Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For the Love of Finger Foods

Tex here and I am a huge fan of finger foods. Call 'em appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, whatever you like, they're bite-sized morsels of deliciousness AND because they're bite-sized, you don't have to choose just one. Love it!

Being a fan of these miniature delights, I'm always on the lookout for a new recipe. So when I saw Giada De Laurentiis make Arancini di Riso (also known as Fried and Stuffed Rice Balls), I knew I had to give them a try.

These are relatively easy to make, though they do take a little time.

First we need to make the risotto. I've never made it before, but it went well.

Here's what you'll need:
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 small onion, chopped.

3/4 cup Arborio rice (you'll find it near the couscous and quinoa)

1/4 cup dry white wine (if you don't want to bother with the wine, just substitute more chicken broth)

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low and keep hot. In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine (or 1/4 cup broth) and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next. Cook the rice until tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in remaining butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Got that?

Okay. Now we're going to get messy.

For the filling, you're going to need:
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled risotto or short-grain rice (that will be all of the above recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs (plus more for breading)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 eggs, at room temp, beaten
  • 4 oz. Gorgonzola (I love me some Gorgonzola cheese), at room temperature, cut into 16 (1/2 inch) cubes.
  • Vegetable oil, for frying.
In a medium bowl, combine the risotto, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, Parmesan, basil, and eggs.

With damp hands (trust me on this one), form about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture into 1 3/4 inch diameter balls. Make a hole in the center of each and insert a cube of Gorgonzola. Cover up the hole to completely enclose the cheese. (yes, these last two parts are a little awkward, but you can pull it off) Roll the balls in breading to coat. (they're prettier after they're cooked)
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (if you don't have a thermometer, a cube of bread will brown in about 2 minutes). In batches, fry the rice balls, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Drain on paper towel and serve.
Okay, I was so eager to try these babies and get them on the table for a party, I forgot to take a pic until I was putting them away. Still, you can see how nice and crispy they look. Crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. Yum!

And if you're a little uncertain about the Gorgonzola, there's no need to worry. It kind of melts into the rice so it's not like you're getting an overpowering bite of blue cheese.

Now it's your turn. Are you a fan of finger foods? What are some of your faves?


  1. I'm all about finger foods! these look great! And I want to try the fried cheese stick that PW has in her new cookbook. Oh, baby, I could live on those. And die of a heart attack on those, but you know what I mean...

  2. Virginia, I'll have to check out that recipe. Maybe you should share it one day (hint, hint). Sounds like the perfect excuse to make them :)

    1. Oh, yeah, and then when I can't get my pants to button, I can post a picture of that, too! :D

      Seriously, I'm more worried about the hot oil. I HATE hot oil. Gives me the willies.

  3. I could do with a bit of cheesy rice goodness! And you're right, they don't look too hard.

    When I'm doing finger foods, I usually stick something on a cracker or make a dip, but my mom used to fix a little roll-up with a mini sausage and 1/3 of a crescent roll. My children still love them, whenever I manage to have all the ingredients in the house at the same time!

    1. Jan, in my world,anything with a crescent roll is yummy. Your mom is a smart woman.

  4. I love finger foods - I think it goes back to childhood when we first eat on our own - grab and stuff- and I guess I still haven't shaken the grab and stuff mentality! ;-)

    I haven't made anything fancy like these though- did some stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon before but otherwise I guess I buy the frozen mozarella sticks and poppers and stick them in the oven...and the drive thru for fries.


    1. I LOVE stuffed jalepenos! We call them poppers. Dunno why. TASTY!!

    2. Susanna, I LOVE jalapeños cooked that way! Of course, the bacon is what makes it doubly good.

  5. These look amazing, Mindy!! But I don't know that I'd ever have the willpower not to eat the risotto I'd worked so hard on! I love the stuff! And so worth the effort. Still, if I ever have any left over, I could definitely do this! Or maybe I could do a double batch of risotto (my fav is with asparagus and another fav is with butternut squash. They'd probably make good appetizers as well). :)

    1. Missy, you've got to share those recipes now!

    2. Missy, I was just going to say you should make a double batch. (Jan's right, you need to share those recipes)

  6. I am so making these! And Tex, they came out that gorgeous without double breading them???? I'm so impressed by youse!!!

    This is a carb counters nightmare but a food lover's nectar!!! Ambrosia, I say!!! :) I love ricey-cheesiness, so this is even better sounding than deep fried mac and cheese! Tex, thank you!!!

    1. Mmm...fried Mac and cheese. That's some comfort food there.

  7. I love anything cheesy. No... wait a minute! That didn't come out right. I love cheese in anything, and adore rice, too, so I'm going to have to try these. They look scrumptious!

    1. We're a cheesy bunch around here, aren't we?

    2. Ba-dump, bump! You beat me to it, Jan.

    3. Carol, I love cheesy things too :-)