Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Makin’ the Rice balls

I think it’s literally been about four years since I told my Aunt Ro that I wanted to learn how to make her famous rice balls. And as a 2012 Eating Resolution I finally made it happen! Rice balls, like pretty much everything in Italian food culture are made differently according to region. The main difference is the stuffing. In Italian, rice balls are called ‘arancini’ which translates to little orange, and no matter the variations on stuffing, all rice balls have the crispy golden fried exterior that makes it look like a little orange.

True to traditional family secrets, there was no recipe. So my senses were on high alert as I tasted the boiling salt water, felt the density of the rice as it cooked, watched as it cooled and checked for the gummy texture.  Aunt Ro makes a classic Sicilian rice ball with a stuffing that includes, ground meat, chopped onions, tomato paste, peas, grated Pecorino cheese, and ground pepper. The stuffing was the easy part, checking for seasoning as we added the cheese.  We waited for the rice to cool completely by laying it out in sheet trays. And finally, the time had come! Time to make the balls!

Here is a video of Aunt Ro explaining the technique:

Untitled from Allison Caruana on Vimeo.

Once the balls were done, we dipped them in egg, with a little bit of milk and seasoned breadcrumbs.  And then into the frier! We used a combination of olive oil and vegetable oil. Aunt Ro said you know the oil is hot enough when you throw a little rice scrap into the pot, it sinks to the bottom, does a little dance, and then floats up to the top.  We fried them until they were a nice deep golden brown and rotated them once just so the bottom didn’t burn.

The taste of a freshly fried rice ball is like no other experience! I’m used to eating them re-heated and they don’t have that crispy crunchy exterior like a fresh one. Quite a food nirvana moment for me!

I think the best part of the day, aside from the glorious moment of tasting a fresh rice ball was spending a day with Aunt Ro! She is true Brooklyn (if you couldn’t tell from her accent that video) and is a real ‘say it how it is’ kinda woman.  She’s pretty badass.  In fact she took me to get my first tattoo! And I was so happy I made her proud with my rice- balling skills, I was a natural!

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NY Wine and Food Festival 2011

Now that the dust has settled from all of the New York Wine and Food Festival hoop-la I’ve had a chance to reflect and do a blog post.  Each year that I participate I come away from the festival with a unique experience and renewed love for food discovery and elastic waistline pants.

Saturday night was spent celebrating ‘Brooklyn’s Bounty’ with the loveable Adam Richman from ‘Man vs. Food.’  You heard it here ladies and gentleman he is my new celebrity crush.  A good-ole Brooklyn boy who loves to eat, loves to laugh and likes to be challenged by his food.  What more could a girl and ask for.  Not to mention my mother would love shoveling food in his mouth!

The event was sponsored by Edible Brooklyn who I feel is just starting to get their feet wet in the big event planning scene.  Edible magazine has shot through roof with their recent James Beard win for their ‘Publication of the Year’ Award while only a few years ago sat collecting dust in the corner of neighborhood coffee shops.

A rumored 350 people attended this cocktail-party-style jammed into this beautiful historical Green Building with jaw dropping chandeleers in the middle of Carroll Gardens.  The good thing was there were no lines for food and by the end of three hours you were quite satisfied with selections.  The trick is to drink moderately to make more room for the food.  We did do one Jameson pickle back shot which was strategically located next to McClures Pickles.

Nestled in the back corner of the room was  D. Coluccio & Sons,  a fixture in my exsistence as an Italian-American.  The name Coluccio has been thrown around my house for as long as I can remember.  No holiday or family gathering would be complete without an antipasto spread from Coluccio’s.  There were countless Christmas mornings, fresh from opening gifts from Santa that I’d then move on to unwrapping and opening containers of olives, marniated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and stuffed peppers to arrange on the antipasto platter.  Followed by rolling slices of provolone and cutting up my other love in this life, Parmigano Reggiano cheese.

I have to give credit to vendors who sign up for these banquet style events.  You really have to think about your execution and your audience.  As much as you want to impress your guests and make them remember you, head cheese and sardines aren’t a big seller.  Our biggest dissapointment was Bark Hot Dogs didn’t give us a hot dog!  Some lobster roll thing…c’mon guys.  Some of the best food came from the food trucks that were parked outside.  Food Freaks (only open 3 weeks!) had this insane grilled cheese and tomato soup with some crispy brussel sprouts.  And Papa Perrone’s rice balls were right on point.

An overall great event, but I’d tell Edible to set up more high-top tables – the drink in one hand and food in the other is still a challenge for most humans.

Link to all participants


Sunday was Carts in the Parc!  I remembered my camera for this one!  This was a truly great event possibly the best I’ve ever been to in my three year run.  The best of the best NYC food trucks parked along the curb of FoodParc at Eventi Hotel in Chelsea.  FoodParc is a modern-day food court and in the back is a really nice garden area with a huge big screen TV.  This event was hosted by Andrew Zimmern, another cool dude but I was happy stalking Adam Richman who showed up again as well as some other big name foodies like Chef Michael White from Marea, and Angelo Sosa from Top Chef.  I didn’t have one off-putting thing from this food marathon.  Our endurance was definitely up from the night before.  The NY Dosa Cart won my heart.  This is authentic street food and an original to whole food truck craze.  I did a little photo time lapse of the lentil pancake with the spicy potatoes and vegetable chutney.  The Biryani Cart another orignal authentic was also delcious and won fan favorite for the day.  The pictures say it all so enjoy!

Link to all participants

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Brooklyn Local

On September 17th, City Harvest hosted their first annual Brooklyn Local event.  Artisan food vendors from all over Brooklyn came to showcase their delicious and handmade delights.  Local Brooklyn brewery Sixpoint along with several other beer and wine vendors kept us from going thirsty.  What  I found most compelling was the event space.  The Brooklyn Tabacco Warehouse is this charming open air venue reminisant of medieval times.  In the 1870s it was used as a tobacco customs inspection center, and saved from demolition in 1998.

I had the great opportunity to volunteer with City Harvest in the kids area and decorate cookies all morning!  The cookies and decorating supplies were provide by The Good Batch.

Here is a link to all the participating vendors.  And some of my favorites!

My Friend’s Mustard,

Cuzin’s Duzin

Pie Corp

Kings County Jerky Co

Stinky Bklyn

I took some fun pictures of the kiddie creations!  Each cookie was very expressive of each kid, it was like cookie psychology.  And I could pick out a few that would probably resemble the mess that I would have made as a kid!

The end of the gallery has pictures from the actual event.

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