Rework Leftover Risotto – Arancini

Instead of making rice, cooling it, seasoning it, etc, for arancini, why not take a shortcut to enjoy this deep-fried deliciousness sooner? The asparagus risotto from last night was left over and it already has so many of the ingredients you would use if you’re making arancini from scratch – rice, cheeses, seasonings, even some vegetables. While I normally have seen it made with peas, who is stopping me from making an asparagus version?

LEFTOVER RISOTTO ARANCINI

  • 2 cups risotto
  • 3 eggs, divided, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, either Italian seasoned or you can season your own
  • Peanut oil or other high heat oil for frying
  • Grated cheese and tomato sauce for serving, optional

Mix the risotto with one beaten egg. Scooping about 1/4 cup at a time, cup the risotto in one hand and fill with a couple of tablespoons of cheese. Wrap the rice mixture around the cheese until no cheese can be seen, forming a round ball. Lay out shallow bowls or dredging trays – fill one with the flour, the other with the remaining eggs, and the third with the bread crumb mixture. When all the balls have been formed, dredge in flour, dip in the remaining egg mixture to coat, and then toss with the bread crumbs, being sure to coat the entire arancini. You may place in the fridge to cool for a little while, about half an hour, or you may freeze to fry at a later time.

Coat a heavy bottomed or cast iron pot with about 3 inches of oil. Using a candy/deep fry thermometer, heat the oil to at least 350 degrees, but do not exceed 380 degrees. When oil is ready, take arancini out of fridge or freezer, drop in the oil 2-3 balls at a time (do not overcrowd the pot – you want to fry, not steam). Fry about 5 minutes, turning halfway, until the arancini is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. When ready to serve, dust with a bit of grated cheese and have warm tomato sauce for dipping on the side.

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Kiss Me, I’m NOT Irish – Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes

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Reworks are a lot of fun. Taking something you’re bored of and transforming it to something new, with just a few ingredients.

I love vegetable fritters, my favorite is kolokithokefthedes (Greek zucchini fritters). Regardless of the culture or flavors, they all seem to have the same thing in common – you need the base, seasoning, and something to bind it to keep it all together. The binders are usually pantry and fridge staples –  eggs and flour. Different lifestyles (vegan, gluten-free) may have different binders, but the theory is all the same – you don’t want these falling apart in your skillet or oven.

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I thought some sort of “Irish” breakfast would be fun. I use Irish loosely, as these cakes have potatoes, bacon, and cheese and typically anything served with eggs can be interpreted as breakfast.

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Mashed Potato Cakes served with Scrambled Eggs and Sour Cream

My current series of posts will be all about taking advantage of what you already have on hand – this will save money, allow you to be less wasteful, and explore your creative side in times when it’s encouraged not to leave the house.

Over the weekend I made some mashed potatoes. I probably had 2 cups worth leftover but wasn’t in the mood to eat them in their current state. In my fridge I had all the fixings for “loaded” potatoes, so these came together quite simply.

LEFTOVER MASHED POTATO CAKES – makes 8 cakes/fritters

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour

In a medium mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes, cheese, scallions, and bacon. Add egg until fully incorporated. Whisk in flour until a thick batter forms.

Heat a skillet with 2-3 tablespoons oil. Using a large spoon, drop a large spoonful into cooking oil, forming an approximately 3-inch disk. Fry on both sides until golden brown, drain excess oil on paper towels. Serve with sour cream.

Substitutions – remember this recipe is about technique, it’s not an exact science

  • Play around with the flavors and seasonings. Use what you have at home. Onions, garlic, cream cheese, ham, chopped peppers/hot peppers etc. all work
  • These do not need to be fried! Form the cakes with a touch more flour, brush with oil, and bake at 375 F until golden brown
  • Play around with binders – a bit more flour and some milk instead of egg for those averse to eggs. Up the cheese and eggs, or use gluten-free all-purpose flour for gluten-free. Eliminate dairy and eggs for a vegan version

Sangria Pork Tacos

Some girlfriends and I went to dinner the other night at  Casual Habana Cafe
here in Hackensack. I highly recommend the restaurant, their food is amazing!

I ordered the baby Pernil and got a huge shank. After amazing apps and salad and tostones I took most of the pork home, contemplating what I would do with it. 



I had a bunch of citrus fruit but I used it to make a batch of sangria. Rummaging through my fridge I came up with a plan – tacos!

The sangria was going to give me everything I wanted in a braising liquid for the pork – wine to tenderize and lots of fruit and flavor! I poured about a third of a cup in a small skillet, shredded the pork off the bone, and cooked it covered over a low flame for about 15 minutes. I then uncovered it and raised the heat until the liquid evaporated.

Meanwhile, I warmed corn tortillas with some cheddar Jack cheese in the middle. I then tossed some greens with a squeeze of lime (shamefully I picked the lime out of my sangria but it kind of worked!). Dinner, boom.