When mac met cheese

05/21/2014 12:00 AM

05/20/2014 7:35 PM

Peanut butter and jelly, Ben and Jerry, Kim and Kanye – famous pairings that (almost) everybody loves. Mac and cheese, another great couple, joins the ranks of these beloved twosomes in Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord’s new cookbook, “Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese” (Little, Brown and Company, $30).

A classic childhood staple for many, this book takes macaroni and cheese and shows a variety of new ways to make it – ways Grandma never would have imagined, let alone made.

“Melt” starts off with all the basics on pasta and cheese, including a brief history and what goes into making both.

Typical hearty mac and cheese recipes are alongside non-traditional combinations of pasta and artisan cheeses. From a tuna noodle casserole to a squid-ink pasta with marinated perlini mozzarella, there is something for everyone in this cookbook.

Each recipe includes alternative cheeses, wine pairings and/or additional pairings for the cheese.

Drunken Goat With Edamame, Fennel And Rotini

4 servings

10 ounces rotini

10 ounces Drunken Goat, rind intact, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup fresh-shelled edamame beans

1/4 pound fennel bulb, sliced paper thin (about 1 1/2 cups sliced)

4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade

3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Zest of 1 medium lemon

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and wash with cold water to cool. Drain the excess water.

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste the salad. If you feel it needs more lemon, herbs, salt, or pepper, then adjust and taste again. When it’s balanced to your satisfaction, serve and be amazed at how easy that was.

Note: I was wary the first time my local cheesemonger coaxed me into trying Drunken Goat. In his description, this semifirm goat variety sounded like the frat boy of fine cheese: boozy, hotheaded, and likely to disappoint. How wrong I was! Grassy and fresh, with the aroma of wet clover and a hint of zing from the Spanish red wine it is bathed in, Drunken Goat is not fratty at all. Rather, it’s like the sleek, sexy track star I fell in love with in college.

This is a cheese that shouldn’t be burdened with a heavy sauce or lots of cream – a light dressing of lemon and oil is all it needs, with edamame, mint, and fennel complementing the greener flavors of the cheese. If you’re looking to impress at your next outdoor potluck or picnic, this beautiful dish will do it.

Alternative cheeses: Lamb Chopper, Midnight Moon

Wine pairings: Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, Gruner Veltliner

Additional pairings for the cheese: edamame, honey, dates, fig jam

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