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

“Easy” Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

I love baking from scratch (really I do), but sometimes a lil’ “punting” is called for — especially when my pantry is low on ingredients and I’m hungry for fresh-from-the-oven goodness — now.

All I had on hand was King Arthur Flour’s gluten free “baking mix” and some previously frozen pumpkin to make a “pumpkin bread” (of sorts.) That, and years… and years… and years of baking experience.

After a somewhat desperate (allow me re-phrase that motivated!) online search, I discovered this recipe. Sadly I was missing a couple of ingredients — but, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“Easy” Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

(flagrantly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe)

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

1 c. sugar (I used 3/4 cup because The Man Of Few Words doesn’t like things “sweet” — except me. :)

1 large egg (the original recipe called for 3; I wanted pumpkin “bread” not pumpkin cake — plus I only had 1 egg!)

2 c. pumpkin puree (I made up for the lack of “egg moisture” with more pumpkin, which is why my bread is “orange-r”)

3 T. honey (another punt… fresh out of molasses, per the original recipe)

1 tsp. vanilla (truthfully I was out of vanilla, too, so I used 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar cuz… a girl’s gotta do!)

Sigh… I was also out of “pumpkin pie spice” (their recipe called for 1 tsp. of it)… so I used:

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

(Whatever works!!!)

2 c. King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix (not GF Flour)

Sparkle sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a loaf pan with shortening. (NOTE: I used a round casserole cuz I haven’t been able to replace my bread pans yet.) Adjust baking time as needed.

Mix together oil, sugar, egg, pumpkin, honey, vanilla (or apple cider vinegar) and spices in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Add baking mix and beat until combined. Let the batter rest 10 minutes. (I forgot to do this… see “hungry” ¶ 1.)

Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle top with sparkle sugar.

Bake 30 minutes, then tent with foil and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the “loaf” comes out clean. (Might take a lil’ longer than that… use your nose!) I can “smell” when things are done.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn “loaf” out onto the rack to cool completely.

(And, if in doubt about “my rendition”… make the original recipe!)

Pumpkin Bread 2

I think the results speak for themselves, don’t you?

(By the way, it made fabulous “French Toast” the next day.)

Wishing you a spontaneous weekend!

Enjoying freedom of expression (plus a few decades of ‘know how’) in the kitchen,

~ Kim

The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Easiest Homemade Gluten Free Crackers on the Planet

Gluten Free Crackers

Midwinter is a monochromatic marvel to me — sort of a Trojan horse time of year when Spring is concealed beneath the earth’s muted shades of tan and brown, waiting to pack a wallop.

That’s how I feel about these crackers, too.

At first glance they appear as benign as January’s palette, but don’t let ’em fool you. They’re the perfect example of “more than meets the eye.” I like surprises and these surprisingly tasty lil’ crackers are my go-to snack, speaking of which…

GF Crax ready to bake

Generally I’m not a snack-y person, but winter seems to ignite my appetite. (Why is that? Something to do with storing energy for shivering?) Anyway, a few crackers with a swipe of tapenade or a smear of hummus appeases random cravings quite nicely.

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers and I love ’em to pieces. These days I make them gluten-free. Bonus points for being quick’n’easy — thirty minutes from start to finish. And, there’s nothing like a warm cracker fresh out of the oven to soothe the savage beast in your stomach.

GF Crax

Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
(adapted from this recipe — thanks, Erin!)

1-1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1/2 c. hazelnut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 tsp. sea salt*

2/3 c. warm water

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder for dusting, if desired

*Note: The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, but saltiness is subjective and it depends on what you’re going to dip, dunk, or dollop with later. Season to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Measure oil and water into a liquid measuring cup and gradually add to dry ingredients. (Depending on the humidity, you may not use all of the liquid.) Stir with a fork until mixture comes together. Divide dough in two.

4. Pat each portion of dough as thinly as possible onto prepared baking sheets. (Use your hands — it’s fun!) Slice into cracker shapes with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

5. Dust with garlic powder, if desired. (I do one batch “with” and one without.)

6. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the crackers look “set.” (They’ll crisp up as they cool.) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

7. Store in a zip-top bag or airtight container between snack attacks.

GF crax w Tapenade v

Does winter change your eating habits? Do tell.

Enjoying Spring in disguise,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ January 2014

There’s something about the first week of a new year that appeals to me. Maybe it’s the contrast between last month’s pace, this month’s peace, and the prospect of a fresh start? Or quite possibly, it may have to do with new kitchen toys and goodies…

Ramekins & Salt

In my kitchen are a pair of snowflake ramekins and a jar of Jurassic Salt. The ramekins were a gift from my Sis (xo!) and the salt was a gift to myself. Since Minnesota and the Himalayas are rather snowy places, I thought it would be befitting to photograph these on my favorite wool sweater. Oklahoma has been colder than usual, too.

Hazelnut Flour

In my kitchen is hazelnut flour. I purchased it with the sole intent of baking a cake, but between unexpected guests and cooking for the masses, the closest I got was throwing together some mini hazelnut tarts filled with chocolate ganache. (Sorry, no photo; they were gone in a flash.) I will have my cake and eat it, too — in March. Every year I’m on the lookout for “the” birthday cake and Hotly Spiced’s Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is “it.” (Thanks, Charlie!)

GF Flour

In my kitchen is a growing assortment of gluten free products. The verdict is still out whether or not gluten will be my lifelong nemesis, but the variety of options is a delight for someone who loves to experiment with ingredients. So far I’ve made popovers, pizza, and focaccia and they’ve fulfilled my bread-lovin’ heart… and stomach.

AirBake cookie sheets

In my kitchen is a set of AirBake cookie sheets. (Again, courtesy of my Sis, xo!) I’m in baking heaven and apparently the cookie sheets are, too — they look like they’re floating on air in this photo! I’m confident they’ll live up to their name.

What’s in your kitchen? If you’d like to join in, please contact Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who graciously hosts this world-wide round up every month. Or, take a look at the links in her sidebar — guaranteed to warm your heart.

Happy New Year!

Enjoying new kitchen toys and goodies,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen, November 2013

Pretty Popovers

(Hover over the photos for their true colors… I love surprises, don’t you?)

In My Kitchen… I can’t remember the last time I had a complete set of dishes. After multiple moves over the years, their numbers diminished one cracked plate, chipped cup, or broken bowl at a time. At best, I was down to a half-dozen or so “blue plate specials,” fortified by odds and ends brought home from my forays to the flea market and thrift store. Color-wise, they blended well with our lake surroundings and I’m grateful for their longstanding service — thirteen years and counting. Still, my heart yearned for a matched set.

Then, along came these…

Color Scheme Dishes Close Up

An incredible gift from my sister. (Thanks, Sis! xo)

Notice their resemblance to my favorite time of year?

Color Scheme

I’m soooo excited! (Couldn’t resist showing you another peek…)

They fit perfectly in my hutch (aka repurposed entertainment center) — meant to be! As if that weren’t enough, the ochre-colored vessels were recent gifts from my daughter. (Thanks, Bebe Girl! xo) I’m loving this vibrant corner adjacent to my kitchen.

Hutch

In My Kitchen… are (were) crispy, airy popovers baked in a popover pan from my Mom. (Thanks, Mom!) I enjoyed mine with gravy (ala Yorkshire pudding) while the Man Of Few Words slathered his with butter and jam. For this batch, I used King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Multi Purpose Flour (my first attempt at gluten-free baking here’s why) and was entirely pleased with the results. (That’s not an endorsement, nor sponsorship — just my opinion.)

Popovers

In My Kitchen… is the cutest lil’ step stool made by The Man Of Few Words. He crafted it many years ago for his Mom who is, shall we say, “vertically challenged.” In his typical humor, he wood-burned this on top: “Mom, now you can reach the silverware drawer!!!” (Worn thin from decades of use, but the sentiment is still there.) I can’t recall when she passed it on to me, but it’s been indispensable in my kitchen, too. (Thanks, Mom!)

Step Stool

In My Kitchen… is a birdseed jar (part of the new set) that will come in handy in a few weeks. During the euphoria of my recent blessings, I took leave of my senses and volunteered to lead a craft session (yes, moi) for tiny tots at our church. It involves making bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, birdseed… and a whole lot of messy fun. How could I resist?

Birdseed Jar

The other 364 days of the year, it’ll serve as a cookie canister.

TMOFW's favorite cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies for The Man Of Few Words

In My Kitchen… it’s time to have another cup o’Joe, gaze at the backyard beauty before it’s gone, and count my blessings… over and over and over.

Lawn Carpet of Leaves 1

Each month Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial hosts In My Kitchen and it’s a pleasure to take a peek at her ingredients, utensils, and musings about life, as well as those from contributors around the world. Do hope you’ll join us!

Enjoying colorful blessings,

~ Kim