Festive Christmas recipes > Deep fried rice cakes

Ingredients >
425g/15oz potatoes, peeled
90g/3¼oz long grain rice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
900g/2lb fresh spinach leaves
140g/5oz dry breadcrumbs
55g/2oz plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Small bunch of mixed fresh herbs – parsley, chives, chervil, basil and oregano
300ml/½ pint mayonnaise
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
25g/1oz butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method >
Cut potatoes into even-sized pieces and cook in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Cook rice according to packet instructions.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
Add chopped onions and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes to soften, but do not allow to brown. Add the chopped basil and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pick through the spinach and remove and discard any damaged leaves and all the stalks.
Wash the remaining leaves in several changes of cold water. Plunge the washed leaves into a pan of boiling salted water and blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Drain leaves, then refresh in a bowl of iced water.
Drain again, then squeeze spinach to remove any water.

Mash the potatoes in a bowl (do not add any milk or butter), then add onion mixture and cooked rice and mix together.
If the mixture is soft, add some of the breadcrumbs to ‘tighten it up’, otherwise the ricecakes may fall apart during deep frying.
Taste to check the seasoning.

Divide the mixture into 4 large (or 8 smaller) balls, then shape into round, flat cakes.
Dust rice cakes in flour, dip in beaten egg then coat in the remaining breadcrumbs. Chill for about one hour.

Remove the leaves from the herbs and wash well.
Dry in a salad spinner, or using kitchen paper, then chop finely. Stir chopped herbs into mayonnaise – this will give you a lovely green mayonnaise.

Fill a deep pan one third full with vegetable oil (or use a deep fat fryer) and heat oil to 160°C (325°F).
Deep fry rice cakes in batches for 3-4 minutes, or until heated through, golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm whilst you cook the remaining cakes.

Heat butter in a pan, add spinach and warm through gently. Season. Pile the spinach onto plates, top with ricecakes and spoon over some of the mayonnaise. Serve straight away.

Serves: 4.