I went to a class at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) a few weeks ago. For the last few weeks, I had seriously been considering attending culinary school full-time, and while the decision was ultimately “no” (for now, at least), I wanted to take a class to see how it felt to be in their kitchen. The class of choice was “Great New York Restaurants’ Signature Dishes” with Chef Loren Banco, who was amazing – if only for his patience with 15+ home cooks. Many of the class titles at ICE are somewhat kitschy, but I actually thought “recreating” top restaurant dishes would be kinda fun.
The menu featured salad from Balthazar – with the most incredible lemon-truffle vinaigrette – ravioli from Babbo, hanger steak from Craft, roasted monkfish from Le Bernadin, and warm chocolate cake from Gotham Bar & Grill. Guess which was my favorite? Chocolate cake, of course! We broke up into three teams and were responsible for one dish, as well as one component for another dish (the sauce for the ravioli, for example). My group did the monkfish and warm chocolate cake. I was not a big fan of the monkfish, mainly because we had to clean all the suckers and pulling off the grey flesh ended up not being my favorite activity of the night.
So after nearly four hours of cooking, it was about 11pm and believe it or not, I was hardly hungry anymore! But certainly that didn’t stop me…
Surprisingly, there was a ton of food left over even after everyone had second portions, and Chef Loren encouraged us to take something home. In addition to more chocolate cake (duh), I grabbed a container of the ravioli filling, which was a pea puree with mint and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I popped it in the freezer and have since used it on several different occasions for quick pasta dishes. It reminds of pesto, but with a more distinct Parmesan-cheesy flavor. I personally think it pairs well with shrimp, but you could use any protein in its place. This would also make for a fantastic sandwich spread (idea!).
ICE is pretty stringent in their recipe posting policies, so I’m going to post the pea puree recipe here with full credit to the folks at ICE. For this dish I used my beloved orecchiette, but you could use any pasta shape. I had garlic scapes on hand from my farmers market CSA share. If you haven’t seen garlic scapes before, I would recommend seeking them out – they’re the top part of the garlic plant that will event sprout a bulb that can be used to plant more garlic, but typically farmers cut them off because they take 2-3 years to regrow. They are incredibly garlicky. The first time I tried them raw, and it’s an intense flavor. I think it’s more of a sharp taste than regular garlic. If you don’t have the scapes, then just use a few gloves of garlic.
Also, forgive my crappy photo here. We’re all spoiled by Sarah’s beautiful images!
Mint Pea Puree (via the Institute of Culinary Education)
- 1 pound frozen sweet peas
- 2 cups mint leaves
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, coarsely grated
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Blanch the sweet peas in 6 quarts boiling water and 9 tablespoons Kosher salt until tender, but bright green, 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and place in ice bath. When cool, remove from ice bath and drain.
- Blanch the mint leaves in the same boiling water for 14 seconds, then place in ice bath. Remove and drain.
- Combine the peas, mint, Parmigiano Reggiano, heavy cream, salt and pepper in a food processor and pule to form a smooth paste.
Note: This recipe makes a lot of puree. Feel free to cut in half, though it freezes very well.
Pasta with Garlic Scapes, Zucchini, Shrimp & Mint
- 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta
- 12-14 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 small zucchini
- 6 garlic scapes
- 1/2 frozen sweet peas
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup mint pea puree (see recipe above)
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Cut off the ends of the zucchini, then cut in half. Place each half on your cutting board and thinly slice, so you form half circles. Then cut off the ends of the garlic scapes (the bulbs) and thinly slice.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, throw in the zucchini and garlic scapes. Cook until zucchini starts to soften, about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t brown too much. Season with salt and pepper.
- Throw in the peas and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then add the shrimps and celery salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the shrimps start to turn pink.
- When the shrimp are nearly cooked, add the white wine. Stir for another minute, and then add the mint pea puree. Stir everything around and cook until the puree is heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Toss the pasta right in the pan with your vegetable mixture. Divide it all up into two bowls, and top with pine nuts and torn mint leaves.