Feb 17 to 20 Arancini

Feb 17 Baked Potato soup and cuban pork burgers from Supperworks, coleslaw
Feb 18  Beer Can Chicken with The Neighbours
Feb 19  Risotto Verde  and breaded pork scallopini
Feb 20  Arancini with tomato basil sauce

Last week, after I spatchcocked my chicken , everyone on my message board made that dish and we were all fired up about spatchcocking anything that moves. I even threatened to spatchcock Reno, my dog, but the kid put up a fuss. All of us agreed that this was, indeed, the best word ever and a word that none of us had heard in years but suddenly , now that we are crazy for spatchcocking, and they are all seeing the word being used all over the place. I think they are pulling my leg and just taking the piss.

Anyway, I am downloading fun new apps on our fun new ipad and I am loving Martha Stewart's new Everyday Food app. It's designed specifically for the ipad so it's full of videos and interactive features and I decide it's totally worth the $2.99 per issue after checking out the free issue. With great anticipation, I pay up and download the March Issue.

The very first article in the paid version is for a roast chicken. It says to click for the video instructions, which I do because why wouldn't I? I, for one, do what Martha tells me to when she tells me to do it.
The first words of the woman's mouth are "First, we are going to spatchcock the chicken."

COME ON!! Clearly I am some sort of culinary visionary who is one step ahead of the crowd. I predict that macaroons are totally yesterday and that spatchcocking is going to become the new cupcake!

The baked potato soup was a huge hit with Little Shack and the friend he had over for dinner, which always makes me happy. The photo not only made tastespotting, which makes me want to shriek like a little girl who just saw Justin Beiber, but it was also my very first #1 on the Food Buzz daily top nine! Honestly, who cares what it tastes like at this point.

Because Shack loves arancini and he's a bit fragile from a night of old man trying to be a hipster dabauchery with all of his turning 40 guy friends, I am pampering him with risotto. More imporantly, I was also thinking that risotto could be turned into arancini for him on Sunday night.

Arancini is actually really easy to make but I have to admit, I don't like to deep fry and so anything that requires deep frying is generally not on my list of things I want to make. Last year I got over my fear of canning and bread making so this year, I am trying to get over my fear of deep frying.

Ooey Gooey Cheesey Goodness captured with my iphone


For approx 8 large or 10 smallish arancini:

3 cups of cold risotto. It can be any flavour and, in fact, I like it better when it's been made from a flavourful risotto as opposed to just plain rice, which can be bland. It's also better with risotto that has sat overnight in the fridge so that it really sets up and is thick enough to hold it's shape. I am using the leftover risotto verde from the night before

1 egg beat lightly with about 1 tlbs cream or milk
a small bowl of flour
a small bowl of seasoned bread crumbs or panko (salt, pepper, any dried or fresh herbs that you like)

enough mozzarella to make 16 to 20 small cubes

vegetable oil for deep frying

Take enough rice to make a ball that is at least the size of a golf ball (i made them a bit bigger because they are going to be our dinner and not just a little appetizer)
Flatten the ball on your palm and add a couple cubes of cheese

close the rice back around the cheese to totally encase it and form a smooth ball

After all the balls have been formed like this, take one ball at a time and roll in the flour, then roll in the egg and then, lastly, cover completely in bread crumbs

You can put them in the fridge for anywhere up to 24 hrs at this point. You can also do what I did and deep fry them now and then put them in the fridge and reheat them when you are going to eat them in a hot oven. They won't have the same uniform crispy crust that way but they are still good. If at all possible, I think it's best to deep fry to get a crisp crust and then pop straight into the oven but that's not always possible here in the real world, so we do what we have to do.

To deep fry, please use a thermometer. I am really terrified of hot oil and everyone else should maintain a healthy and respectful amount of fear as well. I got the oil up to about 330F before I started to drop in the rice balls, one at a time (I used a smaller pot because, as I said, I am scared of huge vats of boiling oil that are just waiting for the first opportunity to set my house on fire and I didn't want to be left with gallons of left over oil to dispose of). I kept the oil under 350F by turning the heat down on the burner so that it wouldn't get too hot and kill me. Drop them in gently using a metal slotted spoon and sort of just ease them in and keep them moving once they are in the oil. They will brown up quite quickly so don't take your eyes off them. When they are nicely browned, remove to some paper towel to drain until they are all browned.

When it's time to eat them, put them on a baking sheet in a hot oven, at least 375F - 400F for 8-10 minutes and serve them with a simple tomato sauce. If you made them earlier in the day, take them out of the fridge for at least 20 minutes to get them closer to room temp before you put them in the oven.

Tomato sauce:

1 can plum tomatoes, drained of the juice
a glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
dried italian herbs like oregano or basil or fresh, it's up to you

heat a good glug of oil over med heat, and add the garlic just to soften and get fragrant - don't let it burn. I puree the tomatoes with an immersion blender and then add that the oil and garlic and let that lightly simmer for ten minutes while I am getting everything else ready. If using dried herbs, add those with the tomatoes. If using fresh, add when you take it off the heat just before you serve.

Ladle some sauce on onto a plate or shallow bowl. Add two or three arancini for each portion and serve with any sort of roasted or grilled meat and a salad. I heated up the leftover pork scallopini in the sauce to serve with it and it was a really good idea.

You can also make more smaller rice balls and serve them with the sauce on the side for dipping. They make a great cocktail party snack. Once you get comfortable making them, the possibilities are endless. You can use any sort of risotto, stuff them with any kind of cheese or even meat, serve them with any kind of sauce.  I really like things like risotto and pizza and arancini because I can make them regularly but change them so that they don't get boring.

we had a nice salad of baby spinach, toasted almonds and blood orange