- What happens when you sell a broken laptop on eBay, refuse to refund the money, but leave the hard disk full of your data and pictures for the new owner? Pure blog comedy.
- The chicken or the egg? Now we know.
Before I left for Italy, I used to think I was a pretty good cook. Now I’m pretty sure I wasn’t (and I’m still not), but what I can be sure about is that before I left for Italy, I had a lot more confidence in cooking. I also realize, like any person who loves attention like I do, I love performing for a crowd.
That is, I love cooking for other people. When left to my own devices, one could see me munching on a tuna-corn-carrot-tomato concoction with just honey mustard as dressing and no bread in sight *horrors.* One of my favorite “just me” dishes here is pumpkin tortellini with just a drizzle of oil as the “sauce.” Nothing fancy for me.
And while I love S, I have to admit that cooking for two is ok, but doesn’t satisfy my exhibitionist needs. I want more!
When I lived in Rome, a few of us girls would rotate and take turns cooking dinner, usually for “international” fare – Japanese curry, Biryani curry, fajitas and tapas. I was living at the time with two Italian women in a house in the San Giovanni area. At my largest dinner party (excluding Thanksgiving ’04), we had 8 people over for dinner in a tiny, tiny kitchen.
I was vaguely aware that this wasn’t normal. Other than my roommate’s boyfriend (frequent visitor) and my other roomate’s one overnight guest, in one year we had no other guests over other than my friends.
But I decided that was their loss. I was used to my way of living. Having my space, having a house, that no matter its size, that was a meeting place, a social place, a welcoming space. And I was determined to make that a “home” for the time being. The best way to create a home? Through food, of course. I’m looking forward to creating a home in Milan – I won’t hear “it’s too far to Pavia” again!
My favorite culinary “triumphs” come from dishes that are so easy to make I don’t even notice I’m doing it until it’s done.
This insalata di riso is one of them, and the thing I really love about the insalata di riso is rice’s willingness to take the back seat to the other flavors. In one bite, I have the sweetness of corn and the texture of the tomato. In another, the bite of the peppery rucola fights with the tart feta or green olive.
S gave it his five stars tonight – “the best one you’ve ever made.” Sometimes the smaller audiences are the best crowds to play to.
What brings down the house every time, without you breaking a sweat?
Greek Insalata di Riso (Vegetarian)
200g. Greek feta cheese
2 tomatoes, seeds removed
1 small can corn, drained
300g. (+/-) fresh sliced mushrooms
100g. rucola/arugula/rocket (two small bunches)
1 jar green olives
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil (from Puglia, if you’re spoiled like me)
– Pine nuts or walnuts
– Mozzarella instead of feta cheese
– Flat-leaf parsley instead of rucola
Set the rice to boil, and in the meantime, saute the mushrooms in a little oil. Take them off the heat when finished so they can start to cool. Slice up the tomatoes in the bottom of your serving bowl. Add the corn and olives.
[Non-Food Network Way]: Grasp a bunch of rucola in your hand, compacting it so that it’s easy to cut. Use small slices to chop up the rucola (I use the entire herb, including stems – you may want to only use the leaves) and add it to the bowl.
Roughly slice/chop/break up the feta cheese, making sure it’s neither too uniform nor too chopped – leave some pieces big as they will break down in the mixing.
Drain the cooked rice, run water through it until it’s cool. Drain extra liquid from the cooked mushrooms and add it to the mixture.
Add the rice last, and mix everything together. Add some oil (shouldn’t need much), and salt and pepper to taste.