While friends and relatives in lower and warmer climes harvest strawberries, brag about their huge beds of towering annuals, and swill a cold one on the patio, I’m still making big vats of soup we’re snarfing down watching “Designated Survivor” episodes snuggled up under afghans.Continue reading
When it comes to the second week of December, no matter how well prepared you are, the month begins to take over. It seems you’re not in charge of your own life. Instead of easy-going fall weekends culminating in Sunday games, there are work parties, family get togethers, school and church performances, and neighborhood potlucks. Somewhere down the road and fairly soon, that stack of bags in the corner of the spare bedroom must be gone through, sorted out, wrapped, and mailed or delivered, if need be. There are travel plans, weather delays or plain old bad weather, holiday attire to attend to, and the forever and constant barrage of holiday ads all with some version of “Sleigh Ride” for the soundtrack.
In most homes in the United States, if you mention, “stew” for dinner, you’re probably talking about beef stew. In Ireland, you would most likely be about to chow down on lamb stew–a dish I often saw on menus during visits to Ireland, though I never saw Corned Beef and Cabbage at all.
In the fall, I find myself with a big stack of magazines...all about Thanksgiving and Christmas. (I’m keener on the Thanksgiving batch.) You may harbor the exact same addiction. Each issue sports a great big turkey or chocolate cake with white curls and candy canes on the front. I keep them from year to year so I can go through them just for fun. In fact, I buy magazines in November and December that I never buy the rest of the year. This may be changing a bit as lots of publications that appear to be magazines are actually small cookbooks for ten or twelve bucks lately. Wow. Continue reading
If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know I have a stack of much-loved French cookbooks that are surely the stuff of which dreams are made…well, at least my dreams. I’m not as much of an armchair cookbook reader as some, though there is always a stack next to my reading chair–even at Christmas. Maybe especially at Christmas. (List of said books upcoming on a blog page. I promise.)
Next Thursday, 2/5- 5-7pm Make an Easy French Dinner at Home Class at Shouse. Still have a few openings. Message me or leave a comment. Home class on 2/14, 10-12, is full, but I’m taking names for a wait list. Now for the sliders….
I’ll just be waiting for the puppy commercials; you know me. I might look at the score a time or two…
|What if you wanted beautifully written recipes, tastefully conceived, and perfectly photographed–all from home cooks–for home cooks?||What if you wanted those cooks to have worked professionally (catering, restaurants, magazines) and to have traveled the world so they could bring the best dishes back to you?|
|Order book here|
Enter Canal House Cooking, La Dolce Vita, #7 in a series of self-published volumes from a multi-talented duo who have worked at food, cooking, and food writing/photography most of their lives. After leaving behind the corporate publishing/food world in order to spend more time at or near their homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Melissa Hamilton (above, right) and Christopher Hirsheimer (above, left; she’s a she) began cooking together daily in a warehouse and keeping a record of it. Out of that commitment comes this lovely, popular series of books that is their gift to those of us in the home-cooking “business.” An article from WSJ tells the story more thoroughly here.
To really get to know these women a little more, watch an enchanting tiny video about them and their food in Italy (basis for the most recent book)….Here.
And, when you’re done reading and watching, it’s time to cook with Melissa, Christopher, and me….
So that you can spend more time at the table (who are you inviting?), we’re making:
meatballs with mint and parsley makes 24
Cook’s Note: I made one meatball first and cooked it to test the seasoning; I had gone easy on the black pepper and had not added any salt at all. My thought was to maintain the freshness/lightness of the meatball so that the herbs weren’t overwhelmed. On tasting, I did add a bit more pepper and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt. The rest of the batch was perfect. You could do anything you typically do with meatballs with these, but I do think they’re special and complete all on their own. I served them with broccolini sautéed in olive oil with crushed red peppers and slices of garlic thrown in the last 2-3 minutes. We started with a little very simple green salad.
Here’s a bit of the easy journey in photographs:
Just for fun, here’s a sample from the Canal House #7 book and their “on location work:”
We rented a farmhouse in Tuscany —– a remote, rustic old stucco and stone house at the end of a gravel road, deep in the folds of vine-covered hills. It had a stone terrace with a long table for dinners outside, a grape arbor, and apple and fig trees loaded with fruit in the garden. There was no phone, TV or Internet service, just a record player and shelves and shelves of books. It had a spare, simple kitchen with a classic waist-high fireplace with a grill. It was all we had hoped for. It was our Casa Canale for a month.
Back in the states, Melissa and Christopher are eating lunch together every day as they take a break from cooking, working, and writing. Read their blog that chronicles those noon-time meals.
Listen to their interview on edible radio.
Want to cook more food from Canal House? You can do it if you….
Check out our team of great bloggers writing about 50 Women Game-Changers in Food
Sue – The View from Great Island
Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
Mary – One Perfect Bite
Barbara – Movable Feasts
Jeanette – Healthy Living
Linda – Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A – There and Back Again
Martha – Lines from Linderhof
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen
Annie – Lovely Things
Nancy – Picadillo
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook
If you liked this, you might like my Bacon-Caprese Salad with Fresh Cheese.
|Make your own cheese!|
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood return soon…Woof from Gab and Tuck.
Food photos: copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012. Recipe, book and author photos courtesy Canal House.
|Set your table before you begin cooking.|
While I missed blogging Barbara Tropp a couple of weeks ago for “50 Women Game-Changers in Food” from Gourmet Live, it didn’t stop me from making some of her incredible food in honor of a good friend’s birthday and Chinese New Year.
I started out by spending a bit of cozy time with one of Barbara’s books, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, just to see what I thought I’d like to make. The choices were myriad and luscious… but I couldn’t make all of them. I did, however, want to keep reading forever; she wrote beautifully. I decided on three separate dishes: one a soup for a starter and the other two as a main course that could be eaten together, but that would also provide some great leftovers. HA! There were hardly any leftovers. Do make extra pork; it’s a perfect cold snack.
Here’s the menu:
Soup: Wine-Explosion Vegetable Chowder (page 452)–a filling soup silky strands of egg whites
Meat: Northern-Style Chinese Roast Pork (page 205)–requires a day’s marinating, but worth it.
Noodles: Five Heap Noodles (p 361)–I changed this up, but used the basic idea.
If you’re not familiar with Barbara Tropp, take a little detour and read this. Sadly, the world lost a top-flight Chinese scholar and chef way too early in life. Those who cook her recipes continue to share and pass on a bit of the knowledge of a cuisine to which she was forever lovingly enthusiastic and dedicated. The patience of tone and inventive spirit in Barbara Tropp’s writing are unmatched and well worth the purchase of her books, the other of which is China Moon Cookbook.
Not having the time to blog the entire meal, I chose to write about the velvety and intriguing soup. It’s the easiest to make and perhaps the most versatile. I do encourage you to look up the pork and noodle recipes; the pork was so very fun and was unlike any I’d ever cooked. Cook’s Note: In the pork recipe link, the oven temperatures are Celsius. Here are some photos of the cooking pork and my noodle toppings:
|Recipe called for hanging the pork from “S” hooks; I chose to use a rack over a rimmed baking sheet with water. Sliced thinly, it can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold.|
The noodles (first photo) had a light sauce stirred in a couple of hours before the meal, and then were served with variety of toppings at the table (see below), as well as extra sauce–a kind of DIY-Asian-Noodle Salad. Barbara’s Five Heap Noodles are served at the center of a large platter/bowl, with the heaps dotting the edges of the serving platter.
|Cilantro, cucumber, radishes, grated and sliced carrots, steamed chopped green beans and asparagus–I chose my own vegetables.|
Wine-Explosion Vegetable Chowder–rewritten a bit for my use
3/4 -1# fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, retaining liquid
7 large white mushrooms, cleaned well and sliced very thinly (keep stems)
2 ounces (1/2 cup) fresh green beans (or sugar snaps) sliced thinly on the diagonal into 1 1/4″
2 T peanut oil
5 1/2 cups chicken stock*
15 oz can creamed corn
4T cornstarch dissolved in 6T cold chicken stock
1 large egg white (I misread this and used a whole egg; it was delicious)
sugar and salt (yes, you might need them both)
2 oz good, sweet and smokey ham, coarsely minced
|I had all of the soup ingredients prepped and in the frig that morning.|
|*Including Chinese chicken stock I made in an hour from rotisserie chicken, ginger, onions, and pepper.|
Making the soup: Read everything well before starting!!
About 15 minutes before serving, assemble all of the ingredients within easy reach of the stovetop, and put individual soup bowls in a low oven to warm.
Heat a heavy non-aluminum stockpot over medium-high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add the oil, swirl to glaze the bottom of the pot, then heat until a bead of wine added to the the pot “explodes” in a sizzle. Add the wine, allow only 1 second for it to explode in a fragrant hiss, then immediately add stock to capture the wine essence. Bring to a boil, add tomatoes, mushrooms, and corn. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture returns to a boil. Do not increase the heat or stop stirring; it can burn. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and add vegetables (beans.) Simmer about 2-3 minutes for snow peasor 4 minutes for beans, stirring constantly until the vegetable is cooked but quite crisp. It will cook more while you serve.
Taste the soup and add salt or sugar. (Store-bought tomatoes may need a bit of sugar or soup will be flat…”do not hesitate” to add it.) Reduce the heat to low. Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine, then add it to the pot in a steady stream, stirring slowly for about 2 minutes until soup turns glossy and thick. (This will be very obvious.) Turn off heat.
Using a fork or chop sticks, beat the egg white with quick, light strokes just to break the gel. It will froth a bit, but do not beat to a foam. Holding it about 6 inches above the surface of the soup, add the egg white in a very thin, steady stream. Stir gently once midway, and again when finished to bring the lacy threads to the surface.
Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkling of ham. Or cover and serve the soup 1-4 hours later, when vegetables are no longer crisp, but the soup is deeper in flavor.
Leftovers keep well for a 4-5 days, refrigerated, or may be frozen. Reheat in a heavy pot over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Cook’s Note: With just a few variations (vegetable stock, no ham or egg), this makes a lovely and satisfying vegan soup. As the noodles are totally vegan, if you put the two together, you’ll have a great vegetable meal. I am unable to find a link for Barbara’s noodles, but will continue to try to find one. I made Whole Foods 365 whole wheat linguine (instead of using Asian noodles) and made Barbara’s Five Heap sauce-with a bit of a twist- out of: 1T crushed sesame seeds,1T sesame oil, 2T peanut oil heated with chopped green onions, crushed red peppers and ginger, 2T water, 2T soy sauce, 2T rice vinegar, 1/4 t chili oil. After adding the vegetables, I added toasted sesame seeds as garnish. We liked the extra sauce at the table.
|Loving kitchen helpers..|
Two Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Been a wee bit chilly around here….I’ve been making lots of soup and long-simmering dishes. You’ll hear about some of them soon.
|Snuggle time in St. Paul|
|Upcoming… Alyce’s Lamb Shanks on Mashed Rutabaga|
Also upcoming this Friday: Sullivan’s Island Shrimp Bog
If you liked this, you might like:
Sing a new song,