Thursday, October 13, 2011

Polly's Arancine Adventure

Arancine,   arancini,   suppli al telefono,   rice croquettes?      I never heard of these words until I watched the foodnetwork's Iron-Chef America challenge a while back.    The secret ingredient was the Mozzarella.      I was very thrilled with this particular show because of the products the chef challengers were making.     Arancine,   Italian rice croquettes,  or the suppli al telefono were some of the names mentioned.     While I could not associate the words to anything I have ever tasted,  I was just totally excited with joy to have found the food that I promised to myself at the age of five that I will  find out what it is.      Arancine is a childhood mystery that was implanted in my memory after watching this Sunday summer foreign movie festival when I was five.       I only spoke Japanese, then.     The movie was in Italian.     I have no clue what the movie was about, except one scene - a boy met a father at a waterfront restaurant.      They sat down, and they were chatting.     Then,  a waiter came and took the order.     After a while,  the waiter reappeared,  and the boy was in joy clapping the hands.      I was puzzled with his excitement.     The waiter served a plate with round fried balls.    The boy and father pick one up,  and bite into it.     Then,  what I saw were two people stretching this fried balls as far as their arms would allow and with big smiles.      Then,  I noticed this long white stringy gooey thing stretching out from the ball to the bite in the mouth.   That's when I promised to myself that I will get one of those some day.      I am going to eat it and have fun eating it.    Eleven years later,  when I first ate Pizza,  believe it or not - in Viet-Nam, at one of the church's Friday fellowship,  I saw the gooey cheese,  I was very intrigued,  but I know that was not exactly the ones as it is not in the ball shape.       Then,  if you all recall,  someone came up with the fried Mozzarella sticks that you can find in the frozen food section.      But,  again,  believe it or not,   I did not go for it.    It could have been the right ones, but the "stick" did not impress me.     I waited another 13+ some years when my culinary curiosity heightened and decided to get formal education on the subject.     I paid more attention to the cooking channels,  and it was while watching the Iron-chefs of America program - I saw the balls.    I was convinced then that was it - the fried rice balls filled with cheese that the boy in the movie was eating.
 So,  here it is,  with The Mozza cookbook in my kitchen,  I fulfilled my promise.       Thanks to the chefs who worked hard in the making of this "The Mozza cookbook" to assure the ingredients are readily available or can be made at home,  I was able to make this arancini or the suppli al telefono successfully in my home kitchen.

 Making Risotto - very interesting method.    (double click on any of these images to enlarge)

 Elongated ones enveloped the extra mozzarella sticks in the center.

 The smaller size's cheese center melted easily within the time the outer crust browned.       As for the biggie size - I think the solution is to use the fresh mozzarella. 
 Even though the crust is well browned, the mozzarella in the center is not quite ready.

 I could serve the biggie size suppli al telefono as the main course with the vegetable side dish.      Other than that,  maybe my memory of the size of the gooey ball got exaggerated over the past fifty-years.     After all, everything appear gigantic in the eyes of the five-year-old's world.    Stick with the recipe instruction and make approx 1 inch ball for your first adventure,  they produced the best result as prescribed in The Mozza cookbook.     On the other hand,   the traditional orange size ball or the small round shape will do beautifully.

Homemade Sandwich Rolls

In the past several weeks, Subway sandwich shop has been promoting the $5 footlong sandwiches.     For lunch, my co-worker has been kindly sharing the other half with me.      I watched the counter person removing the bread roll from this heat and humidity controlled bread box.      And I thought I could make that slightly browned soft exterior with soft crumb inside using Jamie Oliver's hotdog formula.      So I went to work.   I was bit disappointed with forming and shaping the bread.     But I was very thrilled to see my dough well kneaded and formed the best 'window pane' after 25 - 30 min of kneading.      It was already past my bed time, but the bread smell so good and look very inviting, and I had to butter one up to taste the fresh baked bread.     Chef Oliver's formula is awesome!     The dough produced a nice soft sandwich roll that remained soft after several hours and after a couple of days.     With fresh vegetables from the garden, it made a great sandwich bread/roll.



I have been hoping to find more foodies posting the PONCHIK somewhere.       But to this date, I have only found a few.       Maybe because it is just simply much easier to buy them at their local donuts shop or bakery?   or I am not keying in the correct search word in the right language.      I sure wish someone post their experience making the PONCHIK with sweet pastry cream filling.   The recipe for this PONCHIK is the same one I posted in the past.    The difference is that I used the mixer to knead the dough -- knead-by-hand the next time.  No short cut.

Manchego Croquettes - KORO'KE

Every Sunday morning before noon, as a child, I will take a shopping basket and skip hop all the way to "KORO'KE YA-SAN"  - Croquettes shop.     I will stand outside this large glass window and watch the cook make croquettes.   KORO'KE is what we call it in Japan.     Then, I skip hop all the way home with the hot KORO'KE' in the basket.        Just like other children, finger foods are the coolest, I thought.     The KORO'KE in Japan is shaped like the MacDonald's fried hash brown - flat, large oval shape.      The mashed potatoes are mixed with some chopped onion and some ground meat in it, etc, that I have no idea of the rest, but they taste creamy, comforting, and filling.     I didn't care for the meat in it or the chopped onions back then.     Since they are barely present in each fried KORO'KE, it didn't matter.      I just ate around them.   
Monday evening, I fried some Manchego Croquettes from the Spanish cuisine  - Tapas menu.      The grated Manchego cheese tasted mild with a slight pungent smell (to me).     Mixing it in with the mashed potatoes, it enhanced the natural UMAMI flavor of the potatoes.      Chopped onions and flat-leaf parsley from my garden complimented the sweetness of the potatoes, and I enjoyed it without any tomato sauce or the bolognese sauce, but... I like to use the traditional TONKATSU sauce - very thick fruity Japanese Worcestershire sauce.      I need to remember, however, that the preferred shape of the croquettes will be the bite size the next time, instead of the biggie size I made to look like the KORO'KE -- greedy.     I couldn't eat anything else after eating one.

Saving Dragon Fruits Plant

I was quite thrilled to find this red flesh dragon fruit sold at the Lowe nursery.      Ever since I tried making the dragon fruit frozen mousse, I tried to purchase them at the market a couple of times, but they are so expensive and always in poor condition.      When I planted this dragon fruit plant, I thought the location was perfect for it.         I grew through the late spring and into summer, but alas, it got attacked by the fungus disease.      After treating it with copper spray, the ultimatum was cut off the bad rotted spots.     I did what I could, and now the rest is up to itself.