Despite the warm weather, it's a great time to make chowder and finish up with fried sweet rice balls. Yesterday's New York Times Food section had two recipes that would be great for the mid December lull and the end of Hanukkah, One is a spicy soup from David Tanis in City Kitchen while Melissa Clark gives us a recipe beloved by Italian Jews in her Good Eats column.
On to the chowder first. David Tanis gives us a spicy meat and potato kind that could work now or on a cool Spring or Summer day,It starts with fish. Mr Tanis used smoked sablefish, a milder tasting fish for the base. Home chefs can use it but can also try any smoked fish such as whitefish, sturgeon, haddock or even eel or mussels.He sweats the onions first, then chorizo and cubed yellow fleshed potatoes (namely Yukon Gold). Leeks are also used to intensify the onion flavor and then the fish is added. Cut it into cubes and add with piquillo peppers. The last is fiery capiscum that adds heat and color to the broth , elevating it from just another seafood chowder to something special. Chopped cilantro is added to the finished product. for more color,giving it that holiday green and red contrast. This could be served at a tree trimming party along with an olive salad . Crusty Spanish bread, pan de horno, drizzled with olive oil would also be a perfect mate to this soup. You could even float toasted slices of it on top of the chowder.. Mr. Tanis recommends an Iberian sherry or even a hearty Madeira to serve with it.
Melissa Clark gives us a variation of latkes that works for both Hanukkah and Christmas parties.They're rice fritters, a kind of arancini riff on the Sicilian savory classic rice ball.The recipe comes from Edda Servi Machlan''s 1992 cookbook "The Classic Cuisine Of Italian Jews" and features the chewier arborio rice than the regular minute kind.. The fritters also have pine nuts and raisins in it as well as a cheese center, similar to arancini. Ms. Clark punches up the raisins by soaking them in a warm brandy bath for twenty minutes.However these also have a hint of savoriness with the addition of thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese.. These rice patties do require more work than the average potato pancake,. A slurry of water and flour has to be made as a paste to hold the rice around the cheese and raisin the after . panko bread crumbs are the coating to give it the rice that nice crunchy crispness. The fritters are then fried in grapeseed oil.followed by a light sprinkle of sea salt. You can eat them straight from the fryer or even nibble on them an hour later.
If you want to liven up the December lull along with the last nights of Hanukkah, then make this chowder and rice fritters. They're an exciting departure from the usual. Try them for some fun eating.