Today’s lunch: Copper River sockeye salmon anointed with Villa Bisini Gambetti’s extra-vecchio balsamico (aged over 25 years) and local asparagus dressed in an extra-virgin olive oil with an equivalent pedigree. Cooking is easy when you are lucky enough to land the best. We don’t wear the latest fashions. There’s not a diamond between us. But we sure know how to eat well.

 

Come on Spring, make up your mind already! Memorial Day is right around the corner, so we’ve been busy letting out our bikinis, ready to slather on the Bain de Soleil. And then today dawned cold and rainy. Nothing to do but comfort ourselves with cannellini cooked with pork belly, served with cracklings and lemon. Now our outlooks and dispositions are sunnier. However, we may have to add a little elastic to the bathing suits.

 

This morning we jumped in the car and drove up the river on the Pennsylvania side to Trauger’s, a wonderful old farm stand where we found big fat asparagus (just like we like them) and baskets of ripe red strawberries (that actually smelled like strawberries). Then we drove over the Milford/Upper Black Eddy bridge into New Jersey and on to Bobolink Dairy for a hunk of  their full-bodied, creamy cheddar. It was just one of those shining mornings and we felt like the luckiest kids on the block to have the freedom to take this excursion. So the menu was decided, a cheese soufflé and asparagus vinaigrette. It was a birthday lunch for one of us. Cook something delicious for yourselves (maybe a soufflé and asparagus) this weekend, dear friends.

 

Too hot to cook today. It feels like a sirocco is blowing through our little river town. Definitely not the day to cook coq au vin. So other than frying up a few rashers of bacon, we played it cool with the stove. We are happily munching a BLT salad. It hit the spot!

 

Grilling season is upon us (it’s expected to reach into the 90′s today), so we made a big fresh batch of our teriyaki sauce—enough to fill a couple of bottles for the studio, and to take home for our families. We brush it on grilled salmon, spareribs, chicken, and hamburgers, spoon it over asparagus and rice, and into charred eggplant (the smoky against the sweet is Heaven). Heck, sometimes we sip it by the spoonful, we love it so much. But we’re too short on time today to fire up the grill for lunch, so we spooned it over bowls of silken tofu with lots of chopped chives and their blossoms. Our version of ambrosia.

 

 

Yesterday, we had two packages of chicken thighs in the fridge. We pan-fried one of them, along with thick slices of slender zucchini, for our lunch. Unfortunately, a long phone call distracted us from the task at hand and by the time we hung up, lunch ended up a dark shade of “burnt”—we choked it down. Determined to fix yesterday’s best intentions, we pulled out the other package of chicken thighs today, dredged them in flour, and deep-fried them until crisp and golden crisp. Then we dipped fat asparagus spears in a fritto misto batter and fried them up nice and crisp. Instead of a crunchy coleslaw, we served the fried chicken and asparagus with crunchy radishes pulled from the garden this morning. Our perseverance paid off—one delicious lunch!

 

 

We’ve been waiting not so patiently for spring vegetables to arrive—driving around looking, calling, and pestering our local markets. When will the asparagus be in? Scallions? How about fiddlehead ferns? English peas? It’s been hit or miss so far. Until today. We filled a bag with fat stubby purple asparagus, then the rest of spring’s bounty practically jumped into our cart. So, at long last, we prepared one of our favorite lunches to celebrate this time of year: A ragoût of spring vegetables with diced pancetta and lots of snipped chives. Vernal bounty awaits, so cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

Stopped at our local spice store to stock up our summer kitchen pantry. Inspired, we came back to the studio and roasted carrots in olive oil, salt, crushed cumin seeds, vintage Maras pepper, and za’atar. Then we tossed cooked beets in the same oil and spice mix. We stirred olive oil, za’atar, and Maras pepper into cool goat’s milk yogurt to serve with. Simply delicious.

 

We met early this morning to gather up the rest of the spring vegetables to serve along with the spit-roasted lamb for Easter lunch. We hit all our favorite farm stands and shops. But, in fact, nothing is growing locally, spring hasn’t really arrived yet—no asparagus, artichokes or fava beans (oh, that’s right, these are never local!), no spring onions, English peas, morels, or even fiddlehead ferns. So, for Sunday, we’ll just have to go with deviled eggs, potatoes cooked in half-and-half and salted Irish butter, and a pavlova with whipped cream and exotic fruits. But for lunch today, we stuck with the reality of April in the Northeast and had poached eggs (the postmistress is our dealer), with salted butter and lots of chives snipped from pots in the backyard. Cook something delicious for yourself this holiday weekend, dear friends. Happy Easter. Hippity hop!

 

 

Even though it’s Saturday, and a beautiful, sunny warm spring one at that, we are happy to be in the studio. Not that we aren’t wishing we were outside, taking in the fresh air and working in our gardens. But while we worked away this morning, we had these big fat asparagus to look forward to for lunch today. We peeled the zaftig beauties, boiled them until tender, then dressed them with lots of salted Irish butter and thick shavings of aged parmiggiano-reggiano. One of us ate them with fork and knife. The other with her fingers. Both ways perfectly correct at our table. We’d sacrifice a day off anytime for a working lunch like this.

 

 

We bought a 14-pound corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day—the first and second cut. Then we cooked it long and slow in just-simmering water. We had a fine feast with carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions, and, of course, cabbage. There were two kinds of sauce: a horseradish whipped cream and a parsley cream sauce—which is what they serve with corned beef in Ireland. Then we divvied up the remaining second cut and made corned beef hash, which is the whole point of the exercise. We had the very last of it for lunch today, frying the hash until it was crisp and golden on both sides then topping it with poached eggs. We added a few crushed red pepper flakes because that’s the kick we are on right now. Sorry to see this eating experience end, until next year. Cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.

 

We both used to ski a lot every winter. CH up in the Sierra, MH all over the northeast. The routine went like this: hit the slopes early in the morning, take a lunch break to refuel, then back out on the slopes for a couple more runs before the end of the day. President’s weekend meant a 3-day ski holiday. Times have changed. Neither of us has strapped on (oh, that’s right, no straps anymore), has stepped into a pair of skis in years. But, funnily enough, one thing hasn’t—the enjoyment of  a bowl of chicken noodle soup for lunch. Enjoy the rest of the holiday, dear friends.

 

 

It’s one of our favorite winter salads for lunch today—chopped celery hearts and their tender leaves, radicchio, and escarole tossed in a lemony, garlicky, anchovy vinaigrette. Cold, crunchy, bitter, and sharp. It reflects the season, but now that the days are longer and there’s a sense of spring in the air, we can take it. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

We like to be fair, but today, one of us had a bowl of shrimp risotto flecked with diced prosciutto for lunch and the other only had a big handful of pistachios which she had to crack her way through. Sometimes, we aren’t in the studio together at lunch. And today, hunger trumped patience and fairness. The risotto was awfully good, but not as delicious as when we have lunch together. Excellent company (not hunger!) is the best seasoning.

 

 

It’s a soft misty day. It feels like early Spring, and, in the words of our friend Nash Anderson, it “smells like childhood”. We boiled new potatoes for lunch, then lightly crushed them, browned them in bacon fat and butter, and seasoned them with salt, crushed pepperoncini, sautéed scallions, bacon, and more scallions. Simple but nourishing fare.

 

 

Remember this childhood favorite? We were busy, didn’t want to go to the store, and we had all these staples on hand. So we toasted slices of dark earthy bread,  slathered them with good peanut butter (just peanuts and salt), then layered on slices of crisp thick bacon. This is a perfect combo, simple as can be. What a great way to start the week.

 

Our local butcher sells meaty, smoked pork chops. We prefer them to the unsmoked chops because they stay moist when heated through—as technically, they are already “fully cooked”. Our colleague, Julie Sproesser, shared her grandmother’s “Drunken Sauerkraut with Smoked Pork Chops” (the recipe can be found in our book, “Canal House Cooking, The Grocery Store, Volume N° 6). The chops bake, buried under fresh sauerkraut, juniper berries, salted butter, among other things, and here’s the most important part, a good drink of gin and dry vermouth.  We made a pot for lunch today, to warm us up on this cold, blustery day. Better to give the pot a mid-morning drink, than the cooks! Temperance in all things.

 

In honor of the Lunar New Year we have been eating dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. This weekend we cooked for a DC Sips & Suppers dinner benefiting Martha’s Table and DC Kitchen and that’s what we served. Saturday morning, before the dinner, a wonderful group of volunteers gathered around a kitchen table and helped us fill and wrap. What seemed to be a daunting task —600 plus dumplings—turned into a rare experience. All of us talked and shared stories as we filled and folded. This has been part of kitchen culture for eons. We were working in Joan Nathan’s kitchen and all day long people came and went but everyone of them commented how much they want to join our group. It was communal, intimate, enlightening, and so very rewarding. Sometimes you think that you are giving, but really you end up getting.

 

Sometimes the winter blues sink in, because daylight is so short, and the idea of hopping in the car after work to drive the dark country roads to shop for groceries seems so hard—so the fridge grows bare. When this cycle begins, you know, it’s time to snap out of it! Last night, one of us made the extra-long drive to a huge Asian market to stock up on things for the studio and our larders at home. There were vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetable. Tofu, salty and sweet preserved fish, meat, cabbage, what a turn on! Lunch today on this cold overcast day has brightened our spirits: warm silken tofu with fiery cabbage kimchi and seasoned dry shrimp. Make something delicious for yourselves today, dear friends.

 

 

 

It must be Christmas! A beautiful panettone arrived in the mail today from NYC’s Sullivan Street Bakery. What a lovely gift. Anything that comes from Jim Lahey’s bakery is top of the ticket and this is a holiday special. We went downstairs to Early Bird Express for hot milky coffee, sliced into the tall tender, bread and sipped, dunked, and savored every bite. We have to evenly split what’s left of the loaf and not fight over who got the larger half! Buttered toasted panettone in the morning will be a great way to start tomorrow. How to make it last? If you want to order some click here https://www.foodydirect.com/restaurants/sullivan-street-bakery/dishes they are shipping until Monday, December 19th. Let the festivities begin.

 

Starting off the week right—artichokes and cannellini. We have a ham bone in the fridge, so we’ll throw it in and have pork n’ beans for lunch.

 

We had some mole poblano from our friend Nacxi Gaxiola of xillinyc.com stashed in our freezer. Rich and complex, it’s the perfect thing to have on hand. It transforms the simple into the sublime, as it did for our lunch today. Pot-roasted chicken with mole poblano, black beans, and slices of avocado. We’ll have to replenish our stash of this “king” of sauces. It’s too good live without.

 

 

This weekend one of us made a vat of ragù—sauce or gravy as it is called in nearby New York or Philly—which is a very good use of kitchen time. Short ribs, country ribs, hot and sweet Italian sausages simmered for hours flavoring the rich tomato sauce before they were scooped from the pot, the bones removed, the meat finely chopped, then returned to the pot. A container came to the studio today to share for lunch. But the cupboard was empty-ish and the sauce called! So we used what we had and plunged half a package of linguine into a pot of boiling water to be followed three minutes later by a small handful of thinner spaghetti. A sin to any self respecting Italian or Italian-American. It wasn’t correct, but it sure tasted divine.

 

We had a dozen nice fresh eggs in the fridge, some corn tortillas, and a perfectly ripe, ready to eat Hass avocado. No trouble figuring out what we’d have for lunch today. We warmed the tortillas in a cast-iron skillet, scrambled six eggs, sliced the avocado, then served everything together, seasoned with salt and chile flakes. Lunch, breakfast, or dinner, we could eat this combo any time of day. Remember to make something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

 

We had a young gentleman caller today who arrived as we were fixing lunch—linguine with tinned tuna and green olives. So, of course, we set another place. We fell in to talk of food and wound up discussing our lunch. He is interested in learning how to cook, so when we listed the ingredients (which are practically the recipe) he queried quizzically, “I thought I tasted something else?” Then we remembered, we had added preserved lemon. The kid’s got a good palate.

 

Okay, so now you know what we did with our leftover turkey carcasses from Thanksgiving. And with the meat? Cold turkey sandwiches (mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, salt & pepper), of course. Best day-after sandwich there is. And with the very last bits, we made turkey pot pies for lunch today. The filling had sautéed onions, carrots, and leftover chestnuts-madeira stuffing, all bound together with a little white sauce seasoned with nutmeg. The pastry top—a regular pie crust dough using pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour—was tender and flaky. Oh, yes, one pie was for lunch, the other will be for dinner (we’ll toss a coin to see who gets to take it home to their family). Adiós Thanksgiving. Until next year.

 

We hope everyone had a delicious Thanksgiving. Between us, we roasted about 75 pounds of turkey this past Thursday. By Friday, we had three big carcasses to make stock. And stock we made. We now have about 5 gallons of rich broth, all but 2 quarts stashed in our freezers. That’s a great feeling—plenty of soups in store for us. But in the meantime, we filled our bellies today with some of the remaining broth—big bowls of it, piping hot, with some turkey, tofu, carrots, rice, scallions, and lots of fresh cilantro. Perfect lunch for a rainy day.

 

As happens every so often, and usually by surprise, a USPS flat-rate box filled with the most delicious Hass avocados shows up at our door—a gift from our generous California friends with an avocado grove in their back “yard”. Well, today was one of those days. What timing! We were just about to head out to the farm to pick up our pre-ordered 25-pound turkeys. Too busy to cook anything for lunch, and a little bit starving, we did some gentle pressing and found a perfectly ripe avocado in the lot. These West Coast beauties are rich enough to eat plain, but we like to guild the lily. So we split it, drizzled olive oil into the halves, added a couple squeezes of lemon juice, two pinches of red pepper flakes, and salt. As always, we are so grateful for our friends (and gifts like these!). Thank you John, Stephanie, and Nick!

 

 

This year, more than ever before, we can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. We’re counting on the pleasure of gathering around the table with family and friends. And the comforting holiday food will taste particularly delicious. Our twenty-five pound turkeys (one for CH; 2 for MH) have been ordered; good bread has been carefully torn into fine crumbs for stuffings, bagged, and stashed in the freezer; and we’ve already started making turkey stock for soup and gravy for the big day next Thursday. Now in the past, for us, roasting a whole turkey for lunch just a week before Thanksgiving would be jumping the gun—most definitely. But our cravings are so strong, that we just did it. We roasted a twelve pound bird this morning, and served it sliced, on toasted bread slathered with mayonnaise, and spooned the turkey jus on top. Just to make the point. It was wonderfully messy, and it sure hit the spot.

 

Carey Jonesauthor of Brooklyn Bartender, a modern guide to cocktails and spirits (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2016)—and John McCarthy, global mixologist extraordinaire, gave us a quart of rich, exotically-flavored chicken broth. Think cinnamon, lemon grass, ginger, then imagine the heavenly aroma. We added no more than a tangle of aptly-named angel hair pasta and some cilantro. It filled us up and soothed/calmed our restless spirits.