Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Meals in Mere Minutes or, It's All About the Leftovers

A lunch of reheated Vegan Picadillo, Yellow Rice, Braised Summer Squash, Green Tomato Relish, Honey Drop tomatoes and Italian bread

Wasabi Edamame Macaroni Salad, homegrown Green Zebra tomatoes, broiled Japanese Eggplant (from the garden), Steamed Broccoli and Radishes

Leftover Mac Salad with a Carrot and Cashew Pate

Don't laugh at us; it's really good! Toasted Sesame Bread with Queso Blanco and Fried Plantain, Tomatillo-Apple Salsa, Arugula and Homemade Habanero Hot Sauce

Arabella Page is holding us to our claim of dinner in mere minutes.
Nothing is much faster to prepare than a flat bread pizza. At Cafe Drake HRV we generally have a container of roasted vegetables in the fridge and voila, dinner will be ready in 15 minutes! Above, Flat Bread Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Eggplant and Roasted Piquillo Peppers (straight from the jar).

The pizza is served with Tomato Salad, Radish Sprouts and leftover rice and braised greens.


Cook one box of elbow noodles in boiling water, using the time guidelines on the package according to your preference for texture. It's always best, in our opinion, to cook the pasta al dente, especially when using cold in a salad. Rinse lightly and leave pasta to drain in a colander. If the pasta is sticking together, toss it with a few drops of olive oil.

While the pasta is cooking, mix together in a large, deep mixing bowl around 1/2 cup vegan (or regular) mayonnaise along with 3 T. wasabi paste, 1 T. Chinese mustard, 1 t. salt, a large pinch of sugar and a splash of rice vinegar. Add the drained pasta to the bowl and toss gently but thoroughly. Fold in 1 cup fully thawed edamame and a handful of minced shiso leaves. If you don't have shiso leaves substitute instead equal parts basil and mint leaves. Check for salt, adding more if needed, and black pepper if you like.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss, with olive oil, on a large baking sheet: 8-10 peeled tomatillos, 1 tart green apple (quartered but not peeled), 2 cloves of garlic (unpeeled), 2 serrano or jalapeno chilies (whole but stems removed) and 1 small onion (quartered). Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes then remove. Allow to cool slightly and peel garlic cloves. 

Add everything to a blender along with a handful of chopped cilantro and at least 1/2 t. salt. Puree until smooth and check for seasoning. You may need more salt and, if the salsa is too tart for your taste, up to 1 T. sugar.

Good with chips or as a topping for tacos, enchiladas and burritos.


Find the recipe HERE in the Cafe Drake HRV archives.

Friday, September 25, 2015

World's Second Fastest Lunch Ever

Step 1: Slice an avocado directly into a mixing bowl and add assorted lettuces and baby greens. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; toss. Move to plate.

Step 2: Assemble same 5-minute sandwich seen in post below. Finish lunch plate with Sichuan Pickled Veggies. The pickles keep for weeks refrigerated and are beyond useful to have on hand. Grab our recipe HERE.

Fastest Lunch Ever

Lightly toast whole rye bread and top with vegan roast beef slices and vegan Cheddar (both conveniently purchased at the store). Finish with Vietnamese-style pickled carrots (already made and waiting in the fridge). Done and Done. You can grab our recipe for the carrots HERE in the Cafe Drake HRV archives.

Sandwich complete in 5 minutes and served with leftover roasted veggies and cucumber kimchi.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bread, Cheese and Toamtoes. Again.

For such a simple meal with minimal ingredients, each element must be high-quality, including the bread.

Lightly toasted bread is topped with sauteed zucchini, onions, garlic and green bell peppers.

And then crowned with aged Jack cheese, Green Zebra tomatoes and slivers of red chilies. Our dinner of Cheese Toast also included salad greens from the garden (arugula and red mizuna) and roasted squash.

This really is the perfect meal for the transitional season of Late Summer/Early Autumn, with the lingering hot weather crops like tomatoes and chilies and zucchini and the arrival of fall produce (squash, arugula).

Starting to think we want this again tonight.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Early Autumn Snacks, Light Bites and Golden Moments

1. Vegetable Fajitas

A mix-and-match, make-your-own meal of slow-simmered pinto beans, barbecued mushrooms, radishes, Green Zebra tomatoes, fajita-style assorted peppers and onions and warn corn tortillas.

Papalo, a popular Latin American herb grown this summer in the gardens of Cafe Drake HRV, has a sharp, floral flavor, somewhat reminiscent of cilantro, and is ideally suited to soupy bean dishes.

Almost embarrassing but too good to not share, BBQ Mushrooms are as easy as frying the mushrooms over high heat in a few drops of olive oil for 2-3 minutes. A cast-iron skillet works best for delivering that smoky char flavor. After a couple of minutes, sprinkle the mushrooms with salt, stir another minute or so and drizzle with your favorite BBQ sauce, store-bought or homemade. Stir, remove from heat and serve at once.

2. Happy Autumn 2015 from Arabella Page!

The arrival of cooler, more seasonal weather is returning Arabella to her normal, friskier self.

3. The Return of Richer and Thicker Soups

Cheesey Broccoli Soup (vegan), Garden Salad, Pasta Salad with Veggies, Salsa Verde and toasted tortillas.

The soup is a real winner of a recipe from Kristy Turner, the author behind the Keepin' It Kind blog and But I Could Never Go Vegan cookbook.

4. Autumn is a Time of Self-Reflection

Mid-Week Meet-Up with Ms. Susan

Back in the day Susan and I used to meet up on our lunch breaks in midtown Manhattan. These days it's generally somewhere in the Hudson River Valley. In this instance, Palace Dumpling in Wappingers Falls, NY.
In addition to pan-fried vegetable dumplings we sampled an assortment of side dishes; seen above, a stellar salad of shredded, mounded tofu skin in a spicy sauce.
Palace Dumpling makes their own delicious homemade dumpling sauce, an intriguing blend of mild chili peppers, carrots, vinegar and some truly unidentifiable seasonings!

Simmered tofu skins with veggies, served slightly warm, was a beautiful counterpoint to some of the more aggressive flavors on the table. Salty with a hint of sesame oil and white pepper.

The visually stunning mung bean cellophane noodles were equally flavorful, doused with a sweet vinaigrette and shards of crisp cucumber.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

West Indian Bean and Brown Rice Burgers

Our island-inspired burgers served above with avocado, garden greens and a mixed tomato and onion salad.

The burger mixture keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days. Make the burgers Monday night and pan-fry some more Wednesday evening! If you're cooking for 3-4 people, our recipe makes enough for one meal.

The bright and varied hues of the Caribbean are evoked in our salad made from red onions, green chilies and Honey Drop and Green Zebra tomatoes.

As easy and breezy as an afternoon on a tropical isle, these burgers are the ideal mid-week meal, provided you have already-cooked rice in the fridge. If you don't there are several varieties of pre-cooked brown rice for sale at the supermarket and there's always that lazy standby, the Chinese takeout. Cafe Drake HRV literally pulled this recipe together one night when the following ingredients were practically ALL that we had on hand.

In a medium bowl mash 1 15-oz can of rinsed and drained black beans with a fork. You don't need a puree, just make sure there are no whole beans left intact. Add to the mixing bowl 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 4 thinly slivered scallions, a dash of garlic powder, a large dash ground allspice, 1 t. dried thyme leaves (up to 1 T. if using fresh), 2 t. grated lime zest, 1 T. lime juice and 1 minced hot chile.

(Cafe Drake HRV grows tons of habanero peppers and, being essentially the same in heat and flavor as the Caribbean Scotch Bonnet, we employed one straight from the garden. Habaneros, while more authentic, are exceedingly hot however, so if your tastes run to milder spice levels, use a serrano or jalapeno.)

Now, season with salt and black pepper. Mix everything together with your wet, clean hands.You're going to need quite a bit of salt but start by adding a bit and increasing the amount until you get it to your taste. If the mixture isn't holding together too well, add a few more breadcrumbs. ALSO, if using an habanero pepper, either use thin gloves while mixing or wash your hands with soup and water immediately after mixing to prevent oils from the chili burning your skin.

At this point you can refrigerate the mix or fry as patties immediately. To prepare, simply shape into burgers and pan-fry in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes per side. 

Serve on a bun with slices of tomato and red onion, or simply with a side salad.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Spaghetti with Tempeh Lardons, Cherry Tomatoes and Mint Leaves

Tempeh bacon is available at all natural food stores and many supermarkets, and if you're pressed for time, can be substituted for the lardons. Just cut the strips in pieces, fry quickly and add to the pasta at the end of the recipe. You'll miss the textural richness of the crispy/chewy tempeh nuggets, not to mention our killer marinade, but it's far better than not making the pasta at all. Our recipe makes a few large servings and leftovers can be stored, tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 4 or 5 days.

We used Honey Drop tomatoes because we were blessed with a bumper crop this summer but any sort of cherry or grape tomato will suffice.

The smokey tempeh lardons, sweet stewed tomatoes and garden-fresh mint are an irresistible combination redolent of Mediterranean summers..

To keep the dish vegan, we finished the pasta with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Grated Parmesan or Romano would be more traditional choices.

Always, leftovers for lunch: our spaghetti with roasted vegetables, olives and a lettuce and string bean salad.

The inspiration for this recipe, well, the entire idea really minus tempeh, is from Katie Quinn Davies' extraordinary blog WhatKatieAte.

So let's get making lardons. Cut into 1/2" -1" cubes one package of tempeh, any variety you like. Toss in a marinade made from 3 T. tamari or soy sauce, 2 T. brown sugar, 1 T. olive oil, 3 t. liquid smoke, 1 t. apple cider vinegar, a dash of cumin, 1/2 t. garlic powder and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Mix very well and marinate, refrigerated for 3-4 hours or, if pressed for time, one hour at room temperature.

After marinating the tempeh, heat 2 T. olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over a medium flame. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the tempeh, reserving the marinade. Pan fry, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes. Drizzle in leftover marinade and cook for another 5 minutes, again, stirring often to prevent burning. It's okay and even ideal if the tempeh lardons have a few blackened spots here and there.  

Remove the tempeh from the skillet and toss in, without wiping the pan, 1 cup diced onion. Cook until the onion is translucent and then add 2-3 cups halved cherry tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and cook just until the tomatoes begin to break down slightly. Add more oil if needed. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Throw into the skillet the reserved tempeh lardons and a huge handful of chopped mint leaves

Cook 1 lb. of spaghetti according to package directions and drain. reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water which should be salty.

Finally, toss the pasta with the reserved cooking water and the tempeh-tomato-mint mixture. It's easiest to do this in the pot used for cooking the pasta. Reheat over a very low flame for just a minute or so. Stir in 3 T. chopped and rinsed capers. Toss a final time and serve hot or warm, garnished with a few extra mint leaves and some parsley if you have it. You may need to add more salt to the assembled dish but check before doing so as the capers and tempeh are quite salty.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vegan Chinese Weeknight Dinner: Soft Tofu, Country Style and Homemade Sichuan Pickles

The tofu simmers gently in a spicy brown sauce. Our recipe was lightly adapted from the cookbook Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health.

Soft Tofu, Stir-fried Asian Greens, Honey Drop Tomatoes, Millet and Sichuan Pickles


You'll need soft tofu for this recipe as the delicate, custard-like texture is essential to this dish of contrasts, pudding-smooth bean curd in a silky, hot and tart sauce. So begin with 1 block soft tofu. Be very careful removing the tofu from its packaging; if falls to pieces if stared at too long! Gingerly, with the deft hands of a skilled surgeon, wrap the tofu in a paper towel and leave to drain for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 4 hours refrigerated. When the soft tofu has been drained of excess moisture, cut into 2" cubes and set aside.

In a shallow, wide skillet, over medium heat, combine together 1 cup water, 1 T. tamari or soy sauce, 1 T. toasted sesame oil, 1 t. rice or apple cider vinegar, 2 T. cornstarch, 6 cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of salt and a large grinding of black pepper. Bring to boil, whisking constantly and then reduce to a low simmer. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Add the tofu and heat to just warm through. Stir carefully so the tofu doesn't crumble. Sprinkle generously with crushed red pepper flakes and serve hot, with rice. Entirely optional garnishes might be sliced scallions or chopped cilantro.


To begin, fill a clean 1-quart jar with boiling water and cover with its lid. Set aside while you prepare the pickles.

In a saucepan combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 t. salt and 2-3 small dried red chilies. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Season with 1 T. crushed Sichuan peppercorns. Set aside.

Drain the jar of water and with clean hands fill the jar with a combination of roughly chopped Chinese cabbage, peeled and sliced carrots, slices of red and/or green bell peppers and halved red radishes. Fill the jar not quite to the top. Now pour the reserved brine over the vegetables, making sure the veggies are all beneath the brine. Wipe the jar rim clean and seal. Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 1-2 weeks before opening. If refrigerated the pickles should keep well for at least 6 months.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thordis Returns (Ever So Briefly) to Cafe Drake HRV

Flowers from the garden, arranged and awaiting Thordis' arrival.
Homemade Pickle Plate a la Cafe Drake HRV: from bottom left, Bread and Butter Lemon Cucumber Pickles, Sweet Sichuan Pickled Vegetables, Italian Pickled Hot Peppers and Cucumber Kimchi.

Arabella luxuriates while spending time with Auntie Thordis.

Ready for dinner and Thordis' dinner gift of a dry NY State Riesling.

"The flowers look good enough to eat."

Chickpea Cutlet with Green Peppercorn Remoulade Potato Salad. This is Steak Knife and Sturdy Fork vegan food!

Chives and Heirloom Tomatoes from the Cafe Drake HRV garden: Pink Brandywine, Honey Drop and Green Zebra

Arabella stayed by our side throughout - and after - dinner. Coy Lloyd made a few cameo appearances.

Well sated after dinner.

(Photo courtesy of Thordis Adalsteinsdottir)

(Photo courtesy of Thordis Adalsteinsdottir)