Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stumbled Across These Two Summer Pics

An eclectic lunch of leftovers and kale salad: from top, clockwise, red pepper hummus, shredded Vietnamese herb and chive omelet and tofu salad, all on toasted corn tortillas. Our recipe for Tofu Salad can be found here. Also in our recent archives are instructions for making the omelet - click here.

Lazy (or just tired) Cooks, add a new stunner to your repertoire of effortless side dishes, simple enough to create while sleepwalking but certain to awaken even the most soporific palettes. Separate 1 head of cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Tightly packing the cauliflower is fine. Drizzle with 1-2 T. vegetable or melted coconut oil, 2 T. hoisin sauce and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Toss well to coat all the florets and then roast for about 25 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree F. oven. Stir the cauliflower once during cooking. Before serving, check for seasoning and amend to your tastes with salt and black pepper.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Week of Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Meals (Mostly Vegan!)

Maple and White Pepper Tempeh, Turmeric Rice, Roasted Onions, Yellow Pear Tomatoes from the garden and Broccoli and String Bean Salad with Tahini Sauce

The baked tempeh is an adaptation of Isa Moskowitz's original recipe for Smokey Tempeh in her comprehensive and essential cookbook Veganomicon. We roast the tempeh in the oven along with thick-cut rings of sweet onion.

Cafe Drake HRV's Ensalada de Cocinero (Chef's Salad) is assembled from Side Yard Garden Greens, Radishes, Cucumbers, Yellow Pear and Honey Drop Tomatoes, Spiced Tostados, Chipotle Deviled Eggs and Potatoes in a Vinaigrette.

Our chipotle deviled eggs are beyond addictive. When reaching for the third, or fourth, we usually remember to start thinking of them as cholesterol bombs. It's a little trick and it works. A couple certainly won't kill you so basically, just hard-boil the eggs, scoop the yolks into a bowl and mix with 3 parts mayo to one part ketchup, season boldly with chipotle pepper powder and smoked paprika, add a drop or two of hot sauce and mix well and re-stuff.

Baked corn tortillas are so versatile and can be used for tostados or in place of crackers or crisp breads. Or break them into pieces for homemade chips. Place the tortillas in a single layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Drizzle with salt and whatever spices you like. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for approximately 6 minutes per side. Check often to make sure they don't burn.

Raiding the garden for dinner is an early evening summertime ritual at Cafe Drake HRV.

Frying tofu, even the extra-firm kind, can be a hassle if you don't want the bean curd crumbly and falling apart. A foolproof method is to cut firm tofu into cubes, toss very very gently with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the cubes and bake for another 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Then add the crispy cubes to whatever you're preparing. In the photo above, we prepared the tofu as described then added to stir-fried carrots and assorted bell and chile peppers. In the last minute of cooking, the tofu went in along with soy sauce, lime juice, some brown sugar and plenty of Thai basil and cilantro.

Tofu with a Soy Chili Sauce, Millet, Baby Lettuces, Cashews and Cucumbers

Blessed blessed leftovers for lunch!

Homemade seitan, in this version, is steamed, not simmered in broth. The texture is a bit denser and ideal for hardier meals.

Cauliflower Cheese, Rye Toast and Tossed Salad seems like a quintessential Nursery Meal. So comforting.

The erstwhile English classic dish, Cauliflower Cheese, is a humble meal so divine it's a staple as well for finicky Brit gourmands. To make it, par-boil large florets of cauliflower and drain. Make a basic white sauce and add grated sharp Cheddar cheese. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt white pepper before serving, ground nutmeg as well if desired.
We get so bored eating brown rice or millet or quinoa more than twice a week. Venturing out of that safety zone of predictable starchy sides inspires entire meals constructed around a novelty ingredient. For example, buckwheat soba noodles can be served cold with a tangy soy dressing or spicy peanut sauce, or piping hot in a comforting bowl of soup. At Cafe Drake HRV this week, in addition to the usual suspects mentioned above, our carbs came from sources as diverse as savory Dill and Chive Scones, a Rye Bread Pudding, whole wheat couscous and corn tortillas.

Cold Soba Noodles tossed with Sesame Dressing, Micro-Greens, Chickpeas, Baked Tofu, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions and Shiso Leaves

A phobia of combining starches in the same meal, say, rice with potatoes, is a pure Western irrationality. Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisines often feature two to three starches on the same plate. And for that matter, ever eaten garlic bread with spaghetti and meatballs? Thought so. Above, Roasted Sweet Potato Spears melded beautifully on the palette with starchy buckwheat noodles. If like us, you like your oven fries crispy on the outside and creamy inside, just cut them into wedges, toss with olive oil, salt and any seasoning you like (cumin + cayenne is a good combo, as is smoked paprika + cinnamon + garlic powder) and roast on a baking sheet, for about 25 minutes total in a 400 degree F. oven. Flip them halfway through cooking and keep an eye on the "fries" during the last few minutes of cooking. They do burn easily.

A torta, or Mexican-style sandwich, is a lifesaver for lazy cooks who happen to be hungry right now.

Ah, summer. Salad, torta and guacamole.

It's hard to not love a torta, or, Mexican sandwich. It's that basic and open to invention but the most commonplace components include a schmear of refried beans, cheese, cilantro and sliced jalapenos. The torta seen above was thrown together from leftovers in 3 minutes. We spread a thin layer of refried black beans on a whole wheat roll, topped with roasted eggplant and red bell pepper and sliced white Cheddar cheese. Popped it under the broiler until the bread began to crisp and the cheese melted, decorated with cilantro and chilies and devoured alongside guacamole and a fresh green salad.

At Cafe Drake HRV sauces, salsas, relishes and chutneys enliven most meals. Above, pan-toasted pecans and garlic were pureed with toasted chiles de arbol to make a nutty sauce that enhanced quesadillas, rice and steamed veggies.

Another salsa, and one we make almost every week during the warm months, is just broiled tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic and onion. Again, it all goes in a blender (with cilantro, salt and lime juice) to be whirled into a spicy, tangy salsa.
A Southwestern, chile-flecked spoon bread before baking.

Puffed, hot and ready to dive into.

Spoon Bread with salad, coleslaw and the two salsas mentioned above.

Tomatillo Salsa
Both of those salsas, along with a traditional tomato version, brought excitement to an otherwise subtly flavored dinner of rice, black beans and steamed vegetables.

Pecan and Chile de Arbol Salsa. Get this recipe + the one for the tomatillo salsa HERE.

Chickpea Cutlets, Chimichurri Sauce, Salad and Greek Potatoes

A gift from the garden that keeps giving - Microgreens. Try mounding just a few atop sandwiches or soups, or decorate an entree with a "green tangle." Snipping the young shoots just above the soil line keeps them growing and returning for weeks on end.

The Eclecticism of Leftovers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Relaxed Baker III: Dill and Chive Scones

We load our savory scones with snipped chives because we have an abundance at Cafe Drake HRV. Scallions however make a splendid substitute.

These scones are the perfect partner to a bowl of soup. They're also welcome beside scrambled eggs, omelets and leafy green salads. Split in half and stuffed with hummus and grilled veggies? Yup, a fave sandwich at Cafe Drake HRV.

As (almost) always we'll be using whole wheat pastry flour here. Start with 2 cups of it in a large mixing bowl. Reach over and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add to the flour 2 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt and stir to combine. Now, quickly in succession, dump in 2 T. vegetable oil, 1 cup plain yogurt (regular dairy or non-dairy), 1/2 cup minced chives or scallions, 2-3 T. chopped fresh dill (less if using dried) and a few grindings of black pepper.

Blend to make a soft dough but don't overwork.

On a floured surface, just pat and shape the dough into a circle, 3/4" thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet - either oiled or covered w/ a silicone mat - and bake for 18-20 minutes. The scones shouldn't be too browned. If you're not sure, stick a knife in the cente rof one and if it comes out relatively clean, they're done.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Relaxed Baker II: Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., pour yourself a cup of good, strong coffee and prepare for a delectable start to your day. In a large bowl beat 2 free-running hen eggs with 1/2 cup vegetable or melted coconut oil, 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla extract. Add 2 mashed ripe bananas and stir to combine.

In another bowl mix 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt. Stir these dry ingredients into the wet ones. Stir just to blend. Don't over mix. Now, add 1/2 cup chopped raw cashews. Again, stir just enough, not too much.

Scoop the batter into an oiled loaf pan and bake for around 30-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out just barely clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

Leftover bread is superb, sliced and toasted, topped with butter or raisin-walnut cream cheese.

The Relaxed Baker Part I: Apricot Oat Squares

Only the easiest pastry "dough" ever. No rolling. No need to knead.

At Cafe Drake HRV we almost always substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white flour in every recipe.

The dough is patted down in a baking dish. That's it, really.

The fruit filling is equally a breeze. It cooks, all in one pan, in about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

First, make the crust by mixing together in a bowl 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 t. baking soda and a large pinch of salt. Stir in 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/3 cup vegetable or melted coconut oil. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup diced dried apricots, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 t. cinnamon, a dash of ground cloves and 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick.

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Press half of the crust on the bottom, patting it down firmly and evenly. Spread the stewed fruit over all. Don't forget the corners. Pat the remaining crust on top, covering completely and again, pressing down firmly.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Everything should be firm to the touch. Cool in the pan and then cut into smallish squares, rectangles, whatever you want.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Baked Mushroom Wontons

Mushrooms make for a meaty, rich wonton filling but any vegetable, finely diced and cooked, will work. In the autumn we stuff the wrappers with diced parsnip and onions, after sauteing the root veggies with soy sauce and Chinese 5-Spice powder.

You're going to the love the results from baking, not frying, the wontons. They come out of the oven juicy and chewy, with crisp, perfectly browned edges!

Baked wontons are not only quick to make, they save you the mess (and calories) of deep-frying. Above, with a sesame dipping sauce and leftover Green Pea Soup. Grab the recipe for the soup from the post below.

Chances are, after just perusing these pics, you've decided to swing by the grocery store on the way home, pick up a pack of wonton wrappers and make these for dinner tonight. Smart decision. We love the fierce good taste of our visitors here at Cafe Drake HRV.

First, figure out what you're doing for a dipping sauce. Your favorite peanut or satay sauce would be an excellent choice, as would just the ponzu or sweet chili sauce in the fridge. An ideal dipping sauce is as simple as combining 2 parts rice vinegar to one part tamari or soy sauce. You can then add, if so inclined, a bit of grated ginger, a minced green chile if you're seeking heat or a spoonful of brown sugar if tastes are running sweet. Set it aside and prepare the mushrooms.

In a skillet over medium heat, saute 2 cups minced mushrooms (cremini or white button are good) and 2 sliced scallions in 1 T. of coconut or vegetable oil. Sprinkle with just a pinch or two of salt to help the mushrooms release their liquid. Once the mushrooms are almost dry - about 6 to 8 minutes usually - season with 2 t. tamari or soy sauce, 1/2 t. powdered ginger, a splash of sake or dry sherry and a few pinches of white pepper.  Stir and cook for another minute then set aside to cool slightly. Adjust seasonings as needed - the mushrooms should be boldly flavored as you'll only be using a small bit per wonton.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil.

Remove the wonton wrappers from their packaging and place on a clean, dry surface. Get a small bowl of water set up next to you. Take one wrapper and turn so it makes a diamond shape. Place a little less than a tablespoon of the mushrooms towards the bottom corner, but not all the way at the bottom. Wet your finger and dampen the top corners of the wrapper. Fold over to make a triangle and press the edges firmly to seal. Place on the oiled baking sheet. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

Before putting in the oven, check to make sure the edges of the wontons are fully closed. You may have to press and pinch a few to seal completely. Brush all wontons lightly with sesame oil. Bake for 10 minutes. No need to flip.

Remove and serve hot or warm with a dipping sauce.

Leftover wrappers can be tightly sealed and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw on the counter for 30 minutes or so.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Of Course We Had to Try Them

Please don't judge. 

We crave junk food sometimes as much as anyone else. 

For the record, both flavors are vegetarian. Sadly, the gyro chips are not vegan due to pesky ingredients like powdered buttermilk and cheese.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Soup and a Sandwich: The Protein-Packed Vegan Edition

An herbaceous fresh (or frozen) green pea soup is light and floral on the palette, just the thing for more delicate summer appetites.

In hot weather you really only need half a sandwich with your bowl of soup. Both your digestive system AND bathing suit will approve.

Tofu Salad Sandwich and Garden Pea Soup with Herbs and Sourdough Crumble

Reheated soup for lunch, with leftover tofu salad, hummus, toast and cashews.

If properly drained of moisture, the tofu salad should keep well for at least three days, refrigerated and tightly covered.

Don't skip the croutons; they add a necessary textural contrast and rich, toasted flavor to an otherwise very light soup.

Making you own hummus at home isn't just easy and economical. The embellishments are limited only by imagination. Above, we added a leftover, cooked sweet potato and some raw red bell pepper to the usual mix of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic.
At Cafe Drake HRV we sometimes press tofu with a bottle of gin. Just saying. Other useful weights for the process include a cast iron skillet or a similarly heavy pan.


Summer 2015 at Cafe Drake HRV has been a season of voracious cookbook reading. This soup appears, albeit a different version, in  Sara Forte's inspirational The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon. Our variation eliminates the dairy, trades leeks for onions and switches up the seasoning. Both ours and the original recipe are excellent!

Begin with a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 T. olive oil and 1 large onion, roughly chopped. Cook the onion until it's soft but not too browned. Sprinkle with salt and then pour in 4 cups vegetable broth. Bring the stock to a simmer and then continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add 3 cups frozen or fresh green peas, a good bit of black pepper and 2 T. each fresh marjoram, parsley and chervil. If you don't have chervil, use tarragon instead. If you don't have fresh herbs, dried will do with the exception of the parsley.

Cook for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a blender and puree until very smooth. This may take a couple of minutes or more. Return the soup to the pan and stir in a spritz of lemon juice. Taste for salt and add as much as you like. Cover and keep on the lowest heat possible while you:

preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rip a few slices of dark sourdough bread into small pieces. Toss with 2 T. olive oil and toast on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, or until crisp. Halfway through toasting, shake the baking sheet around so the croutons brown evenly.

Serve the soup hot, topped with the crumbled, toasted sourdough bread. Fresh chives make a lovely but not essential garnish.


If you think you won't like it, you're the person who needs to try this recipe most of all. It's summer on a sandwich and surprisingly substantial and filling. 

In a large mixing bowl, mash 1 block of firm tofu with a fork. The tofu should be well drained of water. (It's easiest to do this by wrapping the tofu in a clean kitchen towel for 30 minutes, pressing to release as much liquid as possible). Keep the tofu a little chunky and not entirely smooth.

Add 3 scallions (thinly sliced), 2-3 T. minced lovage (or 1/2 t. celery seeds), 1 T. tamari or soy sauce, 1 t. vegetable oil, 1/2 t. turmeric powder, a large pinch or two of sea salt, 1 t. Dijon mustard and 2-3 T. vegan mayonnaise.  Mix until everything sticks together.

Serve on sandwiches with sliced cucumber and sprinkled with paprika. Or as we did, seen above, on toasted and mayo-smeared whole wheat rolls, augmented with thin slices of tomato and lettuce.