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Posts Tagged ‘cataplana’

Cavatelli_8891

 

A few days ago my friend Linda called to see if she could come “play” in my kitchen.  I, of course, said “come on over.”  Why my kitchen instead of her far more modern one I don’t know, but over she came bringing her untried kitchen implements and lots of good ideas.  First she wanted to tackle making cavatelli using her new cavatelli maker to be followed by an introduction to her cataplana, recently purchased in Portugal.  Cavatelli I knew of, but had never heard of the cataplana so had to Google it.
I learned that a cataplana is both a pot and the dish that is cooked in it.  The clamshell-shaped pot is generally made of copper and it has hinges on one side to open and close it easily and clamps to hold it closed on the stove top.  In Portugal, it is traditionally used to make seafood stews.  I had purchased clams, mussels, and shrimp thinking we would make dinner for six.  Unfortunately when I saw the cataplana it was clearly made to prepare stew for one.  So, we tried it out for a little snack as we worked on our dinner menu.
Her cavatelli maker worked like a dream and gave us a lovely first course of cavatelli sautéed in brown butter and sage.  The ingredients for the dinner cataplana went into my big Crueset pot which worked just fine, but left us without the presentation we had planned.
Here is my recipe for pasta dough should you have a cavatelli maker at hand.  You might want to eliminate one egg to make a stiffer dough for the hand-cranked machine. 00 flour is a finely ground flour with a cottony texture that is traditionally used to make pizza and pasta dough in Italy.  Until recently it was not available in the United States.  It is very easy to work with and gives the perfect mouth-feel to these doughs once they are baked or cooked.  It is available from Italian markets and many specialty food stores.  You can also use all-purpose flour.

2¼ cups 00 flour
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the flour and salt on a clean work surface, slightly mounding it in the center.  Then, make a well in the center.   Place the eggs and olive oil in the well and, using your fingertips, loosen the eggs and incorporate a bit of the oil into them.  Slowly pull the flour into the well, working from the inside out, moving in a circular motion.  It is easiest if you use one hand to mix and the other to move the flour into the moistened mixture.  Continue working in this manner until all of the flour has been incorporated into the dough.  At this point the dough should easily pull into a ball.
Lightly coat the work surface with flour and begin kneading the dough by flattening it out and folding over and over until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This might take about 12 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic film and let rest for about 30 minutes before cutting it into the desired shape, either using the pasta making attachment of a heavy-duty stand mixer, a hand-cranked machine, or, the old fashioned way, by hand.

linda

 

linda 2

 

cataplana

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Shrimp_8867_1

When I went to pick up some mussels and clams for a dish to be made in a Portuguese cataplana – which I’ll tell you about in another post – I saw these amazing little bug-eyed creatures that I remembered from a couple of winter’s ago, Maine shrimp.  They are the most wonderful corally-red color and so deliciously sweet and delicate that I had to buy a few.  Since they were pretty pricy I got just enough to use as garnish on the shellfish stew we were making.  Although once everyone tasted them, I felt a little guilty that I couldn’t offer more.
Maine shrimp are only caught for a brief period during the late winter – I think the season begins at the end of December and ends in February and since they have been over-fished limits are defined.  Not many make their way down the coast to New York and I would guess they are unheard of in other parts of the country.  I’m not a shrimp lover (even though I once wrote a book called The Ubiquitous Shrimp) only because shrimp doesn’t have the same taste I remember from my California childhood (where little guys are shrimp and big guys are prawns), BUT Maine shrimp bring that flavor memory right back to me.
Should you find them, either eat them raw or barely cook them – perhaps with a tiny bit of olive oil and lemon for just a few seconds in a very hot pan.

 

©stephen Kolyer_MaineShrimp

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