We were all set to begin a more-salads-for-lunch regime, considering yesterday was the first full day of spring and we have some winter weight to shed. Then today in rolls “foureaster” storm, Toby, dumping about 12-inches of heavy wet snow. So we cooked a potful of pasta and sauced it with meaty ragu. There’s a lot of shoveling to do and we girls do need our strength. When the sun comes out again and the snow melts away, we’ll give that no-carb regime a try.

 

We’ve had a taste of spring. The mercury crawled into the 70s a couple of weeks ago, some crocuses bloomed, the spring peepers have been chirping, and the afternoon light lingers well past five o’clock. But March has come in on cue, behaving like a lion, and we are bracing for our second nor’easter in less than a week. We’ll cook a few dishes today to hold us a day or two in the event tomorrow’s forecasted snow keeps us homebound. While poking around in the freezer this morning, we decided to make a little room in there, and defrosted a container of turkey stock for lunch. We cooked some fat noodles separately (so they didn’t soak up all the stock), then added them to the simmering broth along with frozen peas, and a big handful of chopped parsley. It’s a light lunch. But we have a lot to do before we face what tomorrow brings. And hey, if the storm blows over, at least we’ll have made some room in our freezer.

 

We were in the mood for floury baked potatoes today, but only had waxy white spuds in our larder. So we are having our next favorite “stuffed” potatoes for lunch on this sunny, blustery day: crushed boiled potatoes smothered with salty Irish butter, bacon, castelvetrano olives, and lots of chopped scallions. Swear, starting in April, we are going to eat nothing but salads to slim down our winter silhouettes.

 

 

We tested 5-Minute Hummus from Michael Solomonov’s upcoming book, Israeli Soul (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)—so guess what we are having for lunch? It lived up to it’s big brother, Zahav’s Hummus Tehina. We could just sit with two spoons and the plastic container full of the delicious purée and have at it. But we decided to be civilized, put it on two plates, and add some trimmings: cherry bomb tomatoes, a few chickpeas, scallions, fresh cilantro and dill, lemon, and a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Happy Monday, dear friends.

 

It is hard to stay at the desk today—it’s full blown spring out there. For lunch today, we matched flageolet beans and string beans (sound like the same thing but couldn’t be more different) and tinned tuna. We added lemon, salt and pepper, and lots of good olive oil. So simple, so good. We are taking it easy.

 

We’re doing our final recipe tests for the chicken chapter of our upcoming book, Cook Something—Recipes to Rely On to be published this fall by Little, Brown and Company. So, today’s lunch is fried chicken and pickles. We think the sun is trying to break through the dreary skies. It better—we are pretending we are having a summer picnic (but we are both wearing two layers of down to keep out the damp chilliness).

 

 

We are working on this Presidents’ Day but starting slowly. First things first—two soft-boiled eggs twirled up with S & P, and minced chives along with buttered brioche toast for each of us. Maybe we’ll sneak out early, it just feels like that kind of day.

 

Gung hay fat choy, as they say in Hong Kong. Happy Lunar New Year! We are eating bowls of beef & pork jiaozi—Chinese dumplings—dressed with sesame-chili oil, rice wine vinegar, and scallions. We keep count of the dumplings so that we both get an equal share. They are that good. Have a great weekend, dear friends. Eat some dumplings and/or noodles, and do something wild and crazy, after all it’s the beginning of a whole new year.

 

We made a big pot of Butternut Squash Ginger Soup at the beginning of the week and it is time to start slurping. It couldn’t be simpler to make: butternut squash, a russet potato, an onion, an apple (all peeled and chopped), a big knob of ginger peeled and grated, the peels from 2 tangerines; all simmered in chicken stock then puréed. Oh, if you like it hot add some crushed red paper flakes.  Salt and pepper, of course. Before you know it we’ll be sipping cold soups—35 days until spring.

 

Today, on this Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, we are playing it in the middle—neither fasting, nor over indulging in aphrodisiacs. So, we are having a modest lunch: fat wedges of ripe Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam on walnut-studded toast slathered with salted butter; French breakfast radishes; and two thimbles of 2014 Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco, Vigneti delle Dolomiti to keep us hydrated. We are promising ourselves to practice more self-discipline tomorrow—but no kneeling in raw rice.

 

 

We’ve been seeing “baby” artichokes in the market for the last few weeks and cannot resist them. These little guys, about the size of a jumbo egg, are not immature—just small. They grow on the same plant as the big thistle does, but closer to the ground, shaded by the large saw-tooth leaves. They never develop a fuzzy interior choke, so with minimal preparation, the little darlings can be eaten whole. We snap off the tough outer leaves, trim the stem, cut off the pointed tip, then braise them—in white wine and olive oil, with a cut-up lemon, sliced onions, and garlic, some fresh tarragon or mint, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper—until tender. We serve them warm from the pot with the aromatic juices spooned on top, or as a salad as we did for lunch today: baby artichokes dressed with good olive oil and lemon served over earthy lentils.

 

 

It’s quiet, but we’re busy and both of us forgot to organize a lunch. So we are relying on our refrigerator to supply it today. Yesterday friend’s shared their avocados, today we’re nibbling olives from our friends at Divina. They import all good and delicious things from around the world and when you see an interesting olive bar, they are most likely the ones behind it. If we ignore the cold and snow (and pour ourselves a thimbleful of rosé) we might be in the South of France. Girls can dream, can’t they?

 

Our good friends, the Orr’s, have a beautiful avocado grove in Ventura, California. Fire, then devastating mudslides have razed much of the area recently. Undaunted, they picked these beautiful fruits, packed them up, along with limequats, and sent them off to us and some other lucky people. (They suggested we use for gin & tonics—we will.) To have these exotics arrive here in the frozen, snowy east is indeed a great gift. But even better, is this lesson of generosity and friendship. California sure knows how to grow ‘em good. Thank you Orr’s for everything. Reach out to friends and family today, dear readers.

 

There was a late night run from the Delaware River to So Kong Dong in Fort Lee, N.J. for steaming bowls of pork and kimchee soondubu jjigae, the spicy soft tofu Korean stew served with pancham. We ate our fill then ordered more to bring back to the studio so we could do it all over again today. Sometimes, like everyone else, we get our best ideas in the middle of the night.

 

We just couldn’t stand it! We needed to taste something bright and green. So we blanched a package of frozen peas, then mashed them along with minced garlic, chopped chives, a little lemon zest, and buttery olive oil, then slathered the mash on some good toasted bread and sprinkled it with crushed Aleppo pepper. It worked—we scratched the itch—and we have some leftover for a few more toasts with this evening’s apéritif.

 

 

Today is practically balmy—monsoon like. So we opted for a cold lunch, our homemade gravlax, thinly sliced, on buttered pumpernickel. We seasoned simply,  Maldon salt, cracked black pepper, and a wisp or two of fresh chives. We’ll each take some home to: serve with drinks before dinner, for a snack on hard boiled eggs, and for Sunday morning breakfast on toast with cream cheese, scallions, and (what the hell!) winter tomatoes. Have a great weekend, and remember, dear friends, to cook something delicious for yourselves.

 

It’s been nothing but frigid temps, snow and sleet, about to rain cats and dogs, so  we made a big pot of Sunday Sugo—Braised pork ribs, short ribs, sausages and braciole with onions, garlic in Mutti’s tomato sauce. Simple as that but the resulting sauce will last us through Sunday lunch. Make a pot for yourselves, dear friends.

 

We wanted to take a break from chicken. So, the other day we went to grab a duck from the market. No duck! Geez, just a couple of weeks ago during the holidays, the markets were chockablock with everything wonderful to cook, including capons, geese, and ducklings. So we bought a big ham instead and now we’re set for eternity. We coated the ham with Dijon mustard and brown sugar and baked it for dinner one night. Now we’re eating ham sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today’s lunch was buttered bread, thick slices of ham, and a smear of Dijon mustard topped with a spoonful of pear saffron chutney (a holiday gift from our friends Kristen and John). Lots of ham left—let us know if you’d like us to send you some. Maybe it’ll last us until the markets are full again for the holidays.

 

 

We had a taste for red meat. So we went all the way and hand chopped two tenderloin steaks into steak tartar. We smeared dense pumpernickel with mustard caraway butter,  piled on the beef and garnished it with red onions, capers, anchovies, and some cracked black pepper. Not a hot lunch but it sure made us feel warm and satisfied.

 

Happy New Year, dear friends. We have been away working, moving, and more. Lots of good things to look forward to in 2018. We have moved up to an old railroad station in a small river town just north of our old studio in Frenchtown N.J. Its a beauty. Right now it’s more demo than reno, but we’ll get there by spring (crossed fingers). Then Canal House can come to life. Today we are eating beans—saving our shekels—with ham. Our luxury was a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a gift from our friend Peggy Knickerbocker. She is part of that gang that makes the elixir with Paul Bertolli. So pearls and burlap…kind of like us.

 

We’ve been testing a braised pork and bourbon recipe for a dinner we have coming up in Kentucky this fall. It’s a process we love—talking the recipe through, cooking the dish, fussing over it, adjusting the flavors, the textures, and retesting the dish until we get it just how we want it. We’re getting very close with this one. It’s not a dish we’ll ultimately serve with avocados, but for lunch today, it sure hit the spot.

 

Stone fruit are in at manoffmarketgardens. Their luscious white peaches have a very short season so we gorge while we can. For lunch today, we paired them with peeled wedges of ripe tomatoes and the sheerest slices of prosciutto di Parma. We are talking all about peaches with Amy Manoff (and playing some cool tunes) tomorrow, Wednesday 4–5 pm, on The Canal House Kitchen Hour. So tune in to wdvrfm.org. See you on the radio!

 

For lunch today, we braised small whole eggplants, garlic, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, and basil in olive oil. It tasted like midsummer in Cagnes-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. And brought to mind Mireille Johnston and her 1976 book, Cuisine of the Sun. It’s a beautiful gift when flavors evoke times, places, and people from the past.

 

Yesterday, neighbor Bill dropped off a big bag of his freshly harvested curly kale. So today we finely chopped those beautiful greens, mixed them with toasted breadcrumbs, currants, scallions, and crumbled bacon, then dressed them with an anchovy vinaigrette. Now that will put hair on your chest. Uh-oh we may have to rethink that.

 

Believe it or not, today’s pasta sauce was the end of our stash of last year’s frozen grated fresh tomatoes. Twelve months ago we cut tomatoes in half horizontally, grated their fleshy sides on the large holes of a box grater, then discarded the skins. We strained the pulp to remove the seeds, then filled ziplock bags with the sauce along with a few fresh basil leaves. Then into the freezer they went. Amazingly, it tasted as fresh as the day we made it! Today we tossed rigatoni into the sauce with lots of grated parmigiano, s & p, and a good drizzle of olive oil—simple and delicious. Our tomatoes are just ripening on the vines so it’s almost time to make more sauce.

 

Peeled, sliced tomatoes and fingerling potatoes with aïoli for our TGIF lunch today. (Oh, that’s right. It’s only Thursday!) This luscious mayonnaise is so good, if you slathered it on cardboard you’d be begging for seconds. Now is the moment to eat vegetables; we sure are and we’re loving them.

 

Some people might call today, Wednesday, hump day. We’re calling it wedgeday in honor of the baby romaine lettuce we had for lunch with blue cheese dressing, lots of chopped bacon, and a drizzle of good olive oil. Iceberg lettuce sure makes a fine wedge salad, but these beautiful, tight little heads of romaine have more than crunch. They’ve got flavor!

 

“Food is your best medicine”—as Dr. Henry Beiler wrote over fifty years ago—and today’s lunch sure proves that. We ate: lentils with raw spring onions, roasted beets sweet as sugar, yogurt with cumin and coriander, sliced summer tomatoes, and boiled eggs all anointed with a sharp mustardy vinaigrette. No afternoon nap for us. We’re raring to go.

 

The scene was pure Norman Rockwell at Trauger’s Farm Market this morning. A young boy, maybe six years old, had set up his lemonade stand just to the right of the doors. Being entrepreneurs ourselves (and understanding what it takes to get something going), we asked the price of two glasses of lemonade.  ”Oh”, he said,” you’ll have to ask my grandmother. She’s inside.” We spied his towheaded siblings out back helping sort corn. What a way to grow up, visiting your grandparents’ farm midsummer. It’s a dream of continuity, of simplicity, of something true, of  a life based on something real and meaningful.

We bought purple spring onions, a big just-picked bunch of rainbow chard, yellow and bi-colored corn, some purple string beans, and a dozen fresh eggs. We came to the studio and made this delicate chard frittata for lunch. And by the way, the lemonade was 50¢ a glass—a fair and honest price, just like everything else in that market. It was a perfect way to start the week.

 

A package from California arrived at Canal House today. Before we looked at the sender’s name and address we recognized the heft and bulge of the box—avocados from Ventura, California. A few times a year our friends, the Orr’s, ship us a stash of fruit plucked from the trees in their orchard. These avocados belong in the Avocado Hall of Fame with rich, nutty flavor and creamy, dense flesh. Also tucked into the box were two jars of their homemade boysenberry jam—and everyone knows there ‘s not a better berry in the world. So we stopped what we were doing and made a pile of toast to slather with butter and jam or mashed avocados with olive oil. This was the finest way to end our work week—feet up on the windowsill, watching the rain through the screens, munching toast. TGIF. Cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.