kitchen inspiration: suppli with butternut squash & fresh mozzarella from antonelli’s cheese

Kendall and John Antonelli, cheese mongers, love mongers, and gastronomes extraordinaire, invite us into the tiny, but crammed-full-of-deliciousness Antonelli’s Cheese, where we could spend hours tasting and perusing the expertly-curated cheese selection and all manner of exquisite cheese-related delectables, including freshly baked breads, small-batch jams, nuts, salamis, olives, boutique wine, craft beer, artisanal chocolates, and handmade cheese boards and knives.   Here’s our insider’s peek into where they find culinary inspiration and what you’ll find in their fridge–keep reading for a recipe inspired by one of John’s favorite cheeses.

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What flavors inspire taste memories for you?

John: Fennel, wild thyme, anything my mom cooked when I was a child. And I have very specific memories associated with the following cheeses: fresh mozzarella, Tomme Crayeuse, Comte, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Kendall: Still-warm, just-picked, sun-ripened tomatoes.

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What’s your favorite ingredient?

John: sea salt, olive oil, cheese.

Kendall: I pretty much agree with John. Almost everything that makes it to our plate is finished with one of those three items in some way or another.

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Tell us about your dream dinner party—you can invite six guests (real, imaginary, living or dead) to dinner-what, who, & where?

Kendall: Yes, I’m a cheeseball, but I swear the first person I’d have to have there is my husband. On the few times we’ve been apart, I’ve enjoyed some great meals, but they just don’t taste as amazing as they could without John there to experience them with me. (Plus, we’re known for ordering way more than we need so we can both share!) I’d also want my father there. My father, who passed away just over ten years ago now, never got to meet John. I attribute much of my love of food and travel to him. He exposed me to five different continents and countless cultures and cuisines before I reached ten years of age, and I feel we were robbed of the opportunity for me to ever tell him thank you for that. Of course, that means our son Everett would have to be there to meet his grandfather – granted, most of his meal would just end up on the floor. From there, it’s a draw. We’ve joked that it would be a great conversation to ask that first person who decided to eat that moldy blue cheese (a.k.a. Roquefort) just what he was thinking. (And to thank him for doing it and not pitching the piece!) While I know I should throw a famous person in there, I really think my dream dinner party would then just come down to a couple of good friends. (After all, they wouldn’t judge me when I went back for seconds!)

John: Don’t forget to invite “The Three Amigos,” without whom we may have never met, connected, and fell in love. (Yes, our two dogs are Lucky Day and Dusty Bottoms. El Guapo now lives at his grandparents’ house.)

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What’s in your fridge right now?

John: The standards in our fridge always include a huge hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, milk, greens, tortillas, beer, and baby food. Oh, and delicious butter. Tons of pickles. Soy sauce. And honestly, a lot of various condiments.  We’ve got INNA Jam Strawberry Seascape and Robert Lambert Wild Plum Jam right now. We’ve also got La Quercia bacon and some rabbit rilletes, as well as Widmer’s Cellars Brick Spread. We hoard Confituras Bourbon Brown Butter Peach Preserves for a rainy day.

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It’s Wednesday night at 6:30.  What’s for dinner?

John: Cheese! We actually don’t get regular dinner on Wednesday night since we’re often leading cheese class that evening; however, we do munch on the cheese board alongside our guests.

Inspired by John’s love of fresh mozzarella, I created these easy-to-whip up cocktail bites. Suppli are traditionally made with leftover risotto, but I’d cook a pot of risotto just to have these.  They make perfect cocktail bites or a light supper alongside lightly dressed greens.

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Suppli with Butternut Squash & Fresh Mozzarella

2 c cooked risotto (use your favorite recipe)

1/2-1 c diced butternut squash, steamed until very tender

6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 12 2″ cubes

1 c flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c panko bread crumbs

oil for frying

your favorite ragu or marinara sauce

In a medium bowl, combine risotto and steamed butternut squash. Mix thoroughly until butternut is evenly distributed throughout risotto. Divide risotto into 12 small mounds. Scoop up about 2/3 of one mound and shape into a small disc. Place a cube of mozzarella on top and cover with remaining risotto from the same mound.  Shape into a ball, making sure cheese is completely enclosed. Set aside and repeat with the remaining mounds of risotto.  Heat oil in a deep frying pan or dutch oven to 350 degrees.  Roll each rice ball first in flour, then egg, then panko.  Fry until crisp and brown, turning so that they cook evenly.  Drain on a rack or on brown paper grocery sacks.  Serve with your favorite ragu or marinara and a light dusting of parmesan (these are great hot or at room temperature).

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