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.

 

On this hot, muggy day we are working in the splendor of air conditioning. So much so, that instead of a cold summer salad (a more appropriate lunch), we are feasting on duck legs braised with shiitake mushrooms and purple spring onions. We considered pouring ourselves glasses of 2007 Liber Pater Bordeaux, but instead went with good old Frenchtown tap water with a couple of ice cubes. We have to cut back somewhere!

 

Happy corn-on-the-cob season. We like bi-colored ears, boiled, with salted butter, and the crunch of a little more salt. CH eats her corn off the cob going round and round. MH eats hers typewriter style. How about you? We’ll be talking corn recipes and spinning tunes on our weekly radio show, “The Canal House Kitchen Hour” on wdvrfm.org from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EDT. Tune in, if you get a chance. See you on the radio!

 

Our week started off beautifully with lunch with Cathy Barrow (www.cathybarrow.com). We drove up the river to Trauger’s Farm Market (www.traugers.com) early this morning and found bins of bi-color “Temptation” corn, delicate green and yellow beans, and two colors of zucs—everything we needed for our first summer succotash. We nestled a roasted chicken, along with all its juices, on top of the vegetables. The garden giveth.

 

Today lunch was salmon bathed in lemon butter sauce with braised scallions and little boiled potatoes. Kinda fancy but very simple to make. The sauce makes anything taste luxurious. Here’s how you make it—Whisk 2 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of water together in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat (you don’t want the eggs to scramble!). Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold butter until it has melted into the sauce, and continue this way until you have whisked in a total of 8 tablespoons butter. The sauce will have thickened nicely. (If it separates, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in another piece of cold butter to cool the sauce down. It should come back together.) Remove from the heat and add the juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and a pinch of cayenne.

 

Now that we’re on the other side of July 4th, we are in full-on summer cooking mode, which means daily stops at the farm markets and roadside stands, and cooking with a light touch—letting the fruits and vegetable shine on their own. One of our summer habits is to keep a pitcher of cold soup in the fridge. It’s nice to have something to rely on when it’s too hot to cook or we’re simply too busy doing nothing in the shade. This morning, we made a cauliflower vichyssoise. By lunch we were eating big bowls of the chilled soup garnished with dollops of whipped sour cream flecked with chopped chives. We won’t be hanging out under a tree this afternoon. Instead, we’ll be talking cold soup recipes and spinning tunes on our weekly radio show, “The Canal House Kitchen Hour” on wdvrfm.org from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EDT. Tune in, if you get a chance. See you on the radio!

 

This week of English peas worked out just great. We used the last of our stash today in our luncheon salads, along with: meaty nuggets of ham pulled from simmered smoked ham hocks, lots of chopped chives and parsley, tender leaf lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, and a few sage blossoms. The vinaigrette—with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, crushed pepperoncini, and a “buttery” extra-virgin olive oil—held all the flavors together. It’s a glorious time of the year now that our farm markets and gardens are full on. Cook something delicious for yourselves this holiday weekend, dear friends.

 

 

One of our favorite salads is Cooked & Raw. The illustrious food guru, Colman Andrews, came up with this beauty. You can mix and match seasonal ingredients, just add some raw and some cooked, grated cheese (today it’s pecorino), and always add a little chopped-up cooked pork—prosciutto, pancetta, or good old bacon. Today the salad’s star is blanched peas, supported by yellow and green beans. We whisked up a classic vinaigrette, then tossed everything together. What a combo, so satisfyingly delicious. We wished we had made more. A version of this salad is in Canal House Cooking Volume N° 3, Winter & Spring, page 32. But write to us if you want the recipe and we’ll be happy to share, mail@thecanalhouse.com.

 

Hoorah, peas are in! We found them this weekend at Trauger’s Farm. This week started with an easy lunch—rice & peas and fried chicken thighs (with extra- crispy fried chix cracklings)—that hit the spot. It will be a week of peas for us. We’d love to hear what your favorite ways to cook and eat these, the sweetest of “seeds”, so send us a note at mail@thecanalhouse.com.

 

Friday lunch—roasted beets, onion, and zucchini; a spoonful of lentil salad; and a big smear of hummus (best recipe ever from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking). Who needs meat? Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

On a beautiful summer day like today—with 15 hours of daylight, the first string beans ready to pick, and hens laying hard-boiled eggs—it seemed a lentil salad with currants, celery, and chives (to accompany the aforementioned beans and eggs) would make a nice lunch. Cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.

 

Hit our local farm stand early this morning—it’s still slim pickings. But they had young garlic, beets with nice green tops, and a handful of asparagus. We challenged ourselves to use the whole darn beet.So we roasted the beet root, sautéed the stems with young garlic and added them to a rice salad, and crisped the leaves in the oven. We are polishing up our vegetable moves.

 

Over the rainy weekend one of us braised pork spareribs in rich chicken broth, removed the bones, chopped the meat, and mixed it together (along with all its juices) with a mushroom and spring onion duxelles. Today we cooked wide ribbons of fresh pasta and dressed them in butter, cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, then spooned on the “meat-sauce”. What a way to start the week. Keep cooking, dear friends.

 

On our way to the studio this morning, we stopped to see what was “in” at Manoff Farm Gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Their fields and orchards were green and lush. Inside the market it was all berries: raspberries, blueberries, and the last of their sweet little strawberries. We bought boxes of all three for the weekend, but couldn’t resist diving into the raspberries for lunch. Raspberries for lunch? Why not—with a delicate zabaglione fortified with vin santo—it was just the right way to end the week. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

This morning we made a rich stock from the carcass of Monday’s roast chicken. Then we made preserved lemon risotto for lunch today. Couldn’t have been simpler, or more delicious.

 

 

This is a real refrigerator lunch. Lucky us to find such treasures awaiting us “on ice”. A head of escarole, a juicy lemon & a preserved lemon, celery, cold poached chicken thighs, and best of all, two ripe avocados. We just chopped, sliced, mixed and everything knew just what to do—kismet.

 

Hoping to beat the heat, we got started cooking early this morning. We oven-roasted a big, olive oil and pepperoncini-rubbed bird, then set it aside on the counter to cool to room temperature. We added an escarole salad dressed with an anchovy-parmigiano vinaigrette. The blinds are down, the fans are whirling—sure feels like summer.

 

This morning we made an anchovy, garlic, and parsley paste to season a leg of lamb we are cooking tomorrow for some out-of-town guests. It got us craving our favorite little preserved fish fillets. So for lunch, we made a garlic-anchovy vinaigrette made even more robust with crushed red pepper flakes, then spooned it over string beans, ventreche tuna, hard-boiled eggs, sliced plum tomatoes, and some lucques olives. We don’t think we’ll ever tire of the deep, salty flavor that anchovies add to our cooking. Make something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

It’s a Canal House blue-plate special for lunch today: cold poached asparagus and egg salad served with thimbles of rosé. Oh, and in honor of National Olive Day, we garnished our plates with one of our favorite varieties—meaty, mild (sweet), buttery tasting castelvetrano olives. Maybe we’ll have to have ice-cold martinis with extra olives after work today.

 

 

Before we head over to the radio station for The Canal House Kitchen Hour (you can listen if you go to WDVRfm.org 4–5 PM EDT), we had to build up our strength. So we chose the magic of shiitake mushrooms to flavor arborio rice. We added ladleful by ladleful of delicate vegetable broth as the rice slowly swelled and softened. Then two sautéed shiitakes finished the risotto. It worked! We are feeling stronger—but a little sleepy. Today we have a local beekeeper on our show, Becky Wunderlich, who knows everything about apiculture and precious honeybees. See you on the radio!

 

Yesterday’s rainy weather inspired us to make a lasagne bolognese. So this morning we did the whole meghilla—made the bolognese sauce, the balsamella, rolled out sheets of fresh pasta, and grated a pile of Parmigiano-Reggiano. We layered everything in a baking pan, then let the hot oven do its thing. The resulting pasta is a masterpiece (and we say that with all modesty; you just can’t go wrong with this dish). We both ate generous squares, layer upon layer of lusciousness. Before lunch we had been listening to funk, it’s our Friday tradition. But now the studio is quiet and we are almost dozing at our computers. A perfect way to end the week and start the unofficial beginning of summer. Soon we’ll rouse ourselves and skip out early into this beautiful day. So much to do for the weekend: look for herbs to plant up empty pots, find briskets to braise, and pick strawberries to pile on shortcake. You do it too, sneak out early. And remember to cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.