Back in the studio after the long weekend. The two of us stood in the kitchen for over an hour filling one another in on what we: planted, cooked, drank, listened to, watched. While we talked we slid a turkey breast into the oven to roast, peeled a few handfuls of asparagus, washed some lettuce leaves (picked just this morning), and stirred up a vinaigrette. After adding hard-boiled eggs, we had a fine lunch—a Canal House chef-ish salad. Though officially it’s still spring, it feels undeniably like summer.

 

 

We’ve been clipping salad greens from our garden all week long. Big bagfuls. To keep up with them, we’ve made a habit of washing the leaves as soon as we return to the studio. We plunge them into several changes of cold water, shake off the water, roll the leaves in either clean dish or paper towels, and store them in an open plastic bag in the fridge. That leaves us (no pun intended) with just a vinaigrette to make whenever we want salad. Like we did for lunch today. We made our classic Canal House vinaigrette to go with like this: we crushed a clove of garlic to a paste with some salt and pepper, stirred in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar, then drizzled in 3 to 4 tablespoons of really good extra-virgin olive oil, stirring all the while. (CH says we’ll be hungry in half an hour and will have to grab a cheeseburger down the street, but MH doesn’t believe her.)

 

We were all set to have a big leafy salad piled on top of a pork cutlet for lunch today. But a stop at our local garden nursery this morning to pick up some vegetable plants changed our plans. The nice owner, Li-fan Huang, cultivates big fat shiitake mushrooms, an even “more perfect” accompaniment to the pork. So we grabbed a bag, sautéed the fungi along with the cutlets, and served them together with a little soy pan sauce and some sliced chives. Mmmm—meat on meat.

 

We were away over the weekend, so we met at the garden first thing this morning to water and check on everything. The radishes have gone a little berserk. It’s not the tap roots that have—they’re in various swollen stages, some ready to pull (which we did). It’s the leafy green radish tops that are out of control (the soil’s too rich). Problem? No problem. We just thinned the rows, pulling out the more vigorous tops. At the studio, we trimmed off the radishes (to nibble), washed the greens in cool water, and sautéed them in olive oil with a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt. For lunch we served the incredibly green-tasting radish greens at room temperature with a poached chicken cutlet, and a mayonnaise doctored with lemon and chopped fresh herbs.

 

We stopped by our garden this morning to pick a few spinach leaves for lunch, and the bag practically filled itself. Nothing like having a garden. When it gives, it’s like living in the song “Big Rock Candy Mountain”… where the hens lay soft-boiled eggs. Oh, come to think of it, what a good idea. So for lunch today, it’s steamed spinach and poached eggs drizzled with really good extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with s & p.

 

We pulled the first few radishes from our garden yesterday afternoon. That felt like a mini triumph, not so much for us, but for the tiny seeds that grew into peppery scarlet beauties. We chomped them right then and there—after rinsing off the dirt with the garden hose. Then we cut lettuces and arugula for lunch today. This morning we dressed the greens in a garlicky vinaigrette and piled them on top of braised lamb (from yesterday’s shanks) and corn tortillas. We ate them with gusto (so messy, so good!). Maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to show you our radishes.

 

 

On Saturday, we were sporting flip flops. On Sunday, we were caught off guard. It was freezing and we should have donned our thermal socks and gloves. Today, though, we got it just right. We’re wearing vests under cardigans while lunching on oven-broasted baby lamb shanks and onions with buttery braised spring onions. Now we’re off to the garden to plant our six-inch tall tomato plants. By the time the fruits will be ready to pick, we’ll be complaining about the heat and bugs. Go figure.

Not to toot our own horns, but we had a lovely mention in the Weekend WSJ. In an interview for her new book, Bittersweet (Knopf, 2016),  Stephanie Danler says, “The books I cook from over and over again are: the series of Canal House books Christopher Hirsheimer does with Melissa Hamilton. If I’m going somewhere for the summer, I bring their summer volume with me. When I’m traveling for the holidays, I bring the holiday one. They did the cookbook “Canal House Cooks Every Day,” too.”

For the whole interview http://on.wsj.com/1TUbC2W. Thank you so much, Stephanie. Can’t wait to read your book. It sounds delicious.

 

Pulled out a container of last summer’s pesto from the freezer, along with some big sheets of pasta tucked away for just such a moment. Stirred some softened butter, chopped mint, minced scallions, and salt and pepper into fresh ricotta. The pesto’s lively green color didn’t survive the deep freeze, but its pungent flavor did. So today’s lunch is a harbinger of summer. Time to plant our basil. Cook something delicious for yourselves this weekend, dear friends.

 

Today’s lunch is a deconstructed BLT salad with avocado and asparagus, dressed with an emulsion of grated Pecorino Romano and really good olive oil—we gilded the lily!

 

We had all the makings for gazpacho—a big tin of plum tomatoes, a few fat red peppers, spring Vidalia onions. So that was on the menu for today’s Canal House lunch. However, one of us (she who shall remain nameless) got a little heavy handed with the raw onions and by the time each of us had polished off half bowls of the soup, the tummies protested. Now we are eating buttered Ryvita with Bobolink’s cave-ripened cheddar and trying to figure out what to do with the pot of soup that is left. Any ideas, dear friends?

 

Often one of us gets a taste for something and of course the other couldn’t be happier than to go along for the ride. This morning the market offered some very good-looking cod fillets and the freezer section had a nice “fresh” load of frozen crinkle cut French fries. No one has ever turned their nose up at fish n’ chips, at least not around here. But the pièce de résistance was to serve them with tonnato sauce (a tuna and caper seasoned mayonnaise)—fish on fish. We’re hooked!

 

We’ve been waiting for this day since we readied the soil in our garden plots and sewed the tiny seeds. That was six weeks ago while the air was still cold and raw. This morning was windy but warm when we grabbed our scissors and Henry the studio dog and walked down the towpath to the garden to clip the first tender lettuce and arugula leaves. Salad days have finally arrived. So today’s lunch is cold chicken and its gelée with asparagus vinaigrette crowned with our very own spring mix.

 

If we make a picnic lunch, surely warm sunny weather will come. We’re trying it out. But in the meantime, we are eating our plum sauce lacquered spareribs and potato salad, inside by the window, hoping to see the clouds clear out and the sun break through. Soonest, please!