Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Somehow when it’s raining —

I like dishes that are really meant for fall, even if it’s April. Plus a few days ago I got down my second-to-the-newest arrival to the cookbook shelves, Urban Italian, by Andrew Carmellini, and lo! What did I find? This great-looking recipe involving orzo and mushrooms, a very warm-sounding dish for which I had virtually everything, including the odd ingredients.

I may love Indian food the best, but Italian is great, too! And Urban Italian is a pretty neat book, with lots of great stories in the front and entertaining comments about each recipe as you go. This recipe was very easy and worked great:

1/2 broken-up dried porcini pieces
4 1/2 C. water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used regular button mushrooms, and I used 8 oz)
1 1/2 tsp salt
Coarsely ground pepper
2 Tbsp vermouth (I left it out, that’s the item I didn’t have)
1 1/2 C. orzo
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 C. grated Parmesan
1 tsp white truffle oil (Had some! You can get it at Viviano’s on The Hill, which is this great Italian grocery store I get to too seldom).

Add the porcini to the water and bring to a boil; remove from the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes or so. Add the vermouth, if you happen to have some, and stir 1 minute or so. Add the orzo and stir a minute or so. Add the porcinis with their liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the orzo is tender — about 12 minutes, but your mileage may vary. You don’t want quite all the liquid to be absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in first the butter and then the Parmesan and then the truffle oil.

There! I’m not too keen on the term “comfort food”, but, well, this is.

Tonight, I’m making a veeerrrry 70s kind of dish where you make choux pastry, drop it in mounds around the edge of a round pie plate, bake it, and then serve it with a creamy sauce of ham and asparagus in the middle. What can I say? I’m in the mood, it’ll probably be very good, and I’ve got lots of asparagus coming out of the garden right now.

Though you have to slosh through the marshes to get it. The rain can stop now!

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