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Posts Tagged ‘homemade pasta’

PestoPasta_4068

Everybody I know has a favorite pesto sauce recipe – just because if you grow basil you have to have something to do with it when it goes summer haywire and bolts to the sky. And, although I hate giving a name to a traditional dish that I’ve messed around with I don’t quite know what else to call my pesto. I guess I could just call it green pasta sauce. To my version, I add a few mint leaves and a bit of fresh green chile – the former for a bit of freshness and the latter for a bit of the heat that we love. It still tastes like pesto, but with a bit of pizzazz. Try it, you might just like it.

 

3 to 4 peeled garlic cloves

½ hot green chile, seeds and membrane removed, optional

½ cup pine nuts – toasted if you have the time

3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves

About 10 mint leaves or more to taste

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 

Combine the garlic, chile, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, using quick on and off turns, until coarsely chopped. Add half of the basil and again using quick on and off turns process to coarsely chop. Add the remaining basil along with the mint and, with the motor running, begin adding the oil, processing until a thick green sauce forms.

Add the cheese, season with salt, and give a quick couple of turns to incorporate.

If the pesto is too thick for your taste, add more oil. If too thin, add more basil and, perhaps, a bit more cheese. The flavor is yours to decide.

If not using immediately, scrape the sauce into a nonreactive container. Smooth the top and cover it with extra virgin olive oil to prevent discoloration. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

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20130604_fiddleheads_DSC_0746

 

As summer comes in with a bang – thunderstorms have been daily occurrences since the first day of summer at the end of June – I pay my respects to the last bit of spring on our menu.  I’ve talked about fiddlehead ferns in past posts, but since they are such a seasonal treat, I’d like to talk about them again.  Fiddleheads are not cultivated so the only way you can experience them is through picking them yourself or purchasing from a farmers market or local forager.  Plus I think they are only found in the United States in the northeast, but I could be wrong about this.  All of these things make them, I think, even more special.  I use them as a vegetable as well as a component in spring pasta dishes.  Our farewell batch turned into a lovely light dinner sautéed with some chopped garlic scapes in butter and extra virgin olive oil and then tossed with crumbled ricotta salata in homemade pasta.  I already am thinking about what next spring might bring.

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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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