Saturday, May 21, 2016

Homemade Pasta Cavatelli (Mom's Version from Bari)

When my Mother recently came for a visit, I was determined to keep her busy.  Not hard to do around here, as we are always dreaming of good food.   She hadn't made Cavatelli in so long, she was willing to give it a try.  Relying on her memories was so easy.  She recalled making these with her Mother.   She reminded me that there was no such thing as measuring, everything was "Al occho" or with your eyes.   So, with great determination, we followed my full proof remedy for bringing dough together.  My 3 cup principle.
3 cups unbleached flour/ 1 plus 1/4 cup of water (give or take a few drops).  1 teaspoons of salt and mix in your standing mixer until your dough comes together in a ball. You an work it by hand or even with a food processor.  Kneading by hand is all my Mother wanted to do.  Imagine  her surprise when the work was done for her by the standing mixer.
You can let it rest about 10 minutes after it all comes together.   Don't wait to long, the dough will become to elastic.   While you wait, cover two baking sheets with Parchment paper and dust with flour.

Shape and dust your ball with flour.   Cover with plastic wrap.

Cut off a small piece at a time and roll either in between your hands or on a floured surface.    Then simply cut 1/4 inch pieces with a knife.
With the back of a fork, press and roll.   The pasta shape will take shape,  My Mother used her fingers (the traditional way), to have the pasta take shape.  Just cut, and shape by pressing down with your middle and forefinger.  Use the very tips of your finger only,  Press and roll.

You can set them in the freezer for later use by layering your trays in your freezer.  When they are solid, simply slip them into freezer bags with small cuttings of parchment.   They will keep up to a month.   I don't know anyone who can stand to keep them in the freezer at all.  They want to use them up in a hurry.

To cook, gently place the Cavatelli in a large pot of  salted, boiling water.   Let cook for about 8-9 minutes or so.   Mine had to cook to the 11 minute mark.  Remember to drain well.  Its going to depend on the condition of your Cavatelli.   If they are thick, they will need a longer cooking time.   Just takes some practice.

I tossed mine with some simple salsa al Pomodoro (Tomato sauce) and some Butter, fried sage leaves and Parmigiano.
Version 2 with Butter and fried Sage leaves

Version 2 Ricotta Style Cavatelli
"Paese che vai usanza che trovi"  Translation,  Countries you visit, customs you will find.   That's the thing about Italy.  You can go two blocks and find completely different cuisine.  To say foods vary Regionally, is almost to vague.  Truth be told, food varies from tiny city to city, somtimes just blocks apart.   Cavatelli is one of those foods. My Mother's version, from the Puglia region, is rather simple.  Here is a second version,  with Ricotta.   I actually liked this version best.   It makes for a much lighter Cavatelli, with a firm but soft texture.    This recipe only works well for Cavatelli or if you are making Penne by hand (That is another recipe posting).
3 cups flour
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta drained
3/4 cup warm water plus up to 1/4 cup additional water if needed
1 teaspoon of salt for your Cavatelli plus one tablespoon for your pasta water.    Since no two flours are the same,its going to take a little practice.
Follow the method above to work the dough into a ball with your stand mixer, then cutting a  piece at a time, roll out and work with your fingers or fork (Add the ricotta to the flour, salt, then water). 
 Just remember, there is nothing fancy to Pasta making, just takes determination.
 Once you relax, it will come together.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me here on this blog or send me a message on facebook at

Buon Appetito!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pasta with Artichokes

I am such a minimalist.  I get that from my Mother.   I always have some leftover, frozen artichoke cooking liquid in the freezer.  It comes in handy in times like these. Since artichokes are not in season here,   I grabbed a bag of Frozen artichoke hearts in the supermarket.  Yes, this time of year,  it's a nice idea.  I typically will fry frozen, artichoke hearts.   Since I was cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer,  I came across some artichoke cooking liquid from several months back.   I hate to waste.   This dish was the perfect excuse.  The artichoke hearts are blanched before they are frozen in the bag.  There is no added flavor.   DO NOT USE CAN OR JARRED VARIETY.   You are much better off choosing another menu for the evening.  In under 15 minutes your meal can be ready.   A little cream and some starchy water adds consistency to this great dish.  You will be wanting seconds.   I served this pasta with a light Pinot Grigio as artichokes are difficult to pair with a complicated wine.  Buon Appetito!
Ingredients:  Serves 4
One bag of frozen artichoke hearts thawed and rinsed, dried under cool water
3 cloves of garlic diced (fresh)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of artichoke liquid.  You may use vegetable broth, if you do not have this.
1/2 cup of fresh cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon of fresh pepper
1/2 cup of white wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/3 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup of starchy cooking water
3/4 pound of your favorite pasta (I used bow ties)
One large pasta pot
2 tablespoons salt for your pasta water
Place your pasta water on to boil.   In the meantime,  heat your oil and garlic.   When its fragrant, add your artichokes.   Cook by simply heating and turning over.  It doesn't matter if they break down a little.  Let them take on a shiny, golden color.   Add your pasta to the boiling water and bring back to a boil by placing your lid on the pan.   Remove the lid when it comes to a rolling boil again and continue to cook.  You will notice your pan will become somewhat dry, add your wine.  Continue to cook adding salt and pepper until all your liquid is just about evaporated from the pan.  Add your cream and heat.  As soon as it comes almost to a boil again, turn your heat off.    Set aside to cool.

Drain your pasta and toss.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional) and a little fresh Parsley.  Buon Appetito!