I spent this past weekend cooking from my new favorite cookbook, Canal House Cooking (volume 1). It's a self-published book from Melissa Hamilton (chef, food stylist, recipe developer, artist, and former food editor of Saveur magazine) and Christopher Hirsheimer (one of the founders of Saveur, cookbook author, writer, and extraordinary photographer), two women I greatly admire.
Now I also greatly admire their cookbook, which is full of seasonal, simple, utterly delicious recipes, with stunning photography to boot. With guests coming for dinner on Friday, I made Maria's Gazpacho in 5 Minutes (a blender recipe that really did take 5 minutes!), Mussel Scallion Stew (savory and rich with tomatoes, cream, and wine), and cheesy garlic bread (my own thrown-together creation). For dessert, Plum Galette (one of the best pastry crusts I've made in a long time; see the recipe below). Enough said.
For dinner on Saturday, we had Corn, String Bean, and Potato Succotash Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, and grilled leg of lamb (which my husband threw together, and the dog almost made off with). Every recipe worked beautifully, and I can't recall when we last ate so well.
There will be three seasonal volumes of Canal House Cooking every year: Summer, Fall & Holiday, and Winter & Spring. I promise, this is just the kind of cooking that will inspire you, satisfy you, and compel you into the kitchen time and again.
Canal House Cooking's Plum Galette
FOR THE PASTRY
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 tsp. salt
10 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbs. vegetable shortening
5 Tbs. ice water
2 Tbs. heavy cream
FOR THE FRUIT
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 lbs. Italian prune plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
For the pastry, sift together the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and the shortening and cut them into the flour using a pastry blender, two knives, or even your fingertips. Work the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles very coarse corn meal. Add the ice water tablespoon by tablespoon, sprinkling it over the flour and mixing it in lightly with your hands. Press the mixture together until it forms a mass. Then shape into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
For the fruit, whisk together the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add the plums and use your hands to mix them into the sugar until they are well coated. Set aside until you are ready to use them.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the chilled dough on a floured surface into a 12 to 14-inch round. Roll the pastry around your rolling pin then unfurl it onto a large baking sheet or a cold pizza stone.
Starting in the middle, arrange the plums on the pastry in a tight circular pattern to about 3 inches from the edge. Fold the edge over the plums, pleating the dough as you go. Brush the pastry with the heavy cream. Bake until the plums are juicy and the pastry golden, 45-55 minutes.