Side Dish: Award winners

By Cheramie Sonnier

Advocate Food editor

Canal House Cooks Every Day
Canal House Cooks Every Day

The James Beard Foundation’s Awards have been called the “Oscars of the food world.” Not only are top chefs and restaurateurs honored each year, but so are cookbook authors and others in the publishing world. This year’s Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards were held in New York City on May 3, three days before the awards gala where medallions were handed out to this year’s chef winners.

“Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America” by Maricel E. Presilla (W.W. Norton & Co.) took Cook of the Year honors.

Garnering the top prize in the General Cooking category was “Canal House Cooks Every Day” by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, a lovely book that’s been sitting on my desk awaiting review. Inspired by the authors’ daily blog Canal House Cooks Lunch, the book offers a year of seasonal recipes.

Louisiana readers will have to make some allowances for the book’s seasons since our growing seasons don’t mesh with those where the authors live. One is in Pennsylvania, the other in nearby New Jersey, and the two women work in an old warehouse downriver from where they live.

They cook every day, preparing dishes that reflect their interests, those of their own families, what fresh produce they found at the market or what food in the refrigerator needs to be cooked. Recipes range from the simple, such as Canal House Year-Round Caprese Salad, to the more elaborate, such as Cannelloni, which they write is a must-have for their families’ holiday meals, birthday dinners and other special occasions. Other recipes include Thick & Chewy Brownies, Tomato Tart, Watercress Soup, Deviled Eggs, Roasted Chicken in a Pot With Spring Onions and Mixed Berry Cobbler.

The Canal House co-founders, who also worked together at Saveur magazine, describe “Canal House Cooks Every Day” as a collection of their favorite recipes — “home cooking by home cooks for home cooks.” The book features almost 250 recipes, more than 130 photographs and illustrations, and an attached ribbon for marking a page.

The James Beard Foundation Awards winner in the American Cooking category is “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubert (Gibbs Smith), which was reviewed in this column on Dec. 6.

Other category winners are:

Baking and Dessert: “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by Ken Forkish (Ten Speed Press).

Beverage: “Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours” by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz (Ecco).

Cooking From a Professonal Point of View: “Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy” by Normand Laprise (les éditions du passage).

Focus on Health: “Cooking Light The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today’s Home Cook” by Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House).

International: “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press).

Photography: “What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces,” photographer Katie Quinn Davies (Viking Studio).

Reference and Scholarship: “The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes From Around the World” by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green Publishing).

Single Subject: “Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard” by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press).

Vegetable-focused and Vegetarian: “Roots: The Definitive Compendium With More Than 225 Recipes” by Diane Morgan (Chronicle Books).

Writing and Literature: “Yes, Chef: A Memoir” by Marcus Samuelsson (Random House).

An easy recipe from “Canal House Cooks Every Day” is Sugared Berries With Crème Anglaise . It doesn’t specify what type of berries to use — any seasonal berry will do — but I think juicy Louisiana strawberries would be a good choice. And it’s a cool dish to serve on a hot Memorial Day weekend.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.

Advocate-tested recipe

Sugared Berries With Crème Anglaise

Makes 2 cups sauce. Recipe is from “Canal House Cooks Every Day” by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, who write: “We serve this sweetened custard sauce warm in the winter spooned over compotes of dried fruit. In the summer, when berries are sweet and juicy, we serve it chilled like this.”

2 cups whole milk

3 tbls. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

4 large egg yolks

Fresh berries

Sugar

Splash of kirsch or vanilla extract

1. Put milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean in a heavy medium saucepan. Heat the milk over medium-low heat, stirring often, until warm and the sugar dissolves.

2. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add half the warm milk to the yolks, whisking constantly. Stir the yolk mixture into the warm milk in the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s the consistency of thick heavy cream, about 15 minutes.

3. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and add the vanilla bean, if using. Set the bowl into a large bowl filled with ice, then stir the custard frequently until it has cooled off. Cover the custard and refrigerate until ready to use. It will thicken as it chills. Discard the vanilla bean.

4. Toss fresh berries with some sugar and a splash of kirsch or vanilla extract in a bowl and let macerate briefly. Serve the crème anglaise in dessert dishes with the berries.