December 1, 2007

Cooking Club - Appetizers

November's cooking club was held at Jillian's place and the theme was appetizers. Our intention was to try out new recipes at this meeting and then meet up in Mid-December to do an appetizer exchange with the recipes that we thought were most successful.

The common thread throughout the evening seemed to be "deep frying". How could something deep fried be bad?

Our menu included:

Jillian - Mulled Cider (see below) and Mulled Red Wine

Jillian - Italian Rice Balls (see below)

Dana - Zucchini Fritters with Dipping Sauce

Danielle - Pissaladiere *I added roasted red peppers

Rosemary - Spiced Pear Raviloi with White Chocolate Mascarpone Dip

Mulled Cider

3 c apple cider

3 allspice berries

1/4 t nutmeg

4 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 c Granny Smith Apples - sliced thin

1 1/2 c Spiced Rum

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Strain before serving, and serve warm.

Italian Rice Balls


5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,* rinsed
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

12 ounces crimini mushrooms, finely chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Add porcini and simmer until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to plate. Cool mushrooms and chop finely. Cover broth and keep warm over very low heat.
Melt butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add crimini mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add porcini, garlic and both herbs; sauté 4 minutes.

Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup hot broth; simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 30 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup cheese.


3 cups chilled risotto (see above)

12 (1/2-inch) cubes fresh mozzarella (about 1 oz total)

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
About 8 cups vegetable oil for frying

Roll chilled risotto into 12 (1 1/2-inch) balls using wet hands. Poke a small hole in center of each ball and insert a cube of cheese, then re-form into a ball.
Put flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Dredge 1 risotto ball in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs and transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with remaining balls.
Heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot until thermometer registers 360°F. Working in batches of 4, lower rice balls into oil with a slotted spoon and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 360°F between batches. 3Let balls stand 2 minutes (for cheese to melt).


1 small onion, chopped coarsely

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red bell peppers, roasted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

In a skillet cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and add roasted peppers, basil, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend sauce until smooth and transfer to a small bowl.

(Sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.)

Spoon sauce on plate and serve rice ball on top.

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