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Jul 22, 2014

Raise a Toast and a Bite!

Though I love gifts of wine and wine in general, I get rather stumped when it's Champagne or Sparkling wine! Mainly because neither of two suit me, they hit me hard and they tend to keep me woozy longer than just one evening! So when I got hold of the Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rosé, I knew I was going to sip it a bit, serve it a bit and mostly cook with it! This is a non-vintage wine made from selected Jacob's Creek Chardonnay and Jacob's Creek Pinot Noir grapes and has delicate fresh berry flavours and a pleasing, salmon, pink colour. Though it is pitched as an ideal aperitif, with deserts or for any occasion that calls for a celebration, we found it to be quite palatable as a cooking wine. Contrary to popular belief, you should 'not' use ordinary or cheap wine for cooking because that's like wasting the cuts of meat you use for the dish. Whether you cook or drink, the wine should always be a good vintage, regardless of price points. The bouquet of this particular wine is fresh and light, you can find notes of strawberries and though the tasting notes include red currants, it more berries I feel with the tartness that comes with them. I suppose the citrus notes are from the Chardonnay grapes, another wine that's dear to me. Since this is an award winning wine, we were keen to try a glass at the onset, I served it chilled with a round of light Tapas that included cured salmon, olive tepanade bruschettas, goat cheese crostini and a platter of cold cuts. But it's hard to finish a bottle of sparkling between three people, especially if they wish to move on to a more robust product like a Shiraz, so here's what I did with the last 250 ml of the lovely Sparkling Rosé, I cooked fish in it.

As they say - "A fish should swim three times: in water, in sauce and in wine".

The Shirazine Rosé Sole

Ingredients: 

500 gms Fish fillets, use any firm, white fish, I used sole, 1" thick fillets, about 4x4 in size.
50 gms Butter
2-3 tbsp Flour
1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
4-6 Garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tbsp Capers
200 ml Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rosé
100 ml Fresh Cream
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Parsley to garnish
Slice of Lemon for garnish


Method: 

Heat 2 tbsp of the butter in a large pan, don't let it burn or brown. Best is to heat the pan, remove from the fire, let the butter melt and then put it back over the flame. Rest the washed and dried fillets on the butter, let it sizzle for a few seconds, then pour in the sparkling wine, it will froth a bit. Turn down the flame to low and let the fish poach for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the poaching liquid and rest in a baking or serving dish, covered so the fillets don't dry out. Reserve the poaching liquid. In a separate pan, melt the remaining butter, add the flour and saute for 2-3 minutes or till the raw aroma of flour goes away. Remove from heat and add the poaching liquid, use a wire whisk to blend it all into a thick sauce, as it come's together, pour in the cream. You may need to put it back on the fire to thicken but usually not, season with salt and pepper. Pour over the poached fish, garnish with capers and fresh parsley.
Serve hot with a crusty baguette or a side of steamed rice.

Jul 13, 2014

The Experience that is Kumaon!

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac


I've been swamped with a recipe development project and I'm not allowed to share any :( .. which means this darling but poor little blog has been ignored! Every time I log in it nags at me and today is the day I'm going to pledge at least one post a week so I can give back to The Shirazine, which is not just a 'food blog' but a place that holds all the recipes and foods dear to my family. The last one month has been significantly eventful, we had the 'papa' visit of course and then a few developments which are moving in the direction we want and need them to! Every 'papa' visit is a mini vacation for us and this time we hit the hills for respite! The hills are a Shirazi favourite, Andy and I have always been road trip people from the time we were dating (circa 1995!) and even today. Ally has joined the troop as an avid roadie, she loves the bed we make for her in the backseat and she spends most of the time making some of the funniest, most awesome videos ever. This summer we headed to Kumaon, a region both Andy and I know well, we have had some memorable trips to Bhimtal in the last decade. The road trip was super fun and we took our own sweet time to get there. As always the mountains came out of nowhere and we loved the gasp that escaped ally's lips, she hadn't been back in the last 3 years and that's why kids are lucky, they have limited long term memory!



We reached our destination, Dhanachuli, around lunch and saw one of the most magnificent resorts we have ever been to and we have been to plenty! Te Aroha is not just picturesque because of it's environs, it is a piece of history, a place of love and a home to deep, soulful feelings that you will feel only when you are there. This post is more a way to chronicle our memories for posterity, the property review will follow elsewhere (I will keep you posted!), but what memories they are! Every moment was precious, not because we were together but because we were together, here, right this moment, in this place. Our room was a duplex, with an attic room for Ally, I can't forget the hours she spent there, reading. One criteria for us has always been, no television and believe me, we didn't need one! Every accent here is memorabilia, every piece of furniture is a collectible and every corner is a photo opportunity! I kept wishing Andy bought his camera but for him coming home is the ultimate time-off and the camera is the last thing on his mind. We spent the days languishing in the weak sun and the cool breeze, reminiscing about the past and planning for the future. Ally believes babies come when you marry, so she insists we marry each other again, not a bad idea ...out Catholic wedding is long overdue, now if that will bring a stork over is yet to be seen. But then wishes are free aren't they?!


Since we as a family practically worship food, we were thrilled to enjoy a night of local Kumaon fare, mutton curry with a subtle flavour of mustard oil but the same robust redness we North Indians love. A mash made of what I thought was colocassia but they called their local 'arbi' and a dal that I absolutely loved. I love texture in my food and the dal here had a bite to it that was perfect. Apparently this is soy, soaked and parboiled till it's almost cooked, I loved every bite. The local roti was akin to a bajra roti my mother used to make, so I had about 4 of those, I'm not certain Andy and Ally loved the food as much as I did but they did take about half a dozen helpings of the mutton! I have the mutton recipe chronicled below but I haven't cooked it at home yet, thus no pics but I know for sure, it's going to be as delicious as I remember it. Andy was nice enough to drive me all over the mountains looking for local fruits and veggies and it was well worth it. I got those gigantic Bhimtal lemons, purple radish and turnip shaped radish too, not to miss the juiciest peaches and plums. Ally had her first taste of young almonds, where you can actually eat the green flesh around the almond. I love when she discovers new foods. This story is only half told and if our plans go the way we hope, we may just be back at Te Aroha as early as next month.

Kumaoni Mutton Curry

Ingredients:

1/2 Kg Mutton
4 tbsp Mustard Oil
2 Onions, made into a puree or very finely chopped
1 large Tomato, finely chopped or 2 tbsp Tomato paste
Salt

For the Masala: this has to be ground to a paste

8-10 Cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Roasted Cumin
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Coriander Powder
1 tbsp Deggi Mirch
1 tsp Red Chilli powder (ground with seeds)

1 cup Water, you can add more to make more gravy but check the seasoning if you do.

Method:

Heat the oil to smoking point, in fact let it smoke for 10-15 seconds, turn the heat down and add the onions, fry till they start to brown. Add the washed and dried meat, let it sear on high for few minutes, it seals the juices in. Saute for about 5-7 minutes, I don't add salt till the end because it just makes the meat release all the moisture and can make it tough or dry. Now add the ground masala paste and fold it all in to coat all the pieces of meat, saute for 5 minutes and add the tomatoes along with the water. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, you can also 'dum' the process by sealing the lid with dough or 'atta'. I don't like to pressure cook mutton but I do give it one 'whistle' at the end, it makes the meat open up and 'flower'. Serve with piping hot 'bajra' roti's or white rice if you so prefer. Add a side of fried green chillies and plan a trip to the hills!

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jun 6, 2014

The Shirazine Asian Peanut Chicken

I wanted to put one of the main ingredients in the title but I was worried it would throw some of you off! Well, because it's peanut butter! I so wish I could hear your reactions, my brother guffawed at the thought, my father was indifferent and my husband reluctantly said he 'may' try it! It was my 8 year old daughter who was most gung ho about the idea, what is it with kids and peanut butter? Other than her love for peanut butter, she's also been blessed with a sensitive and curious palate. I remember when she was a peanut herself, my cravings were bizarre, I wanted very spicy food with a side of sweet. So a typical meal would look something like Chettinad Chicken with a dollop of gunpowder (muligapodi) and a side of Rava Kesari or blazing hot Mutton Tikkas with a side of Rabri, it all happened and I have Andy to thank, he indulged every whim and more. He actually does it even now, for all my chef-ness, midnight snacks are his domain completely, which reminds me, time for midnight snacks is coming very soon and maybe I will bring up the possibility of a second round of cravings ...hmmmm!

We are back on a set of crossroads once more but I am smarter and stronger this time around, a sixth sense tells me I may need it but this time it will tide me across, so fingers crossed everyone! This stress coupled with excruciating heat has made me start working on summer recipes that are quick and comforting. Since I love Asian flavours like fresh chillies, galangal, peanuts, sesame and soy, I wanted a meal I could make in one wok and just serve with rice! Andy and I being big BBQ folks, I'm very fond of making marinades but there is no question of grilling in this weather, so I figured, I would make a BBQ style marinade and then just pan fry the meat. I chose boneless chicken breasts since that is truly the lightest meat, barring a few fish and I chose a BBQ classic - peanut butter. If you like the basic flavour of peanuts, especially the roasted or cooked through taste, then do try this recipe. It's got a bit of grilled charred-ness because of the way the peanut butter caramelizes and its got a lovely chilli-sweet balance too. I served it with white rice and a side of a melon salad just in case the bird eye chilli was too hot and in retrospect I should have made Bao with it, would have paired wonderfully.

The Shirazine Asian Peanut Chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 kg Boneless Chicken, cut into evenly chopped 1/2 inch cubes
4 tbsp Olive Oil, for pan frying
2 tbsp Olive Oil for marinade
2 Red Onions, thinly sliced
6-8 Garlic cloves, smashed, I love garlicky food, you could go easy if you like
2-3 Bird Eye Chilli, use can use dry red chilli too but use just 2 and remove if you're going to get this dish sit
4 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce, I love Kikkoman

1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter, for this dish I used a brand I have seen in about 20 years, its local and not as sweet as Skippy's or Peter Pan, you can use crunchy if you like texture in your food

1 small Red Pepper, sliced

1 tbsp Sugar

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Water

Method: 

(Remember, this mess will be a yummy bowl of food, just get to work!)
In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, half the crushed garlic, soy and salt with the chicken cubes, watch the salt since good Soy is fairly salty. Cover and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a wok, don't let it burn or smoke, add the onions and half the garlic and stir fry on a medium flame till the onions are soft and starting to get coloured. Add the red bell pepper slices, fry for another few minutes till they soften a bit, I don't like squishy peppers so I keep a crunch for texture. Now throw in the peanut butter marinated chicken, turn up the flame and flash fry for a minute or two, the idea is to seal in the flavours before you add moisture and made is bubble and cook. You can add the red chilli's now, slit down the middle and the sugar. Check the sweet-salt-spice balance, add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add 2 tbsp water more if it's sticking and use a spatula to get all that yummy marinade into the wok before the dish is done, turn up the heat and finish with a quick, blazing stir fry. Check a piece to see if it's cooked through, I don't like tough or stringy chicken so I check quite often for done-ness. Serve with steamed rice or bao...enjoy!



Jun 2, 2014

Inspired Cooking #1: The '19th'

'Inspired Cooking' is a series I want to start that allows me to share the recipes I develop for The Shirazine exclusively, because so many of these are actually inspired. By people, chef's, aromas, the city I live in, the foods I taste and at times even memories. At the end of the day all our recipes are inspired either from other recipes or from taste memories or even family and friends. Masterchef's spend decades developing recipes that are then sampled and reinvented across homes and kitchens. I want to start the series with an inspiring story, a story of a young boy from a farming background, who dreamed of a life in the big city but I don't think he imagined the life he went on to have! Manmohan Singh, the Mixologist at PCO recently won the India chapter of Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition at Trident Hotel, Gurgaon! He created the '19th' a drink inspired by a bill passed in the US in the 19th Century, allowing women to vote. It was the Bacardi brand, label and history that inspired him to do more research about the century Bacardi was founded in. Why a bill in the US and a cocktail in India? He said his control lay in his craft, it was the bar he could offer a sense of freedom to his lady guests with an experience that's empowering and liberating!


 Did the '19th' make me feel all that as a woman? Yes, it did. It didn't liberate from any shackles per se but it will make me feel more feminine, it made me feel in charge in a way. I think it was the Creme the Cocoa that did it for me, that layered sense of satisfaction that comes from chocolate is nothing short of a high and then you make it a liqueur, genius! The recipe includes a heavily scented Martini Blanc, herbaceous and potent with Bacardi White and Creme the Cocao, infused with Absinthe vapour which is just superior thinking. I loved the whole theater of it, Manmohan was like a Chef, with the moves and the nuances, it was such a pleasure to watch. Which brings me to the point of why do we always take a table at the bar as we enter. If time and space permit, always start an evening early, at the bar counter, commune with your Bartender for the evening and get to know your poison better. We are lucky to have a place like Cocktails and Dreams - Speakeasy right here in G-Town and nothing makes me feel better than an evening watching my drink be born. I'm the kind of drinker who nurses 2 cocktails over an entire evening so they better be darned good and at C&D they always are! Delhi has PCO for the same respite, head on over for an evening of secret codes, secret rooms and a fantastically stocked bar and don't forget to Manmohan and try the '19th'!

I did a white chocolate, mascarpone, Bacardi Reserve Rum and Mangoes dessert as an ode to the 19th. The flavours are of course different but the general sense of composition is intact. There is the rum of course, the white chocolate for girth and the mascarpone for depth, the mango comes from the fruitiness of Absinthe and though I would have preferred pineapple, mangoes just just fine. I need to standardize the recipe and refine the flavours to be a bit more boozy...so stay tuned!

*Just got good news! Now starts the countdown! Lots of planning, cooking AND partying to do :)

May 1, 2014

Quick Quiche Lorraine for Sunday Afternoon!

How I love rustic food. Food that looks real, tastes real and is easy to make any time your heart wishes for it! Pies, tarts and curries all fit into that rustic mold for me. As a food stylist I always found curries and gravies the hardest to style, they looked messy to begin with! But if you play it right, use textures and patterns on side, interesting backgrounds and a deconstruction of the curry, it looks best! Styling for food is when you see the difference between real food and styled food, I've come to abhor excessively styled food so much that I find it almost inedible. Apart from looking real, I love 'real', natural flavours like aged cheese, eggs, garlic, bacon, anchovies, mustard.. the list is endless. Which brings me to this recipe, a fantastic combination of Parmesan, Bacon, Eggs and Cream, all nestled in a delicious pie shell, this is The Shirazine's Quick Quiche Lorraine! We enjoy this pie through the year even though it has such a 'winter' dimension to it. You can summer it up by replacing the bacon with ham or even mushrooms for a veggie version but then a quiche needs 'eggs' for volume, so can't avoid that. The pie crust for this recipe is perfectly standardized and you can use it for any savoury tart, in fact if you make a potent sweet filling like key lime or coffee/dark chocolate, you can use this exact pie dough for a sweet tart too! One of the finest Quiche Lorraine I have ever had (in Delhi!) was at Basil & Thyme in the Santushti Complex (Read about it here). This is such a quaint and fine cafe, my heart craves for it on rainy days and days I miss Andy the most. It's a place I can go to write, over a house made pink ginger ale and their comforting Quiche Lorraine.

As I find myself on yet another threshold all over again, I can't help crave comfort! Talk of our 'move' is now leaning towards imminent and though the idea excites me terribly, I can't bear the wait! Cooking is my solace in times like these, the day is spent in my home office which is few steps away from my test kitchen, so if I'm not writing, I'm tinkering with cheese and chocolate and all those lovely things! I can't really complain but the ebb and flow of these past couple of years needs to now become a steady! In the meantime, let's cook up awesome, wholesome meals every day if we can!


The Shirazine's Quick Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients:

Shortcrust Pastry:

150 gms Flour
75 gms Butter (cold, cubed)
3-4 tbsp Cold Water

Method: 

Rub together the flour and cold butter, the whole play in this crust is 'cold', keep your hand's cold, the kitchen shouldn't be too warm. Rub in the butter, use your fingertips to mush it all together till the mix looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Slowly add a tbsp of cold water at a time to bring this dough together into a soft but tight ball. It's always the moisture that makes or ruins dough, so go easy. This dough is not kneaded, its rolled and formed. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes or so, till you make the filling.

Filling

Ingredient:

3 Eggs
4-5 Bacon Rashers, cooked, we like them soft not crispy and that works better in this quiche.
1 Red Onion
4-5 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan, you can use Cheddar for an English touch or a Gruyere for a more Swiss tart
100 ml Fresh Cream
100 ml Milk
Freshly ground pepper
Salt

Method:

Fry the bacon till cooked yet soft, remove from the pan and add the onions and garlic (this is not usually a typical Quiche Lorraine ingredient but we love garlic!). Lightly saute till soft and cooked. Remove and set aside. Gently whisk together the eggs, cream and milk, season with freshly ground pepper (we use lots) and salt.

Prepping the Quiche:

I made three mini quiches, so the pie in the pic is 1/3rd of the entire portion would be. Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator and let it come down to a temperature where it's easier to roll. Roll out on a floured surface, about 4 mm thick, make it wider/larger than the pie base of course. Gently set the rolled out dough over the pie base, let it drop to the center, you can drape it over a rolling pin and layer it over. Use your fingertips to tuck the dough into the sides and middle, you can use the back of a teaspoon but don't end up tearing the dough sheet. Once it's set, cut off the excess bits, kitchen scissors work best. Make a layer of the onions, garlic and then bacon, pour the milk mixture over it, should be max. 3/4 full as it will rise as the egg cooks. Sprinkle generously with cheese and bake in a pre heated oven, at 180C for about 20-25 mins or till the top is firm, golden and the crust looks, well, crusty!

Serve hot and serve immediately, since it does tend to collapse. I serve a Quiche Lorraine with more excess, a dollop of Creme Fraiche, which is awesome as a hot and cold combo and a salad of whatever fruit and greens are in season. Enjoy!

Apr 16, 2014

The Shirazine Summer Soy Fish

I haven't planned this year's summer menu for The Shirazine as yet! The weather's been fairly kind so we're still tucking into roasts and pies and eating way too much red meat! But I know it's coming, the sweltering days, most obvious in the kitchen! Andy used to do this adorable thing that I find too tedious to do for myself, he would turn on the air conditioners in the living room and dining room and then use his studio backgrounds to make a shaft that drives cold air into the kitchen, it was genius! He isn't a mushy guy at all but he's got this inherent goodness that I hope Ally has inherited. Yes, those days are coming and for some reason it doesn't affect our appetites, so it's not like I can serve cold cuts and grilled watermelon and get away with it, it won't satisfy the family and it certainly won't satisfy me. So this summer I've planned a lot of one pot/casserole meals that come either from a wok or an oven. No stirring, flipping, fretting! I want to use more of fish and chicken and throw in lamb over the weekend, I do plan to stay away from red meats and seafood for a bit but I doubt it's going to happen! The oven is my best friend in summers, one casserole goes in and a meal comes out. This particular fish recipe is one of my favourites, I got inspired by a variation I saw on television, I forget who the chef was but I think he was Chinese. He used a whole fish, dark soy, ginger, fish sauce and lemon rind and he steamed the fish perched on upturned ramekins which rested in a water bath, all stove-top and very cool! He covered the top and steamed the fish for about 15 minutes and it flaked perfectly. My version is slightly revved up, I need to pack in veggies for the family and they're more 'garlic' people than 'ginger', also I can't do the whole fish game on weekdays because each member dines at different times. This is a super quick meal and all you need is steamed rice or boiled noodles, if you want to spice it up, I suggest you keep fresh ground Chinese chilli paste on the side to top the rice or noodle bowl you make of this meal.

The Shirazine Summer Soy Fish

Ingredients:
Serves: 2

1/2 kg 1/2" thick Singhara filets, you can use any firm, white fish like sole, surmai, bekti or sea bass.
1/2 cup Dark Soy, I use natural Kikkoman, check out Yamoto Ya Japanese store in HUDA market, Gurgaon
1 cup Bell pepper slivers, I use only red and yellow because I want the sweetness to come out, the green is more for colour :)
2 tbsp Lemon Rind, fine slivers
4-6 Garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tbsp Ginger, fine slivers
1 tbsp Fish Sauce, I use Real Thai, if you like the flavour, add another dash
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Red Chilli Paste, you can use as little or as much as you like
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Brown Sugar, just to offset the soy and fish sauce
Salt, if need be, soy is salty

Method:

Wash and dry the fillets, you can make one large or cut into 2, one large cooks faster and stays moist if you don't overcook it. Place the fish in a pie deep baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix together the soy, fish sauce, sesame oil, chilli paste and brown sugar. Top the fish with the bell peppers, ginger, garlic and lemon rind, pour the sauce mix over it, the fish should be half submerged. Give it a little shake so everything settles in together. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15 minutes. Remove and check to see if the fish flakes easily, it shouldn't be all 'white', it should be moist looking. Cook for another few minutes if need be. Serve with white rice or boiled noodles. As condiments you can keep fresh coriander sprigs, dried fish, prawn crackers or chilli paste to change the flavour of your portion of the meal! There is another variation I love, but more in winters, the mixed mushrooms version. I use button, Enoki and Shiitake and the sauces, that's it! It's fantastic! Enjoy!

Apr 12, 2014

The Shirazine's Cheats Arancini!

I love ideas for leftovers and summers is when leftovers hassle me most. Over the years I've learned to cook for the family size we have which helps minimize leftovers considering this is one family that wants a new meal every day, some times twice a day!! But food like rice and ready dough always harangue me in summers, rice spoils super fast and you can't always tell, which is scary when you have a kid and a senior in the house. So a lot of my leftover recipes are rice based. We are big rice eaters, especially when Andy visits. I personally prefer breads, Indian, Arab, French, you name it but rice ends up getting cooked every day because the kid loves her 'dal-chawal' on most afternoons. Dinners are what I like to call 'home kitchen gourmet'. We had orange glazed pulled lamb in homemade pita, quiche lorraine and apple glazed pulled baked 'bao' this past week and I'm desperately looking for pinecones for a smoked fish recipe I want to do. This particular post is The Shirazine version of 'Arancini', crumb coated, risotto balls, sometimes with a filling of Ragu or served with Marinara sauce. I make these with regular, leftover boiled rice though it's only fair to say that the risotto ones are more moist and definitely more flavoursome!

These Italian delights are deep fried but you can flatten them a bit and bake them too. I don't like substitutions when it comes to ingredients and cooking methods but if baking is a more viable option for your dietary needs, then brush lightly with olive oil and bake at 200C for 6-8 minutes or till the Arancini is crisp and light brown. Typically the stuffing for Arancini is mozzarella cheese but you can use cheddar too, it melts beautifully. If you are sticking to mozzarella, then go for a more aged one versus fresh, fresh mozzarella has too much moisture and it can interfere with the composition of each Arancini. I love the wholeheartedness of Italian cuisine, it's satisfying like Indian or Chinese food. It is also a very familiar cuisine because the basic combinations of onions, garlic, tomato exist in our food culture too. The difference lies in treatment, the Italians never overcook vegetables, so every bite is fresher, crunchier and of course has more flavour of the said vegetable. They also use a lot of strong flavours like olives, anchovies, cured meats, which is why I sometimes make this Arancini with a pitted olive in the centre, it's such an amazing burst of flavour. I've had Arancini filled with mushrooms, bacon and even pistachios, so it's entirely up to you, how you want to play with this recipe!

The Shirazine's Leftover Rice Arancini

Ingredients: 
Makes: 8-10

2 cups cooked White Rice
1 large Red Onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped Pork Ham
6-8 tbsp. Parmesan, grated, use a hard, aged cheese if you need to substitute, processed cheese has a lot of moisture and melts very runny, it can disturb the consistency of the Arancini mix
1 tbsp. dried Mixed Italian Herbs, I use the 'Keya' herbs, so far the best, locally
1 tsp. Pepper powder
1/2 cubes of Mozzarella, small cubes to put in the centre of the Arancini
1 cup Breadcrumbs, keep a little extra in case you get a lot of Arancini out of this mix.
Oil for frying
Salt

Method: 

Use your hands to mash together the rice, egg, parmesan, onions, garlic, fresh parsley, seasoning, half the breadrcumbs and herbs, mix it all up, nice and gooey, it should be able to come together into a ball. Add the chopped ham and gently fold it in, you don't want the mixture mashed, just well mixed. Heat the oil to a point where a drop of the Arancini batter, sizzles nicely. Spread out the breadcrumbs on a plate, season lightly with salt and pepper. Moisten your hands with water and form golf ball sized Arancini balls with the ham, cheese and rice mix, flatten on your palm and place a small cube of mozzarella in the centre, close the ball over the cheese. Roll gently over the breadcrumbs, the Arancini should be evenly coated, shake off the excess crumbs and drop into the hot oil. Each Arancini will cool the oil further so fry small batches, that way they won't lie in the oil long enough to become 'too oily'. Once the Arancini is lightly browned and crispy cooking, drain on kitchen towels. Serve hot with Marinana sauce or our family favourite Garlic Aioli mixed with chilli sauce, it's indulgent but worth it! Enjoy!
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