We’re experiencing a bit of a lull, here at The Ordinary, characterized by a dearth of energy, a lack of purpose, and a general, fuzzy feeling of a vast network of spiderwebs taking over our brains. Oh yes, the post-holiday doldrums. Not a bad thing, in many ways, the mind needs to lie fallow, sometimes. But it’s a feeling that’s hard to shake!! I feel like I’ve got nothing to say but I can’t stop talking! I feel like I’m treading water. Pleasant, warm, sleepifying water, granted, but I’m not getting very far in it! Well! Last night, after dinner, I was feeling very drowsy, warm in our toy-strewn living room, when Malcolm said, “Mom, do you want to take Clio for a walk with me?” DO I?!?!? Of course I do. He even got me my coat and hat! It had been a day of creeping damp cold, and we’d gone on a walk earlier, but it just wasn’t pleasant. Now, in the dark, it was even colder…but it felt good! We decided to head for the bridge across the river, to see if Clio was scared of it the way Steenbeck used to be. Of course it was even colder there, but the sky was so dark and clear, the moon was almost full, everything was black and silvery, and the wind blowing icily across the bridge was helping to clear out the cobwebs. Then Malcolm showed me how to do his happy walk, which is a broad side to side skip. It is a walk that you do when you’re happy, but I’m here to tell you people, it’s a walk that makes you happy, as well. Flying across the bridge, dark icy water flowing fast far below, coats flapping behind, Clio pulling us ahead quicker than a human can walk, I felt nearly ecstatic, and we tumbled home cold, and breathlessly laughing.
I made risotto the other night, with roasted red peppers, black olives, white beans, and artichoke hearts. It was almost exactly like this one, except that I added artichoke hearts with the red peppers and olives, and I used can tomatoes, (hunts’ fire raosted diced) this being winter, and I used tons of rosemary, plus a pinch of cumin and a pinch of smoked paprika. I had a lot over the next day, and I decided to try something new with it, so I made a small ball, stuffed some mozzarella inside, and then I dipped the whole ball into a light beer batter flavored with smoked paprika and cayenne. I fried them in olive oil till crispy, and I made a dipping sauce of red wine and balsamic. Delicious! And very fun to make and eat. Secret melty cheese! Layers of crispiness and layers of comforting softness! The boys even liked them, and they don’t really like risotto! You could probably use any flavor of risotto that you have leftover, as long as it doesn’t have large chunks of anything in it. And you could adjust the seasonings of the batter to suit. In my experience, even a very brothy risotto is sufficiently dried the next day to form into croquettes. If your risotto is still too brothy you could a) drain it in a sieve b) cook it in a saucepan till it dries out, or c) add a couple slices of bread, ground into crumbs.
Here’s Tread Water by De La Soul. Infectious!!
3 cups (+/-) leftover risotto. It should be fairly dry after sitting overnight, but if it’s too brothy to work with, try draining it in a sieve, or add one or two pieces of bread processed into crumbs, or fry it in a pan till quite dry.
1 cup flour
1 t dried basil
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne
lots of black pepper
1 cup beer (+/-)
Around 12 small cubes of cheese – each about 1/3-inch square
Olive oil, for frying
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Pour in the beer, and whisk till smooth. Add the egg, and whisk that in as well. You want the batter to be the consistency of lightly-whipped cream. Add more beer, if necessary. Let the batter sit for about half an hour on the counter.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325. Break off a small handful of risotto, about an inch and a half across. Roll it into a ball and stuff a piece of cheese inside, making sure the risotto meets all the way around it. Place on baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the risotto and cheese. Put the tray in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, to dry the balls out and make sure the cheese is a bit melted.
In a wok or other frying pan over medium-high heat, warm about 1/3 inch of olive oil, till a small drop of batter browns within a minute. With two forks or a fork and a spoon (or your fingers!) drop the risotto balls in the batter and roll to coat – work with as many as you can comfortably fit into the bowl. For me it was four. Using the same two forks, or a slotted spoon, drain off the excess batter, and then drop the balls into the hot oil – as many as will comfortably fit at one time. (Four again, for me!) Cook, turning gently, until browned on all sides, maybe five-eight minutes. Drain on a paper towel, and then return to the oven to keep warm.
RED WINE & BALSAMIC DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup red wine
1 T olive oil
1 T tomato paste
1 T brown sugar
2 t balsamic
1 t tamari
1/2 t smoked paprika
dash cayenne (optional)
salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper
2 T butter
Mix everything but the butter together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until slightly thickened (about 10 or 15 minutes). Add 1/2 a cup of water or broth, cook to heat through. Whisk in the butter, and serve.