We have four questions we ask our children (and answer ourselves) every night. They are, “what was the best thing that happened today?, what was the worst thing that happened today?, what did you find challenging? and what are you most grateful for?” The most surprising thing about this little dialogue is that every day I find new things to be grateful for that I previously took for granted. This week I got an inside peek at what life must have been like prior to refrigeration when the compressor in my fridge/freezer broke down. I must admit I did not immediately consider being grateful and I likely had the longest round of swearing in my lifetime as I bought up all the ice in the neighbourhood.
My next 48 hours were consumed by securing new refrigeration and keeping my food cold. Not only did I become grateful that I was born after the invention of refrigeration (i.e. there was an end in sight) but also that this happened during the winter so at least I could play garden Tetris with boxes of cold food. (By the way, packing your refrigerator with ice does NOT work whatever the internet may say. I am well equipped with fully functioning thermometers which attest to this.) I would have been even more grateful had I learned the refrigerator had bust before all the repairmen clocked off for the day, I had not received two large grocery deliveries that same day and well, let’s put it this way, my children don’t thieve ice cream. It’s not that my children don’t want to but because the last time my son tried to, he nearly broke a toe from the avalanche of rock-hard frozen food cascading from the freezer. You get the idea.
I quickly realized that we must eat everything in the freezer starting with ice cream for dinner. Some quick mental arithmetic meant that everything which had been refrigerated would need to be frozen when the new fridge turned up and all the frozen items would need to be eaten in the next couple of days. So while I waited for repairmen and then my fridge delivery, I turned the butter and jam into jam tarts (crostata). All the seafood and fish went into a fish soup (brodetto). All the different meat was used to make a Neapolitan meat sauce (ragu napoletano) which doubles as a pasta sauce and a main course. Minced meats could be used in meatballs (polpettine), meatloaf (polpettone) or a quick Bolognese sauce (ragu alla bolognese veloce). The vegetables were cooked as side dishes or used to top pizzas (mushroom pizza or bruschetta ai funghi) but could easily have gone into a risotto as well. All the salami, ham, cheese and eggs went into a Calabrian stuffed pitta (pitta ripiena calabrese). Finally the remaining cheese was melted into a béchamel made with the milk to make macaroni and cheese (maccheroni al gratin). Another option which also uses eggs is a rice omelette (frittata di riso) which is a well-loved dish in our household as it is easy and quick to make and delicious.
Frittata di riso (rice omelette) -Lombardia
This produces a crispy crusted rice omelette with a creamy core and spots of oozing cheese. Children adore it and when cut into wedges, it is the perfect meal-on-the-go or picnic food. Cut-up ham may be added if desired. It can also be made using leftover risotto and is a good alternative to a pasta omelette, particularly for the gluten-free crowd. For illustrated step-by-step instructions, click here.
This dish can also be made with eggs separated and the whites whipped to stiff peaks before adding. It is then baked in the oven at 200C for 25 to 30 minutes until golden.
250 grams risotto rice
25 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
75 grams provola, provolone, caciocavallo or mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 cm cubes
20 mls oil
Black pepper, finely ground
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the rice and cook for the time indicated on the package, usually about 20 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve and let it cool.
Mix the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with the eggs and provola cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooled rice and stir throughly to combine.
Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and then the rice. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes or until golden on bottom. Place a lid or plate on top of the rice and invert the omelette onto the lid. Slide the omelette back into the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden.