A Big New Book Full of Great Recipes and Photographs From Canal House

Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are living the food lover's dream, and they're happy to share it

Christopher Hirsheimer
Roasted pears in sweet Italian dessert wine is just one many great recipes found in Canal House's new cookbook.

OK, OK, so I blurbed this book. So did Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Christopher Kimball, Adam Rapoport, Ed Levine, John Besh, and, er, Jamie Lee Curtis, among many others. And, OK, OK, so Christopher Hirsheimer (that's Ms. Christopher Hirsheimer, just to avoid any confusion) and Melissa Hamilton worked for me at Saveur and were indispensible collaborators on two books I wrote for Chronicle Books' Country Cooking series. So what? These guys are really, really good, and I'm not going to ignore them just because I know them so well. (I believe that's called "full disclosure.")

Post-Saveur, with no involvement from me, in any case, Hirsheimer and Hamilton invented a professional life for themselves that thousands of food lovers around the country must envy: They basically arrive every morning at their sunlit second-floor studio and kitchen in western New Jersey, just across a little canal from Pennsylvania, where they make themselves a few shots of Nespresso, think and talk about food for a while, cook and eat lunch, then write about and photograph what they've thought about and cooked and eaten. Their words and images get turned into tweets, columns for Bon Appétit, and ultimately an innovative series of self-published thrice-yearly Canal House cookbooks. And some have just been compiled into Canal House Cooks Every Day (Andrews McMeel, $45), a hefty — 360-page — compendium that may lack some of the insouciant charm and breezy design conventions of their own Canal House volumes but that more than makes up for the difference in tone with its sheer, rich concentration of terrific and (if you pay attention) easy to execute recipes and glorious photographs in Hirsheimer's and Hamilton's trademark non-gimmicky, non-styled style.

Canal House fans will know what to expect here: Chatty introductions aimed at demystifying basic cooking processes and reassuring readers; sensible, clearly written recipes — arranged by month — for mostly American and some Italian fare (from chilled corn soup, roast chicken with chanterelles, and kabocha squash pie to fritto misto, lasagna Bolognese, and pink lemon granita); and photographs that look like food instead of like photographs of food.

Pork Stewed in Guajillo Chile Mole

"The leathery skin of a guajilo chile, the mildly hot dried Mexican pepper that flavors this stew, needs to soak until it's soft enough to purée..."

— Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton

 

 

Vin Santo Roasted Pears

"We roast Anjou, Comice, or Bartlett pears for this simple dessert in any number of Italian passiti, or sweet dessert wines — vin santo from Tuscany, recioto di soave from the Veneto, or any of the nonsparkling moscati..."

— Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton

 

 

 

  Pickled Shrimp and Celery Recipe  

"We prefer first to poach the shrimp, then to peel and devein them. That way they maintain their shape rather than curling and flaring into a "butterfly."

— Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton


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