Shrimp, Tuna, Zucchini and Porcini Pasta

We turned the corner late last week and returned to beautiful temperate southern weather - more than sufficient for comfortable evening grilling. I enjoyed spending time Saturday with my buddy Paul, a single dad who is embarking on learning how to cook. A future post will cover some of that discussion, where we reviewed basic pantry needs and kitchen equipment.

We reviewed a number of recipes from How to Cook Everything, since it includes so many good foundation recipes. You know, "basic tomato sauce", "the basics of cooking fish", and so on. A recipe for orrechiette with porcini caught my eye, and I dragged out a large container of dried porcini to show Paul. Another recipe we discussed was the spiced crust for grilled tuna that I stumbled across last summer.

All this lead to the following menu for Sunday:
  • Spice crusted grilled tuna, Bon Appetit, August 2005
  • Shrimp with rosemary garlic butter, Cuisine Rapide
  • Grilled zucchini and nectarines, no recipe
  • Orrechiette with porcini and garlic, How to Cook Everything, pp.
The spice mix for tuna was part of an attempt by Bon Appetit to create a near one-dish meal that includes couscous and sauteed vegetables. It also included a simplistic aioli. From that mish mash only the tuna seasoning stood out. The recipe called for 2 1/2 pounds of tuna steak, but a large quantity of spices is needed for that much tuna. So for about 1 1/2 pounds of tuna, brush olive oil on the steaks, and coat with a spice mixture composed of 2 t fennel, 1 t whole coriander, 1 t black peppercorns - lightly toasted then ground. Add 1 1/2 t of kosher salt to complete the rub.

The shrimp and sauce is a very solid recipe from Cuisine Rapide - THE GREATEST COOKBOOK EVER WRITTEN. Coat shrimp in olive oil, put on skewers and grill for 2-4 minutes. The sauce was approx 2 T butter, 2 T white wine, 1 T finely chopped rosemary, S&P - combine all and bring to boil. Take off heat and add 1 T chopped chives.

This sauce was used last night by Amy to dip her broccoli. Mmmmmm.

Zucchini were brushed with oil, S&P and grilled just until marks appears, about 2-4 minutes. Simultaneously a halved, pitted nectarine was brushed with oil and grilled. Each were chopped into large pieces, about 1" and tossed together. What it needed was a little more kick - maybe a little cayenne would have done the trick. If not, then cayenne, garlic and fresh thyme ought to work.

The last dish was based on the HTCE recipe for porcini pasta. However, in substituting reconstituted dried porcini for fresh (which are exceedingly hard to find), that recipe wouldn't t have had sufficient flavor. So I added garlic and shallots to the sauteed porcini. The sauce was completed by simply adding pasta cooking water and the porcini soakcing water to the hot pasta and vegetables, topped with a generous handful of chopped parsley.

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