Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cooking With The Canal House

While we're on the subject of tomatoes, I'd like to introduce you all to one of the most fabulous cookbooks I've come across in a long time (I have a lot of them--stacks next to the bed, stacks in the living room, so I know of what I speak). Canal House Cooking is a lovely volume put together by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. Hirsheimer, a founding editor of Saveur magazine, has shot for scores of cookbooks. Hamilton was the food editor at Saveur and is an accomplished recipe developer and cook (she is also sister to Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of New York jewel-box restaurant Prune).

The result of Hamilton and Hirsheimer's collaboration is this slim book, a seasonally-inspired volume (they plan to do four each year). It's filled with recipes that you want to cook immediately, and since many of them call for last gasp vegetables--tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peppers--you should not dawdle. But if you do nothing else, quickly adopt Hamilton and Hirsheimer's recipe for "buttered" tomatoes: thickly slice an assortment of tomatoes, then spread each slice lavishly with mayonnaise (if you've made your own, good for you, but Hellmann's works just fine). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, chopped chives and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve alongside some toasted slices of bread that have been rubbed lightly with a clove of garlic. For the record, the women also recommend this same treatment for steamed potatoes, a suggestion I can't wait to try.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can Do Attitude

All of a sudden I'm noticing the change in light. Northern California may not have the crisp fall days, the foliage, the mulled apple cider, but there's no denying that one season is ending and another beginning. After five years on the West coast, you learn to look for the little things, to observe subtleties.

So even though the days are still warm and the sun is still shining brightly and the markets are positively overrun with all the goods you wait an entire season for, this light tells me to get going, to make the most of it. It was in that spirit that Sarah and I canned 20 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes over the weekend. I don't mess with them much, just blanch, peel, jam into jars with a tablespoon of lemon juice and then hot water process for 10 minutes. There's nothing better than listening to the ping! of each jar as it seals. Well, nothing better except stacking the finished, cooled jars in the idea of money in the bank.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sweet on Stoves

There's a new woman in my life. After my old trusty Magic Chef finally gave up the ghost for once and for all, expiring dramatically while one layer of Sarah's birthday cake baked within--and after a lengthy wait for a replacement--this little sweetheart took up our residence in our kitchen. I'll admit that I have been swayed in the past by stainless models with high BTU burners. I have fallen victim to Thermador and Wolf and Garland envy. But ever since this O'Keeffe and Merritt came to live with us, Viking only means marauding, red-headed, bearded sea farers.

This solid cast-iron beauty is like the living, breathing heart of our little apartment. I love it. And in the week since we've had it we've canned 20 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes, made a giant pot of lobster and corn chowder and tested three recipes for a Valentine's Day dessert story. Everything has been turning out pretty well (more on that in subsequent posts); I think it may be the stove.