Monday, October 17, 2016

Tomato Bulgur Pilaf with Eggplant Salad and Carrots Casablanca


Either as a side or main dish, this moist, tangy pilaf steals the show. For an entree, stir in 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or black-eyed peas before serving.

To begin: heat 1 T. olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add one small onion (diced), 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and 1 large cinnamon stick (broken in at least three pieces). Stir fry until the onion darkens a shade or two. Add a little more oil if the onions or garlic begin to burn.

Stir in 1 t. smoked paprika, 1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper and 2 heaping T. tomato paste. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, before adding 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup chopped tomatoes and 1 cup coarse-ground bulgur. (Wherever you purchase your bulgur it will be designated as coarse, medium or fine.)

Bring everything to a boil and sprinkle in 1/2 t. salt and plenty of black pepper to taste. 1/2 t. turmeric added to the pot is entirely optional but lends the pilaf a lovely orange tint and add increased nutritional value. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for around 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let rest, still covered, for 5-10 minutes. Fluff the pilaf with a fork and then stir in a handful each of roughly chopped mint and parsley leaves. The bulgur should be soft but still retain a bit of chewiness. Season with more salt and pepper as desired before serving warm. When this pilaf is the focal part of a meal at Cafe Drake HRV, such as a light luncheon, we present the pilaf heaped on plates and surrounded with condiments - lemon wedges, slivered onions and a variety of pickles.


Peel and cut into 2" pieces 1 lb. of carrots. If the carrots are thick, slice horizontally as well to create batons. Place the carrots in a skillet along with 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. agave nectar or maple syrup or honey, 1/4 t. salt and 2/3 cup water. Cover the skillet and cook the carrots over high heat until the water is mostly absorbed and the carrots have a glossy, glazed look. This should take about 10 minutes or just less.

Stir in 1/3 - 1/2 cup pitted and torn oil-cured black olives. Cook for one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

At Cafe Drake HRV we sometimes follow the same recipe but swap out the carrots for beets. If making this version, the peeled beets should be cut into julienne slices, very thin. Increase the water to 1 cup and adjust salt and sugar according to personal tastes. Beets Casablanca truly sing when garnished with minced tarragon leaves.


In a large mixing bowl combine well 1 small preserved lemon (sold in brine, jarred), 1 T. lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic (very finely minced or pressed), red chili flakes to taste and 2 T. sultanas or dried currants. Set aside while you slice 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs.) into rounds, no thicker than 1/2".

Transfer the eggplant slices to a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones if needed) and toss lightly with olive oil. Roast in a single layer in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 15 minutes. Flip the slices after about 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. The eggplant is done when very soft in the middle.

Add roasted eggplant to the mixing bowl and stir gently to combine with other ingredients. This is best done with your clean hands to avoid breaking up the eggplant too much. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve either at room temperature or slightly chilled, on its own or atop lettuce leaves.

A hardy, vegetable-based dinner at Cafe Drake HRV - Tomato Bulgur Pilaf, Chickpea Flatbreads, Stewed Fava Beans, Eggplant Salad and Carrots Casablanca.

Monday, October 03, 2016

We Get By With Little Visits From Our Friends!

above two photos: Susan and Sloane spend some Quality Sofa Time with Arabella Page

above four photos: Sharon and Pete stopped by Saugerties this summer and we got the thrill of meeting young Gabriel!

On a visit to the Hudson Valley, all the way from Ann Arbor, Mae Skidmore finally got to meet Arabella in person. A long-distance admirer of our daughter, Mae found the fondness equally returned by Arabella.

above two photos: Arabella always enjoys a weekend with Reiner Lang, Esther Lok and Lola. This time Lola brought her a new friend named Pablo!

(above photos) It was a packed house at our 4th of July Vegan BBQ 2016!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sour Cream Enchiladas (VEGAN)

Enchiladas with all the Trimmings: Yellow Rice and Peas, Charred Broccoli, Sauteed Yellow Summer Squash, Black Olives and Serrano Chilies

The Sour Cream Enchiladas above were made with a red salsa of tomatoes and dried guajillo chilies, but are equally gratifying prepared with a green tomatillo salsa. Mole sauce can also be substituted for the salsa in the recipe below. For potlucks or large buffet meals, why not make one of each? If you're pressed for time use store-bought jarred salsas.

After removing from the oven, we scatter the hot enchiladas with slivered green chilies and chopped cilantro. Thinly shaved red onions and diced radishes also good options

Silky and smooth tofu sour cream, whipped together in less than 5 minutes, lends the enchiladas a luxurious richness in taste and texture. Dairy sour cream of course may be used as well.

Begin the enchiladas by making the tofu sour cream. Store-bought vegan or dairy sour cream are both options but in our opinion less flavorful. Add to a blender and process until smooth as velvet: 3 T. raw cashews (soaked for 6-8 hours), 1 12-oz. package of silken firm tofu ( i.e. the Mori-Nu brand ), 3 T. lemon juice, 2 t. apple cider vinegar, 2 t. white miso and 1 t. agave nectar.

Transfer the sour cream to a mixing bowl and stir in 4 T. chopped chives (or 1/3 cup thinly slivered scallions) and a small handful of finely chopped cilantro. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Often we prefer a tarter taste and add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice.

Now preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a saucepan gently heat - do not allow to boil - 1 cup of your sauce of choice (green, red, mole). One at a time, place 6 corn tortillas on a cutting board and brush both sides of each with a bit of the warm sauce. Put about 3 T. of sour cream in the middle of each tortilla, sprinkle with grated vegan mozzarella or Jack-style cheese and roll up. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and place them all, seam-side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sour cream and bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and scatter across the perfectly browned enchiladas any of the following: diced red onions, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, diced radishes or black olives. 

Serve with extra warm sauce on the side or your favorite salsa.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tunisian Chickpea and Rice Casserole

Our Tunisian Chickpea and Brown Rice Casserole is a spicier riff on the original recipe in Julie Hasson's excellent cookbook Vegan Casseroles

Here's how we do it: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and spray with oil an 8" square casserole dish or another close in size. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add 1 cup minced onion and 4-5 cloves minced garlic; saute for 3 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Sprinkle in 1 t. ground cumin and 1 t. caraway seeds. Saute for another minute or two and then remove from heat.

Add the onions, garlic and spices to a large bowl along with 1 15-oz. can chickpeas (rinsed well and drained), 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked brown rice (short or long grain, it matters not), 1/2 cup chopped dill, a handful of chopped parsley and 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes.Stir to just combine the ingredients and flavors and set aside while you whisk together in a smaller bowl 1/3 cup tahini, 2/3 cup hot water, the juice of half a lemon, 1/2 t. cayenne pepper and 3/4 t. smoked or regular paprika. Season to taste with salt.

Now, pour the tahini sauce into the other ingredients and stir, this time very well, before adding salt and black pepper to your taste. Transfer everything to the prepared casserole dish and bake, covered with foil or a lid, for 10 minutes. Remove the covering and bake an additional 15 minutes or until very hot throughout.

Allow the casserole to rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving. If the casserole appears too runny let it sit for an additional 15 minutes, in which time the rice will absorb any excess liquid.

A very compatible casserole that can be served with just about any non-starchy side you can imagine, at Cafe Drake HRV we like it with a crunchy contrast, usually a parsley and onion salad or marinated cucumbers and olives. Also excellent with pickles or roasted or grilled long hot peppers.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Garden Glimpses

September has arrived, the light is changing, the nights turning cooler and already here in the Hudson River Valley, the growing season is waning. Soon we'll be harvesting the final tomatoes and string beans and chili peppers from the Cafe Drake HRV gardens, while the zinnias, asters, lettuces and other salad greens should thrive for another month or so. We just wanted to share a few pics of Summer 2016's bounty, less abundant than previous years due to persistent heatwaves and scarce rainfall, but satisfying in the way that only comes from nurturing a plant from seed through harvest.

Micro-Harvest #1 - Venetian Purple String Beans, Yellow Wax Beans, Black Raspberries, Tiny Tom Tomatoes and Matchbox Chili Peppers

The zinnias and bachelor buttons are always the first to bloom in the cutting garden.
Lloyd poses with blue flowers of the borage plants, an always reliable perennial.

Although not a favorite at Cafe Drake HRV, Black-eyed Susans are certainly prolific. A few sprawled in a vase makes a colorful and adequate arrangement in late Summer.

A quirky bouquet!

New to the garden this year was the Indigo Rose tomato. All the fruits have the characteristic swath of deep purple but otherwise ripen in a variety of shades along the red color spectrum.

Green suits Arabella, wouldn't you agree?

A booming bed of Russian kale and flourishing herbs (from lower left, counter clockwise: salad burnett, thyme, marjoram, oregano, chives and yellow sage).

Another bed of robust herbs. From lower center, counter-clockwise: pineapple sage, tarragon, lemon balm, anise hyssop and Thai basil.
The garden's security guard, Lloyd Page, stands alert and ready to remove any trespassers.

A veritable field of shiso. Blessed with surplus, we sell bunches of the Japanese herb to a nearby sushi restaurant whose chef strives for local ingredients.

Still on security detail, Lloyd often pulls long shifts.

The coveted and revered Green Zebra tomato was one of our bumper crops this year.

As big as a saucer, Goldie tomatoes, when fully ripe, are more of a deep orange; their creamy flesh is akin in color and texture to a cantaloupe.
Petite arrangements are perfect for bathrooms and bedside tables.

above two photos: In the height of the season, flowers are tucked in open table spaces throughout the house.
Assorted fruits from the Tomato Patch including Green Zebra, Black Krim, Honey Drop and Bumble Bee Cherry.

Lloyd takes a break in the shade of the shiso plants.

above and below: the biggest and the smallest of the tomatoes grown at Cafe Drake HRV.

No shortage of berries this summer.
A few potted plants.

This pink begonia has grown as large as an exercise ball!

Thai basil is an herb that can be both dried and frozen successfully. Lucky for us since we're inundated with it.

These four perennial herbs - marjoram, oregano, tarragon and chives - seem to grow back stronger and larger every Spring.

Gorgeous, deep violet flower petals are an added bonus to our Venetian purple string bean vines.

Prickly, sprawling and tall, cardoon is sort of a garden bully if you ask us.

Raspberries and more raspberries.

So very many raspberries.