Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jerk Tofu & Vegetables with Indo-Caribbean Greens

Sprouted super firm tofu earns major bonus points at Cafe Drake HRV for its enhanced nutritional value and ease of prep; this type of tofu doesn't have to be pressed and drained before proceeding with a recipe. Several brands are available everywhere, from natural foods stores to your local supermarket to Trader Joe's.

Our Indian-inspired side dish of sauteed greens is comprised of kale and radish greens plucked from the garden. Any sort of leafy green vegetable will work just as well - Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens - but the tougher varieties need a longer cooking time.

Before the chopped leafy greens are added to the pan, dried red chilies and kali jeeri and nigella seeds are sizzled in a bit of hot oil. If you don't have kali jeeri in your cabinet, cumin seeds are a fine replacement. If you don't have nigella seeds, also known as kalonji, proceed without them. The recipe will taste just fine but lack the characteristic flavor and scent of nigella seeds, a spice which has no substitute.

Arabella is excited by the aromas of jerk tofu!

"Um, I'm waiting . . ."

For a Jamaican theme meal, serve the jerk tofu and vegetables with rice and peas.


Begin with 1 16-oz. block of super-firm sprouted tofu or extra-firm tofu. Blot dry with a kitchen towel and cut into 1-2" cubes. Peel and cut into long slices 2-3 carrots. Quarter two small onions. Slice thickly  1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper.

Mix in a 1-gallon freezer bag 1 T. vegetable or coconut oil with 3 t. GRACE jerk seasoning (we use the jar labeled Hot). Add the tofu and veggies to the bag and gently agitate so that all is covered with the marinade. Don't press too hard however or the tofu may crumble. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour or as long as overnight if refrigerated.

When ready to enjoy, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the tofu and vegetables, in a single layer, on  a large baking sheet or two smaller ones. Don't worry about crowding too much and don't even think of leaving a drop of the marinade behind in the freezer bag.

Roast for about 25-35 minutes, stirring the tofu and veggies a couple of times while cooking.

When ready, the jerk tofu/vegetables can be enjoyed hot, with rice and peas, at room temperature or even cold. At Cafe Drake HRV we nestle chilled leftovers inside pita bread for picnic sandwiches, moistened with a spoon or two of a mild vinaigrette.


Begin by washing, rinsing and cutting into thin slivers a large bunch of leafy greens; here, we used about 1/2 kale and 1/2 long, bushy radish greens (ideally, greens from daikon or another large radish). Set aside while you heat 1 T. of oil in a wide skillet over a medium-high flame.

When the oil is very hot toss in 1/2 t. kali jeeri seeds and 1/4 t. nigella seeds (also known as kalonji). Cook for a few seconds and then add 1 whole dried red chili. Cook for a few more seconds or until the chili is darkening.

Now add all at once the chopped greens, 1-2 minced hot green chilies, a pinch or two of turmeric powder and at least 1/4 t. salt. Toss well, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir now and then - and add bits of water as needed to prevent sticking or burning - for about 5 minutes.

Remove the heat and add a splash of fresh lemon juice. Cover the pan again and let rest, off heat, for another 5 minutes before serving hot. Add more salt if needed.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is a mash-up culled from two seemingly disparate sources - vegan chef and guru Isa Moskowitz and domestic arts icon Martha Stewart. Cafe Drake HRV adapted and combined the two original recipes to fit our own preferences and accommodate the ingredients we had handy.

Lots of oats and tangy, nutritious dried cranberries make these cookies sorta healthy. You should feel free to replace the cranberries with raisins or dried cherries, whichever you prefer.

"And when do you think these cookies are gonna be ready?"

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line 1 very large baking sheet with a Silpat. If you don't have either, simply use two smaller baking sheets and parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl stir with vim and vigor: 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 free-running hen's egg and 1 T. ground flaxseed. When all is well combined add 1 t. vanilla extract and stir again.

Now add 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 t. baking soda, 3/4 t. ground cinnamon and 1/2 - 3/4 t. salt. Stir to combine again. Note: if you don't have whole wheat pastry flour, substitute unbleached white flour.

Add 1 1/2 cups rolled oats and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Mix into a loose sticky dough. Wet hands might just be the best tools for the job.

Using 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough onto the baking sheet. Flatten just a bit with your wet fingers. You should have a total of 5-7 JUMBO cookies. Bake for 14 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown. When you remove the baking sheet from the oven the cookies will be huge and still too soft. No worries, just let cool for 10 minutes before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack for another 30 or so minutes.

Tightly wrapped or covered, the cookies will stay fresh, chewy and delicious at room temperature for about 5 days.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Growing Season at Cafe Drake HRV: Part III (EPIC Post!!)

Lovage grows next to - and around - neighboring irises and peonies.

With their luxurious blooms, lush dark leaves and subtle, heavenly scent, peonies are our favorite flower.

Arabella Page supervises from the front door. It was too hot for her to help outside.

Lloyd Page is always on the prowl.

Our mother gave us komatsuna seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library and this Asian leafy green vegetable is holding on during another heat wave. Komatsuna, like all other brassicas, prefers cooler temperatures.

Tiny green peas will soon emerge, in pods, from these climbing vines. The small white flowers are a decorative bonus and really pop in the garden.

Got Dill? Got Arugula? We do.

The kohlrabi is enjoying a growth spurt!

Lloyd Page patrols the garden perimeter. Daily. Several times a day.

Lloyd is kinda obsessive and that's just how we like our security detail at Cafe Drake HRV.

Arabella decided it was still too hot to venture outside.

Always on the lookout.

SAD POSTSCRIPT: A few of these photos were snapped just hours before a devastating storm/tornado blew through the hamlet of Glasco, leaving downed trees, power lines and shredded flowers and seedlings in its wake. Photos of the aftermath to soon follow. Parts of the garden remained unharmed and most importantly, Lloyd and Arabella weathered the storm inside, safe and dry.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Roasted Tempeh with Tomato and Orange Agrodolce

We love this recipe because it allows you to have dinner ready in less than an hour, along with a green veggie AND a whole grain if you so choose. Here's how we materialize a favorite dinner at Cafe Drake HRV:

Let's slice 1 8-oz. package of tempeh (any kind you like, plain, with flax seeds, 5-grain etc.) into thin rectangles and steam for 15 minutes. Remove the tempeh and allow it to cool to room temperature. Place it in a zip-lock bag along with: 1/2 cup red wine or cider vinegar, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce, a large pinch of sugar, a very large pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 T. olive oil. Seal the bag, agitate it gently to combine all the ingredients and allow the tempeh to marinate at room temperature, still sealed, for 1 hour. If you wish to marinate longer, such as overnight, refrigerate.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Roast the tempeh in a single layer on the baking sheet for about 25 minutes. Flip the slices once, halfway through cooking. 

While the tempeh is roasting make the sauce by heating 1 T. olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup diced onion, 1 small orange bell pepper (roughly chopped) and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until the veggies are soft. Add 1 24-oz. can of whole tomatoes, crushing a bit with your hands as you drop them in the skillet. Pour in all the juice as well.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in 3 T. brown sugar, the juice from 1 orange, 1 T. orange zest, 2 T. balsamic vinegar and 1/2 t. ground cinnamon. Cook for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes begin to break down. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Finally, assemble it all, enjoying the roasted tempeh with the warm tomato sauce with brown rice, quinoa, garlic bread or over your favorite pasta.

Making a Meal of Small Bites

Roasting eggplants with olive oil, salt, black pepper and sprigs of lemon thyme.

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk Dressing and Pomegranate Molasses, Caperberry and Side Yard Arugula. Grab the eggplant recipe HERE in the Cafe Drake HRV archives.

Hard-boiled Egg with Baharat Spices and Tahini Sauce, House-Pickled Okra, Purple Streak Mizuna.

Marbled Cheshire Cheese, Dehydrated Pineapple, Syrup-Preserved Walnut and Bread.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Couple of Scrumptious and Utterly Simple Green Bean Recipes

Green Beans with Red Curry is another recipe that seems too simple to produce such awe in the mouth. Like most great dishes the trick is to find the freshest, tastiest green beans possible.

Our Green Bean Pate however is every bit as delicious prepared with frozen beans.

Fresh marjoram makes the pate scream with bright flavor but dried will work as well.

An odd assortment of ingredients are ready to be blended!

Walnuts AND hard-boiled eggs make this a high protein pate without loads of saturated fat.
Okay there are more attractive means of serving the pate than in the photo seen above, dolloped next to an herb salad and portobello mushroom  burger. Try presenting the green bean pate in well-chilled ramekins, with triangles of toasted  pita bread, as an appetizer course. Leftover pate is an excellent sandwich spread, topped with sliced onions and bread and butter pickles.


In a large saucepan heat 2 T. vegetable or coconut oil over a medium-high flame. Add 3 T. red curry paste and saute for one minute, stirring constantly. Add 3/4 cup peeled and diced potatoes and 4 T. minced onion. Stir-fry vigorously for two minutes. Now add 5-6 cups vegetable stock and stir to combine well with the curry paste.

Bring to a low boil and cook at this consistent temperature, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking until over half the liquid has been reduced, stirring now and then as needed.

Serve hot or warm with rice or as a side dish. Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro or Thai basil, sliced scallions, diced onion.


 Heat 2-3 T. vegetable or olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add 1 very large onion, finely diced and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion is soft, and then add 1 lb. rinsed and chopped green beans. Stirring often, continue cooking until the beans are soft and the onions are browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 3/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1 T. chopped fresh marjoram. Use less marjoram if you're working with the dried herb; also, fresh oregano or dill are acceptable substitutes.

Allow to cool slightly and then transfer everything to a blender or food processor along with 1-2 chopped hard-boiled, free-running hen eggs. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

Scoop the pate from the blender into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Serve cold with bread, crostini or crackers. 

Tip: At Cafe Drake HRV we stuffed leftover pate into wonton wrappers, about 1 T. per pate per wrapper, and folded them into tortellini. Simply boil for a few minutes, drain and serve with a white sauce or in oil and garlic.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rajasthani Buttermilk Curry

A perennial favorite dinner at Cafe Drake HRV is Rajasthani Buttermilk Curry, served with rice, salad and roasted or steamed vegetables.

Here's how we make it: in a medium-size saucepan heat 2 T. vegetable oil over a medium-high flame. When the oil is very hot add 1 t. black mustard seeds and cover the pan immediately. After the seeds have stopped "popping", less than a minute, carefully remove lid and add 1/2 t. cumin seeds and 2-3 whole dried red chilies. Cook for a minute and then reduce the heat to a medium flame. Now add 3-4 sliced scallions and 1/4 t. turmeric powder. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.

Off heat, after a few minutes, stir in  1 1/2 cups buttermilk. If the pan is too hot, the buttermilk will separate. The curry will still be delicious but not as attractive. Return the pan to the stove and warm gently on the lowest possible flame, never allowing the buttermilk to reach a simmer. Season to taste with salt, at least 1/2 teaspoon. Remember, this salty and tangy curry is meant to be enjoyed in small  portions, ladled over rice or eaten with a flat bread.

Serve hot, garnished with 1 sliced hot green chile and 2-3 T. minced cilantro.