05 October 2013

Weekend Cooking: Canal House Cooking Volume 8 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

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Canal House Cooking Vol. 8 by Hirsheimer and HamiltonChristopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, the women who put together the Canal House Cooking collections, have an approachable attitude toward food that comes out in the style of their recipes. But don't be fooled. Their motto may be "home cooking by home cooks for home cooks," yet their roots are hardly ordinary. From food photography to food styling to writing, creating, and editing recipes, this pair has done it all, and for some of the biggest publications in the food business (Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, Cook's Illustrated).

Hirsheimer and Hamilton's newest book, Canal House Cooking Volume 8, focuses on Italy and has a wonderful red and green color scheme with a very Italian feel. Besides the gorgeous photographs of Italy, key ingredients, and many of the completed dishes, the book includes essays on Italian food and wine by experts in their fields.

The chapters are organized in a familiar fashion, starting with drinks and moving to appetizers, pasta, meats and fish, side dishes, pizza, and dessert. What I love about the Canal House recipes is the burst of flavor that is achieved from the simplest of dishes. How about a salad of green olives, fennel, and parsley seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil,  and lemon? You can put this together in a few minutes to create a delicious and beautiful starter that will perk up your appetite.

copyright The Canal HouseThe pasta and pizza chapters feature light sauces and fresh ingredients: zucchini and clams, cherry tomatoes and basil, and escarole and fontina. Easy-to-find ingredients, clear and detailed directions, plus a well-thought-out blend of flavors equals magic on your plate.

The meats, fish, and vegetable dishes are doable for weekday meals but happily serve double-duty for guests and holidays. Pork chops with roasted peppers, grilled swordfish with tarragon, and lamb meatballs warmed with saffron and cinnamon are within the reach of every home cook.

Finally, the dessert chapter is a refreshing surprise: All the recipes are fruit and/or nut based, which suits my tastes just fine. I'm not generally attracted to rich, chocolatey concoctions, but bring on the Canal House raspberry tart, fig gelato, or almond cookies, and I'll be a happy camper.

copyright The Canal HouseHirsheimer and Hamilton may be big names in the food world, but they haven't forgotten that most of the world's cooking is done by regular folks who juggle jobs and family and likely lack fancy appliances. Canal House Cooking Volume 8 shows us how to serve delicious, healthful meals with a minimum of fuss. Pour yourself a Prosecco and get ready to bring a little Italy to your table.

Note on the images: the images come from (and are owned by) The Canal House Cooks Lunch, click through the link to learn more about Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's take on food. Don't forget to visit their website and blog.

Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780982739488
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Molly 10/5/13, 7:30 AM  

I am not familiar with the Canal House cookbooks ... but I am now going to check out volumes 1-7; they sound amazing

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/5/13, 8:04 AM  

I love cooking food with few, fresh ingredients and this book sound perfect for me. And I love your new header photo.

jama 10/5/13, 8:09 AM  

Another fine review. Hadn't heard of these cookbooks either and I love Italian food. Sounds like I also have a lot of catching up to do with Volumes 1-7! :)

Love the new header image too!

JoAnn 10/5/13, 8:41 AM  

I'm not familiar with the Canal House cookbooks either, but this one looks wonderful. There's nothing like good, simple Italian food!

rhapsodyinbooks 10/5/13, 9:14 AM  

Definitely what we found in Italy is that they could take four ingredients and make a miracle. I for sure want to see if I can try something from this book (to save the money of a trip to Italy every weekend or so)

Tea 10/5/13, 10:24 AM  

Roasted Pork Chops I'll bet is yummy. I would enjoy reading the essays too.

Linda 10/5/13, 12:15 PM  

Lamb meatballs. That sounds delicious!

Carole 10/5/13, 3:16 PM  

I'm going to add Canal House cookbooks to my library wish list - thanks

bermudaonion 10/5/13, 3:39 PM  

I love Italian food and like cooking with a "minimum of fuss," so this sounds good to me!

Vicki 10/5/13, 4:01 PM  

I haven't heard of Canal House cookbooks before, but will check them out since I like recipes that are pretty much quick and easy.
Here's A Link To My WC Post

Peaceful Reader 10/5/13, 8:34 PM  

The olive salad sounds like a perfect lunch! I will have to check out their other editions as well. I'm unfamiliar with this cooking duo.

Unknown 10/5/13, 9:47 PM  

I'm not familiar with the cookbooks, but I'll be checking them out. I love Italian food and I love a no fuss approach..yumm.

Couscous & Consciousness 10/6/13, 3:04 AM  

I've not heard of this duo, or the Canal House Cookbooks before, but I definitely want one after reading this review. I'm a big Italian food lover, and any book which offers a simple and flavourful repertoire that's very achievable for the home cook is right up my alley.

Debbie 10/6/13, 11:10 AM  

I'm going to have to check out these cookbooks, I haven't heard of them before now, either.
How many cookbooks do you own?
Just curious, because my own collection is well over 220.

Heather 10/6/13, 12:26 PM  

My fav cookbooks are the ones with recipes that can actually be made at home without knowing allsorts of 'secret' chef techniques. I also like books that give the reader more than just the recipe, I like explanations and details. Thanks for bringing these books to my attention.

I tried to add my link yesterday, but didn't know that it had disappeared, so added it again this morning.

Cecelia 10/6/13, 12:43 PM  

Just those photos are making me hungry! And I too like a break from chocolate-heavy desserts, so I'll definitely be checking out that section of this book. Thanks for sharing!

Joy 10/6/13, 2:56 PM  

I really like the emphasis on lighter dishes, including desserts. Quick is terrific, too!

Joy's Book Blog

Unknown 10/6/13, 3:21 PM  

This sounds like a great series - I'll have to check it out. Nice to see cookbooks offering clear and simple recipes with easily obtained ingredients (as an antidote to some of what's out there).

Daryl 10/7/13, 12:06 PM  

i might have to get this for my friend who is big on dinner parties

Anonymous,  10/8/13, 3:41 PM  

Ooops... sorry I had to link up twice #s 27 and 28. The one without the title of my dish (ie just "Nasifriet"), you may delete. Thanks so much.

BTW, I'd love to get hold of the Canal House recipes. Sounds "refreshing". I love the idea of using fresh ingredients in the dishes. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous,  10/8/13, 3:41 PM  

Ooops... sorry I had to link up twice #s 27 and 28. The one without the title of my dish (ie just "Nasifriet"), you may delete. Thanks so much.

BTW, I'd love to get hold of the Canal House recipes. Sounds "refreshing". I love the idea of using fresh ingredients in the dishes. Thanks for sharing

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