Welcome home! Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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!

memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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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.

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memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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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.

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memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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:

Antipasto

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

Primo

Mushroom Risotto
Sauteed Zucchini (with onions and garlic, made by my grandpa)
Bread

Dolci

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

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memo2munch | Mushroom Risotto & Flourless Chocolate Cake

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

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6
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Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not vegetarian)
  2. 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  3. 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1 cup finely chopped onion
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 8 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
  7. 2 cups arborio rice*
  8. 1/2 cup dry white wine
  9. 1/2 tsp. salt, or as needed
  10. 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  11. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for topping
  12. Black pepper
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Continue to add stock in small batches and cook each batch until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remember to stir constantly.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove the saucepan from heat and beat in the butter. Then beat in the cheese and pepper. Serve topped with more cheese.
Notes
  1. *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.
Adapted from Mushroom Risotto with Peas
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Meringue
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For the brownies
  1. 125 g. (1 stick + 1 tbsp.) butter
  2. 125 g. dark or semisweet chocolate, I prefer dark
  3. 150 g. (a bit less than 1 cup) brown sugar
  4. 3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
For the meringue
  1. 2 egg whites
  2. 112 g. (just over half a cup) white sugar
  3. 1 tsp. cornstarch
  4. 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 25 g. (1/4 c) unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven carefully and then spread the meringue on top. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool briefly before taking out the parchment paper. Serve as you like!
Notes
  1. 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!
Adapted from Mon Petit Bistrot
Adapted from Mon Petit Bistrot
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Bologna

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I have this theory that every time I think about eating a cone of gelato, five minutes of the day just disappears. Cuz I’ve been meaning to post about Bologna for a while now, and I feel like it hasn’t been that long since I went. But then all of a sudden it’s been like 2 and a half weeks and I don’t even know what day of the week it is and my friends and I will go out to eat after work and I’ll look at my watch and BAM it’s 9pm.

What does that say about how much I think about gelato?

Anyway, Bologna is a super cool place. We even got to masquerade as locals because we met up with our friend and his cousin who lives in Bologna and got shown around instead of having to give ourselves away by opening a map.

Bologna is home of the oldest university in the world. It’s like a college town in the US but better because there is so much history, and it’s in ITALY, of course. After tiring ourselves out climbing a 498 step tower (Torre Asinelli) and stuffing ourselves with bread and pasta at Osteria dell’Orso for lunch, we spent a while in this beautiful park called Giardini Margherita. There were kids playing Frisbee, an outdoor market, a drum circle (you read that right), and some PDA I’d like to unsee.

We must have passed at least three markets while we were walking around, each with unique treasures. Outside of Basilica di Santo Stefano (which has 7 churches inside of it!!) there was an antique market with everything imagineable. The market by the park had flowers, scarves, furniture, and art for sale. I’m pretty sure another market we passed had more shoes in a single place than the DSW warehouse.

In one piazza, Piazza Maggiore, there is a fountain with an enormous statue of the god Neptune. There’s a pretty funny story about a disagreement between the sculptor and the church about the size of certain parts of the statue which I’ll link to here for your reading entertainment.

Bologna has a few nicknames. One is “la rossa,” meaning “the red one,” because of the color of the roofs of the buildings. Another is “la dotta,” or “the learned one,” because of the university. My favorite, though, is “la grassa,” or “the fat one,” because of Bologna’s reputation for its delicious food (which is well-earned).

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I was only there for one day, but here are the places we ate at that I think are cool/delicious (because food):

La Scuderia – Piazza Giuseppe Verdi, 2
This is a café that apparently turns into a bar at night on the weekends? We went there in the morning and ate some of the best brioche (Italian croissants) I’ve had so far. It was converted from a barn, and it’s really popular with the university students.

Osteria dell’Orso – Via Andrea Costa, 35
Another student favorite, this casual restaurant serves up some of the best pasta in Bologna, and it’s pretty cheap. If you’re not vegetarian like me, try their pasta with ragù sauce. I had ravioli, and it was yummmmmmmy.

La Sorbetteria Castiglione – Via Castiglione, 44
This is a gelato place, go figure. Fresh, creamy, and super flavorful. A+