Monthly Cookbook Review: May-Canal House

monthly cookbook review banner Monthly Cookbook Review: May Canal House


I adore all kinds of books, but especially LOVE to delve deeply into cookbooks of all varieties.  Each month I will bring you a review of a cookbook.  Each month will be different in theme, taste, style and recipes. I hope that by offering you a review of a book you have a small window and my perspective into the culinary offerings of these books and might venture out of your normal cooking routine to try a new dish or two!

Bon Appetite!

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Canal House Cooking Volume No. 1: Summer
Canal House Cooking has many things going for it. It’s the first book in a series of seasonal recipe collections created by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton. You open the cover and enter the world of their Canal House studio — an old brick warehouse located on a canal bank in New Jersey. This is where they cook, eat, write, photograph, share ideas, and make cookbooks.

Canal House Cooking is an independently-published volume not much larger than your average paperback. It is a gorgeous glossy-paged, hard-backed, coffee table book, but that’s not to say it isn’t thoughtfully crafted. On the design front, printed on matte paper stock, the book displays a charming mix of luscious photography, vibrant illustrations, and clean, simple recipe design. The recipes are approachable, flavor-packed, and in many cases they rely on a short list of ingredients.

This is one cook-book in a series of three, so be fair warned…you won’t find a zillion recipes here.  There isn’t alot of quantity, just quality. And a very discerning selection of recipes for each season.  You can tell that each recipe has been thoughtfully and precisely chosen, and they are all quite excellent. This book oozes with the passion that both Christopher and Melissa have for the seasonal foods and the recipes that they create to showcase such beauty and abundance.

The next time you have zucchini on hand-this summer I grant you, I encourage you to try the Soft Zucchini with Harissa, Olives and Feta inspired by Melissa’s sister Gabrielle — chef/owner of Prune. The Corn, String Bean & Potato Succotash Salad is perfect for the end of summer. And with just six ingredients (minus salt and pepper), their parsley-flecked, lemon-kissed Spanish Mushrooms will change the way you think of button mushrooms — for the better. In short, it’s a book that makes you want to get in the kitchen.

Bonus Recipes:


makes 9 cups

It is your preference whether to soak or not to soak. MH likes to hydrate the beans before cooking; CH believes that with the gentlest cooking you can jump right in without a soak. Look for the “Best Used By” date when buying a package of dried beans. The fresher the beans, the more quickly they’ll cook. One pound dried beans will yield about 6 cups of cooked beans. Cooked beans freeze beautifully.

3 cups dried beans, unsoaked or soaked for 4 hours or overnight

1 onion, halved

1–2 cloves garlic

1 branch fresh thyme, optional

2 bay leaves


Really good extra-virgin olive oil

Drain the beans and put them into a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover them with cold water by 4 inches or so. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, if using, and bay leaves. Bring the beans just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and very gently simmer them until they are swollen and tender, 30–90 minutes (or more), depending on the freshness of the dried beans. The beans should remain submerged while they cook, so add more water to the pot, if you need to. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in a generous pinch of salt. Add a good glug of olive oil. Let the beans cool to just warm or to room temperature in the cooking liquid. (The beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


cassoulet edited hirsheimer for food52 Monthly Cookbook Review: May Canal House

serves 2

To make a traditional cassoulet—the emblematic “pot of beans” from France’sLengadòc region—it takes a special earthenware pot, at least five different kinds of meats, and three to four days of fussing and tending to prepare and cook. When we don’t have the luxury of time, we make this simplified version. If we don’t have our own confit of duck to use for this simple cassoulet, we buy it already prepared from the market. It’s an easy weeknight meal and satisfies our hunger for the real thing.


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 fresh Italian sausages, pricked

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

3 cups cooked white beans, with a little of their cooking liquid

Confit of 2 duck legs

1 large branch fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy ovenproof pot with a lid over medium heat. Brown the sausages all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and garlic to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the sausages.

Add half the cooked beans to the pot. Arrange the sausages and duck legs on the beans, then add the onions and garlic. Add the thyme and bay leaf, and cover with remaining beans. Add about ½ cup of the bean cooking liquid.

Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter in a small bowl. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the beans. Cover the pot and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover the pot, and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10–15 minutes before serving.

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This article is hopping around the following Blog Hops:

Homestead Barn HopWildcrafting WednesdayFrom the Farm Fridays, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Simple Life Sunday Blog Hop.


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Medical Disclaimer:

Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, simply a sharing of things that have worked for me & my family. If you have any symptoms of serious illness, taking medication, pregnant or nursing, or have never worked with herbal materials or essential oils before, please consider consulting a medical professional before use. I am unable to offer advise for your particular medical situation; please ask your Doctor, Nurse Practitioner or Naturopath for further guidance.  The statements made here have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

Ornamental Rule Lines in Different Design 2 150x44 Monthly Cookbook Review: May Canal House

About Simply Living Simply

I am a "red-neck country wife" to one wonderfully amazing man, mother to many outrageous children, daughter of the ONE Glorious God. Learning to be more self-reliant & self-sufficient in a semi-homemade, homesteading way!
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