Before we head over to the radio station for The Canal House Kitchen Hour (you can listen if you go to WDVRfm.org 4–5 PM EDT), we had to build up our strength. So we chose the magic of shiitake mushrooms to flavor arborio rice. We added ladleful by ladleful of delicate vegetable broth as the rice slowly swelled and softened. Then two sautéed shiitakes finished the risotto. It worked! We are feeling stronger—but a little sleepy. Today we have a local beekeeper on our show, Becky Wunderlich, who knows everything about apiculture and precious honeybees. See you on the radio!
Yesterday’s rainy weather inspired us to make a lasagne bolognese. So this morning we did the whole meghilla—made the bolognese sauce, the balsamella, rolled out sheets of fresh pasta, and grated a pile of Parmigiano-Reggiano. We layered everything in a baking pan, then let the hot oven do its thing. The resulting pasta is a masterpiece (and we say that with all modesty; you just can’t go wrong with this dish). We both ate generous squares, layer upon layer of lusciousness. Before lunch we had been listening to funk, it’s our Friday tradition. But now the studio is quiet and we are almost dozing at our computers. A perfect way to end the week and start the unofficial beginning of summer. Soon we’ll rouse ourselves and skip out early into this beautiful day. So much to do for the weekend: look for herbs to plant up empty pots, find briskets to braise, and pick strawberries to pile on shortcake. You do it too, sneak out early. And remember to cook something delicious for yourselves, dear friends.
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.
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.