Posts Tagged ‘sides’

Chive Risotto Cakes

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

A long time ago, David and I tried a delicious arancini at this little Italian restaurant by his old apartment. It inspired me to try my own version of the fried balls of rice. The restaurant version had tomato sauce and italian sausage at the center. I actually tried two takes on the same dish one with traditional Italian flavors and one with mexican flavors (this later grew into Mexican Risotto).

The results were delicious, but a lot of trouble since I had to make risotto in the first place before I could form it into balls, toss them with bread crumbs, and fry them. Ina Garten has found a better way.

Her Chive Risotto Cakes recipe, from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook, avoids the whole issue of needing leftover risotto by creating a substitute recipe that is much simpler, with none of the constant stirring and careful attention required by a traditional risotto.

The risotto cakes are creamy and cheesy on the inside, and crunchy on the outside. They were  very good. This recipe made about 20 3-inch cakes. Think of them as the best hashbrowns you’ve ever had.

Sure, these Risotto Cakes were delicious as is, but I’m more excited to try my hand at arancini again–with this little shortcut tucked in my back pocket, I know they’ll be worth the trouble.

Chive Risotto Cakes
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook

  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a half tablespoon salt and the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1¼ teaspoons salt and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard ice cream scoop or large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inches thick.

Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes.

Note: Don’t miss the step where you have to chill the rice mixture for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. This isn’t a last-minute kind of dish!

Potatoes Au Gratin

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The final component to our Valentine’s day dinner? Potatoes Au Gratin. This is similar to our usual scalloped potatoes, but with a creamier texture. The Dubliner cheese added a slightly nutty flavor, as well. The nutmeg sounds strange, I know, but it actually works very well with the cream. There’s not much at all compared to the other ingredients but it adds to the flavor in a big way. If you don’t have fresh nutmeg to grate, I’d probably skip it though. Nutmeg from a can tastes like pumpkin pie!


Potatoes Au Gratin

  • 4-5 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced.
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (we used Dubliner Cheese, but Parmesan, Gruyere, Cheddar–really anything you like is fine), divided
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 3-quart casserole with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss salt, pepper, nutmeg, 3 tablespoons of flour, and sliced potatoes to coat. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, combine remaining 3 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of butter to make a roux. Cook until the mixture is a golden brown color. Whisk in the cream and heat until just under boiling. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese, reserving half a cup for topping the potatoes later.
  4. When cheese is melted, pour the cheese/cream mixture over the sliced potatoes and stir to combine. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

In case you aren’t familiar, Israeli couscous is completely different from normal couscous. The regular couscous, which you’ve probably had before, is a middle eastern grain dish, shaped like little tiny dots of pasta. It cooks like rice, and is good for just about anything you’d use rice for. It’s quite tasty, and there are more and more options available in the regular grocery store these days: different flavors, different varieties, different brands. David’s not crazy about it, but Leah and I like couscous a lot.

In contrast, Israeli couscous rather than being made from a grain directly, is just small pearls of pasta. It has a lot in common with Orzo, actually, but the pasta is smaller and completely round.

This recipe, from the Bon Apetit Fast, Easy, Fresh cookbook, was pretty simple to make, but very, flavorful. The cooking method reminds me of a risotto, and maybe that’s why it shouldn’t surprise me that the couscous thickened like a risotto, and took on a sort of creamy texture. The toasted pine nuts added a lot of flavor to the dish as well. We had this with the Valentine’s Day Pork Chops, but I’m sure we’ll make it again. It was really good, and a nice change of pace from our usual repertoire of side dishes.


Toasted Israeli Couscous with Pine Nuts
Adapted from Bon Apetit’s Fast, Easy, Fresh Cookbook

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 cups (16 ounces) Israeli toasted couscous
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add couscous, cinnamon stick, and 2 bay leaves and stir until couscous browns slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add broth, wine,  and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and pine nuts. Season with black pepper. Transfer to serving dish.

Note: As I was making this recipe, I noticed a similarity in ingredients to how we make our risotto, and decided to sub the white wine for a portion of the broth. It turned out really well.