canlis Carrots

Last night I had the pleasure of getting together with Brian Canlis (of Canlis Restaurant) to shoot some food.  Brian and I are both pretty enthusiastic about the subject, and the release of the Canlis Spring menu provided a great opportunity to photograph a handful of Chef Jason Franey’s stunning dishes.  The best part, though?  Not letting the “props” go to waste.

I have to say, I was very impressed with the artistry and complexity of each dish.  They look great in photos, but they’re even more impressive in person.  Canlis may be an old school establishment, but Jason Franey’s food is about as forward-thinking as it gets.

[I don’t have actual descriptions for each dish from the Chef, so I’m leaving the captions intentionally simplistic]

Above: Carrots
Below: Duck egg

canlis duck egg
Foie Gras, Rhubarb and Celery
canlis Foie
Halibut with Artichokecanlis halibut
Pork Chop
canlis pork

Tuna Crudo, Sashimi and Tartare canlis tuna

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pea ravioli
As you may recall, last week’s peas + centrifuge experiment resulted in three stages of pea: pea solids, pea butter and pea water.  This week, I’ve found a use for all three components in my recipe for Pea Ravioli.  The picture above shows three of the delightfully green little pasta pouches splashing into a “sauce” of pea water.  Inside each is a dollop of pure pea butter, shown in the photo below.  Note that this is the natural color of the pea butter.  It’s amazing stuff, and hopefully that shot will give you a sense of its wonderful viscosity. 

 

pea butter on spoon

To make the pasta, the first thing I needed was pea flour.  I’ve seen pea flour used as a substitute or partial-substitute in baking recipes before, so I figured it should work fine for pasta as well.  I spread the pea solids into an 1/8” even layer on a silicone baking sheet and dehydrated it at 135F overnight.  Amazingly, the pea solids lost at least 2/3 of their mass and volume.  I guess a few more Gs in the centrifuge would have helped expel the remaining moisture. 

I ground the dehydrated pea solids in two stages: first, I dumped them into the Blendtec and let them whirl on high for a few minutes.  It produced a pretty fine powder, but I decided to do a second milling in the coffee grinder (which I don’t use for coffee).  The final texture was finer than cornmeal but not quite as fine as flour. The photo below shows the pea powder at substantial magnification.  The total yield from 3lbs of peas was 200g of pea powder. 

pea flour
Next, it was time to make the dough.  I had no idea what the properties of pea flour would be compared to wheat flour, so I approached making pea pasta like making gluten-free dough… except I added 25% all-purpose flour.  The dough finally came together after adding one egg + one egg yolk, about 6g each of xanthan and guar gum, roughly 150g of water and 75g of olive oil, plus a little salt.  pea dough

I’m not providing an exact recipe since I eventually gave up on precise measurements and just kept adding stuff until the dough looked right.  When I could finally get it to pass through my pasta roller on the 4th setting without breaking apart, I called it good and stamped out a few ravioli filled with pea butter.  The pasta was delicious and had the unmistakable, pure, vibrant flavor of peas.  Unlike most ravioli, the flavor wasn’t just in the filling.  The dough itself packed plenty of pea punch.  The addition of a soft cheese, like a mild goat or perhaps even a creamy brie would certainly be welcome for the filling, if you’re longing for a little something extra.  I didn’t try cooking the pasta directly in the pea water, but that might be a delightful flavor boost as well.

I’m also planning to try a pea version of matzo ball soup (a childhood favorite) made from balls of pea dough and served in a pea water broth.  If you’ve got other ideas for dishes with extreme peaness, please leave ‘em in the comments. 

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Pea butter is one of the primary reasons I was compelled to put a laboratory centrifuge in my house.  It is an iridescent, velvety substance produced in miniscule quantities by spinning peas at high G-forces.  It’s also one of the most vivid flavors I’ve ever tasted, and I needed to make it at home.

The existence of pea butter was unearthed by the Modernist Cuisine team, using a centrifuge the size of a washing machine.  My cooking compadre, Jethro, was the first kid on the block with a home-sized centrifuge (if you’re single, or have a basement) and did a great write-up on his pea butter experience back in February.  Jethro whipped frozen peas into a powder, then centrifuged them for 5 hours.  Contrary to his technique, I found that I was able to extract roughly the same yield of pea butter by blending thawed peas into a liquid and spinning it for 3 hours.  I believe the reason is due to Brownian Motion (see the explanation on the eGullet Centrifuges thread). 

I also decided to try the same technique with corn.  Corn and peas are both wet and chewy, they both contain starch, and they’re both really sweet.  After 3 hours of spinning at 1500Gs, I couldn’t detect a corn “butter”, per se, but I did get a thick, milky corn liquid that was extremely flavorful and rife for culinary applications.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be hunting for ways to use these centrifuged components.  Check back for recipes that will spin you right-round.

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