Sunday, June 28, 2015

Two Really Fast Summer Dinners

Northeast summers are often fleeting and too short, so we don't want to spend the season trapped in the kitchen. Stir-fried rice noodles are an excellent fast option because of the quick-cooking noodles and slivered veggies. Leftovers reheat well, making dinner the following night even faster!

Pumping up the Protein is no problem with a quick fried egg as topper and a side of our Mashed Chickpea Salad. You'll find the chickpea recipe in our 2014 archives by clicking HERE.

Snack Meal Dinner of the Month is . . . Smoked Gouda and Texas Caviar Nachos. Cafe Drake HRV opted for white bean tortilla chips this time around, briefly under the broiler after being doused with grated smoked Gouda and Monterrey Jack cheeses. The whole pan is whisked to a serving platter, topped with Texas Caviar and sided with fresh garden lettuces. Texas Caviar is an old Southern staple with many regional variations. Here's how we make it in the Hudson River Valley:mix in a large bowl 1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained very well, 1/2 t. salt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup diced yellow or orange bell pepper, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 diced jalapeno chili and a handful of minced cilantro. Stir to mix well. Fold in 1 diced and seeded plum tomato. Allow to rest at least 30 minutes before serving and adding more salt if desired.

Cauliflower Cheese Steaks

This may be a too basic dish, hardly a recipe at all, but its goodness is also too great to not share. The combination of fork-tender cauliflower and chewy cheese, and the flavor combination of a sweet roasted vegetable and a tangy, salty cheese, is simply irresistible. Plus, who doesn't need another idea for dinner when feeling brain-dead?

You can use any sort of cheese you like provided it's sharply flavored and melts easily. Above, we topped the cauliflower with the tangy, salty Italian sheep cheese Crotonese.

You're only gonna get 3 or 4 perfect slices from a head of cauliflower as it tends to break apart easily. All those leftover florets should be tossed with oil and seasonings and roasted at the same time you cook the "steaks." Let's always try to be delicious AND economical, eh? That's the Cafe Drake HRV way.

Cauliflower Cheese Steaks with Brown Rice, Miso-Lentil Gravy and Garden Greens Salad.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

You'll start with 1 head of cauliflower, rinsing not necessary. Carefully, praying that it works, slice the cauliflower into large "steaks", 3/4" thick. See the photos above for visual reference but essentially, you're slicing through the cauliflower while it sits flat on your chopping board. Much of the head will fall apart into florets; that's OK, also see above for an idea of what to do with all these crumbled veggie gold.

Still with great care and finesse, transfer the cauliflower steaks to a large baking sheet. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper

Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes and then gently flip, with a spatula, and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top each piece with 3-4 T. grated cheese of choice. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, maybe less. The cheese should be thoroughly melted and bubbly, but not burned.

Serve the cauliflower hot or very warm, garnished with sliced scallions and/or chives.

Seeded Oat Flatbread, the Healthiest Way

At Cafe Drake HRV we prefer making our own oat flour in the Vitamix. It's more economical and nutritious, not to mention fresher tasting, than pre-ground, packaged flour. If you don't have a high-powered blender you can still achieve acceptable results with a Magic Bullet. Or you can just but oat flour at the supermarket. It's gonna be OK no matter what you do. Like Life.

Voila! Oat Flour.

This recipe is an almost faithful adaptation to the one is Angela Liddon's charming The Oh She Glows Cookbook. We've changed the seasonings just a bit as well as omitted pumpkin seeds, only as we didn't have any handy.

Cooling on a rack is essential for the proper texture of the oat bread; it's thin but dense and chewy, like the German and Scandinavian "health breads" sold in the bread aisle of your local market. If you find the consistency too gummy or hardy, simply toast slices before serving.

Loaded with fiber and protein. this could possibly be the healthiest thing you've eaten this year. Certainly one of the tastiest.

Begin by pre-heating the oven to 325 degrees F. and placing 3/4 cup rolled oats in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until a fine flour forms.

Dump the flour in a large mixing bowl and add to it: 1/2 cup chia seeds, 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1 t. dried oregano, 1 t. sugar, 1/2 t. dried thyme, 1/2 t. sea salt, 1/4 t. onion powder, 1/4 t. garlic powder and 1/4 t. nigella seeds. If you don't have the nigella seeds, just omit or replace with more thyme.

Stir all the dry ingredients to combine and then stir in 1 cup water. Mix well and you'll have a very watery, runny dough.

Pour the mixture in to an oiled 9-inch square baking pan. With wet hands, smooth out the top of the dough if needed.

Bake for 25 minutes and then remove from oven. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and carefully transfer from pan to cooling rack. Cool for an additional 10 minutes and then enjoy warm, cold or toasted.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Random Summer Meals at Cafe Drake HRV

Hopefully you already tried our earlier recipe for BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches but guess what? Tofu works beautifully given a similar treatment. Roasting the tofu in a 375 degree F. oven on a baking sheet, flipping every ten minutes and basting with BBQ sauce for about half an hour, gives the bean curd a rich smoky and sweet flavor and chewy, dense texture that's simply irresistible.

For some reason the best thing ever on BBQ tofu is a handful of sliced green onions. Don't ask us why.

BBQ Tofu with Millet, Garden Salad, Broccoli with Fresh Garden Peas and a Cashew "Cheese" Sauce.

Turns out growing peas in the garden, for the first time this year, was a really really good idea.

Sorry, we just can't even with this BBQ tofu. It's too good for words.

Odd photo? Out of place? Not at Cafe Drake HRV, where sweet fried plantains are regularly on the menu. We like them with black beans and rice, quesadillas and huevos rancheros.

Leftover millet, salad again, leftover cashew cheese sauce, toasted pita bread, fried plantains, lentils with ancho chiles and quick-pickled cucumbers and onions.

Did we mention we also like fried plantains with spicy lentils? And topped with sliced chilies.

Leftovers Deliver the Goods: lentils, pickled cukes and onions, cashew cheese sauce, quinoa and fresh peas with dill and mint. Enough about this vegan cashew "cheese" sauce, here's how to make it: soak 2 cups of raw cashew pieces overnight in a bowl of water. If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can skip this step. Otherwise, after soaking for at least 8 hours, drain cashews and place in a blender with 2 chopped red bell peppers, 1 cup nutritional yeast, 2 T. apple cider vinegar, 1 clove of chopped garlic, 1 t. salt (or more to taste) and 3/4 t. crushed red chili flakes. Process until very smooth and then transfer to a saucepan. Stir in 1 cup vegetable broth and bring to just a simmer. Taste for salt and add more if needed. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more broth. Too runny for your liking? Simmer gently for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Goes. With. Everything.

The texture of Wasabi Edamame Hummus after a whirl in the Vitamix is creamy beyond dreaming. You'll find the recipe RIGHT HERE in the Cafe Drake HRV archives.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Walk and A Swim (with Arabella Page)

The deep and cool forest behind Cafe Drake HRV is an oasis of dappled sunlight and lush ground cover.

Arabella likes to go chasing waterfalls. Lucky for her she has two practically in her backyard.

Heading out for a swim in the Hudson River.

Ahhhhhh, cool water on a broiling afternoon.

And ready to head home.

The Garden Keeps Giving

Green peas, fresh from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens, are a true treat and taste of Summer.

Prepping them is something of a chore however. The anticipation of steaming these sweet emeralds helps the shelling time pass. That and the Gin and Tonic on the left. We savored the peas in an almost unadulterated form, with just a pat of butter, a dash of coarse sea salt and a smattering of snipped dill and mint leaves.

The lull after Daffodil, Tulip, Rhodenderon, Iris and Peony seasons has finally lifted with the return of various lilies. Soon, the Zinnias, Cosmos and Bachelor's Buttons.

The Garlic Scapes, sometimes called Green Garlic, are finally tall enough to trim. They'll soon lend their mild flavor to salads, omelets and even a pesto or two. If you don't have them in the garden, no worries; they're available at most farmers' markets this time of year as well as grocery stores. So head over to the Cafe Drake HRV recipe archives and make a batch of our garlic scape pesto!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trying Out Two More Recipes from Isa Moskowitz

Isa Does It Again! Recipe #1 - Chickpea Cutlets

Recipe #2 - Greek-Style Roasted Potatoes. These lemony flavor bombs are EXACTLY like the ones you know and love at every Greek restaurant you've ever visited. The tart and salty, melting soft potatoes take us back to many a taverna in Astoria, Queens!

Old School Retro Scrumptiousness: Chickpea Cutlets, Rice, Greek Potatoes and Side Yard Salad.

It's amazing how fast the recipe for meaty, chewy Chickpea Cutlets comes together, so easy it almost assembles itself. We wouldn't change a thing so head on over to Isa's website, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and snag this must-have for yourself already.

While you're at it, don't think of passing up her Greek-style roasted potatoes either. Both recipes are also available in the paradigm-shifting cookbook, Veganomicon.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Last Minute PIcnic with Susan and Sloane

The misty, moody grounds of Mills Mansion in Stattsburg, NY.
Lunching on the lawns with two lovely ladies. Can't rain on our picnic! Literally; we secured a dry spot beneath a sprawling elm.
Last minute meals are often the most satisfying, composed of things you really want to eat at the moment. We three enjoyed wasabi-edamame hummus, homemade pesto, bread, a selection of cheeses, marinated cucumbers, rice crackers, roasted tomato salad, apples, avocado, walnuts, chocolate and Susan's handmade elderberry cordial!

As mentioned, a light rain didn't phase us at all.

Sloane kindly offered an umbrella to statuary.

And the drizzle subsided.

Ahhhh. A much-needed afternoon respite from the chores at Cafe Drake HRV.