Sunday, May 30, 2010

Long time no blog

It really seems like forever. This week was so hectic, with so many things going on: American Idol in Hollywood for 3 days, my daughter turning 17, My son getting his permit, the street fair in Santee... I really have not cooked for almost a full week and that is sad. Both on my body (I gain weight if I eat out), and my soul. Today I am going massive grocery shopping and I cannot wait to get back in the groove of things.  I still have to make my daughter her cake. We ate out at PF Changs for her birthday on the way home from Hollywood and she had a little mini red velvet cake. But she wants my homemade strawberry cake, so today that will be done. I am cooking a lot of things tonight One of the appetizers I am making for tonight is
Mini Rice Croquettes.
Several events I have been to in the past have had these, I made them once almost 3 years ago and I just randomly felt like making them again:

For the risotto:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 to 3 cups homemade chicken broth or best-quality fat-free, low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

To make the croquettes:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups unseasoned dry bread crumbs
1 (8-ounce) ball of fresh mozzarella
vegetable or olive oil (not extra-virgin) for frying

 Make the risotto:

Heat the butter and oil in aheavy-bottomed saucepan placed over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and stir to coat thoroughly. Sauté the onion, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes, until it is soft and translucent. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Let it bubble for a minute or so, and then stir in the rice. When the liquid has nearly all been absorbed, add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine everything thoroughly.

Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 cups of broth, stirring to combine well. Cook the rice at a gentle simmer, reducing the heat to medium-low if necessary, and stirring often. Taste the rice for doneness after 20 minutes of cooking. It should be tender but still a little firm at the center of each kernel. Add additional broth if necessary.

When the rice is cooked, remove it from the stove and stir in the basil, salt and pepper, and Parmigiano. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes before stirring in the lightly beaten eggs, taking care to add the eggs a bit at a time and to stir the mixture vigorously to prevent them from scrambling.

Turn the rice mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet or large glass baking dish and spread it out with a spatula to help it cool quickly. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

To shape the croquettes:

Place the flour, lightly beaten eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch-thick slices and then cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes (you may have leftover cheese depending on the individual size of the croquettes).

Remove the rice from the refrigerator and scoop up a rounded tablespoonful into the palm of your hand. Press a cube of mozzarella into the center of the rice and shape the mound into a ball or an oval, making sure that the cheese is completely encased in the center. Roll the rice ball in the flour, gently shaking off the excess. Transfer the rice ball to the bowl of beaten eggs and, using a fork, roll it around to coat it thoroughly. Transfer the croquette to the bowl of bread crumbs and roll it around several times (with your fingers or a fork) until it is thoroughly coated. Place the rice ball on a large rimmed baking sheet or platter.

Continue to make the croquettes in this way until you have used up all the rice; you should have about 24 balls that are slightly larger than golf balls. When you are finished, loosely cover the baking sheet or platter with aluminum foil and refrigerate the croquettes for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.

To fry the croquettes:
Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep frying pan or straight-sided sauté pan to measure 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 350°F on a candy thermometer. Carefully lower 6 rice balls into the pan and fry them for 3 to 4 minutes, turning them several times for even browning, until they are a deep golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the rice balls to a platter lined with paper towels to drain. (Alternatively, you can place a brown paper shopping bag near the stove and remove the cooked rice balls to the bag to drain before placing them on a serving platter.) Continue until all of the croquettes have been fried.

Arrange the croquettes on a warmed ceramic platter or other decorative platter and serve immediately.
Or just serve them.

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