Strawberry Risotto and Arancini

Anyone who has been following this blog for some time is aware of my admiration of Italian food and the synonymous belief that a dish is encapsulated by the quality of the individual ingredients. Unfortunately, living in London means that quality of ingredients wavers between two extremes. We can get really good apples, mushrooms and often strawberries (2009's harvest was particularly good) but we also get depressingly bad flavourless and mushy April tomatoes. The key here is that we do not decide when to eat certain fruit and vegetables; seasonality is key. But this does not mean that fruit in season always tastes good (it is more likely but by no means a certainty) and we need to use ingenuity and a little creativity in that instance. Sour strawberries can be remedied with a good amount of sugar (or sweet cream) but re-imagining their potential use allows the versatility of the fruit to shine through.  This strawberry risotto is by no means a new idea but I've taken the crux of the original recipe and edited ever so slightly. Make more risotto than you need so you'll be left with enough risotto to make some strawberry risotto arancini!

Strawberry Risotto
1 cup Egyptian short grain rice (or Carnaroli)
2-2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 stalk celery
1 large onion
1/2 a leek
1 dessert spoon olive oil
a splash of cyder vinegar
a handful of strawberries (however much you want!)
1 sprig of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of parmesan
1 tablespoon of good quality butter
salt and pepper (careful on the salt, there's stock and parmesan in this)

Strawberry Risotto Arancini
however much risotto is left
a good white cheese (mozzarella works but provola is best)
1 egg
4-5 teaspoons of flour
4-5 teaspoons of panko

Strawberry Risotto
Sweat the diced onion, celery and leek in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the rice and make sure that every grain is coated in oil and fry for a minute. Add the cyder vinegar until cooked out. Add the chopped strawberries and the sprig of thyme and stir in and then ladle on the first spoonful of stock. Try to stir this as few times as possible. You only want to stir to stop it from sticking. Add a ladle-ful of stock at a time until the rice has increased in size and is tender to the bite. You want to make sure not to dry out the rice too much so it's best to add a little more stock after your rice is cooked to your liking. Add the grated parmesan and butter and stir. Cover and leave to rest for one minute. Then it's time to eat!
Strawberry Risotto Arancini
Once the risotto has cooled down completely you can start to form the rice into balls. Prod a hole in the middle of the ball and stuff with diced cheese before encasing it once more. You can stuff the arancini with anything you like. Dip the ball into the flour, the egg and then into the panko. I did this twice to add a good crunch to the exterior. Preheat the oil to 170 C and deep fry until golden brown. Hopefully the cheese you've chosen has melted! You can add ragu on the side or eat them as they are.