Like some sort of mad fryentist, give me a pan of hot oil and I will riff on and on an on... See below - Fried Cheese Curds - for what was really Part II of my latest fry tear (and a delicious one at that).
Part I began last Friday night, when my cousin Kelly and her husband Jomo came for dinner, and I spied leftover risotto in the cooler. The vision of arancini leapt into my head and while I really didn't have time to make them, I did anyhow, and gosh were we glad that I did. Risotto is lovely fried (le duh), especially with a little square of mozzarella cheese pressed into the middle (le duh), and just beautiful to snack on with a glass of prosecco.
In fact, I would happily have just that for dinner, with sliced tomatoes and a light salad to finish.
I made mine gluten-free by using Udi's white bread ground into bread crumbs in the food processor. Stir some of the bread crumbs into cold, leftover risotto to hold things together a bit, then roll risotto into 3/4-inch (or smaller; small is better, in this rare case) balls. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the ball (optional), then roll the ball in more bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the risotto as you go. You want a sturdy coating to hold the filling in place as the balls fry.
Use peanut oil or safflower oil to fry them (not canola which tastes disgusting when heated to high heat). Serve hot.
OK yes, I realize that I'm posting yet another fried egg dish, but this one is just too good to not share. I had actually forgotten about it, which is rather amazing given how many times I've made the dish since Mark Bittman first wrote about it in the New York Times two years ago.
This is a Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe, simple and elegant and exactly how I like to cook and eat. The fried rice itself has but three ingredients: oil, leeks, and rice. You wouldn't expect just rice and leeks to be so addictive, but they are, particularly when topped with a fried egg, particularly when topped with crispy ginger and garlic. A drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil to finish makes the whole completely sublime.
If you make an effort to keep leeks around, count this as a perfect quick dinner when you invite someone over and forget to swing by the store to pick up ingredients. I don't often find myself with leftover rice, so I make a fresh batch and cool it on a baking sheet before continuing; works perfectly.
I hit a monster pothole at high speed this morning and after I gratefully realized that I had escaped a flat, I started chuckling. I'm now figuratively and (almost) literally stuck in a February rut - how perfect. Man, it is time to switch things up a bit, bust out of the house, this cozy winter hibernating routine is starting to suck. It doesn't help that I've been nursing a knee injury for the last several weeks. Or that our slightly warmer weather is accompanied by the darkest, grayest sky we've seen since November. Or that I'm sick to death of everything I've been cooking. Since I can't make my knee heal faster, or change the weather (although Lord knows I've tried with my complaining - sorry), I can dig around for some new twists on old favorites. So I did.
I often make steak on Wednesday nights, with a side of broccoli and rice, blah, blah, blah. Tonight I decided to stir-fry it, inspired by Lynne Rosetto Kasper's recipe for Stir-Fry of Hoisin Lamb with Cashews and Snow Peas (from her new cookbook, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper). I used beef instead of lamb, and peanuts instead of cashews, and added some broccoli along with the snow peas...LOVED the dish. It's packed with flavor from Chinese five-spice powder and garlicky hoisin sauce and once you're done with some simple chopping, comes together in a flash. I actually seasoned the beef, chopped the vegetables, and whisked together the sauce this afternoon. Then while I cooked rice, I stir-fried the beef, followed by the veggies, and had it all ready to go in 20 minutes.
It wasn't as signficant as pain relief or sunshine, but the fragrance lifted all our spirits and mixing flavors up a bit was most definitely a day brightener. That "variety is the spice of life" saying? Along with Chinese five spice powder, totally true.