Well guys, I’m writing this post from the States! After 3 and a half months working at the USA Pavilion at this year’s world’s fair in Milan, Italy, I’m back home again in Indiana!
I can’t help it. Cheesy, America-related references and jokes are kind of ingrained in me by this point. Or should I say *corny*. Cuz I’m from Indiana.
I’ll stop, I’ll stop.
So far my time has been spent as such:
- Stuffing my face with bagels and maple syrup (not together…)
- Facebook stalking the friends I had to say “see you later” to (miss you guys!!)
- Hugging friends and family I haven’t seen for a looong time
- Trying not to fall asleep at 6PM
- Stopping myself from saying “Benvenuti, welcome” to everyone who walks past me. (Is this how workers at Disney World feel?)
- Daydreaming about gelato
So you can see I’ve been super busy.
Anyway, my cousin David made me promise to cook an Italian meal for the family when I got back and said that he would get me whatever ingredients I needed, which is an even nicer offer than you would think because I became a food snob while I was in Italy, so, you know, ingredient standards have gone up.
Here was our menu:
Tomato Bruschetta (Pronounced broo-SKEH-tah, not broo-SHEH-tah. When you have a –ch in Italian it sounds like a k. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Told you I was a snob now.) on Crostini
Sauteed Zucchini (with onions and garlic, made by my grandpa)
Flourless Chocolate Cake topped with Chocolate Meringue (Recipe from an Italian food blog because it was #necessary)
Macedonia (made by my grandma)
A selection of Italian cheeses, courtesy of Eataly in Chicago
Italian shortbread cookies, also courtesy of Eataly
Man, it was SO fun to make this meal. I simultaneously got to pretend I was still in Italy and spend time with people I love. And I got to feed them, too. (Cue inner Jewish mother fist pump)
Risotto is not as hard as you might think! Another benefit? It’s naturally gluten free! Give it a try. x
- 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not vegetarian)
- 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 cups arborio rice*
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or as needed
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for topping
- Black pepper
- Bring the stock to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms and set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the stock warm over very low heat.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and white mushrooms.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop. Add to saucepan with the the onions, white mushrooms, and garlic. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and let it toast for 1-2 minutes, until the edges become translucent. Pour in the wine and stir well until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.
- Continue to add stock in small batches and cook each batch until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remember to stir constantly.
- Keep repeating this process, adjusting the heat if need be so that the rice is simmering gently, until all the stock is used up. This should be about 20 minutes after the wine was added.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and beat in the butter. Then beat in the cheese and pepper. Serve topped with more cheese.
- *It is important that this variety of rice is used for risotto. Regular white rice does not contain enough starch to make the risotto turn out creamy.
- 125 g. (1 stick + 1 tbsp.) butter
- 125 g. dark or semisweet chocolate, I prefer dark
- 150 g. (a bit less than 1 cup) brown sugar
- 3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 2 egg whites
- 112 g. (just over half a cup) white sugar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 25 g. (1/4 c) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Grease an 8 or 9 inch round pan and cover the sides with parchment paper.
- For the brownies: Melt together the butter and chocolate using either a double boiler or a microwave. (If using a microwave, make sure to stir the mixture every 30 seconds so that it does not burn.) Add the sugar and mix until the sugar is not quite fully dissolved. Let cool for a few minutes before adding the yolks one by one and stirring well to incorporate.
- In a clean bowl, beat the whites to stiff peaks. Add a little of the whites to the chocolate mixture and stir. Then, add the chocolate mixture to the whites. This will help the mixture incorporate better. Stir gently until completely combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the meringue.
- For the meringue: In a clean bowl, whip the whites to stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Add the vanilla, cornstarch, and cocoa powder and stir delicately until the mixture is shiny and homogeneous.
- Remove the cake from the oven carefully and then spread the meringue on top. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool briefly before taking out the parchment paper. Serve as you like!
- This recipe was originally written in grams and the conversions are not quite perfect, so if you don't have a kitchen scale just do the best you can!