March is cooperating—behaving like the proverbial lion (we are hoping/praying that the lamb will follow suit). Snow and sleet the day before last. More of the same coming this afternoon. We’re craving the green of spring—isn’t everyone? We hear from the west that Californians are feasting on spring asparagus, lucky dogs. But we easterners must keep our spirits up with nourishing lunches like this cod and potato chowder with crisp cubes of pancetta and lots of fresh chives. Eat well, be happy!

 

Today’s lunch is a seared smoked pork chop on cabbage and raisins braised in dry vermouth—we’ll share.

 

The other day we made a big batch of Pork Stewed in Guajillo Chile Mole (Canal House Cooks Every Day, page 198). It has been sitting outside in the cold on the balcony. As with most long-cooked complex dishes, it just keeps getting better—richer and deeper as the days go by. Today, we fried yellow corn tortillas, then filled and folded them around rice, pork in mole, avocados, and cilantro leaves. Lime added bright flavor to this luxurious lunch. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

We simmered 2 pieces of beef shank in some homemade chicken stock along with 1 parsnip, 1 carrot, 1 shallot, some parsley stems, and 3 star anise. The resulting broth was lip-smackingly sticky and rich with favor. We added a tangle of udon—Japanese wheat noodles—and slurped our way through this most satisfying of lunches.

 

The contents of our vegetable drawer—1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 carrot, 1 parsnip, 1 handful of green beans, and 3 collard leaves—plus 2 scoops of sticky rice and 3 cups of really good homemade chicken stock added up to two big bowls of delicious, fortifying vegetable soup. We are ready to take on the world.

 

CH’s husband is not a cook. But he has come up with a darn good salad. Now we are a trifle snobby when it comes to salads. We like them simple, not too many ingredients, just tender leaves lightly dressed with very good olive oil and our own red wine vinegar. Well Mr. H’s salad is anything but that. It is really of the “everything but the kitchen sink” school—sturdy romaine leaves, salad olives, scallions, croutons, a cherry tomato or two hiding under a leaf, served with spoonfuls of caesar dressing. It satisfies the crunchy, salty, tangy, and slightly sweet that we must be craving. What is your favorite “special” salad of the moment? Don’t hold back, reveal all.

 

It’s a mite chilly here in the northeast. This morning started out at -1°, and many cups of hot coffee later it has only inched up to 14° (though it still feels like -1°). We decided we wanted/needed a hearty meal after hauling armloads of firewood up the stairs to the studio—the old Franklin stove is doing its best to keep us toasty.  So it is a braise of cabbage and collards with chicken and spicy sausages for lunch. Bundle up and keep warm; and cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

Remember Hamburger Helper? We defrosted a package of ground beef this morning, not quite knowing what we’d make with it. We poked around the studio and the fridge and found an onion, some garlic, a couple of carrots, and two russet potatoes. Just the “helpers” we needed to make this satisfying shepherd’s pie.

 

Pan-seared turkey cutlets, steamed hedgehog mushrooms, sticky white rice—got teriyaki sauce, got lunch.

 

Seems that these days we’ve been digging in frozen places for things that give us warmth. This morning, for instance, it was the wood pile and the freezer. It took til noon before our fireplace was really throwing out some good heat. And by then, the frozen blocks from the freezer had all defrosted so we could make lunch—big loose sheets of pasta folded over a sweet/savory squash filling, with crisp bacon, and a shower of parmigiano. Now we’re finally warm, inside and out, dozing in our chairs when we should be writing. Oh well, it’s Friday. Be sure to cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

CH brought a chicken to the studio today. And a package of lentils. MH rummaged in the fridge and found a fat carrot in the vegetable drawer and a barely preserved lemon from the batch we recently made. While the lentils and carrot simmered on top of the stove,  the now spatchcocked chicken, rubbed with olive oil and red-chile salt, roasted in a hot oven. We served them together, with torn fresh mint leaves, so all their flavors could mingle.

 

 

Feels like January thaw here today. Snow is sliding off the roof and landing with a crescendo onto the towpath below. We run to the windows each time praying no one was hit by the “avalanche”. While we were on snow patrol, a falcon landed on a branch of the mimosa tree across the canal. Inside, we sat by the fire and ate bowls of chicken and rice with collard greens. Bundle up, get out there, and be sure to cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

Early this morning there was a quiet knock on the door; then in walked neighbor Tama Matsuoka, Meadows + More, with a big box of black trumpet mushrooms, craterellus cornucopioides, straight off a plane from California. What an extravagant gift! We could hardly wait for lunch—mushrooms on toast, to understate the glory of it. We ain’t got a barrel of money, but with generous friends like Tama, we are eating like kings.

 

We braved the storm to get back to the studio from Washington, DC where we poured 650 Maker’s Mark sidecars and cooked a dinner for 26. After that, we weren’t a’scared of no puny blizzard! But so good to be home with a fire crackling away in the wood stove, Teddy Thompson on the air waves, and a delicious lunch of broccoli rabe, chipolatas and orecchiette on the table. Join us in spirit and eat something wonderful today for lunch.

 

 

Lamb chops with lemon and muhammara (spicy roasted red peppers and ground walnuts) for lunch today. Served with no napkins, so we can lick our fingers clean. Off to Sips & Suppers in Washington, DC for the rest of the week. We’ll send word from there.

 

 

A brown paper bag filled with apricot-colored hedgehog mushrooms, Hydnum repandum, arrived at our door yesterday. This gift showed up just as we were refining our preparation of mushroom ravioli for our Sips & Suppers dinner next week in Washington DC, (sipsandsuppers.org is a benefit that raises funds for Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen.) Hedgehogs are very similar in color, texture, and flavor to chanterelles, that’s a good similarity!  We had some for lunch today simply sautéed in olive oil and butter, seasoned with salt and pepper. They were so meaty and delicious we may just have to reconsider serving them with pasta!

 

Tuna ventresca, anchovy-stuffed olives, and green beans in a tangle of pappardelle just may be our favorite off-the-cuff lunch. We prepare it simply with only good olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Why gild the lily?

 

Chicken thighs braised in their own juices with a spoonful of homemade tomato sauce, and a handful of Castelvetrano olives could only get better if, say, the dish was served on soft polenta. See if you agree. Heaven.

 

Reduced a big pot of beef stock flavored with aromatics, the likes of star anise and ginger root, down to a broth so rich it made our lips sticky. We added scoops of starchy short-grained rice and lacy cilantro leaves. Our lunch tasted like bowls full of love, and we all need that in this big, crazy, uncertain world. Cook something delicious for yourself this weekend, dear friends.

 

We went down into the cool, dark root cellar today and filled our aprons with beets, carrots, and parsnips harvested from our vast vegetable garden this fall. Oh snap, that’s right, we don’t have a root cellar and last time we checked, we only have a narrow balcony with an even narrower herb box. It’s okay to dream a little to keep this subzero weather from messing with one’s head, isn’t it? Back to reality. Today’s lunch (procured from our fridge’s vegetable drawer) is roasted beets, carrots, and parsnips tossed in olive oil, cumin, and crushed chile, served with a delicious garlicky yogurt. (We pretended we were eating big bowls of hot pasta. Okay, we have lost our minds.)

 

The mercury has dropped and the canal just below our studio is literally freezing over before our eyes. It is mesmerizing to watch the flowing water freeze into ice floes that stack up on each other. The meatloaf we made this morning was just coming out of the oven when there was a knock on the door. A couple of friends, who had been out walking, stopped by to warm up and invite us out to lunch. We convinced them to join us instead for today’s old-fashioned meal: meatloaf (made with ground beef and Italian sausage meat), stewed tomatoes, and peas with salted Irish butter. Stay warm, eat well, and keep your strength up, dear friends.

 

We cooked our goose today—the wild goose, that is, that our hunter friend gave us over the holidays. We seasoned big cubes of the very lean meat with s & p then browned them quickly to keep them rosy and tender. But it was the cabbage, cippollini, apples, and lardon braised in a delicious gamay from Bow & Arrow that really made this wintery dish.

 

We slipped down to the studio to work today (town is pretty quiet save for the folks on holiday strolling about). Uncertain of what we’d find in the refrigerator, we brought with us a frozen block of rich chicken stock for lunch—if nothing else, we’d drink mugs of hot broth throughout the day. Turns out the fridge was bare, but the pantry yielded San Marzano plum tomatoes and short-grain rice. We always feel lucky when, with just the fewest ingredients, we can make something nourishing and delicious—like this tomato-rice soup.

 

It’s nearly impossible to get anything done with all the holiday rush swirling around. But there’s always enough time for lunch. To keep up our stamina, we pan-fried a ham steak and served it alongside scrambled eggs with meaty sautéed American matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) from Northern California—a rare and delicious gift from our friend Tama Matsuoka.

We are off to buy last minute presents, deliver our homemade goodies, and spread Canal House good cheer. ’Tis the season, so remember to cook some of your own family recipes and start some new food traditions too. Enjoy every holiday morsel—happy happy, merry merry, jingle jangle, dear friends.

 

We stopped at our local bakery—Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown, PA—to get a cup of coffee this morning and decided to grab a ball of their pizza dough for today’s lunch. Henry, the studio dog, is loosing his tiny little mind while we eat our clam “pie”. Don’t know if the peperoncini, olive oil, parmigiano, parsley, and thyme will agree with him. They sure do with us!

 

Leftovers for lunch today. MH had a little dinner party on Monday night, so she brought the remains of two poached chickens with turnips, parsnips, carrots, and leeks in her big orange Le Creuset pot. CH sliced the meat off a whole breast then re-heated it in the jellied pan juices. She sautéed the veggies in butter with the very last parsley and thyme from the balcony. Hope MH has another party soon.

 

French onion soup is an alchemic elixir. When a couple of sliced onions, a splash of red wine, and some broth transform into the most luscious lunch we’ve eaten in a long time, that is saying something! It is the perfect antidote to this dreary day. Hope the sun is shining where ever you are.

 

We got hungry—after all, breakfast was only half an avocado. So for a late, light lunch we braised wild salmon, escarole, and peas in dry vermouth and Irish butter.

 

This morning’s breakfast: the last of our stash of California avocados with California Olive Ranch’s 2014 Limited Reserve olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, crushed red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

 

We defrosted a batch of bolognese and a few frozen sheets of pasta stashed in the back of the freezer for just such an occasion. All that was left to do was to whip up some balsamella and grate a little parmigiano. Then, before we could say,  ”How about a deconstructed lasagne bolognese”, we were sitting down to the best lunch in town (if we do say so ourselves). Cook something delicious for yourself, dear friends.