Sunday, December 05, 2010
Can you believe I STILL had not tried one of the recipes in her book?
So tonight, I finally took the plunge. And, unsurprisingly, it was a smash hit. Dorie's Gougères are fabulous. They are cheese puffs, and they are airy and cheesy, a little crunchy and even a tiny bit creamy. They were a cinch to make (I really had no reason to be nervous, but I was, I think because they're just so... French). I used an aged cheddar, and followed her instructions exactly, even the quirky step of putting them into an oven you've preheated to 425, but then dropping the temperature to 375 once they're in. Who knows why. It works.
We enjoyed the gougères with some chilled Muscadet. Even our baby got her hands on some and loved them (poor thing is used to eating puffs of a different sort--flavored with spinach and banana).
What will be next from Dorie's book? Elsewhere in the "Nibbles and Hors D'oevures" chapter I have my eye on Savory Cheese and Chive Bread. But her main dishes and, of course, desserts look amazing, too. Sorry it took me so long!--S
1/2 cup milk
1/2 c water
8 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 t salt
1 c all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 c coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyere or cheddar
1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425 F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
2. Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and immediately start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon or heavy whisk. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring--with vigor--for another minute or two to dry the dough. The dough should now be very smooth.
3. Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or into a bowl that you can use for mixing with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next, and don't be concerned if the dough separates--by the time the last egg goes in, the dough will come together again. Beat in the grated cheese. Once the dough is made, it should be spooned out immediately.
4. Using about 1 T of dough for each gougere, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between the mounds.
5. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougeres are golden, firm, and yes, puffed, another 12 to 15 minutes or so. Serve warm, or transfer the pans to racks to cool.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Try swapping out the raisins for dried cherries. Add almonds and almond extract. And chocolate chips? Now we're talking!
The recipe for Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies was the first recipe I tried from the new Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook, which is one of those doorstop numbers that could possibly be the only dessert book you'd ever need. And it's certainly off to a good start with this recipe, which is your typical drop cookie recipe, just with a couple of twists.
With something as simple as an oatmeal cookie, replacing raisins with cherries and slipping in some homey chocolate chips and slightly sophisticated almonds is a very nice touch. It got me thinking about some other combos that might be tasty:
Candied ginger + pistachio?
Dried apricots + macadamia nuts?
Figs + hazelnuts?
You could really go, er, nuts here! But for now I'm quite content to enjoy the cherry almond combo. I gave a bag of them to some friends who just had a baby and they seemed to love them. But I'll admit it: I'm glad the bag only held about two-thirds of the whole batch.
Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c (packed) dark brown sugar (I used light; no biggie)
1 large egg
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c dried tart cherries (they seemed large so I cut them in half)
1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted (I used sliced almonds)
1. Position1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 325 F. Line 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until well blended. Mix in egg and both extracts. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips, cherries, and almonds.
3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2" apart. Bake cookies 12 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and continue to bake cookies until golden, about 6 minutes longer. Cool cookies on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool).
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I approached this year's meal a bit differently than usual. Don't get me wrong; I'm always focused on the food at Thanksgiving. But this year, with a 10-month-old baby grabbing at every morsel she could get her little hands on, I realized just how wonderful and varied the Thanksgiving meal is.
Our daughter got her greens via stracciatella soup with spinach and cut-up pieces of green beans from a green bean casserole. She savored small bites of rosemary garlic parmesan biscuits. She puckered up for my homemade cranberry sauce and, of course, wiped out her favorite food on the table: pureed sweet potatoes (this version doctored up with apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, and butter). She ate our family's Italian dishes, soufrite (sausage, peppers, & chicken) and Nonna's stuffing (ground beef, raisins, & rice). She had a few shreds of turkey, though, like me, she preferred the sides. When dessert arrived, she happily dug in to pumpkin pie (the filling), tasted a bite of a gingerbread cheesecake square, and had a few apples from my apple tart, and licked whipped cream off her dad's finger.
Of course I can't remember my first Thanksgiving. But watching my daughter enjoy hers was even better.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones are from Dorie Greenspan's (if you haven't seen her latest cookbook, Around My French Table, I highly recommend it!) classic Baking, a reference that has always given me great baked goods. Dorie (if I may) calls them "tender and sweet," and that's quite accurate. They crumble easily and aren't so sweet that they can't handle a dab of apricot preserves on top. They're pretty ideal scones, actually., lovely for breakfast or an any-time-of-day snack. (And I've still got more buttermilk, so my kick can continue.)--S
Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
1 large egg
1/2 c cold buttermilk
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour (I substituted half whole-wheat flour)
1 1/3 c old-fashioned oats
1/3 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick plus 2 T (10 T) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Stir the egg and buttermilk together.
Whisk the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between--and that's just right.
Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don't overdo it.
Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that's about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don't defrost before baking--just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are olden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.
Makes 12 scones.
Recipe courtesy of Baking by Dorie Greenspan
Friday, September 10, 2010
Take, for instance, the new book from Baked authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. It's called Baked Explorations and features 75 recipes for "classic American desserts reinvented." This subject practically begs for recipe intros (or "headnotes," as editors call them): why reinvent, say, a New York-style crumb cake? Or chocolate mint thumbprint cookies? Read the intros, and you'll find out.
Which brings me to the the book's Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze. Reading the intro--and getting a Tweet from Matt Lewis saying the scones were a big hit with the book's recipe testers--convinced me I had to make them: "I have succumbed to deep self-delusion and equate all carrot baked things with health and nutrition," it says in part. A carrot cake fiend, I immediately identified with this statement. An additional note reads, "the oats and carrot lend an air of nutrition, but deep down this is a perfect treat for morning, noon, and night." Sold, to the lady with the ridiculous sweet tooth who eats oatmeal with candied ginger and cranberries for breakfast.
So these scones: they're outrageously good. And I didn't even make the citrus glaze. I just painted the egg white glaze on them and sprinkled them with sugar. They are sweet but not too sweet. Denser than muffins, but softer and moister than many scones I've had. And divinely textured thanks to the shredded coconut and oats.
Good headnotes are key. They make reading a cookbook fun--and motivate me to carry my cookbooks out of the living room and into the kitchen.--S
Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze
Yield: 6 to 8 scones
For the scones:
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c rolled oats
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 large egg
3/4 c buttermilk
1 T pure vanilla extract
1/4 c carrot puree (recipe follows)
1 egg white, beaten
For the citrus glaze:
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh orange juice
1 c confectioners' sugar
Make the scones:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, salt, and shredded sweetened coconut.
3. Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and carrot puree. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together. Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. The dough will be sticky and may need to be sprinkled with flour.
5. Roll the dough up, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 3/4" high. Do not overwork the dough.
6. Whisk the egg white with 1 T water. Set aside.
7. Cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges and place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the egg white wash. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Do not overbake.
8. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet, with the parchment still on it, underneath the rack.
Make the citrus glaze:
1. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. The glaze should be loose enough to drizzle. If it is too thick, add a little more oragne juice. If it is too loose, add a little more confectioners' sugar.
2. Drizzle the glaze over the scones and allow it to set before serving.
To make the carrot puree:
1 medium carrot
1/4 c orange juice
1. Place the carrot and juice in a medium glass microwaveable bowl. Cover or wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
2. Microwave on high for about 5 minutes. If the carrot is fork-tender, it is ready. If it is not fork-tender, continue to microwave in 30-second bursts until it is.
3. Blend (in blender or food processor) the carrot and orange juice until smooth, or alternatively, mash with a potato masher until lump free.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
This Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Olive Tart could be called "rustic" or "free form." Or, as Melissa Camero Ainslie, who who shared the recipe on her excellent blog, Bitchin' Camero, said, it could also be called the tart of a lazy person. Whatever you call it, you should make it. It's very easy and a delightful way to highlight summer tomatoes. Although the recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes, I used New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes and it turned out fabulously.
I made one tart and froze the other half of the dough. But I have a feeling I may be defrosting it soon, because this is such a perfect summer meal. Along with a salad, it's a perfect (in a less-than-perfect kind of way) lunch or supper.
Perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be, you know.--S
Thursday, August 05, 2010
A new Williams-Sonoma catalog arrived the other day and as I idly flipped through it, envisioning myself sitting down to a lovely spread like this one, I came upon a recipe for something called Tuscan Frittata Affogata. I know this sounds suspiciously made-up, like, do they really eat something so frou-frou sounding in Tuscany? (I also paid attention because Fork ordered a dessert called "affogata" at this restaurant a few months ago and it was fabulous.) Anyway, it looked good: a frittata made with eggs, cheese, and sausage, topped with marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
So I decided to try it. And it was excellent. It looked like a pizza coming out of the oven, all saucy and and bubbly cheese. And that's kind of what it is: a frittata pizza. It may well be true that no one in Tuscany has ever eaten such a thing. But who cares? This is one great dish. I had to make a few adaptations since the recipe--coming from a catalog and all--was written for you to use a fancy frittata pan that W-S sells for $149.95. Pish posh. You don't need one of those. Live on the edge and flip that baby right onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan.
Other than that it's pretty straightforward. An excellent way to use up a leftover cup of tomato sauce; a simple dinner that goes great with a salad and some garlic toasts; delicious the next day, cold or room temperature. I'm off to scour more catalogs now!--S
Friday, July 16, 2010
My in-laws came to visit last weekend, bringing with them the first of the garden's bounty: zucchini! And I know it is so painfully obvious to make zucchini bread, but that's just what I did. I'm still avoiding dairy and soy, and after a conversation yesterday with Terry Walters, a cookbook author who makes it a point to cook with "clean food," which includes baking without using canola oil, I tracked down a recipe for Zucchini Bread that uses olive oil instead of canola oil or butter.
I know I've made fabulous zucchini breads before (I have twice made, but never blogged about, this one; if you like Indian flavors, you must try it), but the one I made this morning might outdo them all. It is really simple--just zucchini, flour (I used a mix of whole wheat and white), sugar, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. But that olive oil! It makes the bread moist but still light and airy--a little savory, and even kind of floral.
Still waiting on that personal assistant, but until then, I guess I can make my own zucchini bread.
Makes 2 loaves
1 c olive oil
2 c sugar [I used 1 1/2 c]
1 t molasses
3 t vanilla
1 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
3 t cinnamon
2 c grated zucchini
3 c flour
1 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1 c Nuts, Raisins, Currants, Craisins, Chocolate Chips or a combo [I used walnuts and raisins]
2. Shred zucchini with a box grater or with the grating blade of your food processor.
3. Grease two loaf pans by brushing on some vegetable oil; coat with flour.
4. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl, and then whisk thoroughly to integrate yolks. Add the olive oil, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and spices, and mix well. Stir in zucchini.
5. In another large bowl, sift [I didn't sift; I just stirred] together flour, baking soda and powder.
6. Pour the wet ingredients into the blended dry ingredients. Fold until just mixed. Add the nuts/dried fruit/etc.
7. Pour batter into loaf pans and bake 45 to an hour; the loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Makes about 3 cups
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
1 t ground ginger
1/8 t salt
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 t vanilla
Combine the sugar, water, ginger, and salt in a medium, heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar mixture over medium heat, stirring gently, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup is clear, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 1 hour.
Combine the coconut milk, flaked coconut, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Strain the syrup mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the coconut milk mixture. Whisk until the syrup and coconut milk are completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. The sorbet mixture may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freeze the chilled sorbet mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and freeze in the freezer for 2 to 4 hours before serving.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
Not only is it handy; it's actually very, very good--the sort of vegetable dish I can see myself making again and again. While Julie Sahni, a cooking teacher and cookbook author who created the recipe, says you can make this with cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, or brussels sprouts, I went with green beans tonight. They got plump as they cooked, and soaked up the rich sauce, a savory and spicy mix of ground cumin and coriander, red pepper flakes, and paprika, built up with finely chopped onion and garlic, and thickened with coconut milk.
Sahni suggests topping the dish with sliced almonds which you fry gently, and this is a nice touch, adding crunch and earthiness. A squirt of lime brings out even more flavor. Definitely make a pot of rice to serve alongside the beans; it helps soak up the sauce and temper the heat. We also had some seared scallops (so much for that "vegan main dish" thing--oops), which were also excellent with the coconut sauce.
I'm actually relishing the challenge of avoiding dairy and soy. It's leading me to some great new recipes--and making me so much more conscientious about what I eat.--S
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
And then the pediatrician suggested I cut milk and soy out of my diet, since it might be triggering an allergy that's turned the baby's skin into a dry, cracked mess. Five days in, her skin is looking better, and I'm getting used to black coffee. Breakfast, too, has taken a new direction.
The only reason I'm eating a bowl of soy-free cereal with rice milk and strawberries right now is that I've polished off all the Morning Glory Muffins I made last week. I wanted to find a recipe for a muffin or bread that didn't include dairy or soy, and that wasn't vegan, so I went to Cookstr, which I think has the best search options of any recipe site I've visited. I searched for a baked breakfast item that was lactose- and soy-free, and that didn't take more than an hour to make. Voila: Morning Glory Muffins, which were apparently the muffin of the back-to-the-land movement in the '70s.
Here's what I love about these muffins: they're made with shredded coconut, carrots, apple, crushed pineapple, raisins, and walnuts. As if that magnificent ingredient list isn't enough to lure you in, here's more to love: the recipe makes 16 regular-sized muffins (I got 12, since I made 6 jumbo and 6 regular). You can substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the regular flour (which I did). They don't get weighed down and gooey after a day, and make a very hearty breakfast.
I'm only on this diet for two weeks (for now), but I have a feeling I'll be making these muffins for many years to come.--S
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
- cook baby new potatoes at a gentle simmer, not a fast boil
- buttermilk makes a great dressing for chicken or vegetables when whisked with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs
- poaching leeks brings out their sweetness; tossing a few thyme sprigs into the pot imparts a mild savoriness
There are millions of ways to vary this salad, and I'm thinking I'll explore some of them this summer.--S
Monday, May 10, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
A rib-eye steak topped with a fried egg is decadent enough. Add goat cheese and you're in gluttony territory. And what better time than the days before Easter (when we're supposed to be fasting) to tell you about Grilled Tuscan Steak with Fried Egg and Goat Cheese? Bistecca alla fiorentina, in case you didn't know (and I certainly didn't) is a t-bone or porterhouse steak grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Pure and simple. And that's how this recipe starts out, though it calls for more tender (and fattier) rib-eyes. You also sprinkle some herbes de Provence (I just used dried thyme, dried basil, and fennel seeds, since I didn't have dried marjoram, savory, rosemary, or sage) on the meat.
Although I have a cast iron grill pan, I find my nonstick griddle does a great job with steaks, as long as they aren't too thick. So I fired it up until it was smoking hot. When the steaks hit the pan, they sizzled pretty awesomely, and after five minutes per side, they were medium-rare. You let them rest for a few minutes on a plate (cover them with foil, if you'd like) while you fry a couple of eggs, sunny side up, in the grease that's left on the pan (oh, yes!). And once the whites are set, you slip the eggs atop the steaks, and adorn them with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley.
This is a heavenly meal. We ate salad alongside it, you know, to keep up appearances. But make no mistake. The cheese melts into the runny egg, making a sort of sauce for the tender beef. It's salty and creamy and meaty and, well, just about perfect.--S
Grilled Tuscan Steak with Fried Egg and Goat Cheese
4 (8-oz) rib-eye steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T herbes de Provence
2 T plus 2 t olive oil
4 large eggs
1/4 c (2 oz) crumbled goat cheese
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.
2. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Sprinkle both sides of each steak with the herbes de Provence. Drizzle with 2 T of the olive oil. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steaks, from the heat and allow to rest.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 t olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. To serve, place the steaks on 4 serving plates. Carefully top each steak with an egg. Sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Giada at Home
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
For any other restaurateur, the feat wouldn't be either as impressive, or as fun. Just the the thought of a Jeffrey Chodorow marathon, for example, makes one's head spin. Chodorow's restaurants are too theme-park, too inconsistent, and too, well, corporate. But Meyer, even while rolling out a host of new restaurants in a very short time, has never forgotten the key ingredient in any restaurant's recipe for success: hospitality. From Fork's first meal at Union Square Cafe some 20 years ago, to a recent lunch at Tabla (try the skate), Meyer's restaurants never disappoint.
That's because Danny Meyer restaurants make sense. The menus, ingredients, and preparation are first-rate, whether at the top-rated French wonder Eleven Madison Park, or at a picnic joint like Shake Shack, where it is not uncommon for people to wait on line for an hour just to get a hot dog. The rooms are elegant, yet comfortable. And the staff are the best in the city: gracious, efficient, and warm.
So a Danny Meyer marathon also made sense, and, like the restaurants themselves, it did not disappoint. On February 27, over the course of 12 hours, from the Upper West Side all the way down to Madison Square Park, our intrepid bloggers tasted burgers and fries, shrimp corndogs, tandoori octopus, sea bass with spaghetti squash... and wait until you hear about dessert.
It was a day to remember: great food, great fun, a test of gastro-endurance, and a few twists and suprises. The full report will be up soon, don't miss it!--S&F
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
If banh mi are supposedly a French-Vietnamese hybrid, then the Pork Meatball Banh Mi is an Italian-French-Vietnamese hybrid, taking the meatball sub in a very interesting (and delicious) direction. This recipe, from Bon Appetit, has you combine ground pork with chopped basil, garlic, scallions, fish sauce, chili sauce, sugar, salt and pepper (plus a sprinkling of cornstarch, presumably to help hold everything together). You form the meat into small-ish balls and fry them in a tablespoon of Asian sesame oil until they're nice and brown.
Before all that, however, you've already grated some carrots and daikon (or just use regular radishes if you can't find daikon) and set them to pickle in rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt for an hour or so. And you've whipped regular mayo into a deliciously spicy concoction with hot chili sauce and scallions.
Slice open a baguette (and here's where I think I could've used some foresight: the Eli's Bread baguette I bought was a bit too crusty; next time I'll go for a softer loaf), and pile on some meatballs, veggies and mayo. Tuck a few stems of cilantro in there, and maybe some sliced cucumber or jalapeno pepper, if you're so inclined. The combo of sweet, spicy, hot and cool is excellent. Bring on the banh mi boom!--S
Monday, January 04, 2010
Pasta and Bean Soup
Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pork stew meat, diced
¼ pound pancetta, cut into strips
¼ pound prosciutto skin, whole or cut into strips (optional)
1 large onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb (about ¾ pound), chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
10 cups chicken broth
1½ cups (about 10 ounces) dried white beans
1 cup (1/2 pound) canned chickpeas
¼ pound Parmesan crusts (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ pound tubetti, ditali, or other short tubular macaroni
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the pork, pancetta, and prosciutto skin, if using, and cook, stirring, until they turn color, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, fennel, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 12 to 15 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth, white beans, chickpeas, Parmesan crusts, if using, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and rosemary, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the white beans are al dente, about 1¼ hours. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until they, too, are al dente, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig. Both the prosciutto skin and Parmesan crusts can be eaten if desired. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and the grated Parmesan cheese.