here. So bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and add 1 cup tiny French lentils. Immediately reduce the heat to a low and steady simmer; boiling will cause the lentils to burst. Cook just until the lentils have softened but still have a bite, al dente in other words. It helps to start checking for doneness after 15 minutes and then every 5 minutes after. When cooked properly, drain the lentils in a colander and set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 T. grainy or Dijon-style mustard, 3-4 T. good olive oil, 1-2 T. red wine vinegar and salt and black pepper to taste. Add the drained lentils to the bowl along with 1/2 cup minced onion, a small handful of chopped parsley and 2-3 T. chopped tarragon or chervil leaves. Mix gently but well and chill until ready to serve.

4. Chervil. In Everything.

 5. Garden Salads, Cold Noodles

A perfect salad quartet of lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, oak leaf lettuce and Kalamata olives.

Chopped Salad, French Lentil Salad and Sesame Noodles with Stir-Fried Zucchini and Cilantro. All served on a chilled plate. With a cold glass of Pinot Grigio. Even on the hottest days, you can feast like a royal without breaking a sweat.

6. Isa Does It Again: World's Best Smokey Tempeh

Green Salad, Smokey Tempeh, Broiled Eggplant and Hot Peppers, Coleslaw and Quinoa

Those who claim to loathe tempeh, please give this a try. But only if your ego can stand a complete change of heart! It's really that good. So you're going to take an 8-oz. package of tempeh and slice it into 4 pieces; cut in half width wise, then cut those two pieces diagonally into 2 triangles. Now you've got 4 triangles! Bring a saucepan of water to a low boil, reduce to low simmer and add the tempeh. Cook on very low for 10 minutes. DO NOT allow the water to boil or the tempeh will fall apart. While the tempeh is lightly poaching, make the marinade by combining: 1/4 cup water, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce, 2 T. vinegar, 2 T. natural liquid smoke, 2 T. vegetable oil, 1-2 T. maple syrup and 1 t. garlic powder. As soon as the tempeh has pre-cooked, with tongs, gently transfer it, while still very hot, to the marinade. Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature, turning now and then for even soaking. Finally, after an hour, lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat the broiler. Place the tempeh on the baking sheet and spoon over it a few tablespoons of marinade. Broil on High for 5 minutes, flip the tempeh and spoon on more marinade. Broil for 5 minutes, drizzle a bit more marinade on the tempeh (no need to flip again) and broil for another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just Found These Food Photos. Circa last month.

This looks like it was a satisfying dinner at Cafe Drake HRV: Millet, Kohlrabi Curry, Salad, Miso-Lentil Gravy and homemade Merguez "sausages" (vegan). The recipe for the GRAVY can be found HERE in our archives.

Look slike we had leftover kohlrabi curry and vegetarian homemade sausages for lunch the following day, with a Vietnamese Eggplant Salad and Millet-Scallion Pancakes. You'll find the recipe for the millet pancakes HERE in the Cafe Drake HRV archives.

Side Yard Garden Nachos, Ginger-Coconut Cabbage and A Buddha Bowl That's a Real Jerk!

Organizing the nacho fixings: everything except the pickled jalapeno came from the Cafe Drake HRV side yard - papalo leaves, pea shoots, scallions, cherry tomatoes and Honey Drop tomatoes.

So good we couldn't wait to even plate. We gobbled the nachos right off the baking sheet!

A variety of flavors and textures is the key to elevating nachos to the transcendent level. Our latest lunch batch at Cafe Drake HRV included aged Jack cheese, Gouda cheese with chilies, pickled jalapenos, Honey Drop cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, papalo, pea shoots, scallions and ancho chile powder.

Since cabbage is so plentiful these days at all local farmers' markets and produce stands, you really can't have too many quick-fix recipes for this nutritious green. Bookmark this one for autumn and winter as well, when cabbage is one of the few fresh, local veggies available: in a large, deep skillet heat 2 T. vegetable or coconut oil over a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot add 1 sliced onion, 2 T. minced ginger and 2 carrots, peeled and diced. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Now add 1/2 head of cabbage (coarsely chopped), more salt to taste, 3/4 t. turmeric powder and 1 T. sugar or honey. Stir well, cover the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow the cabbage to cook until soft and almost dry. (You may need to at some point add a tablespoon or two of water if the cabbage is threatening to stick or burn.) When the cabbage is done, remove from heat and sprinkle with 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut. Season aggressively with ground black pepper and more salt if desired.

Our Jamaican Jerk Buddha Bowl begins with a bed of red quinoa.

The grain then gets topped with Ginger-Coconut Cabbage and Jerk Tofu and Veggies. We used a summery blend of zucchini, red bell peppers, Vidalia onions and tangy green tomatoes. To make the tofu and vegetable jerk: pat -dry and then cut 1 block extra-firm tofu into 2" squares. Place in a ziplock bag with 1 heaping teaspoon Grace jerk seasoning paste along with 1 T. vegetable or coconut oil. We use the Grace jar labeled "hot" and it's got quite a kick to it. The brand is widely available at many supermarkets and specialty food shops. Carefully, gingerly, with delicate movements, massage the bag so that the marinade coats the tofu. Now add to the bag 1 lb. of any chopped veggies you like. The vegetables should all have fairly compatible cooking times. Add one more teaspoon of the Grace jerk seasoning and again, massage the marinade paste into the contents of the bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 24. When you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and place the tofu, veggies and any remaining marinade on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, stir the vegetables and flip the tofu cubes and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes. If you prefer, try threading the tofu and veggies on skewers and cooking on a well-oiled grill.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Curried Millet with Assorted Greens and Mushroom Pate

A lot's happening on this plate, thanks to a fridge full of prepared side dishes, condiments and snacks. With a stockpile of cold items like this, dinners are assembled in a flash. The only hot dish is the Curried Millet, augmented by Tofu-Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, 30-Minute Kimchi, Tamari-Preserved Shiso Leaves, Marinated Broccoli Rabe, Cherry Tomatoes from the garden, Mashed Chickpea Salad and Mushroom Pate.

An ancient Korean condiment of shiso leaves marinated in tamari (or soy sauce). The saltiness of the tamari enhances the unique flavor of shiso and lends the leaves a chewier, more toothsome quality. They'll keep for 5 or 6 days refrigerated and any leftover tamari, deeply redolent of shiso flavor, is a real treat sprinkled on rice or sliced tomatoes.

One of the richest and smoothest vegetable pates we know, our Mushroom Pate can be served with any type of food, at any time. Even breakfast! Try a couple of tablespoons smeared inside an omelet or spread on crispy bread for a cheeky take on the British breakfast classic, Mushrooms on Toast.


Heat 1 T. vegetable or mustard or coconut oil in a saucepan over a high flame. When the oil is very hot but not yet smoking, add 1 t. black mustard seeds. Immediately cover the pan and wait for the seeds to pop, shaking the pan now and then. It should only take about 30 seconds and you'll hear the seeds popping less and less. Quickly remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Toss in 1 onion (diced small) and cook for a couple of minutes. If you need to, add a few more drops of oil. Now add 3/4 cup millet and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, until you can smell the nutty aroma of the grain.

Add 1 t. ground turmeric, 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, 4-6 cardamom pods (cracked), about 1/4 - 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes. Stir to coat the millet and onions with the spices and then pour in 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and quickly reduce heat to the lowest setting. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed and the millet is tender. Some of the individual grains will retain a pleasant crunch; that's millet for you!

Remove from heat and throw in 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries and 1/4 cup minced cilantro. Cover again, let rest for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve hot or very warm. A true favorite side dish at Cafe Drake HRV, the millet can be served as the starch component of any sort of meal.


Begin by washing and drying very well 14-16 large shiso leaves. A salad spinner is most helpful here.

Shake well in a jar with a lid, 3-4 T. soy sauce, 1 T. sesame seeds (ground into a powder), 3 T. slivered scallions, 1 T. crushed garlic, 2 T. sesame oil and 1 t. brown sugar.

Now, in a small bowl with a lid - or a glass Tupperware container - begin layering the shiso leaves on top of each other, sprinkling a bit of the seasoned soy sauce on each leaf. When you reach the top leaf, pour any remaining sauce over all and press the leaves down to submerge. The shiso won't be covered completely but it will release its own liquid over the next few hours.

The shiso will keep for at least 3 or 4 days, tightly covered, in the fridge. Use any leftover soy sauce as a dip or for seasoning vegetables or rice.


We'll start with 2 1/2 - 3 cups of diced mushrooms, any kind you like and that includes plain old white button 'shrooms. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a skillet and saute 1 1/2 cups chopped onion until soft and browned. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, just until the mushrooms are soft.

Transfer the skillet contents to a blender and puree until smooth. You can add up to 2 T. water if needed.

Now add to the blender 1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds ( you should probably do this before you start the recipe, or not), 1 t. tamari or soy sauce, a pinch of sea salt and 2 t. nutritional yeast. Blend until you get a thick and largely smooth texture. Chill and serve cold, with toast points or crackers. This makes an exceedingly easy and impressive starter if plated with crostini, sweet pickles and a tiny dab of grainy mustard.

Waiting on Dinner

We're happy to see that Lloyd is looking after himself and taking measures to stall visible signs of aging.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Welcome to Our World

All Hail the New Arrivals, Peter Joseph and Henry Johns Ruske-Terziani! These two were early to the party, and if they're anything like their mother, sure to be the last to leave. Something tells us that with two uber-talented cooks for parents (Jen Ruske and Ben Terziani) this pair is going to mature into a Super Foodie Duo. Looking forward to many years ahead of dinners w/ the clan at Cafe Drake HRV!

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Little Bit Greek, A Little Bit Turkish, More Than A Little Bit Delicious

Before making stuffed grape leaves, per usual, we scanned a number of recipes, gleaned info and then prepared them according to our own preferences. First, we needed to decide whether we wanted the super tangy, salty flavors of Greek grape leaves or the sweeter, denser experience of Turkish stuffed leaves. Since we have a hard time making up our minds at Cafe Drake HRV, we sorta accomplished both. Above, ingredients ready for mixing: short grain brown rice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, dill, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.

Rinsing and draining jarred grape leaves. If you have fresh, by all means use them but they'll need to be blanched in boiling water before stuffing and rolling.

Only one or two teaspoons  - maximum - per leaf. Over-stuffing will only bring tears and split leaves.

Rolled leaves packed tight in a single layer in a wide skillet.

The rolled leaves are covered with water, lemon juice and olive oil and then steamed/simmered. The whole allspice berries are a Cafe Drake HRV addition.

The grape leaves may be served warm or cold. They make Perfect Picnic Food.

Dinner of Stuffed Grape Leaves, Greek Potatoes, Garden Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
To make about 24 stuffed grape leaves, rinse and drain a jar of grape leaves. You'll have lots of leaves left over so either double the recipe or use in another recipe. For example, try wrapping a leaf around a small piece of soft goat cheese and allow to marinate for 3 or 4 days refrigerated. Or wrap a leaf around fresh fish or slabs of tofu and grill for a mysterious, musky and delicious change of pace (be sure to oil well before slapping on the grill).

So while the grape leaves are draining, mix together in a large bowl 2 cups of cooked short grain brown rice, 1/4 cup minced fresh dill leaves, a couple of large shakes of onion powder, 2-3 T. olive oil, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds and plenty of salt to taste. Season with black pepper if you like. With your clean hands, mix and mash the ingredients together, not to a mush, but so they sort of all adhere together.

Spread a grape leaf on a clean surface, shiny side facing down, and put in the middle lower section of the leaf 1-2 t. of the rice mixture. Fold in the sides and roll up just like a burrito. When done, squeeze the rolled and stuffed leaf gently, making sure it's tight and not unraveling. Repeat until all of the rice has been used.

Snugly fit the grape leaves into a wide, deep skillet or saucepan. Cover with 3/4 cup water or however much it takes to cover completely all the leaves by 1/4". Pour in 2-4 T. lemon juice and drizzle with more olive oil, not a lot, maybe 1-2 tablespoons. Throw in a few whole allspice berries, around 8-10. Bring to a low boil, cover and simmer gently for around 40 minutes. Almost all of the liquid should be absorbed. Cool covered for 10 minutes then carefully remove to a platter or cool completely and refrigerate. The stuffed grape leaves will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3 or 4 days.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Good News from the Garden

Even on the hottest day, even at noon, we can appreciate the gardens of Cafe Drake HRV, even if only through a glass door.

A favorite spot to relax after pruning, weeding and watering!

Peak Growing Season now in the Hudson River Valley.
Heaps of mint are harvested every other day for drying.

An arrangement sourced from the Cutting Gardens.

Our first eggplant. Ever!
Several varieties of lettuces and a mound of chives ensure that no meal is without fresh greens at Cafe Drake HRV.

Bachelor Buttons are such a winning combination of bright blue flowers and silvery, elegant leaves.

(above photos) The Cutting Garden

Soon we'll have string beans.

Arabella Page up and about, soaking up a glorious July morning.
There's of course a less pretty side to beautiful gardens. Above, the daily task of weeding and clearing. And then sweeping.

Soundbites to Snack On

The first full "head" of bok choy harvested from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens was washed, dried, sliced and prepped for "quick kimchi." This fast-growing vegetable is easy enough for even novice gardeners like ourselves.

We'll never say enough times, you must try the 30-minute kimchi recipe found on the charming blog Beyond Kimchee. Kimchi of course is made from many different vegetables and we swapped bok choy for the Chinese cabbage in the original recipe. The best news is that even this hasty version does to some extent begin to ferment, in the fridge, over the course of a few days, adding that delectable tang and a healthy dose of probiotics.

Who doesn't love a "bowl dinner?" Our Buddha Bowl this particular evening consisted of a bed of brown rice topped with 30-Minute Kimchi, Pickled Onions, Steamed Broccoli, Cukes and Tomatoes from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens, garden Lettuces, a Fried Free-Running Hen's Egg and our patented Sesame Bean Pate.

Here's a recipe created this week to complement our most recent Buddha Bowl - Sesame Bean Pate. The ingredients may seem odd but the final result is rich and silky and equally suitable as a side dish, an appetizer or a quick snack (with toasted baguette slices or rice crackers). In a mixing bowl mash well with a fork 1 cup pinto beans. If using canned beans, please first rinse and drain. The beans should be completely mashed before adding 3 T. smooth peanut butter, 2-3 T. tomato paste, a hefty dash of jalapeno powder, 1 T. sesame oil and truffle salt and black pepper to taste. Mix altogether into a very stiff, thick puree. Transfer the mixture to a mini loaf pan lined with wax paper. Smooth the surface, cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours. Unmold and carefully cut into slices. You can also just pack the pate into a small serving dish or crock if enjoying as a thick spread. If you don't have truffle salt, use sea salt and add a few drops of truffle oil. If you have neither truffle oil or salt, not to worry - replace the salt with tamari or soy sauce for a delectable umami flavor.

Freshly rolled out, topped and ready for the oven. It's a Garden Pizza!

A slice of Garden Pizza with kale and fresh peas from the side yard. The veggies are simply steamed and tossed with olive oil, finishing salt and a dash of red wine vinegar.

Our pizza this evening was topped with fresh mozzarella, yellow and red tomatoes, hot cherry peppers, roasted red bell pepper and fresh marjoram, basil and oregano. The thin cracker-like crust is a time-saving revelation. Read about it - and grab the recipe - right here from an earlier post.