We had an ice storm on the night of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday here in Washington, D.C., and looking outside my window today I see branches and plants glazed like glass. The temperature is predicted to stay at or near the freezing mark, so the ice will be around for several days.

It’s time for comfort food, warm, creamy, caloric.

After spending the morning adding to my resume—counterintuitive since I always thought less was more, despite being recently chastised by a headhunter to shorten my too detailed resume. Well, detailed is what another headhunter wants, so I resuscitated the lost parts for an updated resume. Job hunting is like dating. What appeals to one, may be off-putting to another.

In any case, I tackled the revision this morning. The recipient is pleased.

I’m feeling virtuous which always leads me to the kitchen. I have leftover rice from an adobo I was trying out for some friends. I’ll save the Filipino dish for another posting, today the question is what do you do with two cups of cold white rice other than reheat it or make it into a rice pudding?

I had my answer from reading an Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montelbano mystery. (I recommend them.) In one, Salvo Montelbano, solves a crime but delays meeting his girlfriend in Paris on New Year’s Eve (he meets her the next day—he’s a good guy) for his cook’s rice croquettes. He is a consummate foodie and will stop in the middle of an investigation when he hears a restaurant has fresh fish or almost any Sicilian dish cooked by his redoubtable cook, Adelina.

Most of us think of rice as from Asia, but did you know that the so-called “lost crops” of Africa include rice? The National Academies Press (NAP) which publishes reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council told me so.

African red rice, oryza glaberrima, as opposed to the Asian Oryza sativa helped ease a famine on the continent in 1203. It isn’t really “lost” either, just no where near as well known as its Asian cousin.

“Rice has been cultivated in West Africa for at least 1,500 years. Some West African countries have, since ancient times, been just as rice-oriented as any Asian one. For all that, however, almost no one else has ever heard of their species. Asia’s rice is so advanced, so productive, and so well known that its rustic relative has been relegated to obscurity even in Africa itself. Today, most of the rice cultivated in Africa is of the Asian species. In fact, the “great red rice of the hook of the Niger” is declining so rapidly in importance and area that in most locations it lingers only as a weed in fields of its foreign relative. This should not be allowed to happen. The rice of Africa has a long and noteworthy history. It arose in the flood basin of the central Niger and prehistoric Africans carried it westward to Senegal, southward to the Guinea coast, and eastward as far as Lake Chad.” — NAP

The following recipe uses ordinary, Asian rice, cooked in water. No short cuts. The rice should be cold.

Rice Croquettes

1 cup cold (refrigerated) rice
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 buffalo Mozzarella cut in tiny squares

Mix rice, 1 egg and Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together. If mixture is too wet, add some bread crumbs until a spoonful holds its shape in your hand.

Beat second egg to a froth and pour in a shallow bowl. Fill another shallow bowl with bread crumbs.

Put the oil in a pan and heat until hot enough for frying.

Put a spoonful of rice in the palm of your hand. Place a couple of squares of mozzarella cheese in the center of the rice. Cover with another spoonful of rice mixtures and mold until you have a cylinder or patty shape. Alternatively, you can flatten one end and shape it into something that resembles a pyramid.

Gently, dip the croquette in the egg wash and then roll gently in the bread crumbs until all sides are covered. Gently slip the croquettes into the oil. When brown on one side — if the oil is hot enough this will not take too long — and gently flip to the other side.

Place the croquettes on a plate covered with two layers of paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

I ate these — warm, crunchy exterior, creamy center — with some leftover toum, a Lebanese garlic paste usually served with grilled chicken, and a Dogfish Head India Pale ale. Delish!

Till next time.

Melkam Megeb.  Bon appetit. Buen provecho. Mànmàn chī! Guten Appetit! Dober tek! Selamat makan! Nush olsun! Svādiṣṭ khānā