During the winter when local produce is nearly non-existent, I buy a lot of my produce from a local Asian supermarket. The owner travels to Chinatown several times a week and brings back fresh Chinese green vegetables, along with daikon radishes, lemongrass, and kabocha squash, a member of the pumpkin family. Kabocha squash is high in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, so it’s a healthy addition to any menu. Usually, I prepare kabocha squash using Asian flavors in soup, a main course or dessert, but recently, I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Soup with Pimenton and Preserved Lemon that sounded intriguing.
When I spotted this recipe by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, publishers of the Canal House cookbook series, it immediately caught my eye. You see, I happened to have a small stash of leftover preserved lemons (from making Dorie Greenspan’s Chicken in a Pot), and a kabocha squash that’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for about a month (they keep a long time, thankfully), so this recipe was the perfect answer to using up both ingredients. I hate throwing food away so when I find myself with odds and ends, I tend to keep an eye out for recipes that can use them up. The recipe also called for Pimenton, a Spanish Paprika that has a smokey quality and typically comes in different levels of heat – sweet, medium and hot.
I love the idea of cooking and serving the soup directly in a squash “bowl.” The presentation is rustic yet elegant. This past fall, I made a Beet and Apple Soup served in an acorn squash “bowl,” which made for a pretty presentation. This soup was particularly simple since all the ingredients were placed right inside the squash “bowl,” and then roasted in the oven. To serve, the inside flesh of the roasted squash bowl was gently scooped out along with the broth into bowls. This is a nice, light soup, smoky from the pimenton, balanced by the mellow preserved lemons and garlic. Definitely a clean healthy soup.
Today, a group of bloggers are celebrating two women, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (yes, this is a woman), who were named in Gourmet Live’s Top 50 Women Game Changers In Food. Although I had read about the Canal House a few years back in the New York Times, I did not know much about these two women until this week.
Ms. Hirsheimer was food and design editor of Metropolitan Home magazine for years, and one of the founding editors of Saveur, where she met Ms. Hamilton, a chef and restaurateur. Ms. Hersheimer has written four cookbooks on her own, and has been the photographer for cookbooks by Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali and Rick Bayless.
Ms. Hamilton was a chef who worked as an editor and test kitchen director at Martha Stewart Living, Saveur and Cook’s Illustrated. These two women opened up the Canal House studio along the canal in Lambertville, New Jersey, in 2006 as a photo and design studio for cookbooks and magazines to begin with. Their love of gourmet home cooking lead them to self-publish a series of cookbooks, published three times a year.
The Canal House now serves as their workshop, dining room, office, and kitchen. Together, Ms. Hamilton (chef/food stylist/recipe developer/writer/illustrator) and Ms. Hersheimer (photographer/editor/writer) have self-published a series of seven Canal House cookbooks plus a book on Italian food so far which feature their rustic and seasonal cooking that reflect their belief that the “everyday practice of simple cooking and the enjoyment of eating are two of the greatest pleasures in life.” I would love to get my hands on one or more of the Canal House Cooking volumes. Each volume houses about 75 recipes featuring a single cuisine, e.g., Summer, Fall & Holiday, Winter & Spring, Farm Markets and Gardens, A Taste of Italy, and includes food photographs by Ms. Hersheimer and watercolor illustrations by Ms. Hamilton.
If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer:
Annie from Most Lovely Things
Linda from There and Back Again
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne from Eats Well with Others
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Sue from The View from The Great Island
Barbara from Movable Feasts
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook
Alyce - More Time at the Table
Amrita - Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades