Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Continuing Adventures…

Well! I’ve made my first attempt at making a Sicilian rice ball, and it was certainly an adventure. I’ve gotta say, for a first go ’round, I’m pretty impressed with myself.

As I said yesterday, once you’ve made your risotto and fillings and allowed them to cool, you’ll want to cut out portions of the risotto from your cookie sheet, make them into little bowl shapes, stuff your filling in there, and then wrap the risotto around the filling to form a sphere. It’s actually more difficult than it sounds, trying to completely enclose the filling in the risotto, but after a few attempts, I (sort of) got into the rhythm.

Once you’ve formed those spheres, you’ll want to roll them in your batter and then finally roll them around in breadcrumbs. And voila! You’re ready to cook your balls! (Sorry, it was just too easy. Writing about making Sicilian rice balls is a constant struggle in trying not to make too many testicle jokes. So let’s just get that out in the open and out of the way.)

Now, traditionally, these rice balls are fried. I thought I’d go out on a limb and try baking them instead. A little untraditional, a little more healthy, and probably admittedly a little less delicious. Here’s how it all went down.

Balls in Oven

Here they are going into the oven. I sprayed them with some cooking spray to give them a little more shine on the back end, but it didn’t really seem to do much. Anyway, I put them in at 425 for about 35 minutes, which may have been a bit long, but only a little.

Finished Balls

And here’s how they came out! My first experience doing the whole “rolling in batter and then breadcrumbs” thing was obviously a little bit of a misfire, as you can clearly see that I missed some spots. And I’d like them to look a little prettier in general. But! Check this out:

Turkey Cranberry Pecan Ball

That looks more like it, right?! This particular one was stuffed with my turkey/cranberry/goat cheese/pecan concoction, and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty damn delicious. Not perfect, but actually much closer than I thought to what I think could be a sellable product.

So here are my takeaways:
-I definitely want to try frying these suckers. Baking them actually proved to be much more successful than I thought it would be, but still. Fried stuff is delicious and I’m curious how much better they’ll be. Just keep your fingers crossed that I don’t get 3rd degree oil burns!!
-Two things that I think will put these over the top:
–The risotto needs to be fancier. I made a pretty basic cheese risotto, but I think if I tailor the risotto for each individual filling, it’ll really make these pop.
–I’m definitely intrigued by playing around with some spices in the breadcrumbs. I used plain breadcrumbs because I wanted to keep it simple, but I have a feeling some cumin mixed in there might make deliciousness abound.

Recipes are still to come, I promise! I just want to make everything perfect before I send these out into the world. So, more soon! Thanks for reading, dear readers.

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Adventures in appetizers

Lately, I’ve been dedicating myself to trying new things and coming up with great business ideas that can actually make my mooching ass some money. Or at least I’m making a valiant attempt at doing so.

In that spirit, I bring you my newest adventure – Sicilian rice balls! If you live in the New York area and haven’t experienced the delight that is an Arancini Bros. rice ball, well, you’re definitely doing something wrong. They’re freakin’ outstanding.

Inspired by those fine folks at Arancini, and by the amazing opportunity to take advantage of drunk/stoned/hungry students here in lovely Savannah, GA, I might just very well start my own rice ball business, so why not document the process?

Now, full disclosure…I haven’t actually made the rice balls yet. So I’m going to list all of the recipes in tomorrow’s blog, once I’ve made sure my first foray into this isn’t a complete disaster. But I’ll give you brief walkthrough of the steps involved.

So here goes. First off, you need to make some risotto. I’d never actually tackled the task of making risotto myself, but it turns out it’s actually pretty damn simple. Just grab some stock (I used veggie stock), some butter, some arborio rice, and some parmesan & romano cheese, and you’re set!

Here’s the risotto I managed to make and not completely mess up:

Risotto

Pretty sexy, right?! It’s laid out in a cookie sheet because you need to cool it for a while and flatten it out before actually making the rice balls.

Next, make a filling of your choice. Now, here’s where it gets fun. Currently, this is what is on my menu:

*Chorizo, onion, red pepper & blue cheese
*Turkey, onion, pecan, dried cranberry & goat cheese
*Brussels sprout, leek and carrot slaw

In fact, I’m roasting the carrots and brussels as I write this:

Brussels and CarrotsDelicious.

Anyway, after making your filling and letting it cool, you’ll need to stuff your risotto with the filling, then roll it in a batter and finally some breadcrumbs.

Again, many more details later. But I wanted to document the beginnings, mainly because I don’t have much else to write about. And I’m pretty excited about the possibilities.

As long as I don’t burn my hand off with hot oil, I’ll be back tomorrow to finish this off – wish me luck!

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Movin’ and Shakin’

It remains to be seen how true to my word I’ll be, but in my newly acquired bout of self-motivation, I’m committing myself to posting a blog entry here every single weekday. So look out! I’ve got exciting stuff coming up here at The Amateur Cocktailer. And it’s not just cocktails! Home brewing! Beer bread recipes! Silician rice balls! And then…some other things that I’ll think of to write about! Yeah! Anyway, I’m excited, and you should be too. It’s bound to be delicious.

But first! Another delightful cocktail brought to you by the lovely city of Savannah.

I recently picked up some of this, and I’m awfully excited about it:

Dolin Blanc

For those of you who were under the impression that vermouth is disgusting except when used in very small doses, I’m happy to report that Dolin Blanc is here to tell you otherwise. It’s really and truly drinkable, just by itself – preferably on the rocks, I’d say. But for the mixing purposes of this particular blog, it also makes for an amazing cocktail ingredient. Here’s just one of the many happy ways in which you can use it:

Ginger Manhattan

Ginger Manhattan

2 parts bourbon
1 part Dolin Blanc
2 parts ginger beer
Dash of aromatic bitters
Splash of lemon juice
Few drops of Sriracha (optional, but delicious)

If you’re going to use the Sriracha, tread VERY lightly. I’d say 4-5 drops at most.

This cocktail is a decidedly lighter version of the traditional Manhattan. It’s refreshing and bright and altogether pretty lovely, I think.

So! More tomorrow. Yay for motivation! And for deliciousness.

Winter lovin’ (happened so fast)

I’m not generally one to gloat, boast or brag, so allow me just this one…it’s 74 degrees here right now, I’m sitting on my front porch writing this, and I f-ing LOVE IT! This past Sunday we had a little backyard, chili & cornbread get together – where we burned two Christmas trees and shenanigans ensued – and I had shorts and a t-shirt on! Having lived in New York for a damn long time, I can safely say that living in a warm climate is just superior and no one can tell me otherwise. Basically, this is just a disclaimer to all of you that if I’m ever thinking of moving somewhere like Minneapolis, remind me that I once wrote these words and that I should vehemently reconsider.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the important things like making delicious cocktails. This one is in honor of the sunshine – it’s light, refreshing and pretty damn tasty. So let’s get to it.

Gulf of MexicoGulf of Mexico

*2 parts tequila blanco
*1 part Aperol
*2 parts cranberry juice (make it fancy!)
*1 part ginger beer
*1 part seltzer
*1/2 part Jack Rudy Tonic (I honestly can’t get enough of this stuff)
*A few dashes of orange bitters

Mix it all together in your favorite glass, give it a stir, and enjoy. Even if it’s 27 degrees where you are, it’s okay! This cocktail will make you feel like you’re in the tropics.

Okay, I’ll stop being a warm-weather asshole now. Whether you have snow on the ground or sun in the sky, as long as you like my drinks, I love all of you! Until next time.

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Not your ordinary tonic

Holy crap, you guys. I just stumbled across this the other day, and I think it may have changed my life.

Jack Rudy Tonic

Small batch tonic!! It’s FANTASTIC. I can’t really say enough about it. It’s very tart, a little sweet, complex and most importantly, incredibly delicious. Head over to the Jack Rudy Cocktail Company for more info – if this tonic is any indication, they’re wonderful people and deserve a look!

Now, the real intent of this magical elixir is to help make the perfect Gin & Tonic, which I’m quite sure it does. But we here at The Amateur Cocktailer – okay, I’m just one guy, but whatever – are prone to a lot of experimentation, and more importantly, a lot of bourbon love. So I decided to play around, and I must say, what I came up with is something that you maybe will want to drink for the rest of your days.

Bourbon TonicI struggled with the name for a while – seems to be a trend these days – but I decided to go the simple route, with a little homage to the fine people at Jack Rudy’s thrown in.

Rudy’s Bourbon Tonic

2 parts bourbon
1 part Campari
1/2 part Jack Rudy Tonic
A few dashes aromatic bitters
Splash of lemon juice
Orange twist

Shake all the good stuff up, pour it into your favorite glass straight up, and enjoy the hell out of it. I’m pretty thrilled with this one.

More to come soon!!

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New year, new drinks

Hey y’all! Happy 2013! I know I’m a little late on this action and that I’ve been out of commission far too long on this here blog. But! I’m making a vow in this odd-numbered year to keep up more with this blog and just be more creative in general. I’m excited for 2013, even though, phonetically, it’s far less appealing than “twenty-twelve”. Alas, it’s the way it is, and I’m moving forward into the “ought-teens” with creative abandon. We’ll see where it takes us!

I thought I would ring in the new year on this blog with a delightful bubbly cocktail, because, well, ’tis the season, yeah?! And come on. Prosecco is just delicious.

Anywho, here it is – my first concoction of 2013. Hopefully there will be many more to come.

A Fresh StartA Fresh Start

1 part bourbon
1/2 part St. Germain
1/2 part Laird’s Applejack
1 part prosecco
A few dashes of plum bitters
Orange twist

Shake all that good stuff together – except the bubbly – and pour into your favorite wine glass. Top it off with the prosecco and an orange twist, and you’ll like 2013 just a little more than you do already. We might not have flying cars just yet, but this should do in the meantime.

I sincerely hope this new year is treating you all very well so far. More to come!

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