5 weeks ago
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Two fabulous, fun and talented bloggers, Marie of Proud Italian Cook, and Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita, are hosting the blog party to end all blog parties, Festa Italiana:
I am so there! I come from half Italian stock, so I know that any party hosted by Italians will be a raucous good time, and the food will be the star. My mother's parents were both from Italy. My grandmother was born in Nola, outside of Naples, and came to the U.S. when she was five weeks old. Apparently she was a premature infant, and I heard this story about her trip over on the boat many times:
"I was so small, they had to put me in a shoebox in front of the oven. My head was the size of a grapefruit."
As she got older, she embellished a little bit, which only made me love the story even more:
"I was so small, they had to put me in a shoebox in the oven. My head was the size of an orange."
I have to admit that the part about them putting her IN the oven concerned me a little bit, but seeing as she grew up healthy as an ox and lived on her own until she was 93, I guess the makeshift neonatal care worked out okay in the end.
My grandmother was an amazing cook, and she loved us by feeding us. She took great pride in her cooking, and nothing made her happier than watching the people she loved enjoy her food. When I think of her, I can still see her beaming whenever I told her that her cookies were the best ever, or that the meatballs were even more incredible than I remembered. She never got to meet my two youngest children, which makes me really sad, but whenever my mother and I watch my one year old chow down, we always tell her "Great Grandma would LOVE to watch you eat." I think of her all the time when I cook. She would not like the mess I make in the kitchen, and she would tell me so. And I don't remember her ever hurting herself or breaking anything when she cooked, whereas this is at least a weekly event for me. But we are forever bonded by our love of cooking, and I think of her almost every time I'm in the kitchen.
My contribution to Festa Italiana is Tyler Florence's Risotto with Wild Mushrooms and Peas. When I asked my hubs what he wanted for dinner on his birthday, he said "risotto." I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't risotto. But hey! I couldn't have been happier, since I love risotto and am always game for trying a new version. Tyler says that this particular version "is a great dish to serve on a Sunday night when The Sopranos come on. It's classy and understated." We found that it was also great on a Wednesday night when Wow Wow Wubzy came on. Just in case you were wondering.
Tyler suggests using assorted mushrooms in this, such as portobellos, crimini, and chanterelle. I used a mix of mushrooms and went heavy on the baby bellas:
They are not particularly wild, but I love them anyway.
Like most risottos, this one was easy to make. Risotto gets a bad rap for requiring constant stirring, but I've never found that to be necessary. Yes, it needs to be stirred frequently, but you can leave it for a minute here and there to go do something else, which is imperative in my house (and the reason why it should be against the law for me to make caramel).
We loved this! It was creamy, earthy, and delicious. I think that it was a worthy birthday meal. I might make it again on my birthday, in fact.
It's not to late to join the party! Marie and Maryann are receiving party guests through tomorrow, March 9. Go here for more info.
Marie and Maryann, thank you for hosting this fun event. It's been a blast!!