Monday, December 10, 2018

Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly



This post was sponsored by USA Rice Canada. We were compensated monetarily but all opinions and experiences, as always, are our own!

Sue and I really cannot get enough rice. I mean, seriously, can we talk about the nutritional advantages of rice for a second?
·         Rice is a delicious and versatile, slow burning complex carb that provides long lasting energy
·         It’s naturally sodium, cholesterol, and gluten free AND low allergen
Plus, it’s delicious, it’s incredibly versatile, and so easy to make. You can cook a huge batch on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze for later use (It will hold in the freezer for up to 6 months!). Pop over to www.riceinfo.com for some short how-to videos on how to reheat your rice so it’s just like freshly cooked!
Sue and I are also big fans of the fact that U.S. grown rice is as local as it gets for Canadians, and rice is super affordable so great for feeding a hungry family!  
You can find tons of great recipes and tips over at www.riceinfo.com! Be sure to pop over and have a look.
For this post Sue and I wanted to create a fun and different holiday appetizer that, while perfect for this time of year, would also work all year ‘round. Sue is a bit of a pickle freak while I am a definite sushi lover… Sue said, “Hmmm… what would happen if deep fried pickles and sushi had a baby?”
I know what you’re thinking.
Whaaaaaaat kind of hybrid would that be?
Well, turns out a delicious, crunchy-squishy hybrid.


Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

Ingredients
Rice
1 cup uncooked sushi rice
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Batter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pickle juice
1 egg

Topping
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp dried dill

Filling
4 - 5 small pickles, chopped into chunks

Oil for deep frying (about 1 litre) 

Dip
Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

Garnish
green onion, sliced

Directions
Prepare rice - Cook the rice according to the package directions. Once done, let cool for about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour into the cooked rice and stir well to combine.


 Set aside to cool completely. When rice is cool, you are ready to make your pickle balls!
Prepare the batter - whisk together flour, baking powder, water, pickle juice, and egg to form a pancake-like batter. Set aside.
Prepare the topping - in a large, shallow bowl, combine panko crumbs and dill. Set aside. 
Before you begin, fill a bowl full of water and have it sitting on your work surface beside you. You will need to keep your hands wet to prevent the rice from sticking to you. 
See photo below - you should have your rice, bowl of water, chopped pickle, batter, and topping all ready to go. 
Place oil for frying in a large pot and start heating while you make the balls. You want the oil to be at 350° degrees. 


Wet your hands and pinch off a ping pong ball sized amount of rice. Flatten in it in the palm of your hand and place a pickle piece in the middle.


Gently squish the rice around the pickle and press into a ball. Continue with the rice and pickles until your are out of rice. We usually get between 18 to 20. 


Using a fork (or your fingers but that is messier), dip a ball in the batter and roll it to coat evenly. Then lift the ball and gently shake off any excess batter. Transfer the ball to the topping and roll to coat all the sides. 


Repeat with all the balls. 


Deep fry 4 - 5 balls at a time in the 350° degree oil until golden brown, about 1 - 2 minutes.


Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let excess oil drip back into the pot. Place on a wire rack with paper towel underneath OR directly onto paper towel to let any excess oil drip off. 


You can serve now OR you can serve at room temp OR you can even serve cold. Place the balls on a serving platter with the Spicy Red Pepper Jelly. 


You can sprinkle with a little sliced green onion, if desired.


These make a lovely addition to the holiday table with those pops of red and green!


You can cut them in half for presentation - this will also double your servings from 18 to 36. 


Sue's hubby, Rob, loved the squishy texture of the rice with the crunchy pickle and crisp coating. (So did we!) 


They are delicious when first made and are hot BUT, the beauty of this recipe is that they are also amazing at room temp or even the next day, chilled. 


We served the red pepper jelly in a bowl for dipping but you could also place it in a plastic bag, snip the corner off, and drizzle it on top of the balls. The little bit of heat in the red pepper jelly pairs really well with the tang of the dill. 


I found that without any red pepper jelly the crunchy pickle balls had a buttery taste from the batter and crumbs that was delicious on its own as well. Because of the sushi aspect of these, you could also serve them with a little wasabi or sriracha mayo. 
Like things even spicier? Throw a slice of jalapeno in there with your pickle!
Rice makes this fun holiday appetizer affordable and, other than the deep frying, fairly nutrient dense (think B vitamins, phosphorus, and zinc!) 
Be sure to pop over to www.riceinfo.com for more recipes and information on rice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Old Fashioned Jelly Donuts


"It's a jelly"
If you're Canadian I'm pretty sure it's the law that you know which movie that comes from. Strange Brew (1983). You know, Bob and Doug Mackenzie... hosers.... take off, eh..... 
I'll forgive you if you don't know it. But look it up. Watch it. Seriously. It's a Canadian thing. 
Anyways.... jelly donuts make an appearance in the movie so that's why I brought it up. They should make an appearance in aaaalllll the movies. I mean.... J E L L Y D O N U T S are just ridiculous. 
Let's give them their own star on the walk of fame. 


Old Fashioned Jelly Donuts

Ingredients
Dough
2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Filling
1 jar seedless raspberry jelly (or your favorite)

Oil for deep frying (about 1 litre)
sugar to roll the donuts in

Directions
Prepare dough - Heat buttermilk over medium heat until just starting to steam. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit another 5 minutes - until yeast blooms.
Whisk the butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt into the yeast mixture. Slowly stir in the flour until soft, but not sticky, dough forms. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured work surface. 
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set somewhere warm to rise for an hour. 
After an hour, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2.5 to 3 inch biscuit cutter. Place donuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise another 45 minutes or so. 
When the second rise time is almost up, heat your oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. (This takes about 15 minutes so start to heat it up after dough has been rising about half an hour.)
Place a shallow bowl filled with sugar beside where you are going to be placing the donuts after frying.
When oil reaches 350, gently slide 3 or 4 donuts into the oil and fry 1 minute on each side - until evenly browned. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. 
Roll the donuts in the sugar to coat.
Repeat until all donuts have been cooked. 


Let cool completely. 
When they are cooled off - place the jelly in a piping bag fitted with a long nozzle. Poke a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon into the side of each donut to create a hole. Then press the tip of the piping nozzle into the hole and squeeze in some jelly. 
Repeat until all donuts are filled!. 


These are best eaten the day they are made but can be frozen.


Want to see the inside? 


Look at all that squishiness and gooey jelly!
Personally, I like raspberry jelly the best for jelly donuts but you can use your favorite! You can also dust the donuts with powdered sugar after they have cooled INSTEAD OF the regular sugar.... but I like the regular sugar because that's how we had them growing up. 
NOTE - This recipe is also easy to double! The photos above are of a doubled recipe! I think you get about 1 1/2 - 2 dozen per batch (so about 3 - 4 dozen doubled).