I can still remember how I discovered David Leite. I can’t remember exactly when it was but I believe it was six or seven years ago. I was looking for a Portuguese Recipe for Pasteis de Nata, a very popular dessert in Portugal that I love and wanted my children to try. I googled Pasteis de Nata, and came across David Leite. I started following him and just fell in love with his recipes and most of all, great sense of humor. The New Portuguese Table Cookbook has been a favorite ever since.
David is an amazing story teller when describing his recipes. In one of his recent posts, I felt as if I was in the kitchen with Avo Costa myself: ”I come from stirring stock. That is to say, my people are stirrers. It’s how my grandmother, avó Costa, cooked. She stood facing the stove for hours in her pink housecoat and pink slippers, her tiny pink hand planted on her hip, singing in her thin, reedy voice. She stirred all kind of Portuguese comestibles: spicy stuffing with chunks of homemade chouriço sausage; her famous pink (of course) chicken, rice, and potato soup; and vats and vats of kale soup. When she grew too old to stir her soups and stews for long, I’d do it for her. By then age had stolen a few inches from her, but she still managed to peer over the tops of the pots and instruct, “Mais devagar, querido, mais devagar.” Slower, sweetheart, slower. I think it’s genetic. When the temperature nosedives, all I want to do is hover over a simmering pot and stir.”
Reading this brought me back to my Vo-Vo’s kitchen in Portugal and I could envision this tiny woman with her white hair in a bun, stirring her huge pot of amazing Caldo Verde, Kale Soup. And that is truly what the best Authors do… inspire us.
David has done just that for me. His love for flavor, passion for cooking and the way that his words on paper flow into daydreams of Portuguese Cuisine is truly art.
I started Vo-Vo’s Cozinha in hopes that my children would have moments of wonderful memories like the ones David describes with Avo Costa.
I am honored to virtually break bread Around the Family Table with David Leite for Sunday Supper this week and to share his wonderful recipe for Mariscos. He must have known that I am a sucker for any kind of Mariscos or Seafood when he shared this recipe with me.
“A cataplana, a fixture in the Algarve, is kind of a spiritual cousin to the pressure cooker. Shaped like a giant clam, the hinged pan clamps down during cooking, locking in the juices of its contents. When carried to the table and popped open, it fills the room with steam redolent of the sea. If you’re bereft of a cataplana, a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid works perfectly, if less attractively.
I first had this meaty cataplana 12 years ago in Bridgewater, Connecticut, of all places, at the home of my friends Manny Almeida and Kevin Bagley. Manny, who’s from the same Azorean island as my family, just whipped it up one summer evening. I’ve since had it many times in Portugal, most memorably at an ocean-side joint in the town of Sagres, just east of the vertiginous promontory where Henry the Navigator supposedly built a school and shipyard for his sailors.”—David Leite
The New Portuguese Table Cookbook
Clams and Sausage in a Cataplana
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces chouriço, linguiça, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch coins
One 1/4-inch-thick slice presunto, Serrano ham, or prosciutto, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 medium yellow onions, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into thin half-moons
1 Turkish bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
4 pounds small clams, such as cockles, manila, butter, or littlenecks, scrubbed and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Heat the oil in a large cataplana or a pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Dump in the chouriço (or dry-cured Spanish chorizo) and presunto (or Serrano ham, prosciutto) and cook, stirring occasionally, until touched with brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Lower the heat to medium; drop in the onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes and any accumulated juice, the wine, and paprika. Discard any clams that feel heavy (which means they’re full of sand), have broken shells, or don’t close when tapped. Plonk the clams into the pot and turn the heat to high. If using a cataplana, lock it and cook 10 to 12 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the clams open. If using a Dutch oven, cook, covered, stirring occasionally until the clams pop open, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Carry the cataplana triumphantly to the table, making sure everyone’s watching, then release the lid. Bask in the applause. Discard the bay leaf and toss out any clams that refuse to pop open. Season with a few grinds of pepper, shower with parsley, and ladle the stew into wide shallow bowls. Oh, and have a big bowl on hand for the shells.
Recipe © 2009 David Leite. Photo © 2009 Nuno Correia. All rights reserved.
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THIS WEEK WE ARE GIVING AWAY A COPY OF DAVID LEITE’S COOKBOOK, THE NEW PORTUGUESE TABLE. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW ON WHAT SUNDAY SUPPER MEANS TO YOUR FAMILY.