I like chocolate. But I love cheese. With hearts and flowers and everything.
Now, I’m not being disparaging about the cocoa laden stuff. Sometimes nothing else will do and it MUST be chocolate at all costs. It’s why I have some mini dark chocolate and orange bars hidden away (they are my favourite).
Weird though it may seem, my tooth is distinctly savoury. So when it comes to Easter and everyone is getting giddy about big fat chocolate eggs, eggs as big as your head, little crispy solid ones, or brownies filled with them, I’m less fussed.
But then this happened.
An egg made of cheese? A cheester egg? This I can get behind wholeheartedly.
I mean it’s cheese. And creamy, Blacksticks Blue at that. I think of Blacksticks Blue as a blue cheese for beginners. I was introduced to blue cheese by my dad as a teenager. I’d spent years sneering (in that way teenagers do) at his lunch of Stilton, pickled walnuts and olives with a hunk of bread. He encouraged me to try a piece of blue Stilton with an olive, and I was hooked. By comparison, Blacksticks Blue is soft, creamy with a hint of ‘blue’. It doesn’t have that tangy acidity that comes from something like Stilton, it’s softer, more gentle.
Refraining from flying in with a box of crackers in the office (I’m still not sure how), I took my little egg home. First some cheese went on a spoon and into my mouth.
Then (eventually) some went into potato skins – baked potatoes were cooled, the flesh scooped out and mixed with Blacksticks Blue and a little sour cream, before being piled back into the skins, and topped with more cheese. Served with barbecue ribs and coleslaw.
But I wanted to do something a bit special with the cheese, and it wasn’t until I made a vegetable risotto and had tons extra leftover as usual that an idea popped into my head. Arancini. The idea is simple, cheese in the centre, leftover risotto on the outside, chuck it in a fryer. Crispy, stodgy rice, oozy cheese in the middle.
So after a little practice, that’s what I did. Now, whilst I made a good 8 from my risotto, it all depends on how much you have left, and how big you make them, that bit is up to you. A classic recipe for this would be a saffron risotto with mozzarella, but I used a variation on my own gin risotto, chopping the vegetables finer and using fewer to help the rice to stick.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Oh and whilst this was a one off run of 100, if you fancy a cheester egg of your own next year, I’d suggest you tell Blacksticks. I think with enough persuasion we can make it happen.
Cheester eggs for all.
- 500g Leftover risotto (chilled). See notes above for suggestions.
- 150g Blacksticks Blue cheese
- 300g Plain flour for dusting
- 1 Litre vegetable oil for deep frying.
- Take s small amount of risotto. You want around a golf ball sort of size.
- Mould it in your hand so that it fits your curved palm.
- pop a teaspoon of cheese in the centre and mouth the risotto around it.
- Press to form a ball. You want it to be firm to hold the cheese.
- Dust with flour.
- Repeat until you run out of risotto or cheese.
- If there is cheese left, eat it obviously. We don't want waste, do we?
- Heat your oil to 170°C. Please be careful with oil, preferably in a deep fat fryer.
- Place in your balls one or two at a time, until they go crisp and golden.
- Try to let them cool a touch before eating. If you can. They're a bit addictive.
- There are no strict rules with the amount of cheese versus risotto. It's entirely up to you, but the idea is to ensure that the whole of the cheese is covered by risotto, so you don't lose any in the frying process.
- If you prefer, coat the arancini in flour, egg and breadcrumbs for deep frying, or baking in the oven.