Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stuffed Rice Balls (Arancini)

OK.  This was a HUGE hit the two times I served it this month.  So, by popular demand, this recipe is about to be blogged.

It's messy, it's time consuming, and it's a hassle - I'll be honest.  But if you want something that your 2 year old and your 87-year old grandmother will both rave about this is a 100% guranteed crowd pleaser.

Arancini (Stuffed Rice Balls)
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsely
  • 2 tablespoons salami, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup finely ground bread crumbs
  • Olive oil (for frying)
In a large saucepan over high heat, add stock or water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Add rice and salt, and stir.  Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 to 17 minutes or until rice is tender but not mushy.  Remove from heat, mix, and let air dry, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Add the pecorino or parmesan cheese, parsely, salami and one egg.  Set mixture aside until it is cool enough to handle.

In a medium-sized bowl, add remaining egg and water and beat well.  Put breadcrumbs in a separate flat dish.

Using a small scoop or measuring spoon, place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of rice into the palm of one hand.  Roll into a ball.  Press thumb into the center and tuck in a square of cheese.  Roll to seal cheese securely.  If rice is too sticky, dredge hands with flour before forming ball.  Put rice ball on a cookie sheet and repeat process until rice is all used up.

Roll each rice ball in the egg bath and then in the bread crumbs and return to cookie sheet.  Repeat until all are coated.

In a large heavy skillet, over medium-high heat, add about 1 inch of olive oil.  It is ready when the surface of the oil shimmers.  Fry the rice balls a few at a time; do not crowd the pan.  Turn constantly and cook until golden brown, about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.  Do not leave unattended.  Drain on a paper towel and serve hot or warm.

Recipe source: Cucina di Calabria: Treasured Recipes and Family Traditions from Southern Italy, Mary Amabile Palmer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Wow.  Chocolate and Olive Oil really do go together.  I didn't believe it at first either, but wow.

I'm most excited to discover this recipe because it takes longer to grease and flour the pans than it does to assemble the batter.  Awesome!  This cake freezes well (unfrosted).

About 25 cents per serving: Vegetarian

Torta di Ciccolata all' Olio d'Oliva

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (organic, if possible)
  • 2 cups sugar (organic & unbleached, if possible)
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa (high quality)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (high quality)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans (or springform pans) and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

With a hand mixer on slow speed, beat in the wet ingredients until smooth.

Pour equally into prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  The cake should be firm to the touch.

Place the cake pans on a cooling rack and cool for 15-20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans to cool completely.


Idea 1: You could whip together 16 ounces of cream cheese (at room temperature) with 3-4 cups of confectioners sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil (or 1 tablespoon almond extract).  Frost.

Idea 2: Serve torte-style with raspberry jam.

Idea 3: Serve torte-style with plain yogurt and seasonal berries (or ice cream).

Recipe Source: Ciao Italia in Umbria: Recipes and Reflections from the Heart of Italy, Mary Ann Esposito (2002).