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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

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

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.

Shrimp Filled Money Bags By Annie Copps

Thursday, December 2, 2010
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shrimp dumplings

Sometimes called "beggars' purses," we prefer the optimistic "moneybags." I'm talking about a delicious take on Asian dumplings.

This is one of those recipes, that if you are making 20, you might as well make 200 and freeze the balance. They are bite-sized appetizers that are packed with gobs of Asian flavors, they are crunchy and fun—real crowd pleasers. They look exotic and fancy, but in fact, they are rather easy.

In the bowl of a food processor, add a pound of shrimp—I use shrimp in this recipe, but feel free to substitute with an equal amount of scallops, lobster meat, ground pork, or chicken whatever you like. Add fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, scallions, cilantro, and water chestnuts and pulse until combined—not too smooth, I prefer them to have a little texture.

Lay out squares of phyllo dough and spoon the mixture into the middle of each square. Then pull edges of phyllo to center and twist to seal. Brush with oil and bake about 15 minutes. Serve hot with a soy based dipping sauce and YOU are a super star.

Yield: 40 pieces
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 ½ hours

1 pound shrimp, uncooked, shelled, and deveined
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 water chestnuts, rinsed and finely chopped
20 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 dozen fresh chives, blanched, at least 4 inches long

In a blender or food processor, pulse shrimp, ginger, and garlic together into a paste. Place in a medium bowl. Fold in soy sauce, cornstarch, scallions, cilantro, and water chestnuts.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut phyllo sheets into 4-inch squares. Brush one square lightly with oil. Place a second square on top. (Keep the rest of the phyllo covered with a lightly dampened cloth until ready to use.) Spoon about 2 teaspoons of shrimp mixture into center. Gently pull edges of phyllo to center and twist to seal. Brush each "moneybag" with oil. Place on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, tie a chive bow around each piece.

Serve hot, with dipping sauce.

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.

Tomato Carpaccio with Soy-Vinegar Syrup

Monday, November 15, 2010
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Tomato Carpaccio with Soy-Vinegar Syrup

Whip up this impressive dish in a matter of minutes: Tomato Carpaccio with Soy-Vinegar Syrup will make an elegant appetizer for your next dinner party with almost no work at all.

3-4 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes of different sorts if possible, thinly sliced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea Salt

Lay out tomato slices randomly on four plates or one platter. In a stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, naturally brewed soy sauce and sugar.

Bring to a simmer and reduce by 50%.

Test by drawing line of syrup on a cold plate to see if the line will hold.

Transfer to a cool, heat-proof container and let cool in fridge. Season tomatoes with sea salt, ground pepper and syrup.


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

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

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.

Asparagus Hummus And Spiced Pita Chips By Annie Copps

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
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It's spring, and that means asparagus season in Massachusetts — and nothing tastes better to me than asparagus hummus accompanied by fragrant, spiced pita chips.

2 cups fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 15-1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and well rinsed
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and return water to boil. Cook about 4 minutes or until asparagus is cooked through and bright green. Drain asparagus and refresh in ice-water bath. After 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, and puree. Add zest, juice, and asparagus, and process until smooth. With machine running, pour in olive oil and process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with spiced pita chips.

(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.

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