Food, wine, travel, music
I put 2nd year psychology and English student Anthony O’Riordan through his paces last week, giving him a lesson in how to make his budget stretch. This article appeared in the Irish Examiner 9/9/13 and is available on the website.
Economical, easy, flexible and healthy recipes are what our clever students need to get them through a busy college term. Here are my most used recipes.
Arancini (Rice Balls)
In Italy arancini are small oranges and describe the shape of a terrific Italian way of using up leftover cooked rice, including risotto. They make the best use of rice leftovers and are great for parties for substantial nibbles, or with a salad as a main course. Students love them. Even made from scratch with new rice, they cost very little. Arancini is pronounced Arancheeny.
To serve 4
300g cooked rice
2 heaped teasp butter
1 dessp Parmesan or other hard cheese
Handful filling (see below)
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 dessp flour
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
2 handfuls breadcrumbs.
Make the filling first by mixing together chopped leftover meat, vegetables or cheese. A teaspoon of leftover Bolognese sauce in each ball is great. Try a simple cube of cheese for each one (Cheddar is fine, but Mozzarella has a great, creamy texture). I recently used cubes of feta with chopped chorizo. Black pudding and Parmesan is great.
I often use brown basmati, but allow it to absorb more water than for fried rice to help it stick together. Add flecks of the butter to the rice, ideally while still warm so it melts a little, then add the Parmesan. Any cheese, finely grated, can be used too. Mix well.
To prevent sticking, wet your hands and take a small handful of rice and mould it into a small ball. Press a 1p size piece of filling into the centre and bring the rice around to close it up completely and make it smooth again. Dip each one first in seasoned flour, then the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs. Just before frying, dip them into more breadcrumbs as the egg often comes through the first layer of breadcrumbs. The aim is to get a good seal on the arancini. Ideally these should be deep fried, but as along as the oil is hot and you don’t move them around until the underside is crisp, you can fry them in half their depth and turn them over to finish browning all over. Heat the oil to hot enough to fry a square of bread quickly. Fry one or two at a time for fastest frying. Drain and serve hot or warm.
Thrifty, Nifty Fried Rice
As well as Arancini, you can turn the leftovers of this dish into a decent soup by adding water and a stock cube, grated cheese, a can of corn or baked beans. Brown basmati is my favourite to use here. Any or all of the vegetables work well – don’t worry if you don’t have some of them. Even shredded cabbage is good added at the last minute. The same amount of vegetables will stretch to feed at least 6 if necessary. Just double the amount of rice and follow the rest of the recipe.
4 streaky rashers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 dessp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, chopped finely (optional)
1 chilli, chopped (optional)
1 stick celery, chopped (optional)
1 handful frozen peas
Sweet chilli sauce (optional)
Get the rice going first, by bringing it to the boil with 2cm water over the level of the rice. Cover with a lid and turn down the heat so it steams gently. Brown rice takes 15-20 mins.
Meanwhile fry the rashers in the oil in a wide frying pan until brown. Add the chilli and onions, turn the heat down and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, if using. Grate or chop the carrots and add to the pan with the celery. Stir until the onions are limp. Add the peas straight from frozen and stir until defrosted. By now the rice should be cooked, so test to check it is not still too chewy and drain of any spare liquid. Tip into the pan and toss around, coating it with the vegetables. At this stage you can add a beaten egg or any leftovers to hand. Stir gently. Add the soya sauce, and if you fancy it hotter, some sweet chilli sauce. Stir until hot through. Always make sure leftovers are heated fully to kill bacteria. Serve hot with a green salad on the side.
Basic tomato and bean stew with poached egg
2 large onions, sliced
2 dessp olive or sunflower oil
2 carrots, grated or chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 can beans
300ml stock or water
1 handful noodles
1 egg per person
Black pudding (optional)
Cook the onion and garlic slowly in the oil until soft – 3-5 mins. Add the can of tomatoes (or 4 fresh ones while in season), carrots, can of beans and stock or water. Add chorizo or black pudding, if used. Cook 5 minutes. Add cooked or uncooked noodles, and any chopped leftovers. Bring to the boil for 3 mins. Meanwhile fry or poach an egg (see how to on line).
Serve portions of the stew in a bowl topped with the egg. For extra flourish and vitamins, added chopped parsley.