Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015

above two photos: A fire-side lunch at the historic Hoffman House Tavern in Kingston, NY. We lucked out with a the daily special of a house-made veggie burger, crafted from corn, black beans and brown rice.

Arabella Page is ready to open some presents!

above three photos: Dinner and drinks on a rainy, foggy night at our local inn, The Diamond Mills Hotel.

Peppermint Cupcakes baked and decorated by Mother.

above two photos: Lunch at Crossroads Brewing Company in Athens, NY was followed by a very chilly tour of the hamlet's historic architecture. Other memorable meals during the holidays included Savona's Trattoria and Le Canard Enchaine, both in Kingston, Santa Fe Woodstock in the newly opened Hotel Dylan, our local "Cheers" a/k/a Miss Lucy's Kitchen and brunch at Hudson, NY's gorgeous Swoon Kitchenbar.

above two photos: Baked Gnocchi with Escarole and Roasted Tomatoes

Cocktails with Mother, Lloyd and Arabella 

Early AM coffee with Lloyd and (a very sleepy) Arabella

Arabella stays glued to her Mimi's side, especially during meal preparation!

above two photos: Mother/Mimi handcrafts empanadas by rolling out pastry dough, filling and sealing it and baking until puffed and golden.

Empanadas Two WaysBanana and Cheese & Tuna and Caper 


Butternut Squash and Honeycrisp Bisque with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cumin Croutons

Black-Eyed Pea Pate with Toast Points, Garden Salad and Pickled Green Tomatoes

Mother's homemade Yeast Rolls and Bread

above three photos: Sitting Down to the Holiday Feast

above two photos: Diver Scallops on Celery Root Puree with Mache Leaves and Walnut Oil. Our last two courses included a cheese plate with local honey and Baked Cranberries, Apples and Pecans.

These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things

One: Although not ideal driving conditions, foggy, moody mornings lend deep atmosphere to before-breakfast walks behind Cafe Drake HRV.

Two: Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Fritters from Isa Moskowitz's cookbook classic, Veganomicon

Three: Happy AND grateful for these two! Lloyd called upon his powers of self-healing to conquer a nasty little upper respiratory infection this week. It also didn't hurt to have an attentive nurse by his side.

 Four: Oven Frittata made with pasture-raised hens' eggs

Five: Mash-Up Meals of Leftovers

Reheated Frittata, Basmati Rice, Mache from the garden, pico de gallo and Pickled Chilies

Sesame Noodles, Pan-fried Tofu, Lebanese-Style Roasted Tomatoes

Escarole Salad with Tempeh "Bacon" Lardons, Whole Wheat English Muffins and Sweet Potato Hummus

English Muffins, Yellow Rice, Tempeh, Black Beans, Salsa Cruda and Steamed Broccoli 

Creamy Polenta with Chia Seeds, Roasted Broccoli, Plum Tomatoes, Onions and Cabbage

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Quesadillas and Tostados. What Else?

Roasted red cabbage is a healthy and delicious accompaniment to quesadillas. At Cafe Drake HRV, when serving with Mexican food, the cabbage is tossed with cumin powder, salt and olive oil before roasting and finished with toasted pumpkin seeds and dried cherries.

Pinto Bean and Broiled Poblano Pepper Tostados with "Creamed" Kale and Roasted Red Cabbage

Rich, earthy dried chile salsas compliment perfectly the creaminess of slow-simmered pinto beans. We make a few different salsas from dried chipotle chilies as well as guajillo, ancho and pasilla. Check out acclaimed chef Rick Bayless' website for a treasure trove of recipes.

Vegan Pho

Many recipes for vegan pho suggest shitake and/or portobello mushrooms as substitutes for the traditional sliced beef. We let seitan stand in for the meat and much preferred its flavor and texture.

Another unorthodox replacement in our pho is wide wheat noodles. We like the heft they add to the soup but of course the classic rice noodles will work as well.

A bowl of pho, the traditional Vietnamese beef and noodle soup, made a welcome second appearance at lunch the next day. Although the soup reheats well and keeps in the fridge for a few days, it's best to add freshly cooked noodles to any leftover servings. Wheat or rice pasta will become mushy and pasty if left in the soup too long.

For around 4 servings . . .

Begin by cooking  6 oz. pappardelle noodles until just barely al dente and still very firm. Rinse and drain and toss with 1 T. vegetable or coconut oil; set aside.

In a large saucepan bring to a boil 4 cups vegetable broth along with 4 whole cloves of peeled garlic, 6 or 7 slices of peeled ginger (bruised lightly), 1 and 1/2 t. five-spice powder and 3-4 whole dried red chilies (torn into halves). Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add about 2 cups of thinly sliced seitan and two large handfuls of tat soi or baby spinach leaves and cook another minute or two, just until the seitan is warmed through and the greens have wilted.

Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the juice of one lime, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce and 3 t. brown sugar. Taste for seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.

Using wide soup bowls, divide the noodles evenly among them. Do the same with the seitan, employing tongs or a slotted spoon. This can get messy so have a kitchen towel close by! Now, with a ladle, distribute the broth among the soup bowls.

Finish by garnishing with sliced jalapeno peppers and chopped cilantro leaves and stems. Diners can customize their bowls of pho with additional chilies, lime wedges, mung bean sprouts and hoisin sauce if desired.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Indian Spiced Cucumber Spears

From the forever inspiring Madhur Jaffrey comes this quick technique to dress up crunchy cucumber spears. At Cafe Drake HRV we serve them with cocktails or, sometimes in lieu of a pickle, alongside sandwiches.

Scrub 1 long, cucumber well and, if waxed, peel. Cut horizontally into 4 wedges or spears. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle lightly with lemon juice. Do the same with coarse salt, any kind you prefer. Now, in a small skillet heat 1-2 T. olive oil over a high flame. When the oil is hot throw in 1 t. black mustard seeds and cover the skillet until the seeds have almost stopped popping, a matter of 30 seconds or less usually. Remove lid and throw in 1/2 t. cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle for a few seconds and then pour the oil and seeds, as evenly as you can manage, over the cucumbers. Finish with freshly ground black pepper.

Note: the measurements for the oil and seeds are based on 4 servings (4 long spears).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

(At Least) Five Stress-free Vegetarian Meals

 I. Country-Style Sichuan Soft Tofu

You'll find our recipe for Sichuan Country-Style Soft Tofu HERE in the September 2015 Cafe Drake HRV archives.

II. Okra Curry 

Bhindi Masala, or Okra Curry, is a fast solution when you need a quick Indian food fix. Grab the recipe HERE.

III. Pizza Happens, Especially on Busy Weeknights 

We're so fortunate to have a stellar pizza place in town with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options - Slices of Saugerties.

IV.  Beer-Braised Sauerkraut with Apples

How can something this easy taste so good, so rich, so full of contrasting yet harmonious flavors? Find out for yourself by rinsing well 1 lb. of sauerkraut and leaving to drain in a colander. In a large skillet saute 1 sliced onion in 3 T. olive oil until the onions are brown and very soft. Add the drained sauerkraut, 2 peeled and sliced apples, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup Riesling wine, 1 heaping t. caraway seeds and a large pinch or two of marjoram (use more if the herb is fresh and not dried). Simmer gently, covered for 30 minutes, stirring only now and then. Remove cover, raise heat, and stir in 1-2 T. tomato paste and a couple of dashes of brown sugar. Cook for an additional minute or two, check for seasoning and serve hot, as a side dish, or topping for hot dogs or your favorite veggie burger.

V. Roasted Tofu and Burdock Kinpira

Burdock root and carrots are a perfect food couple, their earthy flavors naturally compatible. You'll find a burdock kinpira recipe HERE in our 2007 archives.

Perfectly crisp and chewy tofu is always obtainable via this method: pat dry and cut into 1" cubes 1 block of extra-firm tofu. Place on a baking sheet and toss (gingerly) with around 2-3 T. vegetable oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Flip the tofu pieces and roast an additional 20 minutes. Enjoy them with a dipping sauce or add to any recipe calling for fried tofu.

Gomashio is a traditional and nutritious dry condiment used for centuries in Japan to season rice. Sure you can buy it at Asian markets and natural foods stores but it takes 5 minutes to make at home and is way, way more economical than store-bought. Not to mention fresher tasting. Just roast 1 cup of unhulled, brown sesame seeds in a non-stick skillet for 3 or 4 minutes. Keep the heat medium-low and shake the pan often to prevent the seeds from burning. When the seeds have turned a shade darker and smell toasted, transfer to a plate and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Toss in a blender, with 1/2 t. coarse sea salt and pulverize briefly. Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 months.

The gardens at Cafe Drake HRV are barren now except for a few leafy greens, including, as seen above, tender and sweet mache leaves.

David Chang's famous quick daikon pickles are ready to eat in 10 minutes! The recipe can be found here on the Food and Wine website.

The unexpected and creative coupling of disparate foods is yet another joy of Leftover Lunches: Tofu and Burdock Kinpira, Quick Pickled Daikon, Radish Sprouts with Creamy Miso Dressing, Brown Rice, Gomashio, Spicy Pinto Beans and Broiled Poblano Peppers.