We are at the eleventh hour of our Canal House Cooks Every Day book deadline. We forgot to eat breakfast so we wolfed down this early lunch of scrambled eggs with a “sauce” of tiny peas, baby leeks, and pancetta and mugs of milky hot coffee. Now we feel like we are going to make it!

 

We are on our annual local asparagus jag—we just can’t get enough of them. We buy big fat spears that we peel, then plunge into a big pot of salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. We dress them with a  knob of good Irish butter, some fresh chives and their blossoms, and serve them with a pile of soft scrambled eggs. Have a lovely spring weekend, dear friends.

 

Today’s spring lunch—shoulder of lamb braised in white wine with onions and garlic, served with baby leeks, artichokes, and sorrel from the garden. And the hits keep on coming.

 

The shad are running in the nearby Delaware River. The local asparagus are up. It’s time for one of our favorite spring meals—pan-fried shad roe with crisp bacon and asparagus with brown butter. You can’t get more local than that.

 

 

Hallelujah, for our first asparagus of the season—we’ve been dreaming of their green grassy flavor all winter long. We peel away the skin and little fins that hide grit and dirt, but leave each stalk long and untrimmed. There’s only one way to eat these zaftig beauties: Dispense with knife and fork and eat the supple, butter-drenched spears with your fingers.

 

We’re getting to the bottom of the bins of winter root vegetables in our version of a root cellar. So for lunch on this cold rainy spring day, we roasted beets and carrots of rich warm colors—oranges, maroons, golds, and pinks—and tossed them with lots of fresh Meyer lemon juice, excellent olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. Tomorrow we’ll treat ourselves to a feast of local asparagus.

 

We jumped the gun! BLT’s for lunch today with hothouse heirlooms. Right after lunch we’re heading straight for the confessional. To make up for our sin of eating tomatoes out of season, we’ll be devouring local asparagus all next week—not a bad penance. Have a lovely weekend dear friends.

 

We didn’t have much time to cook this morning, so we put a pork shoulder in a slow oven and let it cook itself. Six hours later, we’re having sliced porchetta with a pile of fresh beans doused in really good olive oil, , seasoned with salt and pepper and thin strips of lemon peel.

 

 

Dandelion greens, fava beans, English peas, tiny beets, and pancetta are all tossed together—cooked and raw—with really good extra-virgin olive for today’s spring tonic salad. We feel better already!

 

The market was beginning to show signs of spring this morning. There were fresh peas, fat favas, fuscia stalks of rhubarb, and the word on the street is local asparagus have arrived. So it’s risotto with lemon and those fresh peas for our lunch today.

 

 

Near record breaking heat today on this fine April day—it’s 88° in the shade but feels like 90°. We’ve opened all the doors and windows, moved the table canalside and are having an indoor picnic: hummus, chickpea and spinach salad, escarole salad, beautiful ripe runny cheeses, and a loaf of country bread. There’ll be no ants or risk of sunburn at this picnic lunch!

 

 

Our friend Andrew Abruzzese delivered his annual Easter Pie today. He learned the recipe and carries on the tradition from his Neapolitan grandfather Pasquale Platerote. So the beat goes on. His family’s pizza rustica (pizza chiena) has a rich lard crust filled with diced cured meats—soppressata, pepperoni, salami cotto, and pepperoni—and shredded Italian cheeses.  The filling is all bound together with eggs, which Andrew has plenty of, since he raises chickens. He says this time of year “the girls” are so happy with the weather they are laying like crazy, two eggs a day each. Have a lovely weekend, dear readers.

 

 

It’s another chilly early spring day here in the northeast, just the way it’s supposed to be. We’re having a minimalist’s lunch today— a salad of spring greens and sautéed fresh-herbed pork cutlets.

 

The grassy backyard was calling us this morning. We gathered young dandelion leaves and pretty little purple violets. Then from the garden we cut some tender lettuce. So though it’s too chilly for lunch on the lawn today, it’s a real spring treat from the lawn.

 

 

Now this is a sure sign of spring: butter-braised peas and lettuce and trout from the D & R Canal that flows past our windows.

 

Our friend, novelist Jill Kearney, stopped in for a post-Easter lunch today.We had some lamb chops leftover from the ham, so we pan-fried them and served them with little new potatoes and an escarole salad. While we were eating, Snooky Rose, a fisherman friend, knocked on the door. He had climbed our stairs to give us four gleaming trout he had just caught in the canal below. We know what tomorrow’s lunch will be. Stay tuned.

 

 

Skipped eating lunch today and took a long lovely walk along the canal instead. Saw the lacy trees wearing their sheerest, spring slips of green. Have a happy holiday—hippity hop.

 

Now into our fourth day of freezer/fridge diving, we discovered two angus beef with blue cheese, red wine, and thyme meat pies behind the bag of ice in the freezer. We bought them last winter from Sweet Fusion at the Stockton Farmers’ Market. Today we’re having them piping hot from the oven with an escarole salad. Pot pies never tasted so good.

 

 

It’s day three of cleaning out the fridge. We had 2 bags of spinach in the vegetable drawer and some ricotta hiding behind a carton of milk—why not make spinach gnocchi? Annointed with sage butter and showered with parmigiano-reggiano, these delicate dumplings make a perfect spring lunch.

 

Spring cleaning day two: We’re still working on our freezer. Buried behind quarts of homemade stock we found a beautifully wrapped cotechino. It defrosted overnight and today we simmered it in water along with some waxy potatoes. We sliced them, arranged them on a big platter with pickled pearl onions, and dressed the warm salad with a garlicky vinaigrette.

 

We’re spring cleaning this week, starting with the freezer. The first thing that tumbled out was a bag of frozen baby peas. We conferred.  We steamed them, then tossed the hot peas with meaty cubes of fried pancetta and salted butter. The only thing left to do was to spoon it over crushed boiled potatoes and scatter scallions over everything.