I recently took part in the 12th episode of "Wat de boer niet kent", a Dutch reality show on 24Kitchen with Rob Kamphues as a presenter. In this series every week he visits a different family of Dutch farmers and every day he welcomes a new cook from another country who's cooking dinner for the family members. In Holland they say "wat de boer niet kent, dat eet ie niet" which can roughly be translated as "if the farmer doesn't recognize the food he won't eat it" and that's because usually "traditional" Dutchies are not very keen on new foods and on dietary changes.
I'ts always a lot of fun to watch them react to "weird" food and to see how special some of the family members are in spite of their traditional working activities (good casting, 24Kitchen!). One of them has a collection... of collections in the barn, another one believes in spiritual guides and Angels - having my own quite alternative side I can totally relate to that - and there is someone who is not only farmer but also music director and organ player, just to name a few.
My job during episode 12 was to cook something from my country of origin that was not too ordinary and standard - the farmers' family was of course already well acquainted with lasagne, pizza, etc. - and that could be quite a challenge for the eaters.
So I made black spaghetti with squid ink served with stuffed squid in tomato sauce.
Rob Kamphues is, as the friends with whom I was watching the show remarked, very good at what he does. He gives a lot space to his guests and is sincerely interested in the opinions and stories of the family members and the cook. He clearly does not suffer from "me-me-me syndrome" and is perfectly able to openly express his thoughts and feelings in a funny, yet profound way. Overall, I find this program a real revelation and I can imagine that it would attract more viewers on a public Dutch channel (because, let's face it, how many people watch 24Kitchen except cooking fanatics like myself?).
Anyway, if you've never watched it and you get the chance, do that, because it's quite a nice format.
My dish was surprisingly well-received by a family that was actually used to practically nothing "exotic" (the lovely family Derks, fishing worms, chicken and potato farmers, what a combo!).
If you want to prepare it you can buy squid ink in little plastic bags at the fishmonger. Please note that the ink makes the dough much rougher than normal pasta dough and that because of this you'll have to knead longer and sometimes add a little extra liquid (water or egg).
Purchase additional ink sachets because you need a surprisingly high amount of it before the dough really gets nice and black.
My MEGA thanks to Philip Verhulst, cook and culinary editor of 24Kitchen who helped me a lot during the preparation of these dishes. Without him, I never would have made it on time.
I've had a lot of fun during the shooting, especially when Rob and I were busy with the black dough (it's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it...). 24Kitchen you can definitely invite me more often to cook for you, even though you misspelled my name (Tavelli instead of Tavella). ;)
The photo of the dish (see below) comes from the 24Kitchen site.
Calamari ripieni (stuffed squid)
2 small calamari (squid) p.p.
4 anchovies in oil
40 gr. grated pecorino romano (Italian sheep's milk cheese)
fresh or dried oregano
extra vergine olive oil
60 gr bread crumbs
1 medium-sized egg
a little bunch of flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
2 cans of good peeled tomatoes (about 800 gr.)
250 gr. passata di pomodoro (strained sieved tomatoes)
salt and black pepper
½ glass dry white wine
Carefully remove the arms, tentacles and viscera of the squid (everything should come off at once when you remove the arms and tentacles). Also remove the transparent "pen" or gladius inside the squid's mantle.
Wash the squid and remove the skin by peeling it off.
Remove the part with the eyes and "beak" and keep the legs.
Fry the chopped anchovies in a pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a finely chopped clove of garlic. Add half of the white wine cooking a bit further to let the alcohol and the excess moisture evaporate.
Put the bread crumbs into the pan and fry for a few minutes. Add a good pinch of oregano, 2/3 of the parsley (chopped, leaves only) and some black pepper.
Put the mixture into a bowl and add the finely grated pecorino and the egg. Mix well and fill the small calamari to 2/3rds of their length, so do not go all the way to the edge otherwise they will open during cooking. Use a piping bag with a large nozzle.
Seal each squid with a toothpick.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, add 1 crushed clove of garlic and let it fry gently until golden. Add the shredded peeled tomatoes, the sieved strained tomatoes (passata di pomodoro) and a little oregano and let everything simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the stuffed calamari and their legs, together with the rest of the white wine.
Let everything simmer with the lid on until the squid is soft and cooked through (max. 10 minutes). Add salt to taste.
Garnish with the remaining chopped parsley and serve over the black pasta with the sauce.
Spaghetti al nero di seppia (black spaghetti with ink)
150 gr durum wheat flour + 150 gr. plain flour or "00" flour
3 eggs (2 if you use extra large ones)
2 bags of ink (plus a couple extra in case you need them)
1 pinch of salt
Pasta machine with spaghetti cutter
Arrange the durum wheat flour and the plain flour in a mound on the working surface. Create a large hole in the middle and add the salt and the eggs plus 3 bags of squid ink. Starting from the inner rim, incorporate the liquid ingredients in the flour until you obtain a coarse dough. For this you can use a fork so that you don't get sticky fingers.
Knead for about 10 minutes until you obtain a smooth dough. If the dough is not elastic enough (too dry), add a little water or more egg. If the dough is not black enough, add a little more ink. If the dough is too wet and sticky, add a bit of durum wheat flour and incorporate it into the dough. The dough should not be sticky nor dry.
Let the dough rest in plastic wrap for at least 30 min. (do not refrigerate).
Dust the working surface with durum wheat flour and roll the dough through the pasta machine.
Make long, flat sheets of dough and place them on the dusted working surface.
Cut the pasta sheets with the special spaghetti cutter. Sprinkle some durum wheat flour on the black spaghetti and put them to rest in little loose "nests" on a tea towel.
Cook the spaghetti in 3-4 minutes until al dente in plenty of salted water and drain (keep a bowl of cooking water in case the sauce is too dry).
Serve with the stuffed squid and their sauce.