All this week, the Royal Examiner will be bringing you these holiday recipes to help you prepare a very merry Christmas Dinner.
Perfect as a side dish for a holiday feast, this arancini recipe will transport you directly to Italy.
Start to finish: 4 hours (2 hours active)
Servings: 24 arancini
• 1/2 ounce dried wild mushrooms
• 1 cup hot water
• 7 cups chicken broth
• 16 ounces asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 6 ounces pancetta, cubed
• 8 ounces button mushrooms, minced
• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 French shallots, finely chopped
• 2 cups Arborio rice
• 1 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup Parmesan
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1-1/2 cups flour
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 1-1/2cups bread crumbs
• 4 cups vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 2 cups strained tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely sliced
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms and set aside the water. On a paper towel, allow the mushrooms to dry and filter the water to remove any impurities. Mince the mushrooms.
2. In a pot, mix the chicken broth with the water from the first step and bring it to a simmer.
3. Blanch the asparagus in the broth until tender (about 2 to 3 minutes). Using a small mesh strainer, remove the asparagus and plunge it into ice water. Dry on a paper towel and set aside.
4. In a deep sauté pan, cook the pancetta cubes until they’re slightly crispy, then add the button mushrooms and rehydrated wild mushrooms. Continue to cook for five minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. In the same pan, sweat the shallots in half of the butter until translucent. Add the rice and stir till it’s covered in the butter and shallot mixture.
6. Deglaze with the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove anything that’s still stuck. Reduce until almost dry. Lower the heat on the stove and add one ladle of broth at a time. Stir frequently and allow the liquid to be completely absorbed by the rice before adding more. Continue until the rice is al dente. You may not need to use all the broth.
7. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining butter.
8. Add the pancetta, mushrooms and asparagus and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste, but be careful; the Parmesan and pancetta have already added some saltiness.
9. Cool the risotto to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
1. In one hand put about 1 tablespoon of risotto, place 1 cube of mozzarella on top, and then cover with another tablespoon of risotto. Shape into a ball, taking care to cover the cheese. Repeat until you have used all the risotto.
2. Roll each ball in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, in that order, to make a uniform crust.
3. In a large pot, heat enough oil to cover half an arancini. Working in batches of 4 or 5, fry the arancini until they’re golden brown, turning them often.
4. Remove them from the oil and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all the arancini have been fried.
1. In a small pot, cook the garlic in the oil being careful to not let it brown.
2. Add the strained tomatoes and bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Lower the heat, add the oregano and basil, then simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve arancini on a bed of greens, accompanied by tomato sauce on the side for dipping.
6 tips for making homemade dumplings
If you love dumplings and want to try your hand at making them at home, here are six tips to ensure everything goes according to plan.
1. Keep the dough warm. Whether you use homemade or store-bought dough, make sure you let it warm up to room temperature so that it’s easier to handle.
2. Cover the dough. Raw dumpling dough is susceptible to drying out. Consequently, it’s a good idea to cover the dumpling wrappers with a slightly damp towel to keep them moist and pliable.
3. Don’t overfill the dumplings. Each dumpling only needs about a teaspoon of filling. If you overfill your dumplings, they might burst open when cooked.
4. Seal the dumplings with water. Regardless of the folding technique you use, lightly wet your fingers and moisten the areas where you fold the dough so that the seams stick together.
5. Take your time when folding. Start with simple shapes and make sure to give yourself enough time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it perfect on the first try. How they taste is more important than how they look.
6. Freeze the dumplings separately. If you want to freeze your dumplings to enjoy them later, spread them out on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about two hours before transferring them to an airtight container or bag to prevent them from sticking together.
Visit your local Asian food store or the international aisle of your regular supermarket to pick up everything you need.
Walmart stocks up on this odd item before a storm
Storm’s coming. We must run to the grocery store and stock up like it is the end of the world. Water. Bread. Pop-Tarts.
Pop-Tarts? Oh, yeah. Pop-Tarts are big during storms, particularly strawberry Pop-Tarts.
Walmart discovered early on that when a storm threatens, the sale of Pop-Tarts increases seven times the normal sales rate.
According to Reader’s Digest, Walmart studied shopping data after Hurricane Charley in 2003 to see if they could predict what shoppers would need in hurricanes.
At that time, Walmart marketers were shocked to find that strawberry Pop-Tarts were in demand. Then, ahead of Hurricane Frances in 2004, they filled shelves with the pastry. It sold out.
Exactly why Pop-Tarts are so popular in a storm probably relates to the fact that it’s shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration. The pastries are individually wrapped, so the remaining treats don’t get stale.
Pressure cookers vs. slow cookers
Are you looking for a small cooking appliance that can help simplify making meals? If so, here’s what you should know about pressure cookers and slow cookers.
These devices dramatically reduce cooking times using steam under high pressure. All you have to do is put all the ingredients into the pot and let the pressure cooker do the rest. In addition, some models are equipped with sautéing and steam functions.
When you’re pressed for time, pressure cookers can be used to prepare stews, soups, pasta dishes, and even cakes. However, their size is limited, making them unsuitable when cooking for large groups. In addition, you have to be mindful about adding the correct amount of liquid to ensure even cooking.
These appliances come in a variety of sizes and can be used to make large meals. They’re easy to use and cook food slowly and evenly over several hours. Consequently, you can wake up or come home from work to a freshly cooked meal.
Slow cookers can be used to make stews, ribs, sauces, chicken, bread, and more. However, the food will need to be prepared beforehand.
To purchase your new cooking appliance, visit a kitchen supply store in your area.
Blueberry buckle: A quick and easy anytime cake
This sweet, tender cake comes together in minutes and can be eaten for dessert, as a breakfast coffee cake, or even a sweet snack. Fresh blueberries are perfect, but you can also use frozen berries — just bake for a few extra minutes to make sure the cake is done all the way through. The streusel topping adds some satisfying texture and contrast to the fluffy cake and soft blueberries.
For the cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest, more if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, plus about a tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
For the topping:
5 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the whole milk to the butter mixture until just combined. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour until evenly coated before gently stirring the berries into the batter. Spread the batter into a greased 8×8 pan.
To make the topping, combine all ingredients and mash with a fork (using a sharp knife can also help) until it has a crumbly texture. Sprinkle the crumble over the batter in the pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean from the center of the cake.
Tomato overflow? Can them for a taste of summer all year
You’ll need a canning pot and rack, jar lifter tool, canning jars and lids, a large bowl for an ice bath, clean cloths or a new roll of paper towels, lemon juice, salt, kettle of boiling water.
Estimate about 3 large tomatoes per quart jar.
Blanch and skin tomatoes
Boil water in a large pot. Add a few tomatoes at a time and let them boil for a minute. Remove tomatoes. Place immediately a bowl of ice water. When cool, skins slide off.
Sterilize the jars and lids
Boil water in the canning pot. Put jars in canning rack. Boil empty jars for 10 minutes. Remove jars (empty of water). Allow to dry. Now, boil lids for 10 minutes.
Stuff the sterilized jars
Put two tablespoons of lemon juice from a bottle (not the fruit) in each jar. Pinch of salt. Cram tomatoes into jars. Cover tomatoes with boiling water from the teapot. Leave a half-inch headspace at the top. Wipe edges of jars clean, place lids and rims on the jars. Put jars in canning rack.
Boil the full jars
Put the rack of jars in boiling kettle. Make sure cans are underwater and tops are covered by one inch of water. Boil for 45 minutes. Add boiling water as needed to keep jars covered with water.
Remove jars. Set aside to dry and cool for 12 to 24 hours. You may hear popping noises as seals form.
Do not turn the rim. After resting and cooling, press down in the middle of each lid. When sealed, there will be no give in the center. If unsealed, the lid will spring up. This jar is not safe for storage.
Store in a cool, dark place.
Tomato and watermelon salad
Are you looking for a refreshing appetizer to serve on a hot day? If so, this sweet and juicy salad is sure to delight your taste buds.
Start to finish: 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
• 4 small Italian tomatoes, quartered
• 2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups watermelon, seeded and diced
• 1 cup red onion, minced
• 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
• 1 cup arugula
• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
• 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Juice of one lemon
• 1/2 cup cream of balsamic
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• In a large mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes, watermelon, red onion, feta, arugula, and mint. Divide the salad equally among 4 bowls.
• Drizzle each salad with a quarter of the olive oil, lemon juice, and cream of balsamic. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.