Melissa is a former food editor of Saveur, worked at Martha Stewart Living and Cook's Illustrated, and owned a restaurant in New Jersey. Christopher (she's a she), is a writer and photographer, was a founder of Saveur, and food and design editor at Metropolitan Home.
" 'Canal House Cooking,' they write, "is home cooking by home cooks for home cooks."
The pair rented a house in Tuscany for a month and cooked their hearts out, "with chestnuts, rabbit, porcini, pumpkin, cabbage, peppers, radicchio, apples, and pears," they write. "Like Italians, we developed flavors as we cooked. We fried battuto -- onions, carrots, and celery -- into fragrant soffrito; toasted tomato paste to add color and richness to sauces; deglazed pans with red wine, allowing it to reduce to its very essence; and we balanced sweet and sour in agrodolce."
The cover is paper marbling of the sort that is used on end papers in antique books (every volume is different, which is part of the thrill).The duo have a studio in a New Jersey warehouse that sits beside a canal. The place must have stunning light because all the photos, which are quite unadorned, spare really, show spectacular food.
Homemade pastas here, risotto Milanese, tempting squid and potatoes, braised rabbit, meatballs with pork and veal, minestrone, ragu Bolognese, and simple desserts such as vin santo-poached pears and chocolate-chestnut torte. If you worked your way through this book, you'd be a better cook at the other end.
Here's an interview I did a couple years ago, when they first started the Canal House venture.
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirscheimer are two of the most talented cookbook authors working today. Everything is just so simple and appealing and they never try to reinvent cookery. Brava!
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.