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We slipped down to the studio to work today (town is pretty quiet save for the folks on holiday strolling about). Uncertain of what we’d find in the refrigerator, we brought with us a frozen block of rich chicken stock for lunch—if nothing else, we’d drink mugs of hot broth throughout the day. Turns out the fridge was bare, but the pantry yielded San Marzano plum tomatoes and short-grain rice. We always feel lucky when, with just the fewest ingredients, we can make something nourishing and delicious—like this tomato-rice soup.

It’s nearly impossible to get anything done with all the holiday rush swirling around. But there’s always enough time for lunch. To keep up our stamina, we pan-fried a ham steak and served it alongside scrambled eggs with meaty sautéed American matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) from Northern California—a rare and delicious gift from our friend Tama Matsuoka.

We are off to buy last minute presents, deliver our homemade goodies, and spread Canal House good cheer. ‘Tis the season, so remember to cook some of your own family recipes and start some new food traditions too. Enjoy every holiday morsel—happy happy, merry merry, jingle jangle, dear friends.

We stopped at our local bakery—Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown, PA—to get a cup of coffee this morning and decided to grab a ball of their pizza dough for today’s lunch. Henry, the studio dog, is loosing his tiny little mind while we eat our clam “pie”. Don’t know if the peperoncini, olive oil, parmigiano, parsley, and thyme will agree with him. They sure do with us!

Leftovers for lunch today. MH had a little dinner party on Monday night, so she brought the remains of two poached chickens with turnips, parsnips, carrots, and leeks in her big orange Le Creuset pot. CH sliced the meat off a whole breast then re-heated it in the jellied pan juices. She sautéed the veggies in butter with the very last parsley and thyme from the balcony. Hope MH has another party soon.

French onion soup is an alchemic elixir. When a couple of sliced onions, a splash of red wine, and some broth transform into the most luscious lunch we’ve eaten in a long time, that is saying something! It is the perfect antidote to this dreary day. Hope the sun is shining where ever you are.

We got hungry—after all, breakfast was only half an avocado. So for a late, light lunch we braised wild salmon, escarole, and peas in dry vermouth and Irish butter.

This morning’s breakfast: the last of our stash of California avocados with California Olive Ranch’s 2014 Limited Reserve olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, crushed red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

We defrosted a batch of bolognese and a few frozen sheets of pasta stashed in the back of the freezer for just such an occasion. All that was left to do was to whip up some balsamella and grate a little parmigiano. Then, before we could say,  “How about a deconstructed lasagne bolognese”, we were sitting down to the best lunch in town (if we do say so ourselves). Cook something delicious for yourself, dear friends.

Snowing off and on all day, so something melty on something crunchy sounded good. We dragged out the old toaster oven and toasted whole wheat bread rubbed with olive oil and tomato, then melted slabs of Taleggio seasoned with tiny dried pepperoncini on top. An escarole salad dressed with a walnut oil vinaigrette seemed the perfect accompaniment. It appears to be clearing up now.

Lunchtime came with a roar today—we were starving. So we seared two chicken breasts in butter with a little olive oil, then added capers, pitted Castelvetrano olives, and lemon juice. Before we knew it we were scarfing down Chicken Piccata alla Casa Canale.

We went all out and made beef stew with prunes and pearl onions served over steamed grated cauliflower (instead of rice in hopes of saving a few calories). Both of us were quiet as we ate lunch, savoring the succulent beef. One forgets how good long-braised meat tastes. It takes time, but that’s what makes it so damn delicious.

We roasted the last of our Winter Luxury pumpkins for lunch today and served it with white sweet potatoes and chickpeas simmered in delicious Maya Kaimal Vindaloo Sauce. What a wonderful way to start the week.

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