A momentous moment here…my first posted recipe from Ina’s new cookbook, Back to Basics! With a bright green and cheery cover, you know just by looking at it (and from past experience of course) that this book means lots of incredible new recipes. I actually squeaked when it arrived at the door…after all, I HAD waited 2 months for it to arrive after pre-ordering it in August. Deb of Kahakai Kitchen was the first BB to brave the new book and choose a recipe for the group to make. You might remember Deb from last month – the veggie pot pies, which I sadly haven’t posted yet – but she was also one of the two BRC winners this month and was allowed to choose a bonus recipe for referring the most people to the BB site.

As I plopped on the couch the Saturday after I received the book with a nice hot cup of coffee to peruse my new-found love, this was one of the first recipes that really caught my eye. It sounded wonderful but geez…more risotto? And then I’d have to make them into cakes and fry them? Pass. Then I came to the Company Pot Roast, wiped the drool off of my chin, and put it on the menu for the following week. The pot roast was actually the first recipe I made from Back to Basics but because it was so incredible, there wasn’t much time for photos…next time, promise. So when Deb chose the Chive Risotto Cakes for her BRC recipe, I was excited and apprehensive all at the same time. I went back to the recipe and read the directions. Boil the Arborio rice. Really? Not stand over the stove to stir the risotto for an hour? Really? Yes, really. Game on!


I ended up making these this past weekend for the birthday dinner I made for my mom and brother and made them as an appetizer rather than a side dish. Considering the trouble I had breading the cakes in the panko, I’m glad my cakes were smaller than what Ina suggested (maybe 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter) – I couldn’t imagine trying to maneuver 3 inch cakes from the panko to the hot oil (a NONSTICK frying pan is absolutely necessary for this recipe). I actually only chilled the mixture for 20 minutes or so but would definitely chill it for the recommended amount of time the next time I make them. The end result was just fabulous!! Just as Ina said, the cakes were crunchy on the outside from the panko and creamy on the inside. They were delicious!! My mom loved them so much I think she probably could have made a meal out of them on their own. I will definitely make these again and will most likely prep them in advance so as to not be standing over the stove for so long next time.

Thanks again to Deb for choosing this fabulous recipe and for getting the group started in Back to Basics!! Keep an eye out later today for the second BRC recipe: Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake!!

Chive Risotto Cakes

source: Ina Garten, Back to Basics, pages 174-175

” I used to have to wait until I made risotto in order to make risotto cakes from the leftovers. So I decided to do a recipe for risotto cakes that I make from scratch. Most of this can be assembled early in the day and then sautéed just before dinner. The yogurt, chives, and Italian Fontina give these a delicious creamy interior, and the panko gives them a wonderful crunchy crust.”

Serves 6 or about 20 mini appetizer pieces

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil
  1. Bring a large (4 quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.

Note from Ina: “Panko, or Japanese bread flakes, have a crisper, lighter texture than regular bread crumbs.”

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Leave a Comment

  • November 20, 2008 at 2:02 PM

    I agree with you about both the time in the fridge and the non-stick pan! Yours look delicious.

  • November 21, 2008 at 6:50 PM

    I probably would just wait and make this with the leftovers!

  • November 23, 2008 at 2:48 PM

    I’m glad you liked them and your Mom too! Making it up the night before really helped in the holding together and made the process so much easier.

  • January 7, 2009 at 9:56 PM

    […] what others have to say about this recipe… Smells Like Home My Bit of Earth Kahakai […]

  • January 7, 2009 at 10:07 PM

    These were delicious! I definitely recommend leaving them in the fridge (or freezer) until the mixture has firmed up. Also, I didn’t dip the cakes into the panko, I sprinkled each cake with panko in my hand and pressed it down. It required a lot less manipulation.