When local cookbook authors Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamillton published their hefty James Beard award-winning cookbook, “Canal House Cooks Every Day,” it seemed as though there couldn’t possibly be any more recipes left for them to write.
Happily, that wasn’t the case.
The pair, who established Canal House Cooking in Lambertville, N.J. in 2007, started their writing with a series of small, mostly paperback seasonal books, each with a different theme. The first was dishes for summer; the eighth was Italian dishes. After that they pulled together the hefty, hardcover book on everyday cooking that impressed the Beard judges with their writing, recipe creation and now comes “Canal House: Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On” (Little, Brown and Company), another hefty book written, edited and photographed by the two authors.
The authors consider themselves home cooks who write about home cooking for other home cooks, and their latest book is about home cooking, ranging from the basics of how to cook eggs to how to create the perfect cheese soufflé.
It includes recipes for roasted chicken, braises, stews and seafood, along with chapters on grilling, how to prepare vegetables and how to make a fruit tart using puff pastry for a crust. Their recipe for homestyle meatloaf may not be the same as your mother’s, but it may be similar, and it surely will be good.
It should come as no surprise that the writing duo are not finished yet. They are compiling new recipes for the next in their series of small, seasonal books. You also can catch their cooking wisdom at 4 p.m. Wednesdays when they host The Canal House Kitchen Hour, on WDVR FM. For more on the Canal House team see thecanalhouse.com.
This recipe is from the chapter on soups in “Cook Something,” and it can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lbs. of carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
Wide strips of peel from ½ lemon
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
Pureeing hot soup in an electric blender can cause the lid to blow off (scary and dangerous). The steam from the hot soup builds up when whirling it smooth. Cooling the soup a bit first and working in small batches helps prevent this. Or remove the stopper in the center of the blender lid and cover the hole with a kitchen towel.
Melt the butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, potatoes, lemon peel, bay leaves and five cups of the chicken stock. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 35-40 minutes.
Discard the bay leaves. Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Add some of the remaining 1 cup of stock if the soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and finely chopped scallions or fresh chives, if you like.