HAPPY BIRTHDAY littleclove!
I can hardly believe its been one year since I wrote this very first post for littleclove. Did you make that chili yet? You should check it out and make it. Really.
Thank you for being here with me. I’m not sure who you are exactly because I don’t get very many comments (I’m hoping you’ll speak up this year!), but I know you’re reading because I can see you on my stats page. :-)
This past year I’ve been inspired, by you, to……
make family favorites like meatballs, gravy, eggplant, stuffed artichokes and frittata….attempt risotto, pad Thai and homemade pizza dough (4 times), grow my own vegetables and herbs, join a CSA, and make caramel corn! Not to mention, perfect my roast chicken, pesto and guacamole.
I’ve also learned that I really like writing about the food that I’m making and telling my stories, past and present. So, thanks for bearing with me through misspellings, possibly some bad grammar and my usual corniness.
Most of all, thanks for listening to what I have to say.
My plan for this year is to add video to the blog! Which I am very excited about. I’m someone who is usually behind the camera, so to speak, not in front of it, but I really think it will add some life to the blog and it sounds like fun…..so why not.
I plan on having guest-vloggers (is that a word now?), and my first ever littleclove video is going to feature my Uncle Billy making his delicious acqua e sale. It’s already recorded (Unc, you did a great job!) so as soon as I get it ready, it will be making its debut. You’re going to love him.
So since this is a very special birthday, I wanted to share something special today.
Cavatelli (GAVA-DILL) is perfect.
I actually made these for Christmas dinner (along with a 10 lb. ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, etcetera), but waited to post for this special occasion.
I didn’t actually make these all by myself, I had help from Hadley, of course, and my mom and Rich who were in town for the holidays. We spent the day before Christmas Eve making “homemades” as Frank would call them (not the entire day, just a few hours). It all starts with a giant bowl, some flour, ricotta cheese, a few eggs and a pinch of salt. Yes, you read that right. Cheese in the pasta dough, how yummy is that?
Here’s the formula: 1 lb. ricotta + 4 cups flour + 1 egg. That’s it! You can double or triple that, depending on how many you’d like to have. Did I mention how easy these are to make? And fun, too.
First you mix everything together, and then add a little water to get things going.
We like to get right in there, three generations of mixers.
Then we kneaded and punched and kneaded and punched which is always fun, especially for Grandma. You want to make sure the dough isn’t sticky, and also not too dry. You’ll get the right balance if you add just a little bit of water at a time and feel as you go. If it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour. It should be spring-y. You should not have to exceed 1 cup of water. When you think it feels right, cut the dough in 1/2. This is what it should look like:
And then cut them into about 1-1 1/2″ chunks.
Like cute little pillows.
Then you press each chunk down with 2 or 3 fingers, pull it towards you while pressing down, and create a little pocket……
and then you flick them away from you into a center pile. Make sure that you really thin them out when you press and roll. You don’t want any really thick parts because then they will end up being too dough-y and what we call lead sinkers.
We like to have designated jobs: one of us is the cutter, one is the roller and one is the press-’n-flicker. And then we switch. Hadley prefers to roll, while I like pressing and flicking. You can put a little flour on the table to help with sticking.We used to make 1000’s of them at a time (not even kidding) sitting around the kitchen table with my whole family. I remember our dining room table being covered in cavatelli.
Then we line them up on cookie sheets and pre-freeze them for a bit.
You can’t throw them into a freezer bag just after making them, because you’ll wind up with a big fat dough ball again. Pre-freeze them like this for about 15 minutes, until they just begin to freeze, and then throw them into freezer bags. Now there is no problem if they are all pressed against each other in the bag.
You can also make these right away, you don’t have to freeze them. But, this recipe will probably be enough for two meals for 4 people. So, you might want to make some right away and freeze the rest.
Something I will do differently next time: If you freeze them, make sure when you go to cook them that you place them into the boiling water very slowly. I dumped the whole bag in all at once which started some sort of hot/cold volcanic eruption that exploded like a bad chemistry project and I came very close to scaulding myself. Oops. I don’t remember that ever happening in the past. We actually have that terrifying moment captured on video.
I’m a big fan of homemade pasta. These will come out light, fluffy and delicious.
Of course you’ll need to make a big pot of gravy for these and pass some freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and giardiniera. Don’t forget the garlic bread.
I’m looking forward to sharing many great meals with you this year!
Homemade Cavatelli (GAVADILLS)
Inspired by Dolly Caruso, Carole McCaan and Frank Caruso
Makes about 700, sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. It’s enough for about 2 large bowls. Think leftovers.
8 cups of flour
2 lbs. of whole milk ricotta cheese (don’t get the low-fat kind)
Kosher salt, a few pinches
1 cup of water, or less, added a bit at a time
Mix the flour, salt and ricotta together in a large bowl. Add the eggs. Knead into dough. The dough will seem dry, so add water a little bit at a time, mixing and kneading the whole time. You want the dough not too sticky, but not too dry. If it gets too sticky, add a bit of flour. Find the balance. You should not have to exceed 1 cup of water.
Knead, knead, knead. Pound and punch. Do this until your muscles burn, about 15 minutes.
When it’s ready, cut the dough in ½ and then into ¼’s. Take a quarter of the dough and cut this into ¼’s again. Cover remaining dough with a dish towel. Roll chunks of dough into long ropes, about the size of a pretzel rod. Next cut the ropes into about 1” chunks.
Take each chunk and press down with two fingers to flatten it and then press and pull toward you until it flattens out and then flick away from you.
Repeat all of the above until all of the dough is gone.
As you go, place cavatelli on cookie sheets in rows, and place in freezer to “pre freeze” them for about 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and add to individual freezer bags and freeze until you want to make them.
When it’s time to make them, throw them in boiling water (slowly!) and cook until they rise to the top. About 15 minutes. Also, do the taste test. They should be light and delicious.