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.


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