We bought a big chuck roast, divided one half of it between the two of us to make simple steak-and-potatoes dinners for our families, the other half we used to make beef stew for today’s lunch. Browned cubes of chuck, sautéed onions and garlic, red wine, and beef broth slowly simmered in a covered Le Creuset pot in a 325° oven until the meat was tender. We enriched the sauce with flour and butter to give it body and shine, and yes, more flavor. Lacking carrots, peas, or egg noodles, we boiled a couple of potatoes to serve with the stew. So it was back-to-back beef-and-potatoes, but the meals couldn’t have tasted more different. And we love the economy of one steak feeds four one night and two for lunch the next day.

 

A Canal House friend had half a leg o’ lamb left over from a special dinner that he cooked. Nothing else to do, he thought, but make a shepherd’s pie. Out came his trusty meat grinder. He ground up the garlic and rosemary-studded lamb, stirred in sautéed onions and carrots, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper, then spooned it into a baking dish. Next, he whipped up a pot of mashed potatoes enriched with butter and an egg yolk that he smoothed over the meat. Into the oven it went until it was golden. Lucky us, he shared his delicious leftovers for lunch today. Being/knowing a shepherd has its perks.

 

 

To weather this weekend’s weather, we made a big pot of chili with pork and beef, and dried currants to add a little depth and sweetness. And we also made a pot of pink beans. Outside we’d all go, to shovel and shovel, inside we’d come and inhale another bowl of this fiery stew. We finished the last bowls today at the studio for lunch, stretching it with scoops of white rice which softened the chili’s heat. Winter has arrived.

 

So here we sit in our cozy studio, our Washington, D.C. plans postponed until next weekend (God willing). Being weather obsessed, we keep checking our Dark Sky weather apps to see if there are any new snow updates. But when we weren’t doing that, we made a big pot of carrot soup—carrots, onions, a potato, lemon zest, chicken stock, and salt and pepper—for lunch and to take home for the weekend. This thick, slightly sweet, lemony soup with a plop of cold sour cream, lots of chopped scallions, and a little more lemon zest was the perfect meal for the day. Now we are off with Henry the studio dog for a walk on the towpath. Stay warm and remember to cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.

 

Jamison Farm—whose lamb is served in all the very best places—sent us some of their delicious Eliza’s lamb merguez sausages for our Washington, D.C.  Sips and Suppers benefit dinner. We roasted a beautiful coil along with half a russet potato, then finished it with eggs basted in the pan juices.

 

Three chopped leeks sautéed in olive oil were the “sauce” for today’s lunch of chicken paillards, beluga lentils, and basmati rice. Even though we used three pans, everything cooked in about 20 minutes. We’ve been trying to follow the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Today we achieved our goal and feel mighty princely.

 

It’s stone soup for lunch today. Between the two of us we brought a chicken thigh, a few little sausages, and a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves (all leftovers from our weekend cooking) to the studio. We found a can of chickpeas hiding on the top shelf of our pantry and a quart of rich meat broth in the back of the freezer. So it was decided—hot soup for a cold day. It really hit the spot and turned out greater than the sum of its parts.

 

After a week of eating with abandon, today we are restricting ourselves to bubbly water. Let’s see how long this lasts! Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

We like to cook our paellas in a huge pan outside over an open fire using hardwood lump charcoal, and, when our woodpile is abundant, some fruit wood. Together, they give the paella an irresistible smoky flavor. But, it’s far too freezing cold outside for that whole rigamarole, so we made one for lunch today in one of our smaller pans on top of the stove. And there’s nothing not to like about this “diminutive” paella: duck confit, turnips, fire roasted red peppers, soffrito and saffron (of course),  garnished with chopped parsley and lemon zest. Right after lunch it will be time for our siestas.

 

We didn’t feel guilty one bit this morning when we cranked up the oven temperature to 500° for today’s lunch—it took the chill out of the air faster than our temperamental studio thermostat. By noon we were feasting on braised escarole and sliced garlic pizza with prosciutto, burrata, crushed red pepper flakes, and good olive oil. We practiced our broom skills after lunch (we once wrote that we would sweep Thomas Keller’s floor anytime). Perhaps we’ll apply for positions at Per Se, seems like they could use a little help.

 

It’s a warm Spanish potato omelette for lunch today on this chilly January day. Olé!

 

We are cooking a benefit dinner on January 24th for Sips & Suppers (along with 75 chefs cooking other dinners) in Washington DC, so we are testing out some dishes we want to serve. It just so happened that a dear friend came by today and dropped off a New Year’s present for us—a Blending Station Advance On-Counter Vita Mix. Phew! We don’t even have a microwave. So we whirled (and we mean whirled and twirled) up some hummus. MH manned the machine and when she hit a button the whole thing sounded like Apollo 12 and almost took off. CH, scaredy-cat, ran across the room to a far corner. But after 30 seconds the hummus was as smooth as silk. We topped it with ground lamb and onions perfumed with cinnamon, and pine nuts, then drizzled on some olive oil. We thank our friend for this newfangled contraption. It works real good.

 

We have somehow managed to stay in the good graces of the Orr family, long-distance friends from California who have kept us on their “avocado dividend” receiving list for the past year and a half. Amazingly, a USPS box will arrive, unannounced, filled with Hass avocados picked from their own small grove (that’s California living!). Our most recent “dividend” arrived shortly before Christmas. We’ve been judiciously enjoying them ever since. Today, sigh, we ate the very last one. So perfectly ripe and rich, it mashed on our homemade sourdough toast like thick soft butter. We drizzled a little California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil on top (to gild the lily), and added s & p. We are grateful for such a delicious pleasure.

 

On New Year’s Day, just before the mercury plunged to the low teens, our forager pal Tama Matsuoka gifted us a box full of local wild oyster mushrooms she had collected that afternoon. We held off eating them until today, our first day together back in the studio in this shiny new year. We cooked them dead simple—sautéed  in olive oil and seasoned with course salt and pepper—then ate them with rustic homemade sourdough toast. Earthy and earthy, add up to divine. Happy New Year, dear friends.