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Posts Tagged ‘Clams’

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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If you are a clam eater you probably have, often without knowing it.  At the farmers market baskets of little necks and cherry stones were my first order of business to make linguine with clam sauce.  However, a lovely Japanese lady in front of me inquired about some giant clams and when the vendor gave her the sushi name for them, the delicate little lady jumped for joy.  Hokkigai – or surf clam tongue – is quite a delicacy and at 50¢ each a bargain to boot, so she promptly bought quite a few.  I, of course, then had to buy some, also.  I wasn’t sure that I had the skill to turn them into sushi, but figured that I could investigate them a bit and always steam them and chop the meat for my sauce.  In talking to the lively vendor, I learned that these big fat guys are what is used to make clam strips – the breaded and fried summer treat served  all along the Eastern seaboard, either with tartar sauce for dipping or in a clam roll.

I bought 4 and took them home to check out.  We were totally fascinated as their strange siphon poked out of the shell and, once placed in salt water, the tongue shimmied like my sister Kate.  Steve photographed them and I have to admit that I realized I didn’t really know how to turn them into sushi so I cooked them and then chopped up the meat to add to my clam sauce.

And here is how I made my sauce.  I used the cooking broth of the surf clams for my base.  (I did strain it through some paper towel to make sure all of the sand stayed out of the sauce).  Added some leftover white wine, a cup of homemade chicken stock, lots of garlic and red chile flakes along with a sprig or two of fresh thyme.  Brought the mix to a simmer and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  Added the chopped clam meat along with 2 dozen little necks.  Covered the pan and simmered it all for about 10 minutes or until all of the clams opened.  Tossed in a handful of chopped parsley and served it over some chewy imported Italian linguine along with a loaf of steecci from Sullivan Street Bakery (www.sullivanstreetbakery.com) for sopping up the garlicy clam broth.

 

 

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