Well, the semester was finally over so bob got a breather, and ani was still working hard so she suggested maybe bob could think ahead about dinner. Fair enough. The May weather was pretty fine, so a fish on the grill seemed appropriate. A visit to the local upscale food source offered tuna, okay, we can do that. And we had some assorted exotic mushrooms from Trader Joe's in the fridge. Mushroom risotto with tuna, some broccoli on the side for some green color and healthy carbs.
We had some porcini mushroom broth cubes grabbed from a Rome supermarket on our last summer visit (or did Colleen unload it on us since she was not finding any use for them, making them even older than one year?), some snooty risotto rice "vialone nano" that is supposed to be the arborio upgrade, and some pretty expensive truffle salt waiting to kick it up a notch, bought on the advice of Ruth Reichel through her Gourmet email newsletter, several of whose books we have both read, although the third one is still on the to-do shelf.
This vialone nano we'd purchased maybe a year earlier, but our risotto intake had become more infrequent with the increasing attempt to do more whole grains and brown rices. Finally we had used up the open arborio in the cupboard, so the time had come for the nano test. Luckily we had some fresh parsley already washed in the fridge, cuz bob is not very forward thinking about these peripherals, and the year's supply of parmigiano imported from Rome and held prisoner in the freezer was still holding out this final month before the resupply trip.
The tuna steaks were marinated simply with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stuck in the fridge for an hour, and them mushrooms were almost all cleaned and chopped by the time ani walked in from work and joined the team effort after changing into something more comfortable. This was the second mushroom saut? that day, since four of bob's differential geometry class graduating seniors had asked for a dr bob cooking school workshop on cheesecakes during their senior week in between final exams and graduation, so bob had them come in the late morning so that they could also do a pizza workshop while the cheesecakes were in the oven to bridge the down time with lunch. Saut?ed shitake mushrooms from Trader Joe's for one of the pizzas (with Asiago cheese over a very thin coating of a few tablespoons of pesto and pizza sauce) on a whole wheat pizza crust from Trader Joe's too, and a pizza sauce quattro formaggio more traditional second pizza, what would we do without Joe? Some tabouleh and stuffed grape leaves in the fridge from the take home after dinner the night before at the in-laws rounded out the treats. Why didn't somebody do this for us when we were students?
bob forgot the tuna steaks on the grill, but ani reminded him almost in time. they could have been a bit rarer, but they were not way overdone. Fresh tuna only needs a few minutes on each side, and should be red inside. The risotto came together, the broccoli just steamed, all very simple, which is the Italian way. ani raved about the risotto, so it seemed like maybe it should be recorded for posterity. Once you get the basic risotto routine, you can use your imagination, as long as you keep it simple. This time bob sliced up some tiny fingerling potatoes into thin little disks to throw into the mix for a little contrast in texture, and it worked. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, in the end if the ingredients are healthy, you can eat the stuff and do better the next time.
A few days later we did another fish grill and a follow up risotto for the in-laws. Since ani seemed to really like the colorful Trader Joe mix of organic soy beans (edamame), sweet corn and red peppers, a variation of the classic American mix called succotash, and bob had picked up some leeks that day (light bulb goes off), it occurred that a sort of spring vegetable risotto could be easily put together with these two ingredients and the mushroom broth cubes. The recipe is the same as above with one subtraction (forget the fingerling potatoes) and two substitutions: one leek and two shallots chopped in place of the onion, and 2 cups of Trader Joe's soycutash in place of the mushrooms, precooked in the microwave leaving them still crisp and added in 5 minutes before the end of the rice cooking phase. The result is not only tasty but attractively color contrasted.
The fish was wild Atlantic salmon, marinated with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some generous pressed garlic. Grilled outside by our grilling expert and served inside with some lemon squeezed juice at the table. With some zucchini and eggplant marinated with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a brushed coating of sweet red pepper sauce. Grilled. Arugula salad to accompany this combo, and a bottle of prosecco sipped before and during the meal. Followed up later by sampling slices of limoncello and guavaberry-lingonberry cheesecake (two separate cakes) produced a few days earlier from the dr bob cooking school workshop requested by four physics, math and astro graduating students during "senior week" before graduation day. They got to keep the amarula-laced nutella substitute spread on the crust variation of the gianduia cheesecake, but bob kept half of the other two flavors, all half-recipe sized in 8 inch pans.