Right before Thanksgiving, my class was fortunate enough to host the Canal House cooks for the afternoon. Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton form the duo that produces the Canal House Cooking books. These two women create the recipes, cook for, photograph, and publish their own “magazine” three times a year. While their cooking has European undertones, an American heritage influences most of their recipes.
Given that it was close to Thanksgiving, Hirsheimer & Hamilton generously brought us two incredible pies: Agee’s Pecan Pie and a traditional Pumpkin one. They freshly whipped some cream in front of us and served each slice with a good dollop of it. Class never tasted that sweet! While we proceeded to “taste test” the pies, starting with the pecan, the cooks read us this pie’s history. As they put it, all recipes come with a story that is central to the experience of the food. It’s like a full package, where one can only appreciate a dish to the fullest if they know its background and how it came to be. Accordingly, Agee used to run a bake shop in Missouri back in the 1930s. Her shop was at the end of the trolley line, so all of the conductors would rush to get a slice of pie at the end of service. Her business eventually became so succesful that she’d sell over 600 pies around Thankgiving. Her secret? It all lies in the crust!
I always knew that stories about food were important, but I have to say that hearing this pie’s story as I tasted it really shaped my experience of it. Our discussion then focused on the link between food and identity. We mentioned how each family has their own traditions, and how the latter partly make us who we are. We talked about our favorite Thanksgiving (or holidays) traditions, one bite of pumpkin pie at a time. The pumpkin pie was the highlight of the session for me. Made from freshly pureed pumpkins, with lots of eggs and spices, it was fluffy and had a really deep flavor. The top was slightly caramelized and the crust was just crumbly enough.
At the end of the session, they gave each of us a copy of their latest book and sent us on our respective ways, full, happy, and on a sugar-fueled rush. I skimmed through the book as I got home and was reminded of how delicious simple recipes can be. The focus should always be on the ingredients first. When it comes down to it, what’s in season is always best. I was therefore inspired to make something easy, seasonal, and wholesome for this dish. What screams Fall better than squash and mushrooms? Yet, as the temperature slowly drops – reminding us that the “official” shift to winter has passed – I guess this dish is more of a farewell to Fall. Enjoy it while it lasts, and bon appétit!
Total time: 15 minutes (with pre-cooked spaghetti squash, otherwise 1hr)
- 1 bowl of cooked spaghetti squash
- a handful of baby bella mushrooms
- 1 egg
- olive oil
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- roasted/salted spaghetti squash seeds (optional)
- This recipe is really great for using leftover cooked spaghetti squash. If you don’t have any, you can cook some following this recipe.
- Rinse the mushrooms, pat them dry and slice them thinly. Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the mushrooms with a good pinch of salt, and let them sweat until they turn golden brown.
- Add the squash to the pan and toss it around to reheat it. Transfer to a bowl.
- Crack an egg in the same pan and let it fry until the white is set and the edges are golden.
- Top the squash and mushrooms with the fried egg, garnish with salt and pepper, a few roasted squash seeds and a drizzle of sriracha. Enjoy!
“Courge Spaghetti de fin d’Automne, Oeuf au Plat et Champignons”
Temps Total: 15 minutes (courge pre-cuite, sinon 1hr)
- 1 bol de courge spaghetti pré-cuite (restes)
- une poignée de champignons (de Paris, bruns, shiitake…)
- 1 œuf
- de l’huile d’olive
- sel de mer et poivre noir fraichement moulu
- graines de courge grillées/salées (optionnel)
- Cette recette est particulièrement bonne pour utiliser des restes de courge pré-cuite. Sinon, vous pouvez suivre cette recette pour commencer à zéro.
- Rincez les champignons à l’eau froide, essuyez-les et tranchez-les finement. Faites chauffer de l’huile d’olive dans une poêle et laissez les champignons suer avec une bonne pincée de sel jusqu’à ce qu’ils dorent.
- Ajoutez la courge spaghetti cuite et mélangez bien le temps qu’elle réchauffe. Transférez dans un bol.
- Cassez enfin l’œuf dans la même poêle et laissez-le frire jusqu’à ce que le blanc soit doré sur les bords.
- Ajoutez l’œuf sur la courge et garnissez avec du sel et du poivre, des graines de courge grillées et un filet de sriracha. Bon appétit!