Saturday, March 28, 2015

St Patrick's Day, Our Way

Corned Beef and Cabbage, without the corned beef. We didn't miss the meat in our vegetarian St Paddy's Day meal at Cafe Drake HRV, a sort of homage to the New England Boiled Supper so dear to the hearts of northeastern Irish immigrants.

Carrots, potatoes, celery, rutabaga, cabbage and onions, typically braised with corned beef, excelled as the stars of the meal, served with Irish wholemeal bread, horseradish and dill sauce and a wedge of Ireland's renowned Cashel Blue cheese.

Snipped pea shoots and sprigs of kitchen window thyme brought Spring green flavors to the plate.

Our Irish boiled supper was as simple as simmering root veggies and cabbage, covered in a shallow pan, in a rich veggie broth spiked with a splash of Bass ale. There were plenty of leftovers so the following night we whipped together a classic white sauce, combined it with the lingering veggies and their reduced broth and baked it beneath blue cheese biscuits for a Spring Vegetable Cobbler.

Guess what? We STILL had leftovers, even after sharing with Lloyd and Arabella. Our Vegetable Cobbler reheats beautifully in a conventional oven at 350 degrees.


You'll need, to begin, about 4 cups of vegetable stew, any sort, fresh or leftover. It's important that the stew not have too much liquid; we started with a very brothy stew and reduced it over low heat, then thickened with the addition of a whipped together bechamel sauce.

Pour your stew in a medium size casserole or gratin dish. Re-season if needed to obtain a highly flavored base for the cobbler.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup self-rising flour with a large pinch of salt. Mix. Rub in to the flour with your fingers 2 T. cold butter which has been cut in to small cubes. You'll end up shortly with a crumb-like texture. Now stir in 2 t. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 t. dried) and 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese.

In a small bowl beat 1 free-range egg with 1/3 cup whole milk. Add just enough of this to the flour mixture to create a soft dough. Sprinkle plenty of all-purpose flour on a clean work surface and knead the dough until it's soft and pliable. The dough will be very sticky at first so add small amounts of flour as needed and work with floured hands. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2" and then cut in to 2-inch wide circles.

Place the dough pieces (biscuits) on top of the stew, in a single layer as much as possible. It's fine if a few overlap at the edges. Brush the tops with any of the remaining egg and milk and sprinkle lightly with grated Parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the stew is bubbling underneath. Serve hot or warm with a garden salad.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rosemary Cheese Twists

The Parmesan and herb mixture can be made and refrigerated a few hours before assembling and baking the cheese twists if stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.

We wanted substantial, hefty cheese twists to serve with a soup meal at Cafe Drake HRV so we cut the puff pastry dough in to larger pieces. To make smaller pastries, simply slice the thawed dough in to thinner strips.

A heady mixture of garlic, cheese and herbs is spread between two strips of pastry dough which are then sandwiched together.

The puffed cheese twists are almost irresistible warm from the oven but those willpower will find them delectable even at room temperature.

First things first. Your dough will probably be frozen so you'll need to let it thaw at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. Follow the thawing instructions on the product box carefully.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with either a Silpat (as seen above) or two layers of parchment paper.

In a small bowl mix together 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, 2 T. olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 t. dried oregano, 1 t. crushed dried rosemary leaves, 1/2 t. salt and some red chile flakes to taste. In another small bowl beat 1 egg and set both bowls aside.

Now, sprinkle some all-purpose flour on a clean work surface and unfold 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry dough (sold two sheets per box, frozen).
Sprinkle the pastry lightly with flour and using a rolling pin, roll into a 14 by 10-inch rectangle. Brush the top of the pastry with a beaten egg. Cut in 1/2 lengthwise to form 2 (7 by 10-inch) rectangles. Spread the herb-cheese mixture with the back of a spoon evenly across 1 rectangle. Lay the second rectangle across the coated piece, egg side-down. With the rolling pin lightly roll the 2 sheets together to seal. 

With a large knife cut crosswise into strips, about 1 inch wide each. One at a time, grab the ends of each strip and twist in opposite directions to form a spiral. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheets until cool enough to handle. 

Serve either warm or at room temperature with soups, salads or pre-dinner cocktails.

Monday, March 23, 2015

If You Didn't Make Them The First Time We Posted . . .

You've really got to try our Millet-Sunflower Burgers, or as served above, Millet-Sunflower Croquettes.

These little patties are super easy to make and leftovers will keep, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator, for a full week. Do like Cafe Drake HRV and pop the uneaten ones in the microwave to re-heat for lunch with a salad and coleslaw.

These burgers have truly become a staple at Cafe Drake HRV. We vary the ingredients and seasonings but the basic measurements are the same. Swap almond butter for the sunflower butter for example, or use cooked short-grain brown rice instead of millet. Any fresh or dried herbs you like or have on hand will work so don't stay married to the original recipe. Enough cajoling, grab the recipe here from our 2011 archives.

Tofu "Pakoras" in Tomato and Coconut Curry

The recipe begins with well-seasoned chickpea flour.

Water is added to create a thick-ish batter.

After pressing and draining tofu, the bean curd is cut in to pieces and dipped in batter.

The tofu should be added to the skillet only when the oil is hot. It's also important to maintain a medium heat while frying the tofu.

Battered fried tofu.

Properly fried tofu should not be too oily when removed from the skillet.

Like most Indian curry sauces, this one begins by frying onions to a rich, golden brown.

The sauce simmers prior to adding the fried tofu.

Slowly simmering the tofu in the masala sauce helps it to absorb a world of flavor.

Tofu Pakora Curry with Lentil Sprouts, Basmati Rice and Chopped Salad

Always serve the tofu "pakoras" with plenty of the curry sauce.

And leftovers for lunch.

More leftovers the day after the next day, with more a garden salad with sesame dressing and creamy red cabbage coleslaw.

Pakoras are deep-fried vegetables coated in a batter made from spicy chickpea flour. Served as appetizers, snacks or simply alongside entree dishes, pakoras are also often simmered in a thick sauce of tart yogurt and more chickpea flour to create a wet, soupy curry eaten with rice. Cafe Drake HRV's variation is something altogether different but inspired by the traditional Indian version. It's turned out to be such an exciting creation, one we now make at least once a month, that we had to share it with you.

Start with 1 14-oz. block of extra-firm tofu. Wrap tightly with two paper towels, place on a chopping board and top the tofu with a heavy weight such as an iron skillet or a bowl filled with dried beans. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, unwrap the tofu and pat it dry with a clean kitchen cloth. Slice in half horizontally and then cut in to squares, triangles or, as seen above, triangles. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl mix together 3 T. chickpea flour and 2 T. rice flour. Stir in 1 T. garam masala, 1/2 t. cumin powder, 1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper to taste. Now slowly add water and stir, adding water until you have a smooth batter, just a tiny bit thicker than pancake batter. Add 2 T. very finely minced cilantro and 1-2 small hot green chilies, also finely minced. 

Begin heating 3 T. vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Allow the oil to become quite hot. Dip the tofu pieces in the batter; make sure to at least lightly coat both larger sides, or all sides, if the tofu has been cut in to cubes. Fry in a single layer in the skillet, leaving a bit of space between each "pakora." Fry for 2 minutes  and then flip and cook an additional 2 minutes on the other side. Don't flip the tofu too early or it may stick.

Continue frying the tofu in batches as needed, removing the finished ones to a paper towel to drain. When all of the tofu has been fried, reduce heat to medium-low and add to the skillet 1 small, diced red onion. Cook gently until golden brown but not burned. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 T. minced or grated ginger. Cook for 1 minute then stir in 1/2 t. turmeric powder, 1/2 t. cayenne pepper, 2 t. coriander powder and 1 t. garam masala. Stir for a few seconds and quickly add: 5 canned plum tomatoes (crushed in your hands or roughly chopped) along with their juices, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf. Simmer briskly (raising the heat if needed) uncovered until the tomatoes begin to break down and create a sauce. 

Pour in 1/2 cup water and simmer 5 minutes before adding 1/2 can coconut milk. Season now with salt and black pepper to taste and 2 t. sugar. Stir to combine and add the tofu pakoras back to the skillet. Cook for 10 minutes on a low heat.Turn the pakoras gently now and then to make sure they absorb the sauce.

Finally, remove from heat and taste the sauce for seasoning, correcting as needed. Squeeze half a lime over the contents of the skillet. Scatter chopped cilantro over all and serve with rice or your favorite Indian bread or warmed pita. A salad as basic as leaf lettuce and sliced onions, dressed with just lemon juice and salt, is a perfect accompaniment.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rosemary McKeever-Duys Memorial Luncheon

In Honor of Rosemary and In Sympathy with Her Loving Mom:

Tuscan Chickpea, Cabbage and Rutabaga Soup with Woody Herbs

Parmesan and Rosemary Cheese Twists

Winter Green Salad of Escarole, Parsley, Broccoli and String Beans with a Rosemary-Mustard-Miso Dressing

Getting Through Winter With a Little Help From Our Friends

The happy occasion of another birthday for Ben Terziani brought the good fortune of the good company of friends to our neck of the woods. Above, Jen Ruske feted the evening in style, beginning with admirably swish cocktails at The Corner at Hotel Tivoli.

A royal feast afterwards at PanZur proved that creativity married to profoundly deep flavors is still the rural restaurant's trademark. Dishes sampled included a soup of caramelized onion juice with black onion "dirt"; a sample of cold cuts and pates made from the head of the pig; smoked scallion, cheddar, bacon and okra flatbread; croquetas; beet and fermented turnip salad; mole popsicles and so much more.

Korean Mung Bean Pancakes (Savory, natch)

After soaking for at least 6 hours, the split mung beans and rice are drained and tossed in the blender.

After processing, the resulting puree should have the texture and consistency as above.

Don't overcrowd the pan when frying the pancakes. Use the largest non-stick skillet you have when making

Although the insides will be creamier and lighter than a traditional "pancake" they should look almost identical when cooking.

A traditional no-fuss dipping sauce for the pancakes is made from 2/3 cup rice vinegar, 2 T. soy sauce and minced garlic to taste.

A small mound of parsley salad, topped with homemade radish kimchi, is a perfect side dish.

After they've cooled, leftover pancakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheating is a snap in the microwave; use the Pasta setting for best results.

Leftover pancakes reheat well in the microwave; above, drizzled with a spicy chili sauce and served with cabbage and radish sprouts.

BINDAETTEOK (Savory Mung Bean Pancakes)

Rinse 1 1/2 cups of split mung beans several times in water. The beans can be found at most Asian supermarkets and all Indian grocery stores (under the name moong dal). Combine the beans with 1/4 cup white rice and cover with plenty of water. Allow to soak undisturbed for 6-8 hours. if you want to get a head start, you may soak the beans and rice for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Once the soaking period is over, drain the beans and rice and pour in to a blender or food processor. Add 1/2-3/4 cup water or vegetable broth and puree until smooth. The batter should be just a bit thicker than an average pancake batter; some slight grittiness will remain and that's fine.

Transfer the puree to a large mixing bowl and stir in: 3 cloves of minced garlic, up to 1 cup finely chopped kimchi, a handful of mung bean sprouts (optional), 1 T. soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste and 1-3 sliced hot chilies. Mix well.

In a non-stick skillet heat 3 or 4 T. vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, add to the skillet 2-3 T. batter per cupcake. Spread the batter to form loose circles.Cook 3-4 minutes, flip the pancakes and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from pan to a paper towel and repeat until all of the batter is finished.

Serve with rice and your favorite dipping sauce. Garnishes might include sliced scallions, sprigs of cilantro or more sliced hot chilies.

The Sweet Sweet Children of Cafe Drake HRV

Chinese Stir-fried Lentil Sprouts

clockwise from top: braised daikon, Chinese-style stir-fried lentil sprouts, roasted broccoli and red peppers and carrot bisque.

When slowly braised daikon radishes develop a sweet, earthy flavor and velvety texture. It's as easy as simmering the peeled and sliced daikon, covered, over a low flame for about 30 minutes. For a braising liquid combine water with a generous amount of soy sauce, a splash of dry sherry, some grated ginger and a large pinch or two of sugar.

For this recipe you'll need to first sprout 1/2 - 3/4 cups of regular brown lentils. The process is beyond easy and largely hands-off. Directions can be found here. At room temperature sprouting occurs quickly and the lentils should be ready to eat within 3 days tops.

In a large skillet heat 1-2 T. vegetable oil over a high flame. When the oil is hot add 1 T. sesame seeds and 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes. Allow both the seeds and chilies to darken - this takes mere seconds - and then immediately add 1/4 cup sliced red onion or chopped scallions. Stir once and sprinkle lightly with ginger powder. Add the lentil sprouts and 1 T. tamari or soy sauce. Stir-fry over high heat for 1-2 minutes, adding drops of water if needed to prevent burning. Remove from heat and stir in a few drops of sesame oil. Serve hot or warm with rice.