Cosy Wellness Travels to Dunrobin Castle in Scotland

Fairytale Mushroom Risotto Recipe

cozy comfort food mushroom risotto
Once upon a time,
there was a simple mushroom risotto recipe …

Friday, the autumnal equinox

For our first dish as a cooking duet, my husband and I felt mushroom risotto was the perfect primo piatto to mollify my melancholy and give us both a taste of home. It’s a simple dish, ideal for my cooking skills which are dismal at present. We made a few variations, all of which had mushrooms to my son’s displeasure. He likes to remind us that he’s no “fan of fungus”, and therefore not a fan of mushroom risotto. Unluckily for him, it’s Autumn in Italy which means the season of toadstools. Now I’m properly hungry. I could really go for a cornetto and cappuccino right now, but it doesn’t seem right with my poor husband laid up in bed with a fever. I suppose I could bring him something back, though it’d only go cold while he slumbers. Ah well, I’m hardly in the mood to be stared at while I stumble my way through ordering it all in Italian. If it were an exercise for language class, the charge would reflect my grade: tourist Fee, and well-deserved. Admittedly, I need to practice more. Later, perhaps, since it’s still early. I had to take the little whippersnapper to school this morning which is always an extravaganza. I love that boy to smithers, but children these days are bonkers, honestly. Perhaps I’ll put on a pot of tea and go daydream of cozy things, and dancing fairies, and mushrooms growing wild in an enchanted wood. A lovely way to start the morning, indeed. Tata for now!

Rome, Rice, and Homesick for Amish Country

Giovanni and I are Johnny-come-latelies to the cooking scene, just a couple of 30-somethings in the kitchen learning how to cook … even if I am finding it increasingly difficult to ignore that his natural ability far outweighs mine. No matter! I haven’t let it deter me from trying. I’d like to think enthusiasm counts for something, of which he claims to have little for the art of cooking but a great deal more for the company while doing so, which suits me just fine.

Nearly evening

It seems we’ve become a trio. Our son has taken an interest in food and film. Just last night, I found him in a corner of the kitchen concocting something we’d be subjected to later in the evening. “Only three ingredients,” he promised, which sounded perfectly safe to me, so I left him to his rolling pin and Oreo packets and got on with dinner.

Oreo Pudding, according to the young baker, was originally supposed to be Oreo Pie (had he followed the recipe). But, as he is my son and cannot seem to help himself, it was determined that the recipe was merely a guideline and baking was only a suggestion–hence, Oreo Pudding: crushed Oreos, milk, and aceto di vino bianco biologico, which is Italian for “organic white wine vinegar”. A pleasant discovery: Oreo is an overpowering flavor that does well to mask other ingredients. Grazie al cielo.

Cosy Cuisine in Rome, Italy
*Rome/Home. I was transplanted to Italy, if you’re at all wondering why an Asian American woman is throwing out random words and phrases in Italian. That being said, my dear husband thinks I could use more practice (translation: “I love you, but you’re butchering my language.”) Well, looky here, love–a new phrase! Perhaps I’ll use it nonchalantly over dinner.

Thursday, sometime in the afternoon

Finally, the weather gods have taken pity on me. It’s raining (hallelujah) and not just a drizzle but a proper rainstorm. I know what you must be thinking: She’s lost her head. A moot point as of late, but I’ve been feeling like an odd bird in some bright, twisted fairytale lately. I like the way Robert Burns put it in his elegy, My Heart’s In The Highlands:

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

— Robert Burns, My Heart’s In The Highlands

Seeing as how I wasn’t raised in Scotland (unfortunately), my derived meaning may be different from the way he meant it in his poem. The words leave me maudlin; they’re an echoing melancholy for the loss of home (in my case, Pennsylvania), for a sense of displacement and of a wistfulness for a place that made you feel like you were home (oh wonderful, beloved Scotland). Tis true, I long for moodier horizons and dark, dramatic landscapes.

“An intimacy had grown between us
like a forest around a castle.”

— The Sword in the Stone, a poem by Louise Glück

Still … there is Rome with its cobbled streets and old-world romance. I think something strange and tender started to grow around my heart when I first placed foot to cobblestone in this ancient city. If only I was a sunshine girl and a little more sociable, I could enjoy it properly. Sadly, this is not the case. I’m an introvert in an extroverted country with a fondness for rain and an inclination for solitary activities. Someone has humor up there.

Cosy Wellness Travels to Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I suppose by the time this posts, we’ll have moved away from Centro Storico to a more family-friendly quartiere. Heavens, can you be homesick twice over? Goodbye, cozy apartment. Goodbye, familiar streets. Goodbye, my favorite gelateria where we would pop in almost every evening … certainly a detriment to the physical dimension of my wellness journey but still, I will miss thee. Arrivederci, country lanes. Arrivederci, Amish buggies. Goodbye, mamma’s cooking. I think I feel a touch of the dramatic coming on … a good place to leave off for the night.

Different day, late (for me), nearly 11 p.m.

Really, it’s not so bad here. I have the loveliest husband and a child who doesn’t make me want to dump water on his head every day.

11:07 p.m. or, I suppose more appropriately, 23:07

Having mentioned my mother’s cooking, I’ll segue into my Asian comfort food (rice, no surprise there), to the north of Italy (where my husband is from), and to risotto (a taste of home for the both of us).

Mushroom Risotto

porcini mushroom risotto recipe

What is risotto? And is risotto a pasta or rice? Risotto is a creamy rice dish from northern Italy. It’s believed that rice cultivation made its way north from Sicily–where they’d been growing it since the 14th century–to the marshes of the River Po, of which I’m reminded to find our collection of Don Camillo books. It seems they’ve been lost … curse the moving process. Since the 1800s, there have been countless variations of the traditional Italian risotto recipe, with most consisting of white wine, butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, and onion.

Which risotto rice is best? Short or medium-grain rice like Carnaroli, Maratelli, Arborio, and Vialone Nano.

Mushroom risotto: Wild, earthy, brown, and plump, it’s the season of “little piglets”, more commonly known as porcini mushrooms. For this recipe, we paired them with the more accessible Champignon mushrooms which have a delicate flavor, though I believe any mushrooms you have on hand can be used.

porcini mushroom risotto recipe

Mushroom Risotto Recipe

Print Recipe
Adapted from Giallozafferano


  • 2 C Carnaroli rice
  • 1 C champignon mushrooms
  • 1 C porcini mushrooms
  • ¼ C butter
  • ¼ C olive oil extra virgin
  • ½ C white wine
  • ½ onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ C parmigiano for grating
  • 5 C water
  • salt for tasting


  • CLEAN THE MUSHROOMS: Clean the mushrooms by using a damp cloth to wipe away any dirt. You want to avoid water absorption, so unless the soil won’t come off, avoid cleaning the mushrooms directly underwater. Next, cut the tips off the stems, then separate the stems from the caps by cutting underneath the mushroom cap. Set them aside for the broth. Peel the top layer off the Champignon mushroom caps. You can use a knife, but I prefer my fingers. Just pinch/peel from the base of the cap and pull towards the center. Do this until the entire first layer has been removed.
    1 C champignon mushrooms, 1 C porcini mushrooms
  • PREPARE THE BROTH: Take the stems that were set aside and pour them into a pot. Add the water. Simmer for roughly 30 minutes.
    1 C champignon mushrooms, 5 C water
  • SLICE, DICE, AND MINCE: Slice the mushroom caps and dice the onion. Mince two cloves of garlic.
    1 C champignon mushrooms, 1 C porcini mushrooms, ½ onion, 2 cloves garlic
  • ADD TO THE PAN AND COOK: Using a large pan, add the olive oil. Add the onion, allow them to become translucent, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat (stirring occasionally). Next, add the rice and stir often to toast it. After a few minutes, you can add the white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add a few ladles of (filtered) broth. Stir in the garlic and salt, then cook on medium heat for around 15 minutes or until the rice is al dente. You don’t want the risotto to become too dry (you want to see bubbles from boiling), so occasionally add a few ladles of broth. Now turn off the heat. Add the butter to create a creamy consistency, then stir. Finally, stir in the grated Parmigiano and … buon appetito! As my husband would say, “It must be eaten hot.”
    2 C Carnaroli rice, 1 C champignon mushrooms, 1 C porcini mushrooms, ¼ C butter, ¼ C olive oil, ½ C white wine, ½ onion, 2 cloves garlic, ½ C parmigiano, salt, 5 C water
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian, risotto, vegetarian
Servings: 3

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