Italy Vol.3

Hey All,

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – drums please -, I am very glad to announce what you have been waiting for continuously for the past months, the reason why you got no sleep and why you had not a single proper dish, the unbelievable that you will witness: Food and Flags is back on, YES!

To make sure that this reawakening is to your greatest joy, I couldn’t help but bring some new Italian tastes. I mean, seriously, who does not like the Italian cuisine? It just cannot go wrong.

You know the feeling when you know someone only for a couple of days or weeks, but it seems like that you have always known them? Like how could you not have these people around you before? I recently moved to Amsterdam and found a couple of Italians who make me feel exactly that way, and whom I am also happy to present as the cooks for this episode: Davide and Eugenio. The boys are from the cute little town of Este and wandered over to the rainy Netherlands for the same reason as I have: to try our best of effort and luck and snatch a master’s degree.

But enough of all this seriousness, let’s eat!

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All you need – Appetizer – bread, salame nostrano, parmigiano reggiano, pearl onions

That’s right, you are reading full on Italian ingredient names under the picture – we got our supply straight from the boys’ motherland, so big shoutout to the famiglia for sending us all the goodies, grazie! Nevertheless, as you can see, the starter is pretty straightforward: just layer these four things on top of each other and they are ready! And so tasty.

Of course once I had Eug and Davide over for a cooking session, I could not let them go so simply – so here we go, we are making Risotto ai Funghi Porcini! 

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All you need – Risotto – onion, garlic, butter, risotto rice, dried porcini mushroom, parmesan, parsley, oil, salt, pepper

Start by putting all your mushrooms (we used two packs) in a bowl of water and let it soak for around half an hour. You might already be hungry, but Italians usually eat quite late anyway, so just take your time. In the meantime you can chop your onions and garlic and keep eating pieces of the delicious appetizer!

While I feel like I have known them for a long time, my cooks really have known each other for eternity! They went to the same kindergarten, same schools – and now, twenty years later, here they still are in the same city and and sharing a flat. (To get a feeling of this nicest of friendship, I suggest to skip down to the end of the post for a peak of the sweetest photo ever!!)

Though I am most probably putting you in the mood of digging up old memories of lost and found childhood friendships, let’s just keep cooking. Once your mushrooms have softened enough, you cut them into not too small pieces. The stove gets a whole bunch to heat up: start by a pot of water. You will use this to drop in there a pre-made bouillon cube. (Of course very ambitious ones shall make this part from scratch!) A second pot and pan follows, both heated up with a sprinkle of oil.

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Fry your mushrooms with garlic in the pan, while doing the same with the onion in the second pot with butter. The boiling water can get the tasty bouillon cube and keep bubbling on low heat. The risotto rice follows the onion in the pan now. Once in, cover it with a few ladles of bouillon and keep repeating so every time it sort of starts drying up; stir it frequently. This process will last 20-30 minutes easily, so good that you still have some of those starters and hopefully also a whole bottle of wine! At the end mix the mushrooms with the risotto, keep grating parmesan in it until it becomes smooth and creamy, and of course add salt, pepper and parsley according to taste. Done! 

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Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

I still have at least another 8 months ahead of me with these two Italians and I could not be happier – whenever I won’t know what music to listen to (crazy how much they know), what to eat, or simply just need someone around to cheer me up, I’m completely sure they will be the best to turn to. I hope you enjoy these easy-to-make and delicious dishes, reader! Buon appetito and of course as always, thank you for cooking, guys!

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The Italians