Dear all,

I know that quite some time has passed since I posted something here. I was a little bit busy, I’ll admit. Amongst other things I was taking care of the database for a small charity project and now that it is finished, I find myself having more time to write again.

First of all, I hope everybody is doing well, considering that Covid has found its way back into Europe – not entirely unexpected I might add. In Italy I would say that the situation is slowly starting to deteriorate, but I believe that with more measures the situation can be controlled. It basically means that we’ve been hanging out a lot at home in the weekends and haven’t been up to many exciting things (technically, this is not true. I’m currently very excited about a lot of things, they’re just not at all exciting to anybody else).

I find that I’ve been enjoying the autumn now more than ever. The heat of summer has been replaced by fresher (still sunny) days and this has allowed me to be much more active. Also in the kitchen. I’m baking cakes again and I’m baking bread. Usually, in summer, our oven is on a break (except for the occasional pizza baking), but now in autumn it’s been brought back to life.
One of the things that I relish nowadays, is drinking tea. Yes, nothing groundbreaking here, but I’ve been experimenting with making my own Chai, and it’s a simple thing like this that actually fires me up. There has never been a time in my life in which I enjoyed rain. Now there is. I’ve come to love staying inside with my cup of tea, sitting on our big couch, reading a book and / or watching the rain, while I’m warm and don’t have to go anywhere. But most of all I enjoy the fact that with the fresher weather and the rain (although, it rains only sparingly) my appetite has returned.

So, this is why I’d like to share a typically autumn recipe with you that has its roots in the north of Italy (surpisingly, because we usually have a much more southern cuisine at home). It’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s not at all of my own making. All the credit goes to Davide.

Ricetta: Polenta e funghi porcini

Ingredients for 2:
200 grams of corn flour (use corn flour that can be turned into polenta and follow instructions on the package, also when it comes to quantities, because in this recipe they’re just estimations)
40 grams of dried porcini
Two cloves of fresh garlic
Olive oil
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper
Water
Optional: fresh herbs such as basil or parsley

Preparation:
1.Take a small bowl and put the 40 grams of porcini inside, add water and let them soak for at least an hour.
2.Chop the garlic into pieces and heat some olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, fry it slightly (2 minutes) and then add the soaked porcini. Also add some pepper (black pepper or chili) and some salt.
3.Add a little bit of the juice that you have in your bowl (the bowl in which you soaked the porcini) to the pan. Make sure that the juice has been filtered by using a sieve, otherwise you might find some residual mud in your dish. Cook it on low heat for no more than ten minutes.
4.Meanwhile start cooking the corn flour to make the polenta. Take a small pot and fill it with two glasses of water. Then start adding the corn flour to it (slowly, one spoon at a time), while stirring with another spoon. When you’ve added half of the portion and it starts to thicken, add some of the porcini juice that you have left in the bowl and start adding the rest of corn flour (also one spoon at a time). Keep stirring as much as you can. The paste should become quite thick, but you should be able to move it around. Add more of the juice when it’s necessary and if the juice is finished, add some more water.
5.Divide the polenta over two plates and then spread the porcini mixture on top of it. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on it, and add another little bit of olive oil.
6.If you have fresh herbs, you can put a small amount on your polenta and porcini as a finishing touch.
Then enjoy your simple autumn meal!

From Italy with love,

Merel