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Posts Tagged ‘seafood pasta’

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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On our annual trip out on the Cape, we have fish or shellfish every day.  All of the seafood is so pristine that I usually serve it raw or just simply cooked – why spoil something so delicious in its own right with sauces and such?  The only exception is when I do something with pasta.  One of our favorite pasta dishes is linguine with clams for which I don’t really have a tried and true recipe – after all, I’m not an Italian grandma!  For our clam night this year, I incorporated some very sweet little yellow cherry tomatoes that we had picked up from a local farm along with a charming bouquet of nasturiums that the farmer’s dear little daughter had picked, tied with ribbon, and sold for ice cream money.  The end result was absolutely delicioso.  Here’s what I did – there is no real measurement – just guage how much broth you want with the amount of clams and pasta you are going to be serving.

While you are cooking the clams, cook the linguine to al dente according to package directions.  For the clams, put a nice layer of olive oil in the pot.  Add a good measure of chopped garlic – I use about 8 cloves (you never can be sure about those vampires lurking around) – then when the garlic is smelling up the oil, add a cup of white wine and then let it bubble for a few minutes to allow the winey flavor to mellow.  Then, add a bottle of clam juice, a cup of chicken stock, and a cup or so of fresh chopped clams.  Let it cook for a couple of minutes,  or until very hot.   Taste and season with pepper and, if needed, salt.  Add your clams, cover, and cook until all of the clams pop open.  If, like me, you have some sweet cherry tomatoes, add them along with the clams.

When all of the clams have opened, stir in some chopped parsley.  Drain the pasta well and toss it with a touch of extra virgin olive oil.  Transfer it to a large platter with sides (so the broth doesn’t run off).  Pour the clams and broth over the pasta.  And, the crowning glory,  julienne the nasturium flowers and leaves and sprinkle them over the clams.  You can’t believe what a wondrous marriage of flavors come together with the sweet clams, winey broth, and spicy nasturiums.

 

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