Arancini Adventures

Arancini (pronounced arrrr-un-cheeni — roll that “r” like a pirate!) are cheese-stuffed rice croquettes from Italy. A friend from In My Kitchen recently chronicled her escapades in the Mediterranean — thanks, Debi — including a photo of Arancini and I couldn’t resist their allure any longer. Game on!

Speaking of games, I love to play Scrabble. It was time to combine that old favorite with a potential new one, and after researching a few recipes I set out on my Arancini Adventures.

The first challenge was a lack of Mozzarella in our fridge, but I had a bag of Italian five-cheese blend left from an ‘Italian’ dish I’d made for The Man Of Few Words the other night. Out of necessity (and/or desperation) I squeezed that shredded cheese into stuffable-size “balls.” Not quite as authentic as Mozzarella cubes, but I’ve been known to do things the hard way.

The next obstacle was Italian bread crumbs. All I had in the pantry were plain, and gluten-free to boot. I wondered if they’d yield the golden, deep-fried results I hoped to achieve? FYI, folks in the South aren’t squeamish about dunking food in hot oil and there’s a first time for everything — plus, I’m blessed with low cholesterol. A sprinkle of garlic powder and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning transformed them into “Italian” bread crumbs in no time at all.

As for leftover rice, I keep it on hand in the fridge at all times. I could very happily live on beans and rice for the rest of my life! But, today’s stash was destined to become Arancini. However, there’s no need to go to as much trouble as I did; see the recipe below. 

Arancini

(recipe adapted from Just A Taste — grazie!)

1 cup cooked sticky white rice (Uncle Ben’s was specified; I used “plain white”)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

4 cubes fresh Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Oil for frying

Marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or deep fat fryer to 375 F.
  2. Meanwhile combine rice, Parmesan, and 1 egg. Use your hands to mix.
  3. Form the Arancini by squeezing 1/4 portion of the rice mixture around each Mozzarella cube.
  4. Whisk remaining egg in a bowl, dip the Arancini into it, then roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and set aside.
  5. When oil reaches 375 F, fry two Arancini at a time, turning frequently until golden brown.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining Arancini.
  7. Serve with warmed marinara sauce. (Or, a glass of Prosecco… heavenly!)

Loving appetizer adventures — authentic or not,

~ Kim

Smoked Salmon Roll Ups II

I haven’t made or written anything noteworthy in a long while (apologies…), but a recent kitchen inspiration sparked a marriage proposal.

After assembling my Smoked Salmon Roll Ups in “mini-bite” form (hence II), I toted them to a friendly gathering. One fellow took a bite of the creamy goat cheese filling laced with fresh dill, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, capers, and freshly ground black pepper, ate six more (two at a time!) and asked: “Will you marry me?”

I grinned and said: “No, but I’ll cater.” :)

His lovely, life-long wife (nearby) grinned, too. I love sharing food and smiles!

Enjoying camaraderie and appetizers at The Lake,

~ Kim

Smoked Salmon Roll Ups

roll-up-2

I pretty much slept through New Year’s Eve and most of New Year’s Day, which is why I’m still making and eating “party food” two days later. But, smoked salmon is just as tasty on January 2nd — especially when it’s wrapped around a creamy, tangy filling.

mix

There’s no recipe per se… simply mix together softened goat cheese (I used Montchevre) with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, capers, and fresh dill.

Spread the mixture on thinly sliced smoked salmon cut into appetizer-sized pieces.

Roll up!

roll-up-1

Garnish at will and enjoy a sublime start to any meal… or year.

Enjoying a late start in 2017,

~ Kim

Triangulated (A Tasty Trio)

I must live in the Bermuda Triangle.

Every day I chart my course, set sail, and end up somewhere else. The phone rings, a text demands urgent attention or an email requires immediate action, and whoosh there I go. So much for goals! (I suspect you’re in the same boat.)

Thankfully, I love triangles.

My fascination with three-sided shapes hearkens back to high school Calculus  — mostly because the words ‘Pythagorean Theorem’ intrigued me — and by some quirk of fate, I ended up in advanced math. (Insert chuckle and/or Bermuda Triangle here.) Despite my  verbal affinities (and/or innate proclivity for naivety, lol), I managed to pull an A. But, just because I fared well grade-wise doesn’t mean I knew what I was doing. (I still don’t.) Welcome to my life! :)

Some folks assert there’s an alternate reality, but I say: this is reality. Do the work, even if it’s not what you planned. (Surprise!)

There are greater forces than our “to-do lists,” but ya never know what God (or the Universe) has planned for you to “do” on any given day. The trick is to fit your dreams between interstellar cracks wherever and whenever  you can.

Which brings me to three unexpected flavors.. Good things come in 3’s, yes?

Tapenade on Toast Triangles 2

Bermuda Triangle Tapenade

(Adapted from 3 recipes: Wolfgang Puck’s Black & Green Olive Tapenade, Real Housemoms Three Olive Tapenade, and Olive Crostini by Simply Recipes.)

1 baguette sliced in 1/2-inch rounds, or triangles made from gluten-free bread, brushed with EVOO — or excess chive oil from this post. Waste not, want not.

1 c. Kalamata olives, pitted (if need be), halved

1 c. large green olives stuffed with pimentos (I used Mezzetta’s Martini olives marinated in Vermouth)

1 c. large black olives, pitted and halved (ditto on “if need be”)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2-3 Tbsp. capers, drained (I tend to lean towards 3 Tbsp. :)

1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 Tbsp. dried basil (fresh is best, but still workin’ on my herb garden)

1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

A dash or two (or three!) dried ground oregano and thyme

3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400º F. Place baguette rounds — or bread triangles — on an ungreased baking sheet lined with foil for easier clean-up. Bake 10 minutes or ’til lightly browned. Set aside on a wire rack to cool.

Pulverize all but the EVVO in a food processor until chunky. (Resist the temptation to over-process.) The same applies to life; we often over-process or overthink. No need!

Drizzle in EVOO until mixture reaches a spreadable consistency. You’ll know “when.” (If not, it’ll still taste good.) Slather tapenade on toasted bread or baguette slices. Enjoy!

Refrigerate leftovers for up to a week. Or, mix ’em with marinara and a bowlful of al dente pasta for a fab side dish or main meal before then. Salad & bread optional.

Crab Cakes and Marinated Asparagus Salad

The other 2/3’s of this Trio (even if they aren’t triangular!) are Chef Dennis Littley’s “My Famous Crabcakes and Kevin Lynch’s Grilled Asparagus with Marinated Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Kalamata Olives ala salad shown above — one of Kevin’s many alternatives. Thanks, gentlemen, xo! My taste buds were SO tickled — and yours will be, too, after you click on the links.

FYI, I scaled down all three recipes to meet TMOFW’s appetite (and mine lately) with our ongoing HOT streak. (100º+) Sorry for not including the conversions, but as I tell my kids when they’re facing life-altering decisions: “Do the math!”

Enjoying isosceles living,

~ Kim

Smoked Salmon Extravaganza

Biscuits and Smoked Salmon

Black Pepper Biscuits with Smoked Salmon

First of all, I want to reassure you that I don’t plan on posting quite so frequently as I have been lately (I admire those of you who do, but that’s not my cup o’ tea), however after a long, cold winter away from home ( 3-1/2 months to be exact), I was ready for some hedonistic pleasure and writing. For me, that equated to some unbridled cooking, smoked salmon, and the word “extravaganza.” (Gotta love it!)

Spring arrived around mid-March in the Northern hemisphere, but such was not the case in Minnesota. It was 40 degrees when I left Oklahoma and 40 below zero when I arrived in Minneapolis in January… plus, it snowed eight out of the first ten days in April. Such fun!

I haven’t written much (or at all) about that experience — mostly because it pertained to Mom’s medical issues, a stove that didn’t work, two blizzards, and 60-years’ worth of “downsizing” (plus my sanity), but suffice it to say that I’m ecstatic to be back at the lake. (And Mom is settled in her new home at last.)

In the month that’s ensued, I’ve been treating myself to these simple, yet extraordinary appetizers (in lieu of full meals) to appease my soul. Oh my, yes! Sometimes you have to eat what appeals to you, never mind the “recommended daily allowances.”

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Generally I concoct my own creations, but I arrived home with my mind in a mess, and my soul and stomach in sore need of Googling a recipe or two. What a treasure trove exists in cyber space, and how grateful I am for it. (And you!)

Briefly, I reconnected with my Irish (and Bohemian) roots while I was away — a combination of nostalgia and heritage (hence the Kerry Gold butter in the first photo) and a true appreciation for my ancestors and the “story tellers” in my life. (Thanks, cousin Fred — your writing continues to inspire me.)

As for the flavors, oh my goodness! Take your taste buds on a flavor picnic and TRY some o’ these… I’m so glad I did.

Smoked salmon toasts

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

The compound butter in the canape above blew me away. (Bear in mind, butter is a rare treat and I’m still on the fence about “dairy” and ifs effects on me, but all in the name of trial and error.) Live and learn.

The “crunch factor” combined with creaminess… so worth it, swoon!

Re: the Smoked Salmon Mousse below…  I hesitated to pulverize part of my precious smoked salmon stash, but I couldn’t resist trying a new “texture.”

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Smoked Salmon Mousse

FYI, I subbed goat cheese for the cream cheese and cut the lemon juice by half to compensate for the “tang” — plus it sets up slightly stiffer than “mousse” — bring to room temp first. (Just sayin’.)

For a photo of my resulting appetizer with cucumber slices, see my previous post.

And if you run out of cukes, you can always make more deviled eggs. ;)

Smoked Salmon Mousse Deviled Eggs

Smoked Salmon Mousse “Deviled Eggs”

Here’s the links (with heartfelt gratitude):

Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Biscuits with Smoked Salmon

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Salmon Mousse Deviled Eggs “self explanatory” (reserve yolks for egg salad sandwiches or potato salad)

Enjoying culinary freedom at HOME — at long last,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ June 2016

Smoked Salmon Mousse and Wilton replacements

Sometimes all it takes is one photo to encapsulate my state of mind (and everything else) In My Kitchen… a combo of the old and new. But then, isn’t that what life (and IMK) are all about? Integrating your past with your present.

Pictured above: Smoked Salmon Mousse (recipe coming soon) on cucumber slices with dill from my fledgling herb garden (!) served on a mid-1950’s tray after my recent foray to Minnesota, plus a Wilton tip (or two) to pipe the filling.

2-4-1 bonus!

The point of this brief essay (bearing in mind that our hostess, Maureen, is still recovering from back surgery and our next IMK isn’t slated ’til September) is this:

Live life to the fullest and tastiest to the best of your ability. Get what you need (or can afford) to make it happen, or throw a few relics into the mix just for fun. And never, ever look back. Forward momentum people!

Make each day and meal your own, even if it only consists of appetizers. (Make ’em just for you!) Eat what YOU WANT to keep you happy and forward moving.

If you’d like to join (or peruse) this world-wide gathering of Kitchen-philes, please see Maureen’s In My Kitchen side bar (or post your link) by June 10th.

Enjoying eating smoked salmon by the pound ;),

~ Kim

 

BLT Deviled Eggs

BLT Deviled EggsI’ve been on a bit of a deviled egg kick lately (if you haven’t already noticed), but these beauties were SO easy to make — and tasty — I couldn’t resist sharing.

You’re only five ingredients away from heaven!

(Taste bud heaven, that is…)

BLT Deviled Eggs

2 hard-boiled eggs, halved

2 Tbsp. (more or less) chipotle mayonnaise — I used “Just Mayo”

2 Tbsp. diced fresh tomato

Diced bacon, fried and drained (add at will and be sure to save some for garnish)

Baby arugula leaves, for garnish

Set hard-boiled egg white halves on a serving plate.

Place hard-boiled yolks in a small bowl; mash with a fork until crumbly.

Add just enough chipotle mayo to make a cohesive mixture.

Stir in the tomato and bacon. (Be liberal with the bacon.)

Fill egg white halves with mounds of the aforementioned.

Garnish with arugula leaves — and more bacon!

This recipe may be doubled… tripled… quadrupled… make as many as you need.

Or, make ’em for yourself. :)

This pre-holiday weekend treat was brought to you by a little lunch.

BLT Deviled Eggs 1

Enjoying impromptu appetizers,

~ Kim