We just returned from a two week stint in Chicago. At the market this morning, we discovered summer came on while we were away. There were big bushy bunches of kale, heroic-looking scallions, tomatoes (not peak yet), kohlrabi (why is this so popular?) and bins piled high with bi-color corn (our favorite). We bought a dozen ears, but doled out just two for our lunch today (the rest we’ll take home to share with our families for dinner tonight). And to fill out the menu, we broiled two chicken breasts (on the bone for more flavor) seasoned with olive oil, and salt and pepper, to serve on the side. It’s good to be back.
Lobster lunch redux. Our summer jags are revealing themselves: Lobster and rosé for lunch; fried chicken and rosé for dinner. We tossed the plump chunks of cold lobster with a dab mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, a little chopped celery, tarragon leaves, and minced chives. The haricots verts and potates were simply dressing in olive oil, and s&p. It so hot, we’re sipping our rosé over ice—cool and refreshing. Have a happy exciting fireworks-filled 4th, dear friends. Happy birthday, Uncle Sam!
The illustrious writer David Prior joined us for lunch today, so we are getting our Fourth on—lobster rolls and french fries. The studio is very warm and while the ceiling fan whirled , we downed four bottles of Pellegrino and one bottle of rosé (we want him to think well of us). It’s been nonstop talking about food, travel, and life—he’s brought the wide world to our table. The very best lunch in ages.
We may be the last living people that make quiche outside of France. It seems to have gone out of fashion, but we still love it. We made one today in fact—fat scallions from the farmers’ market in a creamy custard with a flaky, buttery crust. Maybe we’ll call it tarte à l’oignon, it has a tonier ring. In the words of Gomez Addams, “I love it when you speak French to me”.
It feels hot and muggy, like late-June should. So gazpacho floated up to the top of the menu. It showed up right on cue, all dressed up with tiny, crisp croutons, a confetti of tomato and cucumber, and though it isn’t authentic, a sprinkle of chives from our window box. They go on everything we cook this time of year. One spoonful and summer memories come flooding back.
Now you’ll think we have lost our minds—broccoli with butter and lemon for lunch? Well, we have fallen in love with this beautiful brassica. It tastes rich and green and full of prana.
Just back from Kentucky, nothing in the fridge, so we headed off to our favorite farm stand to replenish supplies. Not much going on yet—no tomatoes, squash, or cucs—but we found beautiful broccoli florets. We blanched them, gave them a bath in olive oil and butter with anchovies and garlic, and tossed them into a bowl of orecchiette. All it took was a shower of parmigiano and it was ready to eat. Who said they didn’t like broccoli? Bon appetito!
It’s a simple shrimp salad for lunch today. The shrimp were too jumbo (is that possible?) so we sliced them lengthwise, then tossed them with diced celery, chives, fresh lemon juice, lots of mayonnaise and a little sour cream. We’re rationalizing that the mayo must be good for our complexions.
Really delicious local strawberries are in. They’re the Earliglow Junebearing variety—first of the summer berries, tiny, and candy-sweet. We bought two quarts for lunch today, why not? One for CH, one for MH. We hulled the berries and since they were a little bit sandy, we rinsed them with a bottle of red wine, why not? Though they didn’t really need it, we sprinkled them with a little sugar to make the juices just that much sweeter. Why not? It’s Friday. We can do as we like. Have a lovely weekend dear friends. Why not?
For the last ten days, Canal House has had a delightful young visitor, Hawaii’s own, TJ Colby. He’s seen things, done things, and eaten things he’s never seen, done, or eaten before. He says he’s not homesick one bit. But just in case, we put some familiar flavors together for lunch today to make him feel at home here: Steamed brown rice, spinach, baby turnips, umeboshi plums, and scallions doused in our own teriyake sauce. Tomorrow he’ll be home sweet home.
As promised, we’re having arancini for lunch today—made with yesterday’s leftover risotto-style shrimp rice. We opened a tin of anchovies for their saltiness, and celery hearts for crunch. A light lunch on this hot, muggy day.
Today’s lunch is shrimp rice, prepared risotto-style. The secret to this simple dish is to make a rich broth: onions, carrots, fresh fennel, parsley, shrimp shells, white wine, and water simmered over low heat then strained. We used bomba rice (because we had it), but any medium grain rice like arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano will do. A good way to start the week. Let’s keep it going—tomorrow, arancini.
We almost forgot to have lunch! We can’t have that! So it’s seared skirt steak and chopped fennel and celery salad with preserved lemon dressing. Glad the memory kicked in.
CH spent the night in NYC last night and left at the crack of daylight to get back to the studio this morning. MH had a little fantasy that CH would arrive with something delicious from Chinatown—maybe some har gow (slippery rice dumplings), a mahogany Peking duck, or even some double-cooked pork. No such luck. Unable to shake the craving, we pulled down our wok, dove into the freezer, and quickly pulled together a shrimp, pea, and pancetta fried rice. Sacrilege of sacrilege, we doused it with oyster sauce, teriyaki, and soy sauce—it sure hit the spot. Have a wonderful, delicious weekend, dear friends. And remember, ”Far out isn’t far enough.”—Tomi Ungerer
No time to shop so we went shopping in our own refrigerator. Our neighbor keeps dropping off fresh eggs from his chickens who live next door in a rooftop hen house, so we have plenty of those. The vegetable crisper yielded some asparagus and baby kale and, Bob’s your uncle, we whipped up a lovely frittata and simple green salad. Not bad for slim pickings.
We thought we’d just have toast for lunch today. But as the day progressed and our appetites grew bigger, toast turned into this: One toast was spread with Roquefort, fat asparagus were laid on top with a scattering of fresh chives with their blossoms; the other was spread with lots of mayonnaise, then we added sliced hard-boiled eggs with s&p and fresh tarragon. Toast never tasted so good.
Monday, May 12th, 2014: Canal House studio doors wide open. Check. Screens in place. Check. Ceiling fan whirling, CH in flip flops, and MH in tennies, no socks. Check, check, and check. Lunch is befitting this summer-like day: Veal bockwursts, baby new potato salad, and cornichons. To quench our thirsts: Cold beers over ice (not in photograph, but you can imagine).
We cooked a cinnamon and chile-rubbed brisket long and slow along with onions and garlic and a little tomato paste. It quietly simmered until it was so tender we could shred it with a fork. We ate the meat with rice, avocados, and limes dusted with cayenne. Add a little spice to your own life, dear friends, on what we hope will be a lovely spring weekend.
What could be more flavorless and benign than the uberpopular boneless, skinless chicken breast? We rarely buy them at the market. But today, while out shopping for more local asparagus, there were two small, delicate breasts that spoke us. Into our shopping bag they went, along with a big handful of fat spears. We dusted the chicken in Wondra flour, and quickly pan-fried them in butter and a splash of olive oil until they were just browned and still juicy inside. We piled on warm asparagus then a tender salad of dandelion leaves, tendrils of micro agugula, chives, and pansy petals on top. Chicken breasts all dressed up for spring! Delicious.
Today’s lasagna lunch—sheets of fresh pasta filled with alternating layers of balsamella, fresh ricotta, spinach, bolognese sauce, and lots of parmigiano. Spring has whetted our appetites and we are so enjoying our lunch, oh dear.
Lunch at the desks today. Toast with a slather of good butter, a smear of fresh ricotta, some chopped prosciutto and chives, a sprinkle of Omnivore salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a drizzle of really good olive oil. Well, we have to keep up our strength some way.
The farm market at the end of town announced this week that local asparagus had finally arrived. Hallelujah! We stopped there today and bought a bunch of fatties, plus a bag of tiny spuds, and a dozen pastel colored eggs from a nearby farm. We knew lunch would be simple today—poached asparagus, boiled potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs—but we wanted to make it a little luxurious as a treat to end the week. So we made a true aioli to dip into, and poured ourselves each a splash of white wine. Have a lovely spring weekend, dear friends. Make yourself a mint julep. We’ll cross our fingers that your horse wins!
Yesterday, we were in a top-secret meeting planning the future of The Canal House. Under the “cone of silence”, we sat in the studio by a fire and brainstormed, while outside the rain poured down, the river rose, and the roads flooded. It was exciting and dramatic inside and out. We ate risotto made with Blue Moon Acres’ locally-grown arborio rice. No time to post lunch—apologies. So today’s lunch is arancini, Sicilian fried rice balls (see Canal House Cooking Volume 7, La Dolce Vita, page 25 or http://thecanalhouse.com/buythebook.html). Italian picnic food on this pretty day. Onward!
Saturday night was the fifth and last of our spring dinners. Twenty guests sat at one long table that pretty much filled the studio. It was a great group of eaters, definitely members of the Clean Plate Club, which made us feel terrific. But the evening raced by and we never had a chance to eat. So, on this cool day, when we’re craving meat and potatoes, we are treating ourselves like guests and enjoying leftovers of braised short ribs, mashed potatoes with lots of butter, bulb onions and long carrots.
We’re still working on the Easter ham. Lunch is a rich chicken broth with acini di pepe, asparagus, little peas, lots of chopped parsley, and, oh yeah, ham. We’re still loving it.
It’s bring-your-Easter-ham-to-work today. And boy, did we have a good one to bring in. So it’s slices of ham with poached asparagus drizzled with “buttery” extra-virgin olive oil, snipped chives from the studio flower box, and lemon to add brightness for lunch. Good thing it’s not bring-your-pet-rabbit to work today!
A spring lunch of risi e bisi, the soupy rice and pea dish from Venice. We make it with carnaroli rice so it stays loose and “wavy” the way the Venetians prefer it, peas, naturally, and tiny cubes of pancetta. Seems like just the thing to be eating on this pretty day.
We are leaving the studio a little early today to start our shopping for our Easter lunches. But before we head out we made this spring lunch to build our strength—new potatoes “buttered” with mayo and chives, fat asparagus with lemon, mortadella slices, and hard-cooked eggs. Happy Easter, dear friends. Hope you have a delicious holiday. Hippity hop.
A little lunch of fried chicken and pasta primavera—a strange combo but very delicious. The creamy pasta is spring’s stand-in for summer’s potato salad. The cherry blossoms and star magnolias are blooming here despite the cold snap, a couple of warm days and everything will bust wide open. We can’t wait.
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