Monday, June 23, 2014

Arangini (Rice Balls) [The Cookbook]

I know it's been a while since I've presented a recipe straight from The Cookbook, which was the original purpose for this blog, but I hope to present quite a few of them soon. This week, I challenged myself to a classic bit of Roman street food, and it definitely was a challenge. Not that it was particularly difficult once I figured out how to put it all together, but simply because, unfortunately, many of Bisnonna's recipes are not written as clearly as I would like. Someone are only a list of ingredients. Others...a vague set of steps. It makes following them difficult.

This one falls into the vague set of steps category, but it was actually kind of fun trying to sort it out.

Why can't I ever make anything that looks half as good as it tastes?

Arangini (Rice Balls)
via The Cookbook

Bisnonna Writes: 1# rice, a little salt
cook and cool. Add 1/2 c. of Romano cheese. 4 T. melted oleo. 3 eggs well beaten, a little tomato sauce
Brown 1# hamburg, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 onion chopped, 1/4 of tomato paste or 4 T. sauce, 1 c. water. cook 20 mins. dip in well beaten egg.
roll in bread crumbs and fry

Amy interprets and makes a few alterations:

[What You Need]
1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 cup of Romano cheese
1 lb hamburger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
tomato paste
1 cup water
Well beaten egg
Italian bread crumbs

[What to do]
  1. Brown hamburger, add garlic and onion to mixture and sauté for a few minutes. Add 1/4 can (about 2 tablespoons) of tomato paste and a cup of water. Cover and simmer about 5 more minutes.
  2. Combine rice and cheese, them add hamburger mixture.
  3. Form balls, dip in well beaten egg and them roll in bread crumbs
  4. At this point you can either fry them for a more authentic street food take or cook them for ~1/2 hour at 350, which is what I did

Monday, June 16, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Unfortunately, I am again sans recipe this week. Garden work has been dominating a lot of my time. Community garden plots come with a whole host of problems that container gardens just don't seem to have: -lots- of weeds, more pests than I can comprehend, etc, but we're managing them as best we can.

And Just look at all those lovely tomato seedlings to the left!

I'm learning a lot about the work involved in growing the food that we eat. It's something I've always been vaguely aware of, but I still don't think I ever fully thought it all out. I still have a -far- from comprehensive understanding. Our plot is only 25' x 15' after all. Nevertheless, I can definitely say that after painstakingly picking cabbage worms off our cabbages, I am going to really appreciate eating that cabbage. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Soup Bones

One of my favorite Bisnonna stories passed down through the family is the Tale of the Soup Bone. It's not really a complex story, but for some reason it has always stuck with me. Maybe because it was something so outside of my own experience that I didn't really have the means to process it.

In the tale, Bisnonna's madre sends her to the store with ten cents. She is supposed to get a soup bone and pay a little extra to get one with some meat on it.

Of course, this threw me as a child. Even if my madre was making soup from scratch, there still weren't any bones involved. There was stock, and veggies, and maybe some meat, but never bones. Right?

Flash forward several years. One month a delivery of meat arrives from the CSA with a strange additional item.

"What are we supposed to do with that?" My boyfriend asks sounding a little confused and eyeing the trade-in bin.

The story of Bisnonna and her ten-cent mission comes rushing back to me as I read the words "soup bone". "We make soup!" I announce proudly. "Keep it. I'll make a batch of beef stock."

I think he was pretty skeptical, but went with it anyway.

This endeavor did not turn out to be anywhere -near- as simple as I had been imagining it. Stock is a more labor intensive process than I could have ever expected and it involved touching and dealing with a lot of beef fat, which, thanks to my madre, I am very squeamish about. I do not think I will be making beef stock again any time in the near future. I will consider this one of those nice modern conveniences, but at least I now -know- how to create the sort of beef stock my Bisnonna grew up and that's the important part.

To Make It:

  1. Gather a soup bone, some kitchen scraps (I had some onion skins and tops left over from dinner), and various herbs (I used parsley).
  2. Bake the bone for 1 hour. 
  3. Put bone and ingredients in a crockpot and cover with water. 
  4. Cook on low heat for at least 6-8 hours. (One recipe I looked at called for 24 hours in a stock pot on the stove. I suppose this would have been more authentic, but I would be far too afraid to leave a burner on that long.)
  5. As it is cooking, occasionally strain the fat off the top of the liquid.
  6. Strain out liquid using a cheesecloth