Make It Into a Cake!

Spring chives

With the exception of Spanish rice and Some Kind of Tube Pasta with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed Pesto, the little people in this house aren’t too keen on leftovers. That’s unfortunate because we almost always have them so I make an attempt to re-purpose in hopes of cutting down on dinnertime whining. My solution is generally to put a fried egg on top or make it into a cake. Since Scott made a big, delicious pot of risotto last night, I opted for cakes tonight.

I took special delight in making this quick meal of risotto cakes and salad because my oft neglected pot of chives sprouted and are tall enough to provide a decent yield for the cakes and dressing. This recipe represents a basic formula: sticky rice mixture like risotto/ rice and beans + some sort of cheese + some sort of fresh herb + 1 egg + panko  = quick, tasty dinner.

Tonight’s cakes had an Italian theme (risotto, shredded mozzarella, chives), but you could also easily do more Southwest/Latin flavors with, say, beans and rice, cheddar and cilantro. The panko and pan frying gives a nice contrasting crunch. Your family may never know they are eating leftovers.

Risotto Cakes (Luca has named them “Rice Cakes” and Alia “Flattened Rice Cakes”)

adapted from Risotto Cakes with Mixed Greens

2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens

2 cups leftover Risotto, chilled

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup or more panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for shallow frying (I use sunflower oil.)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir the chopped chives or scallions, mozzarella and egg into the chilled risotto. Season with salt and pepper (I find food loses some of its seasoning after being chilled, so check and season to taste). Form into 8-10 patties, using about 1/4 cup risotto mixture for each.

Place the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Lightly dredge each risotto cake in the crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place on a plate lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a medium large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes, 2 or 3 at a time, until evenly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain; season with salt and pepper immediately.

I served these with a simple romaine lettuce and cherry tomato salad topped with a mustard vinaigrette (I omitted the parsley and capers). The vinaigrette is a great one to have in your arsenal . . . tasty on leafy greens and pasta salad with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. It has tons of tang from Dijon mustard and sherry vinegar.


Me:  A (How can you go wrong with breaded and pan fried?)

Scott: A (“The crunch of the breadcrumbs adds a lot.)

Luca:  A+ (“This is better than the risotto.”)

Alia:  C (She said “A,” but there was much prodding for her to eat her dinner. She did finish it, so I would say a “C.”)


And, After the Bliss There Is

an egg with some hash browns? Wednesdays and Thursdays are yoga nights. I am as passionate about yoga as I am about cooking. I am not sure the two will ever come together as I am not all that interested in regularly eating what I see in my yoga books or doing this.

In Poser, Clare Dederer writes about leaving offerings of roasted, organic chicken for her family so she could go practice with a clean conscious. There have been a few times when I have made dinner before yoga . . . when I wasn’t teaching . . . in the summer . . . But, this is not a common occurrence. No clean conscious here. Usually, Scott makes dinner for the kids and I stumble in the house around 7:30 full of bliss and ravenous as hell. So far, two meals seem to fill the bill – a fried egg with hash browns or a #6 with barbeque chips from Jimmy John’s. Not exactly pure eating. My friend Michele swears by this meal (which IS pretty amazing). I can’t be bothered with boiling water in a bliss filled state, however.

My meal is simple, but infinitely satisfying especially since we recently found a source  for local, free-range eggs that have viscous yolks the color of an orange peel (Thank you, Molly!).

Salt is the key to a simple dish like this (to all dishes, in fact). I used to be afraid of salt when I was a teenager. I have no idea why. Fear of a hypertension diagnosis at 16? It must have been the same hormone-induced logic that caused me to live on Minute Rice (unsalted) topped with shredded Colby cheese (what IS the point of Colby anyway?), canned Hormel chili and Yoplait yogurt.

Post-Yoga Bliss on a Plate

1 russet potato shredded using the large holes on a box grater (don’t bother peeling it because, remember, you are ravenous as hell)

1/2 TBS oil – olive, sunflower . . . whatever you have

1 egg

salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet. When hot, put potato shreds in a thin layer covering about 1/2 the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Feeling fancy? Use smoked sea salt. Cover the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the potatoes are the color of dark caramel. Flip the hash browns. Get the eggs out of the refrigerator. If you have a source for local, free-range eggs, they will be different sizes. Choose the largest one and crack it next to the potatoes. Season both with salt and pepper – not too much, not too little. Put the lid back on. In about 3-4 minutes, lift up the lid to check the egg. When the egg white is opaque over the yolk, flip the egg. If you like the yolk runny, let it go for 30 seconds or so. I like my yolk medium these days, so I let it go for a couple of minutes.

When the egg is done and the the other side of the hash browns is brown, slide onto a plate. In the summer, I slice up a tomato and top it with – you guessed it – salt and pepper.

One potato makes a pretty big serving of hash browns. This is after an evening of attempting things like this, so I think a few extra fried potato shreds are in order.


Me:  A

It’s simple . . .

I (or someone in our house) make dinner every night. One photo, a few recipes with notes and ratings from the cast of characters that is my family.

It’s Food 365 days a year.

The Cast of Characters (don't let the sweet smile on the one in the purple fool you - she is a tough, seasoned food critic)