Summer is pesto time, at least in my house. Almost every green leaf I can get my hands on, from basil and parsley to carrot tops and kale, will get a whirl in the food processor with the requisite garlic, nuts, cheese, and olive oil over the course of the season. Yet despite my willingness to push pesto boundaries, I've never slipped in anchovies and green olives. This idea, from Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's Canal House Cooks Every Day, was a revelation.
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I have a terrible habit of stockpiling open jars of jams and jellies in the fridge. Inevitably, the second half of the jar will languish in the back of the fridge after I've grown tired of that particular strawberry, peach, or blackberry preserve. So recipes like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's little toasts with preserved strawberries and jamón serrano in Canal House Cooks Every Day are a godsend (to me and my sad, half-empty jars). Pairing sweet, tender strawberries with salty, fatty ham is an easy way to battle jam palate fatigue as it turns a breakfast staple into a fast hors d'oeuvre.
Strawberries may be going out of season in much of the country, but the few remaining berries are worth seeking out to preserve à la Canal House Cooks Every Day.
In the intro to this recipe for Potatoes with Porcini from The Country Cooking of Italy, author Colman Andrews tells us a little about the thrifty ways of the people of Liguria. When procini season rolls around, Ligurians stretch their pricy 'shrooms by bulking them up with inexpensive potatoes. Baked gratin style, the potatoes have a chance to take on all of lovely qualities of the porcinis.
This bowl of Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe from Colman Andrews' The Country Cooking of Italy is a lovely example of that beautiful minimalism. The pasta and rabe cook in the same pot, coming together in a sizzling pan of anchovies and olive oil. The rest is merely a matter of tossing, plating and choosing whether to serve with toasty breadcrumbs or salty-crumbly ricotta salata.
Sweet and nutty, briefly blanched and peeled favas are tossed with salty bits of crumbled young pecorino and drizzled with olive oil. Simple? Well sure, but this snack is really all about the simplicity and goodness of the ingredients.
These Frico or Friulano Cheese Crisps from The Country Cooking of Italy are the perfect little bite to go along with the pre-dinner drink. Savory and salty, crisp and cheesy, they have the munchability of a potato chip with an apertivo-level elegance.
While Boston Cream Pie does in fact hail from Boston (from the Parker House Hotel to be exact) there are a few other inconsistencies to this dessert. You see, it is neither cream-filled or a pie and if we're getting technical. We should probably be calling it Boston Custard Cake since that's exactly what it is. But when you're met with a big slice of chocolate glazed vanilla cake filled with an eggy yellow custard, arguing semantics just seems kind of silly.
Until I ran across this fish sticks recipe in Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton I was pretty sure these little logs of breaded fish were born in a box. I'd always equated them with childhood dinners and could perfectly envision them sliding out of the box and onto the toaster oven tray. But one look at those panko-coated fingers of cod in Canal House Cooking and it was clear that fish sticks didn't have to exist only in the frozen foods aisle.
Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, authors of Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6, have done this bitter green justice with this recipe for Braised Escarole with White Beans.
Beets and lentils are great friends. This week I decided to branch out from my usual beet salad and try this dish of Lentils with Roasted Beets from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, mostly because I had all of the ingredients on hand. What I was expecting was a hearty side that incorporated the sweet earthiness of beets with meaty little lentils; what I got was so much more.
At first glance the recipe includes all of the traditional ingredients—spinach, garlic, butter, and cream—but upon further inspection, you'll notice a few extra touches. Like ginger, in the form of a bright ginger-garlic paste, as well as starchy diced potatoes that thicken the spinach without having to worry about a roux. It's these kinds of smart little touches that make Hamilton and Hirsheimer the queens of taking satisfying, timeless dishes to the next level.
When was the last time you had Chicken Cordon Bleu? It's probably been too long. Brush away all of those 1970s-era dinner party connotations and you'll find a dish that really does deserve a comeback. Why? Well, because dated or not, it's fried chicken stuffed with ham and cheese.
At first glance this Pasta with Parsley and Toasted Walnut Sauce from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's Canal House Cooking looks a lot like pesto. All of the usual suspects are accounted for: green herbs, nuts, garlic, oil, and cheese, and it's made in a mortar and pestle. But after grinding up a batch, I was struck by how un-pesto-like this sauce was, more delicate and creamy than its basil counterpart, and somehow much more of a stick-to-your-ribs plate of pasta.
Chopped Ham Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs has "passé" written all over it, but after mixing up a batch from Canal House I'm beginning to wonder why it ever fell out of fashion. Hirsheimer and Hamilton's version forgoes sweet relish in favor of a tangy mayonnaise and mustard dressing that leaves the salad tasting somewhere in between deviled eggs and deviled ham.
Lately I've been cooking with corn like it's going out of style, or out of season, as the case may be. Corn salad, corn pasta, even sweet corn gelato but this corn soup with lobster and avocado from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's Canal House Cooking has to be my favorite corn recipe of the summer. Adding chunks of lobster and avocado is a surefire way to make anything even more delicious, but in this case, the corn soup is the highlight of the recipe.
Curing fish at home is a project that most people shy away from, best left to the skilled hands behind the counter of a local deli. This recipe for Quick-Cured Salmon from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's Canal House Cooking introduces the curing process to the home cook with simplicity and ease.
I've never been shy about my love of anchovies. In fact, I've made it a personal mission to convert the anchovy-opposed into fans of the oily little fishes. My preferred method of easing newcomers into the umami-rich world of anchovies is something I like to call "the secret anchovy"—dissolving a few filets into a dish to deepen the flavor. This Roasted Chicken with Tomato Butter from Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's Canal House Cooking is a perfect example of the anchovy sneak attack.