Family Recipe Friday – Dora’s Rice Patties (Polpette di Riso?)

On our recent trip to Sicily for a family wedding, I got to spend some time in the kitchen with the groom’s mother, Dora. They are cousins to my husband. I’ve been having fun trying out the recipes here at home! If you missed it, the first recipe was for Fava Beans. In the photo below you can see the fava beans served with some rice patties.

I offered to help Dora in the kitchen and hopefully learn from her. While “we” cooked, I took some pictures – hoping to have a photo recipe for later, then posted the photos on Facebook with instructions accompanying the photos. I think it worked pretty well. I may have missed a few directions here and there, but they are replicable, and certainly better than relying on my poor memory.

Cousin Stella says they use the word “polpette” for these – even though the shape is not round like a meatball – so let’s call them Polpette di Riso (and hope that makes sense, because I don’t speak any Italian or Sicilian!). Dora’s mother made these for her when she was a child and she made them for her kids. Just something simple to use up leftovers – comfort food. It reminded me of the potato patties my mom and grandmother made to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

Stir 3-4 eggs into leftover rice – about 3 cups of rice, give or take. Maybe the proportion is something like one egg per cup of rice? I used leftover brown rice. Not exactly the same, but that’s what I had leftover.

Add salt to taste, and a few raisins and pine nuts. I don’t know if we can get the little package of pine nut and raisin mix in the U. S. The raisins were a really small variety. Again, I made substitutions. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I chopped a few almonds.

Add some bread crumbs, grated Sicilian cheese (I think Dora used Ricotta Salata), and some small pieces of fresh mozzarella. You want a consistency that is wet, but will hold together.

Shape into a ball/patty on a table spoon and cook in hot olive oil. (mine)


Turn to brown both sides.

Here are mine draining on paper towels.

They were yummy!

We were very lucky that Dora insisted on sending some Ricotta Salata home with us! She had a vacuum sealer and we put the vacuum sealed cheese in a suitcase and off we went! The cheese was made by someone she knows in Mezzojuso. It was good while it lasted. Unfortunately, not long enough!

Dora’s Rice Patties/Polpette di Riso

3-4 cups leftover cooked rice
2-4 eggs
salt to taste
tablespoon or more chopped pine nuts and small raisins
grated Ricotta Salata
small pieces fresh mozzarella
bread crumbs

Mix together all ingredients. You want a wet consistency that will hold together fairly well when shaped into a ball on a spoon; begin with a couple of eggs to your rice. If it is very dry, add another egg. You will be adding breadcrumbs and cheese, so adjust until you have a wet consistency that holds together pretty well when you shape into a ball onto a table spoon or small serving spoon. Slide the rice patty off spoon into hot olive oil. Brown; turn to brown other side. Drain off excess oil with paper towel.

Family Recipe Friday – Dora’s Fava Beans

Happy Days! We made it to Sicily!

My husband’s family is from Sicily and he has always wanted to go. Finally, we had an excuse greater than just wishes – a cousin was getting married – and we just couldn’t pass up this great opportunity. The groom and his mother are related to my husband through his Morales side of the family.

We enjoyed some wonderful family time, and Dora, the groom’s mother, cooked for us several times. What a treat! The first meal she prepared for us was this appetizer and some delicious risotto with artichokes from the garden of the bride’s father. Yum!


IMG_3925About the third time Dora fed us, I realized I was missing out by just eating the food, so I offered to help her in the kitchen and hopefully learn from her. While “we” cooked, I took some pictures – hoping to have a photo recipe for later. Easier and faster than writing! Then I posted the photos on Facebook with instructions accompanying the photos. I think it worked pretty well. I may have missed a few directions here and there, but they are replicable, and certainly better than relying on my poor memory.

My first photo recipe is for fava beans. I had only known fava beans as a large dried bean that my husband’s Sicilian-American family says are for good luck. Legend has it that the hearty fava bean fed Sicilians (and/or their livestock) during an extreme drought. One carries a dried fava bean in a pocket or wallet for good luck.

Anna Tasca Lanza, in her book “The Heart of Sicily: Recipes and Remembrances of Regaleali,” writes:

The very first fava beans appear on the table on March 19, the feast of San Giuseppe. These young beans are very tender, crisp, and juicy, and we eat them raw, sometimes with pecorino cheese. More often, though, we serve them with the fresh fruit basket that is placed on the table at the end of every meal.

The season for favas lasts quite a long time – through May – which is probably why we have so many ways of preparing them.

I had never seen (noticed?) fava beans at the grocery store, but a week or so after we returned from Sicily, my husband saw them at Whole Foods and brought some home… and I had a recipe!

My husband wasn’t sure how many beans to buy and we ended up with a lot fewer than what Dora prepared. I just proportionately cut back on ingredients as I was cooking. I have no measurements for you.

When I showed a friend some photos of my trip, she wasn’t very impressed when I told her about the fava beans. Then she saw this pic of Dora’s husband holding one he was shelling. They are a pretty big bean! They are also called Broad Beans and Horse Beans.

Here is my photo recipe from Dora’s kitchen and some pics from my preparations here at home.

Shell the beans. There will be a little bump on one end of the beans and Dora took those off, so I did too. This is what you will have.

Grate a small onion into a pot and add a good portion of olive oil. Saute just until tender.

Add fava beans, stir a few times, add water to cover. Add some salt. Bring to a boil. Dora put a little pot of water on another burner so she would have hot water to add as needed. Why have I never thought to do that?

Dora said to simmer about 30 minutes and she used a pressure cooker lid to finish the beans off quickly. I cooked mine close to an hour. Give the beans a stir every so often, add hot water as needed,  and check for doneness.

Dora’s finished fava beans.

By comparison, my beans do not look as fresh from the beginning. They are pale. Dora bought and cooked her beans on the same day and they were grown locally. Mine, on the other hand, sat in my refrigerator a few days before I cooked them and I don’t know where they were grown. And you can see we barely had enough for two servings. 🙁

My finished beans – again don’t look as fresh and pretty as Dora’s. Plus I chopped my onion instead of grating.

But – they tasted good.

I’ll keep my eye out for fava beans next spring!

I have had the opportunity to prepare the other photo recipes I got from Dora, so I’ll be sharing them in future posts.


Sepia Saturday – And Now Your Favorite Flying Cowboy …

Could it be? Sky King? The flying cowboy?

Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy with lasso and sheep cropped

Looks like he has this case tied up. That wooly bandit was up to no good, but his criminal ways have been put to an end!

Well, okay … it’s not really Sky King since Sky King didn’t hit the airwaves until 1946 and this photo was taken about 1930. But maybe, just maybe, the radio and television shows were based on the childhood exploits of my father-in-law, Martin Morales. Here’s a day in his life – his 2nd birthday seems like a good guess to me.

Martin was a busy cowboy that day. He arrived in a blur in his speedy airplane.

Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy in airplane

His cowgirl cousin met him at the ranch. They were ready for anything.
Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy and ?First there were chores to do out in the pasture.
Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy cutting grass 2

The horses needed to be lassoed and tended to.Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy with ponyWait! Who is this bad guy and what kind of mischief is he up to?
Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy and ? with sheep“I’ve got him covered. Call the sheriff!”
Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy with lasso and sheep croppedLet’s head into town for some sarsaparilla. I could use a stiff drink!
Morales, Martin Mooney Abt 2-3, cowboy and ? on back of car

sepia sat 6 dec 2014Golly, Friends, head on over to Sepia Saturday and see what the other kids are up to today!

Fellows and girls, you can watch an episode of Sky King right here!