Beer-battered, cheese-filled risotto croquettes

beer-risottoWe’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.

Beer-battered risotto croquettes

Beer-battered risotto croquettes

Here’s Tread Water by De La Soul. Infectious!!

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GInger beer-battered zucchini & artichoke fritters

GInger beer-battered fritters

We had a family joke when I was growing up that whenever my brother was ill, my mom would make enchiladas. Delicious, yes, but maybe not an ideal comfort food. It probably only happened once or twice, but it became the stuff of family legend. Yesterday Isaac wasn’t feeling well, and I made these. Sigh. I thought it would be fun for him, because he likes food you can eat with your fingers and dip in sauce (as who doesn’t!). In my defense, his fever didn’t start till after dinner, but when you’re feverish, battered vegetables probably aren’t your first choice of meal. Malcolm loved them, though, and the dipping sauce they went out in (which had tamari, balsamic, lime, red pepper flakes, and basil.) I thought it would be fun to make a beer batter, but with ginger beer, because I LOVE GINGER BEER! I flavored the filling with a touch of ginger and lots of fresh basil, and added goat cheese for taste and texture. So, crispy on the outside, soft and melty inside, tasty and fun to eat.

A while back I wrote an essay on food, music, childhood, comfort, memory and the soul. I sent it around to a few places, but, strange to say, there’s not a huge market for essays about Proust, Memphis Minnie, and RZA! Who knew! Well, guess what, today we’re going to have a guest speaker in the form of my own self. Most if it will be after the jump, because the authoress goes on and on and on.

And here’s a short playlist of the songs mentioned.

The Taste of Memory

We all know about Proust’s Madeleine. After a dreary day, the prospect of a depressing morrow left the narrator dispirited, until one bite of Madeleine, dipped in tea, filled him with an overwhelming joy. The taste of the food, and the memory of childhood happiness acted as a powerful tonic. He describes taste and smell as souls, persistent, faithful, bearing the weight of the vast structure of recollection in their tiny, fragile essence. Most adults have probably experienced this – when you’re feeling unwell or depressed, you crave some food you ate when sick as a child. It’s not the food that makes you feel better, it’s the memory of being cared for, of a time when you were not isolated by your maturity, not relied on to make decisions, not expected to take care of yourself and protect others.

To be continued…. (the recipe is after the jump as well, just like it always is!)
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