5 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 cups arborio rice
2-3/4 cups chicken broth, very hot, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
4 tablespoons finely minced fresh oregano or thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
Vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup sour cream
1 ounce black caviar eggs (see Note)
Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the rice and stir to coat well for 1 1/2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the hot broth to rice. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady low simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally. In about 10 minutes, when almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, add 1/2 cup more broth. In about 7 minutes, when the broth is absorbed, test the rice; it should be tender, but still firm. If necessary, continue cooking, adding broth gradually to keep the rice slightly wet.
You may not need all of the broth. Cool for a few minutes in the saucepan.
Add the eggs, cheese, 3 tablespoons of the oregano or thyme, the salt, and bread crumbs to rice; mix well. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with oil. Pour the rice mixture into pan, spreading evenly to create a flat top. Bake 17 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
Cut out shapes to create rice cakes with 1 1/2 to 2-inch cookie cutters. Reshape the remaining rice mixture to form patties and continue cutting out shapes, using all of the mixture. Place the cakes on a serving platter.
Mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oregano or thyme with the sour cream. Place a small dollop of herbed sour cream, then caviar, on top of each risotto cake. Serve.
NOTE: You may substitute salmon eggs for the caviar.
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Excerpted from B. Smith: Rituals & Celebrations by Barbara Smith Copyright© 1999 by Barbara Smith. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.