Baby, I need your carb-lovin’

“WHO THE HELL MOVED MY ARBORIO RICE?!”

I growled as I continued pawing through the endless stream of plastic packages in the pantry, searching for the elusive bag which contained these short, stumpy, pearly, carb-a-licious grains. After one heckuva long day where nothing seemed to go my way, I had dreamt of making risotto all the way home and as soon as I’d stepped through the front door, it was the only thing that I could think about.

Even now, I’m not quite sure why I had this particular hankering – I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of risotto and I certainly did not want to eat it, I just needed to make it and till I had, I knew that my poor soul would feel unsatisfied.

My searched picked up in pace as my desperation increased a notch – there is nothing quite like the feeling when you’re looking for something that you need and that you know you have, but cannot find. That particular brand of panic should have it’s own name…perhaps it already does and my scattered self just can’t think of it?

The mountain of foodstuffs being emptied from the pantry started growing into a small mountain behind me, and certainly it looked as though the pantry had swallowed my upper half as I started crawling inside it to try and find the key ingredient to my risotto-making. I felt the tears start to form when suddenly, I spotted the package hiding behind my dusty old espresso machine!

HAHAHA! BWAHAHA! Score: Ellie – 1, Pantry – 0!

Emerging triumphant with my little package of arborio rice in clutched tightly in hand, I threw everything back into the pantry and skipped merrily to my kitchen bench where everything else I required already sat, anticipating being turned into a nice basic risotto. I chopped my onion, heated my stock, and stirred stirred stirred to my heart’s content, grinning like a maniac as the little rice grains started releasing their starch, becoming fatter and softer, and the liquid around them thickened up to a delicious creaminess.

And then I suddenly realized that I had a pan full of risotto and no desire to eat it :( (clever, aren’t I?)

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight…

Suddenly glad that I’d decided to only make a 1/2 batch, I dumped it unceremoniously into a dish, threw some plastic wrap over the top and chucked it in the fridge, telling myself that I’d worry about it later. I’m not a fan of waste, so it would have to be used, but how?? I retired to my room and pulled half my cookbooks off my shelf to start sorting through them, and then a vague niggling thought made me reach for ‘The Cook’s Book’ (my regular readers know how much I LOVE this bible) and flip through to the ‘Grains & Rice’ section. My normally pathetic memory had come through and nudged me towards the idea of risotto cakes, which is a wonderful way to use up any leftover (or, in my case, uneaten) risotto that you may have!

This isn’t really a recipe, as I think almost any risotto would suffice, but just in case you don’t have a risotto recipe, I’ve included a basic one that can be used to make these wonderful bundles of carb-a-licious heaven :D

Sundried Tomato & Mushroom Risotto Cakes

Ingredients

Basic Risotto
500 – 600mL chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp good olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
150g arborio rice (or any other risotto rice)
50mL dry white wine
50g parmesan cheese

To make Risotto Cakes
1 quantity of chilled risotto (any non-chunky risotto is fine, to the amount specified above)
80g semi sundried tomatoes, extra oil squeezed out and chopped up
300g mushrooms, roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter
200g mozarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (panko breadcrumbs if possible)

1. Heat stock in a saucepan till barely simmering.

2. Heat oil and half butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add onions and cook till softened.

3. Add rice and stir to coat the grains well with the fat.

4. Add wine and boil, stirring constantly till absorbed. Add ladleful of simmering stock and stir till absorbed, and repeat till the rice is tender but still retains a bite (this does not mean undercooking the rice! It should not be chalky in the middle!). This should take roughly 15-20 minutes for this quantity.

5. Stir in remaining butter and parmesan, season and remove from heat. Cover pan and leave the risotto to rest for 2 mins before serving. For the risotto cakes, place this in a container in the fridge to cool completely before moving on…

6. Sautee the mushrooms in the butter, then set aside to cool. Once cooled, toss through with the chopped sundried tomatoes and cheese and set aside for now.

7. Divide chilled risotto into 8 equal sized balls (about halfway between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball).

8. For each risotto cake, cup a ball in your hand and use your hands to shape a hollow in the middle. Place a tsp of filling in the middle, then gently mould the rice over the filling to encase it completely, then shape the ball into a small cake/patty.

9. Roll the cake in breadcrumbs till well coated, repeat with all cakes till the batch has been made.

10. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then fry the cakes for about 4-5 minutes each side, or till golden brown and crisp. Drain on a kitchen towel and serve.

For those of you planning to take part in my Nostalgia event, please remember that the final deadline for entries is next Friday, 23rd March :) I’ve received a couple of utterly fantastic entries so far, and can’t wait to see what other entries may be in the pipeline! If you’ve written up a post but forgotten to send through an email – please do so, otherwise I won’t be able to find your entry and include it in the final roundup!

Finally, thanks to Doodles from Peanut Butter Ettouffee for letting me know that the folk over at the Herald-Tribune (her local paper) have written up a nice article about the Nostalgia event :)

[tags]recipes, risotto, food, patties, cheese, rice, vegetarian [/tags]

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