Read an Excerpt
Canal House Cooking
Volumes No 4-6
By Christopher Hirsheimer, Melissa Hamilton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2010 Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton
All rights reserved.
it's always five o'clock somewhere
A friend and Canal House supporter sent us this recipe to help us meet our publishing deadline. And it did. We pass it on for you to share with your friends, too. Adjust the sweetness to suit your taste.
Pour 1 tablespoon real maple syrup and the juice of a hand-squeezed, fat, thin-skinned lime into a glass. Add 2 ounces Mount Gay Eclipse rum and stir to mix. Fill the glass with cracked ice then float Zaya Gran Reserva rum or Rhum Barbancourt (15 year) on top.—makes 1
JUICY FRUIT COCKTAIL
We love the velvety taste of Trinidad's 10 Cane rum, made with fermented sugar cane juice, not molasses like most rums. Or for a clean summery flavor, try an artisanal Brazilian cachaça.
Fill a glass with ice, add 2 ounces white rum or cachaça, then pour in passion fruit or guava juice. Depending on the size of your glass, you may have to tinker and taste a bit to get the ratio of rum to fruit juice right. Give half a fat thin-skinned lime a good squeeze over the glass, then toss it into the drink.—makes 1
makes 1 quart
Mix this intensely flavored cordial with flat or fizzy water. We like to muddle fresh mint or lemon verbena in the glass first.
6 whole lemons, washed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from 3 of the lemons and put into a mixing bowl. Juice all the lemons and add to the bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl. Pour in 21/2cups boiling water. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool and steep for 12 hours in the refrigerator.
DARK & STORMY
We've been on a dark and stormy jag that started late in the spring. Every evening when cocktail hour rolls around and the mercury reaches up into hot, we start to salivate for the cooling effects of this drink (left).
Put a big handful of ice cubes into a tall glass. Pour 1 ½–2 ounces dark rum over the rocks. Top it off with ginger beer (about 4 ounces). Add the juice of 1 lemon wedge and 1 lime wedge, garnishing the drink with the wedge of lime—makes 1
BARLEY WATER (THE QUEEN'S RECIPE)
makes about 1 quart
This is Mum's recipe for barley water. If memory serves, it was originally called the Queen's Barley Water, pulled from a newspaper, the original now lost in time. Refreshing, nourishing, and very good for your skin, Mum kept a jug of this in the fridge to minister her little clucks, effectively, and most delicious it was, too.—Jeremy Lee, chef of Blue Print Café, London
Jeremy grew up in Scotland's beautiful Taye River Valley, very near Balmoral, the royal summer retreat, where there is an ancient tradition of drinking barley water for its restorative attributes. Fifty years ago, popular lore credited the young Queen Elizabeth's beautiful complexion to barley water—take that, Botox!
1 cup pearl barley
Demarara sugar to taste
Wash the barley well. Tip it into a pot and cover with 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for an hour. Strain and reserve the barley for another use (it is excellent in a soup of sorts), and pour the barley water into a large jug or pitcher. Add in the rind of 3 of the oranges and 1 of the lemons, and all the juice from the oranges and lemons. Stir in sugar to taste—it should not be too sweet! Refrigerate until cool and drink within a day or two.
working up an appetite
These little lacy cheese crisps—as thin as tissue paper and as brittle as a shot nerve—are a traditional Friulian farmhouse snack. Since Americans love anything 'salty and crispy', it's no wonder they are now served across the country. But the most memorable frico I ever had was as big as a dinner plate.
One summer my sister, her two little boys, and my daughter and I were staying in Italy about as far south as you can go, at the bottom tip of the heel, in the small port town of Santa Maria di Léuca. It had been a long scorching day with no escape from the heat. Finally twilight came and with it stars began to glow, lights twinkled on the little boats bobbing in the harbor, a breeze blew up, and our moods lifted. My sister quietly slipped off to the kitchen and came back out moments later carrying two icy cold Negronis and one big frico. As we sat on the terrace overlooking the water, drinking our drinks and breaking off pieces of the delicate frico, I instantly knew that that moment and those flavors would be deliciously inextricable.—MH
For each frico, you'll need about 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano or other hard Italian grating cheese. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the cheese into the skillet, in a round, thin layer, with ragged edges. Toast the cheese until it gets lacy as it begins to melt together and to turn deep golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Lift up an edge of the cheese with a thin spatula, then gradually slide it under and carefully turn the frico over. This takes a little practice so don't worry if the frico bunches up a bit; it adds character. Toast the second side until it is golden, even a little darker if you like, then transfer it to a plate. Frico can be shaped while still warm and pliable. They will be crisp when cool. Make as many as you like, but make them the same day you plan to eat them so they stay crisp.—makes 1 big frico
As you prepare these simple ceviches and the cured salmon, remember to use only the freshest seafood and keep everything as cold as possible. Fat, juicy, thin-skinned limes will yield the most juice. Kosher salt is good for curing (it dissolves quickly) but try Maldon or an Irish or French fleur de sel for finishing the dish.
Toss 1 pound halved, deveined, peeled, medium, raw shrimp together with the juice of 5–6 fat thin-skinned limes and a big pinch of kosher salt in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Just before serving, drain the shrimp and discard the lime juice. Add 2 finely chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons minced chives, and 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and toss everything together. Serve very cold on chilled plates with sliced avocado or grapefruit supremes and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.—serves 4
HALIBUT WITH TOMATOES, MINT, & LEMON
Cut a 1-pound halibut filet into 2 pieces. Wrap in plastic and freeze for 1–2 hours, until firm but not completely frozen. Remove from the freezer and thinly slice. Put the halibut slices into a bowl with the juice of 5–6 fat thin-skinned limes and a big pinch of kosher salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Just before serving, drain the halibut and discard the lime juice. Arrange the cold halibut on a chilled platter. Garnish with a chiffonade of fresh mint, minced lemon rind, diced peeled tomato, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of fleur de sel.—serves 4
Thinly slice a 1-pound wild salmon filet diagonally into large, thin slices. Generously sprinkle Maldon salt or another flaky sea salt, and ground pepper onto a large platter. Arrange the salmon slices in a single layer on top of the salt and pepper, then sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Scatter with chopped dill leaves. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the salmon, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the plastic wrap, drizzle with a really good extra-virgin olive oil, and scatter with sliced scallions and a handful of tiny celery leaves. Serve with thinly sliced, buttered pumpernickel or other good dark bread.—serves 4
JAMÓN SERRANO ON TOAST WITH RED TOMATO PRESERVES
makes as many as you want to make
There's a local store we frequent that's been carrying a nice selection of cured meats including the Spanish beauty, jamón serrano. We regard this ham with nearly the same respect the Spaniards do and serve it sliced—just thicker than prosciutto—with especially delicious things like a perfectly ripe avocado or with our sweet plump Red Tomato Preserves (page 64).
These toasts are so good we eat them for breakfast in the morning with cafe con leche. And then again at the end of the day with a glass of dry white wine or really cold fino sherry.
Brush small, thin slices of crusty bread with some really good olive oil and toast them in a preheated 400° oven until golden on each side. Let the toasts cool. Drape each toast with a slice (or half a slice if a whole one is too much) of serrano ham. Top the toasts with small spoonfuls of Red Tomato Preserves.
VARIATION: Serve thin slices of Manchego cheese on toasts topped with a small spoonful of Red Tomato Preserves.
LITTLE BLUE REDS
makes enough to fill 2 dozen tomato halves (about ¾ cup mash)
This blue cheese and butter mash is delicious against the sweetness of little cherry tomatoes and we serve them together as an hors d'oeuvre. It also makes for a nice breakfast slathered on warm toast (add to that combo a juicy summer peach and you've got yourself a little taste of heaven).
Mash together ¼ pound good blue cheese and 4 tablespoons softened salted butter in a small bowl. Season with coarsely ground black pepper. Spread on halved cherry tomatoes and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
HOT SAUSAGES & COLD OYSTERS
make as many as you like
This is really just a suggestion of an amazing combination of flavor, texture, and temperature. You choose the type of sausage, from highly seasoned little porkies to spicy chorizo and everything in between. The variety of oysters will depend on what is the very freshest. Make sure that the oysters are ice-cold—they are less resistant and easier to open. If you don't know how to shuck oysters, be sure to befriend and invite someone who can pop them open without spilling any of their briny juice.
To grill the sausages, prepare a medium-hot hardwood, charcoal, or gas grill. Grill the sausages over the hottest part of the grill, turning them as they brown. When browned all over, move them to a cooler spot on the grill to finish cooking, turning them occasionally until they have cooked through. The grilling time will vary depending on your grill and the heat.
Serve the hot sausages and cold shucked oysters together, eating this treat like this: take a bite of hot juicy sausage, then chase it by slurping down an ice-cold oyster.
IN PRAISE OF THE HASS AVOCADO
We have a friend who lives on a property in California with a garden full of Hass avocado trees. A couple times a year he packs up one of those large United States Postal Service flat-rate mailing boxes—If It Fits, It Ships—with as many avocados as he can safely fit and sends it off to us. They arrive in pristine condition, their pebbly skin dark green, not yet fully black, and the avocados themselves hard, not quite ripe. It is an incredible gift. We set them out to finish ripening in the studio, checking them each day to see if the flesh has begun to yield under the gentle pressure of our thumbs. We feel like avocado affineurs, coaxing the fruits to ripe perfection. Within a few days they're ready—outside their skin has blackened, inside their flesh is firm but softer now with a rich, creamy, buttery flavor.
And so we begin, we eat one after another. Breakfast, coarsely mashed on hot buttered toast, with a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of crunchy salt. Lunch, two halves filled with especially good olive oil, a big squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and cracked black pepper. Dinner, stuffed into a hot corn tortilla with lime juice, salt, and lots of chopped fresh cilantro. Couldn't be simpler, couldn't be more delicious.
AN AVOCADO WITH CRAB SALAD
The sweet, smooth flavor and texture of a Hass avocado (and the convenient crater left in each half when pitted) make it the perfect partner for cold seafood salads like this ultra-simply dressed one made with crabmeat. The avocado "cup" that holds the salad will sit steady on the plate if you nick a little flat spot off the bottom of each peeled half.
½ pound Dungeness or jumbo lump crabmeat
3–4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4–6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1 ripe Hass avocado
Gently mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season the crab salad with a little salt, if you like, and with some pepper. Fold in the parsley.
Just before serving, slice the avocado in half lengthwise, then twist the two halves in opposite directions to loosen the flesh from the pit. Pull the halves apart. Thwack the pit with the sharp side of the knife so that the blade lodges in the pit. Twist the knife, and the pit will lift out of the avocado. Peel off the skin and nick a little off the bottom of each half to keep the avocados steady on the plate. Spoon the crab salad into each avocado.
COLD AVOCADO & CUCUMBER SOUP
The recipe for this velvety cold soup is a hand-me-down, passed along to my mother from a neighbor friend, then on to me. The impulse to share a good thing—it's always like this with delicious, simple recipes. And now it's our turn to pass this keeper on to you.—MH
Working in two batches to avoid overcrowding the blender, put 3 ripe, unblemished, pitted, and peeled Hass avocados, 1 cut-up unpeeled cucumber, 2 cloves garlic, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 4 cups chicken stock into a blender and purée until smooth. Season with salt. Refrigerate the soup until it is well chilled. Serve it in pretty glasses or chilled bowls garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a dash of hot pepper sauce. We suggest you make this soup the same day you plan to serve it so it retains its pretty, pale green color.—serves 4
GUACAMOLE & CHIPS
serves 4–6 (or one)
This is the simplest of guacamoles and relies on ripe, unblemished Hass avocados. We have the best luck finding these beauties at our local Mexican grocery store. And it makes all the difference in the world if you fry your own chips. They taste like tortilla chips should taste and have a sturdiness just right for scooping up the chunky guacamole.
for the chips
12 corn tortillas
For the guacamole
1–2 cloves garlic
6–8 ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
2–3 juicy thin-skinned limes, halved
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
For the chips, add enough oil to a heavy skillet or wok to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil until it is hot but not smoking, ideally to a temperature of 350° (use a candy thermometer to check the temperature). Meanwhile, cut the tortillas into quarters.
Slip the tortillas, a few at a time, into the hot oil and fry them until golden and crisp, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the chips as they're done to paper towels to drain. Season them with salt while still hot.
For the guacamole, use a pestle or wooden spoon to mash the garlic with a good pinch of salt in the bottom of a medium bowl. Scoop the avocado flesh into the bowl using a spoon or rubber spatula. Mash the avocados until chunky smooth. Squeeze the juice from some of the limes into the bowl, season with a little more salt, and mix well. Taste the guacamole and adjust the seasonings with more lime juice and/or salt. Stir in the cilantro. Serve the guacamole with the chips.
CHICKEN TACOS FOR LUNCH
Our taco meals vary depending on what is on hand or left over. We often grill a chicken the night before while the grill is fired up for dinner, then serve it for taco lunch the next day. Tortillas taste best when they are hot off the fire, so one of us mans the stove, toasting the tortillas, as our family and guests assemble their tacos.
1 grilled or roasted whole chicken, at room temperature
2 seeded, peeled, and roasted poblano chiles
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4–6 limes, cut into wedges
4–6 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, thickly sliced, and peeled
8 ounces grated queso Oaxaca or other semisoft grating cheese
1 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream thinned with heavy cream
6 scallions, chopped
½ bunch fresh cilantro
18–24 fresh corn tortillas
Excerpted from Canal House Cooking by Christopher Hirsheimer, Melissa Hamilton. Copyright © 2010 Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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