Thursday, May 13, 2010


Arancini balls were something I ordered off menus, and devoured with the blissful belief that they were definitely in the don't-try-at-home basket.

But then I went to a one-year-old's birthday party a few Saturdays ago and the mystery was removed. Lewis' big sister Charlie pulled a tray of -so-perfect-they-looked-bought arancini balls from the oven and dismissed them as if they were as easy as pie...

A new challenge was presented, and I rose. This doubled nicely with a related challenge from reader/mother/cook Deb who boasted of making risotto twice last week with little Milo in the Ergo. I didn't bother to google a recipe - I never do that, it somehow seems like cheating, or too much  hard work. Much more fun to stumble around in the kitchen and surprise yourself.

They were perfect. Even more satisfying than removing a perfect pie from the oven. And the perfect thing for a Friday late lunch on the balcony in winter sun.

Billie ate pieces of the roast pumpkin while I finished the risotto, and then tried some risotto before I balled it up. Unfortunately she just swallowed it all whole, so her next serving at dinner was blended.

Charlie had made mushroom but we had pumpkin in the fridge - and it's also one of my favorite risottos. I think if you really want to get tricky, restaurants often stick a lump of mozzarella cheese in the middle. Next time.

NOTE: If making with baby on board, start early. Do it in stages. In fact, everyone should make the risotto a bit earlier as it balls up much better once cool.


2 T olive oil
2 T butter
2 leeks, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio or other risotto rice
100 ml white wine (optional)
1 litre water, boiled
1 stock cube
1/4 pumpkin, chopped into small pieces
1 cup vintage cheddar - or 1/2 cheddar 1/2 parmesan
2 eggs, beaten
plain flour
dry fine bread crumbs

 First make the risotto (as early as possible so has time to cool). Heat  olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add leeks and saute for few mins, stirring regularly. Boil water and add stock, then place in small pan with lid, on low heat on stove. Add rice and stir continuously for 30 seconds. Add wine and stir. Turn heat to medium low and add ladle of stock. Stir, then leave for about 30 seconds before stirring again. When mostly absorbed, add another ladle of stock, and continue this process until stock all used and rice al dente. NOTE: This has to be a DRY risotto, rather than a sloppy one. Also it's not pertinent that the stock be added in such small amounts as you would a regular risotto, making it a little quicker. But avoid flooding it with too much water at once. 

Meanwhile, rub pumpkin pieces in olive oil and place in single layer on a tray to roast in hot oven for 30 minutes. You can flip half way through, but not essential. Pumpkin should be very soft.

Stir cheese through finished risotto and then add pumpkin, mixing well so much of it blends through the rice. Set aside until cool (doesn't need to be cold, just the cooler the better).

Place beaten eggs in a small deep bowl. Half fill a small wide bowl with flour, and another with breadcrumbs. It's best not to put too much in at once so that half-way through the bowls can be cleaned of all the eggy muck. Have on hand two large plates.

Time to roll: Roll up your sleeves,  scoop out a heaped T of risotto and roll between your wet hands. Roll in flour briefly and gently, then place on a plate. Roll and flour all the balls, before the next stage. This avoids too much mess and hand washing. Next dip the balls in the egg, closely followed by the breadcrumbs. Place on the other plate.

Put aside spare balls for future meals and place what you want to eat now on a well-oiled tray and bake for 20 mins in hot oven. Remove once crispy. Serve with a green salad with tomatoes, or some other greenery. 

These cooked up very well the next evening.   

Billie contemplating the arancini balls


  1. Hey Sarah, I'm looking forward to trying some of your recipes out, and I appreciate the babies only page, as we are just starting solids! Also, you should put your blog on Kiwi Mummy Blogs - the link is on my sidebar. It's a good way to network and advertise your blog!

  2. Hey thanks Stellar, great to hear. Let me know how you go...thanks for KMB tip too

  3. I am surprised you have never tried these before. This is similar to suppli that I was telling you about yesterday. These are great for parties. I did the food for Alola's 30th and later Chloe's 30th and both times I made versions of these because they are filling, easy to make in bulk and easy to eat. Also great for vegetarians and both Chloe and Alola were vegetarians.

  4. Oh and Stella I just went and looked at your blog. I could waste a lot of time looking at that and your links but as it is I already waste too much time when I should be working. Anyway I wondered if you knew about this blog It belongs to a friend of a friend of mine.

  5. Hey Sarah, I get hunger pangs everytime I view your blog. I've never heard of Arancini balls. They remind me of a dumpling or sticky rice. Do you need a dipping sauce or gravy, or are they moist? We have to make them when you're here visiting. Lenore

  6. Sarah, I recently discovered an easier way to make a creamy leek, asparagus and pea risotto without all the stirring! Very handy with a little one! Just put the sauteed leeks (you can add a little lemon rind and juice) into a large oven proof dish and add 2 cups of Arborio rice and 5 cups of stock and cover tightly with foil. Then bake in 200C oven for 30 mins or so, after which add peas and asparagus, recover and cook another 10 mins. Yum. I have made it successfully several times and even made Arancini from it. XC

  7. wow - thanks Cara. I am after some short cuts after getting overwhelmed with dishes and too much time in the kitchen

  8. hey Lenore, - you, the Italian in the family. never heard of them? I will certainly make them for you and your dad. No dipping sauce necessary.

  9. Suppli? Didn't see that one sorry Hannah. Must be hiding someplace...

  10. Here you go wikipedia say that suppli and arancini are similar
    Just another kind of croquette. I have made Spanish ones with salt cod.
    My first comment about suppli was under the post called Italian Job