After so many lunches ate over our keyboard, this summer we can all take a bit more time to frolic in the kitchen and remind ourselves of the ritualistic beauty of the midday meal. To inspire you a bit more, the ladies at Canal House (former Saveur editors Christopher (yes, a woman) Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton) devoted a whole book and blog to what they eat for lunch.
Now besides that I LOVE great cuisine, the imagery in the book is fantastic, the recipes authentic and the stories tie it all together: everything that Canal House prepares is delicious!
I highly recommend signing up for their lunch by email so that you receive beautiful photos (plus descriptions!) like these every afternoon, providing lunch inspiration for all (summer) days to come.
Cleansing Ginger-Chicken Soup Serves 6
Ginger has long been known for its health benefits. Prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is also known to calm an upset stomach. We love the heat it adds to this rich, satisfying broth. We remove the chicken breast halfway through cooking to keep it tender and juicy. The purity of this broth needs little else, but if you want more substance, add rice or noodles.
Sliced 2 ribs celery
Chopped 1 big hand fresh ginger (about 8 ounces), unpeeled and sliced into big piece
1 clove garlic
10 black peppercorns
1 organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs and legs, 2 wings, and the back)
Handful fresh cilantro leaves
Put the onions, celery, ginger, garlic and peppercorns in a heavy large pot, then add the chicken pieces, placing the breasts on top so they will be easier to remove from the hot broth halfway through the cooking. Cover with 4 quarts cold water and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
After about 30 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and set them aside to cool. Continue to gently simmer the soup for 1½ hours.
Remove all the chicken from the broth and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin, bones, and gristle. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl then return the broth to the pot. Boil the broth over high heat until it has reduced to about 8 cups. Season with salt to taste.
Put a handful of chicken in each of 6 individual bowls, then ladle in the hot broth. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.
Braised Beef Brisket with Onions & Currants
We're often looking for ways to add saltiness or sweetness to a dish by using more complex ingredients than straight-up salt or sugar. Anchovies, capers, preserved lemons, and pancetta are some of our favorite saline seasonings. In this recipe, we add sweetness to the beef brisket and its rich, silky braising sauce with onions, ketchup, sherry vinegar and dried currants. This is how we build flavor. The trick to cooking is learning how to balance flavors and seasonings while keeping them from getting murky. We've been cooking a long time and we're still learning constantly. It's one of the reasons we love to cook.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions, sliced into thick rounds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
One 3-pound beef brisket with a nice layer of fat
1 tablespoon pimentón
Salt and pepper
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 cup dried currants or raisins
Preheat the oven to 300°. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened and slightly collapsed, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Rub the brisket all over with the pimentón and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Put the brisket in the pot, fat side up on top of the onions.
Stir together the ketchup, ½ cup water, the vinegar, and currants in a small bowl, and pour over the brisket. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Braise the meat until it is very tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven, then transfer the meat to a cutting board. Skim off the fat from the sauce. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.