Jul 222013
 

Everyone seems to love juicy watermelon in the summertime. I am a very picky watermelon eater.  It has to be sweet, crisp and ice cold! If the watermelon sounds hollow, it’s ripe and ready to enjoy. 

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Watermelon Salad is all the rage this summer!  I cube fresh, cold watermelon and serve it with fresh mint, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella.  Fresh, fresh, fresh!!!  Then drizzle crème de balsamic glaze over the tope. Don’t panic, you can buy a bottle of reduced balsamic glaze in the supermarket. 

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May 162013
 

Summer is around the corner and this was my first crack at crab cakes!  Wow, it’s so easy! 

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I broke the cardinal rule of preparing this recipe for the first time an hour before hosting dinner.  My inner voice cried with happiness when the crab cakes didn’t fall apart and my guests devoured them!

There are so many possibilities to serve crab cakes over a fancy green salad or with a trendy salsa. In this case, I wanted to use leftover lump crab and prepare an appetizer from ingredients on hand. 

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz lump crab meat
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3-4 small slices of crusty bread
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped bell pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • Kosher salt & cracked pepper
  • Fresh basil, optional
  • Panko Japanese Bread crumbs
  • 5-6 Tablespoons Vegetable oil for frying

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Method:

Finely chop and sauté celery, pepper, onion in olive oil for 5-6 minutes and set aside to cool. Toast slices of crusty bread about 3-4 minutes on 350 degree until slightly toasted, but not browned.

Squeeze a ½ lemon over lump crab in a mixing bowl. Cut toast into small cubes and add about ¾ cup of cubed toasted bread to crab. Mix sautéed translucent celery, pepper and onions.

Optional: I included 1 T freshly coarsely chopped basil leaves from my herb garden.  Add a dash of kosher salt & cracked pepper. Add one beaten egg and blend crab mixture altogether.

Form 2” crab cake patties and dredge in plain bread crumbs.  Cover breaded crab cakes with saran wrap on a plate and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or longer before frying. Allow the crab cakes to sit at room temperature for several minutes before placing them in hot oil.  This will help them cook more evenly rather than being too cold in the middle.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and carefully place crab cakes in hot oil. Fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce. 

Dipping Sauce:  Mix olive oil mayonnaise, Dijon mustard & old bay seasoning to taste. Add drops of water to make a looser dressing. Garnish with dollops of dipping sauce, fresh basil or lemon wedges!

 

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May 132013
 

Arancini di riso, the rice croquettes (aka “little oranges”) Sicilians consume as snacks.  These fried rice balls snacks are said to have originated in Sicily around the 10th century.

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Risotto balls are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella and/or peas.  My first taste of risotto balls was at Liuzzi Cheese shop in North Haven, CT.  They made ones the size of baseballs with prosciutto and mozzarella!  

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It has taken me years to master a recipe worth sharing.  After a few disasters, I have finally accomplished rice ball perfection. 

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Mozzarella Risotto Balls

  • Ingredients
  • ½ Small onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 T parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Favorite tomato or meat Sauce
  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Plain bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil

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Method

Sauté chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil and add Arborio Rice with salted boiled water according to directions in medium sauce pan. Pour cooked rice out onto a platter and blend 1 T of butter with 1T parmesan cheese into cooked rice.  Taste test and season rice with salt and pepper if desired.  Allow rice to cool 15 minutes. Add one scrambled egg to rice mixture and shape 2” balls.

Make a small hollow in each rice ball and spoon in a teaspoon of sauce with small cube of cheese.  Reshape balls enclosing the filling.  Lightly beat another egg in a dish and dip balls into egg and then into bread crumbs. Heat vegetable oil and fry risotto balls until golden brown.  After browning arancini balls, heat them through in the oven for 5-7 minutes on 350 degree Fahrenheit and serve them piping hot.

Risotto balls make great appetizers and can be prepared in advance. Prepare, fry, refrigerate and reheat on cookie tray later in 350 degree oven for 7-9 minutes. Allow refrigerated rice balls to come up to room temperature for 15 minutes before popping in them in the oven to reheat. 

Benvenuto!

 

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