I haven’t cooked or baked anything worthwhile enough to post on my blog since I started with the Pick n Pay Freshlyblogged competition. My time is now mostly consumed on ideas and recipes for this competition.
Normally, when I cook or bake something, I decide whether it is blog worthy or not. If it isn’t, I will maybe retry this idea a week or two later or forget about it all together. Taking part in this competition, however, meant that I just had to submit a recipe weekly. If my first idea was not good enough I immediately had to rethink this and create another recipe. Sometimes I had to make two or even three recipes with the given ingredients before I was happy. The result of this was that there was simply no time to do anything else for my blog! I cooked steak and chips, chicken, bobotie and all my other (easy) favourites for the family, but nothing new.
This week’s ingredients for the challenge were Spekko rice, butternut, leeks, tinned tomatoes, thyme and a baguette. Rice is definitely the favourite staple in my house, so I was very excited when I received the ingredient list with rice as the main ingredient. I had so many ideas! The first dish I made was a leek and butternut quiche with a rice “crust”, based on the recipe for a brown rice tart with spinach and peppers. (As a matter of interest this was one of my top posts and received over 1500 visits!). Although it was a delicious dish, I was not happy to use this for my entry.
Since I wanted rice to be the main feature, I decided to make these rice balls based on a Sicilian dish called arancini. I served it with a creamy butternut soup. The simple butternut soup was delicious but did not overwhelm the rice balls, keeping them as the main focus and star of the dish. We could only use Spekko long grain rice in this challenge and arancini is made with risotto that uses short or medium grain rice such as Arborio rice. Thus this is not a true arancini, but still very good and it looked beautiful. It is not a quick and easy dish, but it is definitely worth the time and effort to make it!
- The rice balls
- 250ml Spekko rice
- 1 can PnP chopped tomatoes
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 30ml chopped thyme leaves
- 1 x baguette
- 3 eggs
- 50g mozzarella, cubed
- 2 beaten eggs for the coating
- oil for deep frying
- The creamy butternut soup
- 45ml butter
- 4 leeks, cleaned and sliced
- 1kg chopped butternut
- 30ml chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1l chicken or vegetable stock
- Salt and black pepper
- 125ml cream
- Place the rice, tinned tomatoes, stock and thyme leaves in a pot and season with salt.
- Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the rice is cooked and the liquid has evaporated. Cool the rice (preferably overnight).
- Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰C.
- Break the baguette into pieces and process in a food processor to form crumbs.
- Place the crumbs on a baking sheet and toast in the pre-heated oven until browned, for approximately 6 minutes, taking care not to burn the crumbs. Remove from the oven and place into a bowl.
- Add the first 3 eggs to the cooled rice mixture and mix through.
- Place two tablespoons of the rice mixture in your hand, make a well and put a cube of mozzarella in the centre and mould the rice mixture around the mozzarella to form a ball the size of a golf ball. (If it looks like the ball is falling apart just keep on rolling with your hands until it comes together.)
- Roll the balls into the beaten eggs and coat with the toasted baguette crumbs and refrigerate for an hour.
- Whilst the soup is cooking, heat oil in a heavy based pot and deep fries the rice balls in batches for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown.
- Place on paper toweling to drain the excess oil and keep warm.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the leeks until soft.
- Add the butternut and thyme and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the butternut is soft.
- Cool down slightly and process to a smooth puree in a food processor.
- Return to the saucepan and add the cream. Heat through (do not boil) and serve warm with the rice balls.
I really want to thank everyone for their support and for the votes casted for my recipes! I received a lot of votes and it’s all such a tremendous confidence boost! Although loads of people visit my blog I am so glad that so many of you have the confidence in me and enjoy my recipes so much that you actually voted for it. It means a lot to me! I would also like to thank Food24 for featuring all my entries for this competition on their home page. The only recipe that was not featured was the recipe for Fish Breyani in a cabbage roll, so check that one out too!