Cheese

Gratin Of White Beans With Pancetta And Tomatoes By Annie Copps

Monday, February 28, 2011
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white beans on wood

Bacon, beans and tomatoes—baked. Hello? That's gotta be good tasting and good for you.

A gratin of beans, pancetta and tomatoes is a pretty quick dish as far as baking goes and it's the perfect accompaniment for a big roast or a simple piece of fish. Find your gratin or casserole dish and lather it up some olive oil. Then in a saute pan get some chopped up pancetta going—that's an Italian style un-smoked bacon, you can use regular bacon, but I'd stay away from hickory or maple flavored varieties. Add onion and garlic to the pan, then cannellini beans—you know the small white ones—a bit of water, rosemary, and bay leaf and get those flavors going.

After a while fish out the rosemary sprig and bay leaf and stir in chopped tomatoes. Pour this lovely mixture into the gratin dish and cover with a blanket of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese—bake it for about 30 minutes then put it under the broiler for a really crunchy topping. How good is that?

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups canned white beans, preferably cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 leafy sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup of water, or as needed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juice
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a large gratin or baking dish with olive oil.

In a heavy saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon of oil and the pancetta or bacon over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta or bacon begins to render its fat, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion and garlic, stir to coat, and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the beans, rosemary, and bay and enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Partially cover and bring to a simmer.

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the rosemary stem (the leaves may have fallen off) and the bay leaf from the beans.

Stir in the tomatoes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Spread the beans into the dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and cheese.

Drizzle generously with olive oil.

Bake until heated through and beginning to brown on top, about 30 minutes.

For a crunchy topping, run the gratin under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.

Serve hot or warm.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

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annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Braised Fennel and Leeks By Annie Copps

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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braised fennel and leeks in bowl

Typically it's a big, tough piece of meat that gets transformed by braising, but I found that when slowly cooked in a bit of wine and chicken stock, my two favorite root vegetables, fennel and leeks, turn luscious and silky. The fennel hangs on to a bit of its licorice-y-ness, while most of the onion taste of the leek converts into a vaguely sweet flavor.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and get started with about 8 leeks. Like all vegetables, leeks come from the earth, but leeks don't like to let go of their dirty beds—be sure to wash them well, because one small grain of dirt will feel like a boulder in your mouth.

Arrange the leeks and thinly sliced fennel in a casserole dish and scatter butter over the top, then pour chicken stock and some wine into the pan. Cover with foil and cook about 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and scatter parmesan cheese and bread crumbs over the top and cook until the top is well browned. So good—the leeks and fennel are rich and creamy and the topping crunchy, a delicious and satisfying contrast of textures and flavors.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
8 medium leeks, trimmed and rinsed well (discard roots and all but 2-inches of the green part—leeks should be 6 to 8 inches trimmed)
3 medium fennel bulbs, root removed and thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees

In a medium casserole arrange leeks in one layer with sliced fennel on top.

Pour in stock and wine.

Scatter pats of butter over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Seal with foil and place in oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Return to oven for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine parmesan and bread crumbs. Scatter over the top of the leeks and bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until well-browned.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

___________________________________________________________
annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Rice & Lentils by Lidia Bastianich

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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rice and lentils
Riso e Lenticchie

Serves 8 or more as a first course or soup

Ingredients
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut in pieces
1 cup onion cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup carrot cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup celery cut in 1-inch chunks
6 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
8 to 10 cups hot water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 ½ cups Italian short-grain rice, such as Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano
1 cup chopped scallions
½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for passing

Directions
Drop the pancetta or bacon pieces into the food-processor bowl, and pulse several times, to chop the meat into small bits. Scrape all the chopped pancetta right into the heavy saucepan. Put the onion, carrot, and celery chunks and the sage leaves into the empty food-processor bowl, and mince together into a fine-textured pestata.

Put the butter and olive oil into the saucepan with the minced pancetta, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, as the butter melts and the fat starts to render. When the pancetta is sizzling, scrape in the vegetable pestata, and stir it around the pan until it has dried and begins to stick, 4 minutes or so. Clear a space on the pan bottom, and drop in the tomato paste, toast it in the hot spot for a minute, then stir together with the pestata.

Raise the heat, pour in the white wine, and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Pour in 8 cups of hot water and the tablespoon salt, stir well, and heat to the boil. (Add all 10 cups of hot water if you want to serve the rice and lentils as a thick soup rather than a denser riso.)

Cover the pan, and reduce the heat slightly, to keep the water at a moderate boil, and let it bubble for 20 minutes or so, to develop the flavors.

Stir in the lentils, return to a gentle boil, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils just start to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the rice, return to a bubbling simmer, and cook, cover ajar, until the rice is al dente, 13 minutes or so. If the dish is thickening more than you like, lower the heat and cover the pan completely. If it seems too thin and wet, remove the cover and cook at a faster boil. When the rice and lentils are fully cooked, turn off the heat. Stir in the scallions and grated cheese.

Serve in warm bowls, passing more cheese at the table.

Bored with Beans?
By Lidia Bastianich

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
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green beans with gorgonzola

Getting bored with your green beans? Add some creamy Gorgonzola cheese to add a gorgeous complexity.

Let's face it, green beans are delicious, but they can get boring. So let's give them some new life by melting a little Gorgonzola into the beans for a spicy appetizer or a side dish that goes perfectly with grilled or sauteed meats.

Ingredients
Green beans
1/4 cup olive oil
Gorgonzola cheese
Garlic
Kosher salt

Directions
First, simply rinse and dry the beans and trim off both ends.

Set a large skillet over medium heat.

Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and toss in 5-6 mashed garlic cloves.

Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly colored.

Add the beans to the skillet, shake a few times, pour in a 1/4 cup of water and cover.

Lower the heat, cook for 15 minutes until the beans are tender to the bite and lightly caramelized.

When they are done, salt lightly.

Raise the heat and drop bits of crumbled Gorgonzola into the beans and cook with no cover until the cheese melts. It will take just over a minute.

When the cheese has melted and coated the beans, but before it coats the bottom of the pan, remove beans and cheese fromthe pan and place on a plate and serve immediately.

Braised Leeks
By Annie Copps

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
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lightly braised leeks in a dish

Braising is an easy way to soften up and draw a lot of flavor out of an ingredient. Usually we think of tough cuts of meat such as shoulders or shanks for braising, but how about some vegetables?

I am drawn to leeks, their mellow onion flavor is seductive and slow cooking them through braising coaxes out all the sweet beauty. This recipe goes well with roasted meats or a pasta dish.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
12 medium leeks, trimmed and rinsed well
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumb

Directions
Clean the leeks well, like all vegetables, they grow in soil, but leeks just don’t like to let go of their dirty beds. And one small grain of dirt will feel like a boulder in your mouth if you don’t get rid of it. Discard roots and all but 2 inches of the green part; then arrange the leeks in a single layer. Dot with some butter, add some chicken stock and cover tightly with foil. Add some parmesan and bread crumbs at the end.

Heat oven to 400°.

In a medium-size casserole, arrange leeks in one layer. Pour stock and wine over top. Scatter pats of butter over the leeks and season with salt and pepper.

Seal with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil. Return to oven for 10 minutes longer.

In a small bowl, combine parmesan and breadcrumbs. Scatter over top of leeks and bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until well-browned.

Baked Goat Cheese with Pepper Jelly
By Annie Copps

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
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goat cheese with pepper jelly on crackers

It's happened to all of us: Unexpected guests. Whether it's an impromptu party or maybe you even forgot the date—switching gears at the last minute could put even the greatest of hosts into a state of confusion.

No worries. At least when it comes to the food. I always have a log of goat cheese in the freezer (it defrosts very quickly) and there are any number of things you can do with this versatile cheese—which, by the way, New England makes some of the best goat cheese in the nation.

Give a baguette or sliced Ciabatta loaf a good smear of the cheese, then spoon some pesto or chopped herbs (fresh or dry) on top plus a drizzle of olive oil, then throw it in the oven. Even better, add some pepper jelly.

We are quite fond of Westport Rivers Vineyard's Pinot Noir pepper jelly—but use your own or a good quality store bought version. Now go set the table—the guests will be arriving any minute!

Total time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
4 ounces creamy goat cheese, shaped into
4 equal patties, about 1/2 inch thick
4 slices ciabatta or other chewy Italian bread, lightly toasted
4 tablespoons pepper jelly

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Set goat cheese on toasted bread and bake until puffy and warmed all the way through, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for a few minutes, then spoon pepper jelly over the top.

___________________________________________________________
annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

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