Wet weather has returned to our valley. We’ve built a fire in the wood stove to chase away the dreary dampness. Thankfully, first thing this morning, we made a big pot of lamb and vegetable soup full of baby kale—the perfect antidote to a rainy day. We’ll eat our lunch in front of the fire today.

 

 

We’ve been dreaming of southwestern France and all their delicious food, so nothing would do but to make duck confit with potatoes Sarladaise. Bon appétit chers amis.

 

We baked a 20-pound smoked ham for Sunday lunch. Even though we fed a small crowd we barely made a dent in it. Happily/unhappily we’ll be eating ham for a week! But we haven’t had our fill yet, so it’s sliced ham with some of yesterday’s scalloped potatoes, crowned with a poached egg sprinkled with chives—an excellent way to ease into another week.

 

 

Chickpeas on chickpeas—a bed of hummus piled with whole chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs dressed with a lemony vinaigrette and lots of chopped chives. Enjoy your weekend.

 

There’s no denying that spring has arrived well ahead of schedule here in the Northeast. Early this morning we pulled some wintered-over onions from the garden. Then we walked up a country road in search of watercress that grows in a nearby stream—sure enough it was thriving. We waded into the cold water and harvested enough to simmer with the onions in some good chicken broth. Before we knew it we had a tasty watercress soup. Let the foraging begin.

 

Last week a duck fell into our hands. We knew just what to do with it. First we made duck leg confit Parmentier, then pan-fried the breasts until the skin was golden and crisp and the meat juicy and rosy and served it with slow-cooked apples. Finally, we made this rich duck soup that we infused with Chinese rice wine, ginger, and star anise, then poured it into bowls over rice noodles, napa cabbage, cilantro, and a little sliced ham. There is nothing left but the quack!

 

 

In honor of Shrove Tuesday, we’re following tradition, using what’s left in our larder, and filling up on pancakes of the French order: buckwheat crêpes with sliced ham, a fried egg, and grated Gruyère. Our devilish nature’s are in conflict with lenten fasting, but we’ll try.

 

 

It’s Presidents Day Monday and we’re pretending to be on a ski vacation warming our toes by the crackling fire in the big base lodge fireplace. After a morning of powder skiing we are filling up on big bowls of nourishing sopa de fideos. The soup is real, but it’s actually a quiet day by the canal today. The daffodils are halfway up and there’s not a speck of snow to be seen. For dessert we’re thinking of baking a cherry pie in honor of good old George. We’ve lost our minds. It must be the altitude.

 

 

Well, so much for self improvement. Leonardo Live was a little too Ryan Seacrest-meets-Monty Python for us—each expert a caricature.  But we did learn about Leonardo’s paintings, and hopefully a little refinement rubbed off on us and smoothed our edges. This morning we slathered Akmaks with our homemade hummus for a late breakfast. It ain’t art, but it sure is good.

 

We are off to see Leonardo Live tonight, so we are having a late lunch/early supper of grilled entrecôte with buerre maître d’hôtel, and a bright celery salad made with anchovies, preserved lemon, lemon juice, and really good olive oil. We need a little dose of culcha!

 

Paprika and caraway-braised short ribs with lots of onions, served with square Pennsylvania-Dutch egg noodles bathed in butter and parsley is our lunch on this cold drizzly day.

 

We are listening to The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs all day and eating red velvet cupcakes for lunch. Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

The cold finally made its way East, not bone numbing, subzero temps, but our blood has thinned, so 37° feels mighty chilly. Gets any colder we might just have to put on a hat (as they say in Minnesota at -20°). So it’s soup for lunch—chicken, ham, and lots of vegetables—to warm up our tums.

 

We’ve had a hunger for glazed carrots—our eyes must need a little vitamin A—and some good red meat—a dose of blood-building iron is always a good thing. So, for lunch today, we’re eating Boeuf et Carrotes (sic), with seared filet of beef with a tarragon and  parsley compound butter and tarragon glazed carrots. A votre sante!

 

 

OK kids, it soup n’ sandwiches for lunch today—zucchini, broccoli rabe, and fat casarecce pasta floating in rich chicken broth with a toasted buttercup brie sandwich. After we finish we’ll spread out our mats for naptime.

 

 

Our fish shop had  lovely fat pieces of cod in their case today—buried in ice, sparkling fresh. We had a yen for something fried, so fish n’ chips it had to be. We broke form, preferring the fresh taste of lemon to the traditional malt vinegar, but stayed true, with mushy peas served on the side. Rule Britannia!

 

 

 

We went to the awards ceremony for The Piglet, Tournament of Cookbooks, in NYC last night and had a wonderful time. Everyone was swept up in the good natured competition and were in excellent spirits. It was the best sort of night,  starting out one way, then the next thing you know you are on a ride that you didn’t see coming. We ran into Bon Appétits, Christine Muhlke and Hunter Lewis, who had the bright idea of heading to ABC Kitchen for some late night “toasts”—both liquid and crunchy!—delicious and delicious. We almost closed the place. We had the long “Spanish goodbye” outside the restaurant not wanting to leave each other’s good company. David Tanis sang a song and danced right there on 18th Street, while The Senator, Christine and her husband Oliver’s little dog, was performing right-handed fist/paw-bumps and doing a little dancing of her own, prancing on her back legs. Well, you see all sorts of things up there in New York City—we can’t wait to go back.

In honor of the little piglet we baked a sweet little ham for lunch today.

 

We want to look like Madonna, so we’re having a very light post-Super Bowl lunch today of corn tortillas toasted over an open flame with mashed avocado on top, a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.

 

 

Today Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of California’s Cowgirl Creamery (Point Reyes and San Francisco), came by for lunch. We had just tipped back the last drops of Pehu Simonet, our favorite growers champagne and were about to sit down to baked ham, Bobolink Levain, good salty Irish butter, and a lemony escarole salad, all to be washed down with a cold apple lambic, when they reached into their bags and pulled out the cheese. Clockwise from the left, from Tumalo Farm, Pond Hopper—a  gouda-style goat cheese, whose curds are washed in beer; Bellwether Farm’s Pepato, a pecorino-style sheep’s milk cheese; and a beautiful piece of cave-aged Gruyère. We sat at the table talking over the state of things ’til past four o’clock. Have a good weekend, dear reader/eaters.

 

We’ve been all over the globe (culinarily speaking) in the last couple of weeks, and today we are channeling the toddy shops of Kerela. Our dear friend Maya Kaimal—whose more than delicious, ready-to-heat-and-eat, curry sauces of the same name are always in our fridges—sent us this recipe for Roast Shrimp. It gets its heat from ground Kashmiri chili, and its wonderful complex flavor from a masterful blend of spices. We served it, at Maya’s suggestion, with curd rice, made with cooling yogurt to temper the spicy shrimp, and a scattering of curry leaves.

 

This warm weather has thrown us off,  so we just naturally started a little spring cleaning. We came across our forgotten copper cataplana high up on a shelf—this beautiful copper vessel is an inspiration. There was nothing else to do but cook a quick Portuguese-inspired stew of clams and sausages spiced up with Aleppo chili pepper. We rolled up our sleeves and sopped up the broth with good crusty bread.