Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thai-Style Vegetable Fried Rice

Not terribly authentic but terrifically tasty, our Thai-inspired fried rice is the ultimate solution for clearing leftovers and "bits and pieces" from the fridge. You can of course use any vegetables you like but remember to adjust cooking times accordingly. 

Place a large skillet (non-stick is best but not required) over a medium-high flame and heat for a minute or so. When the pan is very hot drizzle in around 3-4 T. coconut, peanut or vegetable oil. Swirl to coat the pan and immediately 3-5 whole dried red chilies. In a matter of seconds the chilies will turn dark. remove them from the skillet and set aside. Toss in 1 peeled and diced carrot, 1 diced zucchini and 1 small onion, also diced. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes and add 6 cloves of chopped garlic.

Now pour in 4 beaten eggs and cook until just set, stirring to break into pieces. Vegans can leave out the eggs and substitute 1 cup diced firm tofu. Add 4-5 cups cooked brown rice, stirring for 1 minute. Return the fried chilies to the skillet as well.

Lastly, add all at once 2 T. fish sauce or tamari or soy sauce, 2 T. sweet chili sauce (in the Asian section of most supermarkets), a few dashes of cayenne pepper and 1 diced tomato. Stir and cook for just a few seconds. Remove from heat and stir in 4 chopped scallions and the juice of 1 large lime

Serve hot, garnished profusely with chopped roasted peanuts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Late Autumn Stroll Along the River

Rotini with Roasted Eggplant, Black Olives and Tofu Ricotta

Tasty and nutritious tofu "ricotta" can be made in 10 minutes or less.

Our pasta served with a side of pumpkin soup.

First things first, let's make the "ricotta". The recipe is a slightly altered one from Isa Moskowitz's ultimate reference cookbook Veganomicon: begin by patting dry 1 block of extra-firm tofu. In a large bowl, crumble the tofu with your fingers. Add 2 t. lemon juice, 1/2 t. garlic powder, 1/4 t. salt, a dash of white pepper and a large dash of dried basil. Rub the tofu between your fingertips until it reaches the consistency of ricotta cheese. This takes about 3 full minutes so be patient. Add 2 t. olive oil and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is combined and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice 1 large Italian eggplant into round slices about 1/2" thick. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet (1 huge one or two smaller) and brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with onion powder, garlic powder and dried thyme. Bake at 400 degrees F. for around 25 minutes, flipping the eggplant halfway through the cooking time. The eggplant is done when it's very soft and almost falling apart.

Remove eggplant from oven and season with salt and red chili flakes. Cook 1 box of whole wheat rotini in boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain in a colander and return the pasta cooking pot to the stove. Pour in the pot 1 jar of bottled marinara sauce and heat over the lowest possible flame. Dump in the drained pasta, stir to coat with the sauce and heat through for 2 minutes. Now, stir in the roasted eggplant along with a handful of minced parsley and 1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives.

Serve the pasta hot or warm topped with a dollop of the tofu ricotta.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beet and Bulgar Burgers

Our recently improvised "recipe" drew inspiration from the delectable Beet and Brown Rice Burger at Woodstock's Shindig restaurant. This version requires only one large beet, eliminating the need to buy an entire bunch if the earthy root veggie doesn't appear often on your menus. That would be us we're talking about.

The peeled and sliced beet is pulverized to perfection in a food processor or high-speed blender.

Cooked Bulgar wheat is then added to the mix and processed once more. You'll end up with a texture and appearance almost alarmingly akin to ground meat. We swear that's not beef or lamb in the pic above!!

Spices are essential. No one enjoys an under-seasoned veggie burger.

Again, it's not ground meat, people. Promise!

Always fry veggie burgers over a consistent medium heat.

Beet and Bulgar Burgers topped with vegan Dill and Caper Mayonnaise. 

Excerpt directly from email sent to our dear friend Susan, whose new blog Brewster Herbal is essential online reading, just FYI. 

Oh yes.
I'm going to write up a proper recipe for my blog this week (hopefully) but basically what I did:
1. Peel one large beet or two smaller ones. Cut into chunks and throw in a food processor or blender.
2. Process until the beet is broken into crumb-like pieces. Alternately you could grate the beet but the texture isn't as good.
3. Add to the food processor or blender about 1 1/2 cups (a little less is ok) cooked and cooled bulgar wheat. Process again until everything is combined and pulverized. It will look A LOT like ground meat in color and texture.
4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, at least 1/2 t. salt, about 2 T. peanut butter or tahini, black pepper, some thyme leaves, 2 large pinches of fennel seeds, 1 t. mustard powder and some garlic powder.
5. With damp hands mix everything together really really well and form into a large ball. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. When you're ready to eat, shape into patties and pan-fry in olive or coconut oil over medium heat. You have to flip them a few times and it takes about 10 minutes total to cook all the way through.
Enjoy and let me know how they turn out!! xoxo, D.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Yes We Did Just Make Tostados for Dinner Again.

Cocoa Black Beans and Roasted Vegetable Tostados with Chipotle-Sesame Sauce

The ultra-rich and spicy hot sesame sauce is essentially a basic tahini salad dressing spiked with chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano and a dash of cinnamon. The orange dust you may or may not detect in the photo above is a peanut crumble made from grinding roasted peanuts with chile de arbol and ground coriander.

Compassionate November: Moments in Our Vegetarian Kitchen

I. Avocados Everywhere for $1 or Less

Now that avocados are going for dirt-cheap prices at markets all across the Northeast, Cafe Drake HRV is scarfing these creamy, nutritional bombshells like crack rock. We've been reminded once again that avocados aren't just for guacamole. A good friend here in the Hudson Valley seasons and mashes them before tossing with hot linguine for a paradigm-shifting take on pasta. Avocado salads can be as simple as the one above, with only chopped onions, salt, pepper and minced mint and basil leaves, or more refined - try slicing the fruit into thick wedges and drizzling with a sweet miso dressing and roasted peanuts. The Smoothie du Jour at CDHRV combines 1/2 an avocado with 1 cup of water, a splash of vanilla soymilk, a tablespoon of grated ginger, the juice of half a small lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. What a way to start the day!

II.  Artichoke and Cannellini Bean Puree

Beans and artichoke hearts ready to be blitzed in the blender.

Serve the artichoke-bean dip for dinner. Why not? With, as above, a well-dressed garden salad and rich, earthy Portobello Soup. A wedge of sourdough rye bread (not pictured) completed this light but satisfying meal.

The recipe for White Bean and Artichoke Dip is adapted from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin. Place in a blender 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (rinsed very well and drained), 1 t. ume plum vinegar, 2 t. lemon juice, 1 t. apple cider vinegar, 1 small jar of artichoke hearts in oil (drained) and 4-5 T. olive oil. Puree until silky smooth and then season to taste with salt and white pepper. If you don't have ume plum vinegar - and you really should pick up a bottle for its distinctive salty, tart flavor - substitute rice or white vinegar. You'll also need to add more salt.

III.  November Spawned A  . . . Sleepy Pit Bull

Arabella Page rests patiently while waiting for us to finish preparing a biryani.

IV.  Moong Dal with Tomatoes and Collard Greens

A super-nutritious dal, this one, loaded with veggies, can make a complete meal alongside rice or bread.

Another adapted recipe, this one from Madhur Jaffrey's latest book, the truly game-changing tome Vegetarian India. Jaffrey's original recipe uses sorrel and toovar dal; our version emerged according to what we had in the kitchen, on a day we didn't feel like grocery shopping! Begin by rinsing 1 cup moong dal and placing in a large saucepan with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, skim the foam from the top and add 2-3 cups shredded collard greens (or kale or chard), 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped onions, 3/4 t. turmeric powder and 2-3 hot green chilies (quartered lengthwise). Cook over a medium heat, partially covered, for around 30 minutes, stirring often to ensure the legumes don't stick to the pan. Add more hot water if needed. Now, add 1 t. salt, 3/4 t. tamarind concentrate and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Continue to cook for 15  minutes or until the dal is thick and soft. Remove from the stove and cover while you heat 2-3 T. coconut or peanut oil in a small skillet over a medium-high flame. As soon as the oil is hot, sprinkle in 2 large pinches of asafetida powder. Immediately add 1/2 t. brown mustard seeds. Cover the skillet and once the seeds have stopped popping throw in 2 whole dried red chilies and 2 cloves of sliced garlic. Finally throw in 8 or so curry leaves, cover the skillet again as the oil will sputter and then transfer to the pot of cooked dal and veggies. Taste for seasoning and serve hot with rice or flatbreads.

V. Tahini, Tempeh and Turmeric Rice

The simplest possible tahini dressing is also a favorite one at Cafe Drake HRV: combine equal parts tahini and warm water in a blender. Add 1 clove of minced garlic, salt and black pepper to taste, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Puree until smooth and adjust salt/pepper as desired.

There are just so many ways to prepare tempeh we know we'll only scratch the surface of possibilities in this lifetime of meals. Still, we return time and again to one of the true Essential Recipes at Cafe Drake HRV, Basic Baked Tempeh. The method and ingredients may be straightforward but there's nothing basic about the flavor. Grab the recipe HERE!

VI. Chickpea Flour Crepes, Coconut Chutney in a Flash and Mooli Raita

Why don't we make these more often? That's the question puzzling us as we savor these savory pancakes. Or call them crepes, or flatbreads, it doesn't matter, just make them! Feel free to use any variety of veggies you have on hand, remembering that longer-cooking ones such as carrots or sweet potatoes should be grated. Our original recipe for Chickpea Flour Crepes can be found HERE in the 2014 archives.

Our always popular recipe for Coconut Chutney can be found HERE.

While still warm a chickpea crepe is dusted with a spicy peanut crumble, folded and plated with a cooling mooli raita. Mooli is the large white radish better known in the States as daikon and it makes a terrific crunchy raita when grated and folded into yogurt.

Reheated Chickpea Crepes with Salad and Pickled Peppers

VII. Vegan Mushroom Bisque with Pumpernickel Croutons

A carton of vegan mushroom soup is a pantry staple at Cafe Drake HRV. Enhancing pre-packaged soup is as easy as adding a splash of sherry, spices to your taste and a crown of homemade croutons.

VIII. Lentil Sprout Curry, Rice and Saag Sabzi 

Go now to the Cafe Drake HRV 2013 archives and CLICK ON our recipe for Lentil Sprouts Curry

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Weeknights are Pizza Nights

Here's a sublime concoction of flavors crafted and perfected on the Mediterranean coast of France - Tomato and Tuna Pizza. At Cafe Drake HRV we've lovingly adapted the recipe from Martha Rose Shulman's excellent cookbook The Very Best of Recipes for Health, a collection culled from her weekly column in the NY Times. An hour or so before you're ready to bake the pizza, drain 1 14-oz. can of chopped tomatoes in a colander, in the sink or over a bowl. After the hour is up, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl flake apart with a fork 1 5-6 oz. can of good quality tuna in olive oil. Season to taste with fresh or dried thyme and rosemary leaves. Roll out, unwrap, etc. your favorite pizza dough and form into a rectangle. Transfer to a lightly-oiled baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Spread the drained tomatoes all across the surface and then dot liberally with minced garlic. Distribute the flaked tuna evenly over the tomatoes. Finish by adding some pitted and halved black olives and lots of crushed red chili flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or according to the specific requirements of your pizza dough. Serve hot, garnished with nasturtium leaves or rinsed, drained capers.

Capers would normally be an important element of this sort of pizza but we left them out in favor of a nasturtium leaf garnish. The plant's edible leaves and flowers mimic the flavor of pickled capers in a manner most uncanny.

And when you're really really REALLY over the thought of cooking after a long day:

Pita Pizza with Salad Greens and Roasted Root Vegetables

Can't be bothered with making dinner? You can probably still muster the minimal energy needed to top a pita bread round with grated or sliced sharp provolone cheese and some sliced tomatoes. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees F. until the edges of the pita begin to toast and the cheese is bubbling and melted. Slide onto a plate and drizzle with good olive oil, red chili flakes and dried or fresh oregano.

Taco Tuesdays, Mexican Pickled Carrots + 10-Minute Purple Slaw

The ubiquitous jar of spicy, pickled carrots is our favorite condiment nestled on the metal shelves of taco trucks everywhere. The tart veggies enliven not just tacos but almost any food you can imagine - scrambled eggs, beans and rice, sandwiches, salads, even as a garnish on rich, thick soups  and stews. They're beyond simple to make and last for months in the fridge so make a batch to have close whenever lunch or dinner needs a helping hand: Peel and wash 5 carrots and slice into thin diagonal pieces. Drop in a well-cleaned quart jar. Add to the jar 3-4 quartered red radishes, a cup or so of thinly sliced yellow or white onions, 2 sliced jalapeno peppers and 1 clove of garlic (chopped or sliced). Now, in a saucepan bring to a rolling boil 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 4 t. salt, 1-2 t. sugar, 2 t. dried oregano, 1 t. whole black peppercorns and 3-5 bay leaves. Boil for a minute or two and then pour into the jar with the carrots and veggies. Allow to cool then close with a lid and store refrigerated.

All we need to accompany a nostalgic taco dinner is a side of slaw.

We're going Retro with the hard shells tonight: Black Bean Tacos with Pickled Carrots, Sour Cream and Pecan-Chile de Arbol Salsa. You'll find the SALSA RECIPE right here in the ARCHIVES. Just swap out the sunflower seeds in the original recipe for raw pecans. Note that the pecans will need to be pan roasted as well.

Leftovers Lunch of Tacos, Slaw and Parmesan-Tomato Toast.

Start by slicing 1/2 of a small-ish red cabbage into very thin shreds. Now chop the shredded cabbage into ever smaller pieces. Transfer the cabbage to a large mixing bowl and add to it 4 sliced scallions (green and white parts). Pour over everything 1 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. salt, 1 heaping t. sugar, 1/2 t. cumin powder and 2 T. each lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Mix very well with your clean hands, tossing and tossing and tossing some more. Rinse your hands - which will be a mess by now - stir in (with a spoon this time, thank you) 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.  You can certainly enjoy the slaw right now but the flavor will improve if refrigerated for an hour or more.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Fried Tofu Tacos, Homemade Chili Powder and More

Fried Tofu Tacos with Tomatoes and Pickled Onions; Steamed Veggies and Pumpkin Seed Mole

To make the Fried Tofu, drain and pat dry 1 block of extra-firm tofu before cutting in to 1" cubes. Gently toss the cubed tofu with about 2 T. tamari and then, in a clean, dry bowl, toss the tofu with a mixture of cornmeal (no more than 4 T.), garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and ground cumin. Fry in a lightly-oiled iron (or non-stick) skillet for about 8 minutes. Keep the heat at medium and turn the cubes to brown on all sides. A pair of tongs seems to work best. The fried and breaded tofu is delicious as a taco filling, obvs, but also useful for stuffing in wraps or adding cold to salads.

Fast and Furious Pumpkin Seed Mole: Toast 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet, shaking often to avoid burning. When the seeds are browned and puffed they're ready to be transferred immediately to a nearby plate. After the seeds have cooled for a few minutes, place them in a blender of processor and pulverize until roughly chopped. Now add 2 tomatillos (previously broiled for 2 or 3 minutes), 1 plum tomato (chopped), 1/2 small onion (chopped), a huge handful of cilantro, 1/2 t. dried epazote leaves, 2 t. ground cumin and 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (chopped). Puree until relatively smooth; the salsa will have a thick, slightly coarse texture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Use as a condiment, dip for chips and or as a sauce for cheese enchiladas.

Iron skillet cornbread is a bowl of chili's best friend at Cafe Drake HRV. So you can probably guess what's next.

Now, let's make our own Chili Powder. Far superior in flavor to anything you'll find in the supermarket spice aisle, homemade chili powder will keep for up to 6 months, stored in a tightly sealed container at room temperature. We use ALOT of it around Cafe Drake HRV and usually triple the recipe. For longer storage, we simply toss it a zip-lock bag, label and keep handy in the freezer. To begin, we're going to need 6 ancho chilies. You can find them in almost all supermarkets, any natural foods stores and of course at Mexican grocers and bodegas. Stem the chilies and shake out all the seeds. You'll want to do this either over the sink or the garbage pail. Place the whole chilies in a large, dry skillet over a medium-low heat. Add 3 T. cumin seeds. Roast carefully, flipping the chilies often and moving around the seeds, for 3 or 4 minutes. The chilies should be crispier and toasted. Remove quickly to a dry surface and allow the chilies and seeds to cool. Transfer then to a blender or spice grinder and add 2 T. whole coriander seeds, 1 t. garlic powder and 1-2 T. smoked paprika. Grind away until you get a coarse powder.

Store your homemade chili powder at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.

Try your new and spiffy and HOMEMADE!! chili powder in a variety of dishes. Sprinkle generously on roasted vegetables or scrambled eggs. Litter atop a bowl of piping hot popcorn. Recreate a Mexican street food classic by dousing fresh fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, melons, pears) with the chili powder and a few pinches of salt.

Chili, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pan-Fried Cabbage with Apples and Cornbread

Chili at Cafe Drake HRV is topped with sour cream, either the dairy kind bought at the store or a vegan batch whipped up at home.


Heat a large pot over a medium flame and add 2 T. olive or coconut oil. Toss in 1 onion (diced) and 2 cloves of garlic (sliced). Cook for a couple of minutes and then stir in 1 green bell pepper (chopped into small pieces) and 2 jalapeno peppers (sliced thinly). Continue cooking, stirring often, until the peppers begin to soften. 

Add 1 28-oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as you drop in the pot. Fill the empty can with water and slosh that in as well. Now season with 2 T. chili powder, 2 T. sugar, 2 T. cocoa powder, 2 T. tamari, 1 t. cumin powder, 1 t. dried oregano and 1 t. cayenne pepper. Stir well and then add 1 14-oz. can of pinto beans and 1 bottle of dark beer. We use Guinness but any stout or dark porter will do.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Throw in 1/4 - 1/3 cup bulgur wheat. The bulgur lends the chili a decidedly "meaty" texture. Stir again and cook gently for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add 2 t. liquid smoke. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and add more water or vegetable stock if your prefer a thinner chili.


Soak 1 cup raw cashew pieces  - don't waste your money buying the whole nuts for this recipe - in water to cover by 2 inches for about 2 hours. Drain the cashews, rinse well and place in a blender.

Add to the cashews 1/4 cup water, 2 t. apple cider vinegar, 1 t. lemon juice and about 1/4 t. fine sea salt. Blend until very smooth, adding a few more drops of water if needed. It may take up to 4 minutes to obtain a truly silky texture depending on the strength of your blender. Add more salt if desired.