Provincetown & Risotto Poppers

Provincetown is one of my favorite stroll-around, artsy, shopping and eating towns.

You need to drive all the way to the very tip of Cape Cod to get there but it’s worth the drive (and once you get on Rt 6 East, your GPS lady will be quiet all the way to downtown PTown).  We spent a leisurely day of wandering and shopping (wonderful art and jewelry stores).  I’m not sure what might be going into this shop, but I would love to have a shop just like this:

We finally ended up on the deck at Pepe’s at around 4:00.  Not really hungry for a big dinner but needing to replenish the fluids & salt that I lost due to the heat, we finished the afternoon sipping salted margarita’s and appetizers.  When it’s hot you have to be very careful to not let your electrolytes get out of whack.

Pepe’s risotto balls were stuffed with Fontina cheese and drizzled with Italian truffle oil.

Absolutely wonderful but I decided to try my version using a triple cream (there I go again with the triple cream) Brie.  You can also see my crab cake appetizer which I haven’t tried making myself since finding some at Wegman’s that I’d have a hard time trying to beat.  As you can see I hardly touched the liquid part of my margarita because I needed that salt.  I’m pretty sure that was margarita #1, maybe not but let’s say it was.

In any case, I found a great recipe from Giada for the balls which I combined with my basic risotto recipe (see below for basic risotto which I also use for the lobster risotto) to came up with an appetizer that could easily be a meal – add salad to balance things out.  Start with a batch of basic risotto.  This may all seem like a lot of work, but my friend & neighbor Judy (who leaves dead dog/logs on my lawn) said that she almost made some risotto poppers the other day with leftover risotto.  So the poppers could be a great way to use up leftover risotto if you don’t feel like doing it all at once:

BASIC RISOTTO

2     Cups chicken broth
3     TBL butter
½    Cup finely chopped onion
2-3  Garlic cloves, minced
¾    Cup Arborio rice
½    Cup vermouth or white wine
½    Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Tarragon-sprinkled over the top,  about 1-2 teaspoons

– In medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer.
– In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat (just a tick over medium is best).  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic for just a minute, this cooks quickly so do not let it burn.  Add 1 more TBL of butter, melt, then stir in the rice to coat it.  Add the vermouth/wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add a ladle & 1/2 of simmering broth and stir. After about 2-5 minutes the broth should be almost completely absorbed.  Continue cooking rice by adding the broth a ladle at a time, stirring, and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20-30 minutes total.  If you think the rice isn’t quite cooked, then add in more vermouth or cooking wine… that never seems to hurt.

Risotto Poppers

  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Risotto
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 2 ounces triple creme Brie, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
  • Salt

Directions

Pour about 3″ of oil in a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.  You want the oil to be hot enough so the balls don’t soak up the oil & get soggy.

Stir the eggs, risotto, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl to combine. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Take about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture for each, form the risotto mixture into 1 1/2″ balls.  Insert 1 cube of Brie into the center of each ball then roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat.

Working in batches, add the rice balls to the hot oil and cook until brown and heated through, turn as necessary, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Let rest 2 minutes. Serve hot.

*  Giada uses mozzarella which I will try next time.  PePe’s used Fontina so I think playing with your favorite cheese or making up a variety of batches would be great.

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Basic No Fail Risotto

Whoa… breaking news… after this go check out Susan’s zucchini pancake w/salmon & goat cheese.  Yeah!

I thought I had the risotto recipe already out there – to go with the Old Bay Shrimp dish but realized it never made it this far.

I know there are tons of risotto recipes available & I notice a few comments & questions about getting the right consistency of the rice.  Having experimented a little lot,I think the trick is getting the temperature just right.  If the temp is too low, then the rice sits in the broth for too long & gets mooshy, too high a temp & everyone’s discreetly spitting little rice b-b’s into their palm.  So I’m just saying Niki, maybe next time cook it just a twitch above medium.  It should look about like this:

BASIC RISOTTO (for 2)

1          Can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
3          TBL butter
1          Cup chopped white onion
3          Cloves minced garlic
3/4       Cup Arborio rice
½         Cup vermouth or dry white wine
½         Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½         Teas salt
¼         Teas freshly ground black pepper

–  In medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer.  Cover broth & keep warm over low heat.

–  In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat (actually just a twitch above medium).  Add the onion and sauté until soft & translucent, but not brown.  Add garlic for just a minute; be sure that it doesn’t burn.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated.  Add 1 ½ ladle of  broth and stir until it’s almost completely absorbed.  Continue cooking rice, adding the broth 1 ladle at a time, stirring, allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20-30 minutes total.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese

–  You can add anything to basic risotto, vegetables such as peas, seafood, herbs & other seasonings or mushrooms.  But you usually don’t want these ingredients to cook for 30 minutes with the rice, or they become overcooked.  Instead add these ingredients with the final addition of broth.

Recipe of the Year

Here it finally is, the winner of the recipe of the year.  

LOBSTER RISOTTO

Whoa… wrong recipe
Try this one…

Which starts out looking like this ….

(just substitute 2 lobsters for 1 cat)

I know some people might not like lobster and if you’re allergic, please don’t try this recipe or give it to anyone who is, but I’m surprised when  people tell me that risotto’s hard to make.  If you’ve ever wanted to give lobster a try this is definitely worth making.  Also, if you’ve read my bio and “Why is Diane writing about recipes” you know that I’m not crazy about spending a lot of time in the kitchen and the recipes I put up here will be not be hard.  If you’re the martyr who loves standing on your feet for 12 hours working up a sweat in the kitchen; if you get a kick out of bragging about how long it took you to find the gurnard and dragon fruit, then I think you probably took a wrong turn into this website.  Maybe google Martha and see what she’s got cooking.  I don’t mean to offend any Martha fans. I even get her magazine and have tried some of her recipes, but that woman can take a 20 minute recipe and turn it into a 24 step all day affair.  So if that’s what you’re into, go for it, we’ll catch up with you later during dessert.  This recipe only uses 1 sauce pan and 1 large, heavy skillet so you don’t have a lot of clean-up.

A few things about this recipe, which I think could be a special treat for Valentine’s Day.  Fresh lobster is important.  Right now it’s at a good price in New England – from $5.99 to $7.99/lb.  If you’re squeamish about cooking them, most supermarkets will steam them for you.  I personally like boiled lobster (7 min. for 1 ¼ lb and about 9 min. for 1 ½ lb lbs) because I think the meat comes out easier and cooks evenly.  I also like lobsters no larger than 1 ½ lbs even if you’re doubling this recipe for 4 people because the bigger guys’ shells are too hard to crack.  Save yourself some stress by prepping the lobster ahead of time.  I won’t go into the cooking instructions, but remove the meat (make sure to cut the tail in half & take out the vein), chunk it up & store in the fridge.

The other ingredients that I think are important are the cheeses.  Get a good fresh Parmesan (please do not use that stuff in the plastic shaker) and also try to get triple creme Brie.  Most supermarkets will have it, although they usually have more of the double creme.  Check the label for triple creme or 3X.  You can get by with double creme but it has less butter and just is not as smooth & creamy tasting.  As for the risotto, it really isn’t hard to make.  I don’t think you have to stir it constantly but you do have to watch over it to make sure you stir in a new ladle of stock as each gets absorbed.  You want the risotto to be firm and have a little bite to it.  Keep the stock simmering as you cook the risotto which I think cooks best when the heat is just a bit over medium as you add the stock.  Cooking at too low at temp makes the rice to mushy from sitting in the moisture for too long.  As for the wine, I don’t worry about using expensive wines.  Holland House from the supermarket works great for me & I always have on hand:  white and red wines, vermouth, marsala, and sherry.  If you happen to be drinking while cooking, go ahead & dump it in the recipe.

LOBSTER RISOTTO for 2

Cooked Lobsters: 1 to 1 ½ lbs/person (never hurts to have plenty of lobster).  Prep ahead of time.  Remove meat, cut tail in 1/2 to remove vein & chop into chunks.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to prepare the risotto.

Risotto:
2     Cups chicken broth
3     TBL butter
½    Cup finely chopped onion
2-3  Garlic cloves, minced
¾    Cup Arborio rice
½    Cup vermouth or white wine
½    Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼    Lb triple crème Brie
Tarragon-sprinkle over the top,  about 1-2 teaspoons

– In medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer.  Continue to simmer    while prepping rice

– In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat (just a tick over medium is best).  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic for just a minute, this cooks quickly so do not let it burn.  Add 1 more TBL of butter, melt, then stir in the rice to coat it.  Add the vermouth/wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add a ladle & 1/2 of simmering broth and stir. After about 2-5 minutes the broth should be almost completely absorbed.  Continue cooking rice by adding the broth a ladle at a time, stirring, and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20-30 minutes total.  If you think the rice isn’t quite cooked, then add in more vermouth or cooking wine… that never seems to hurt.

– Add lobster meat for a few minutes.  Turn heat to low, add Brie cheese in chunks, stirring until it is melted and blended in then stir in the Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle with tarragon.

Remove cat from serving dish, mound the lobster risotto in dish, enjoy.