loti cooks | peas, curds and whey
Douglas McMaster, founder of Silo, the world’s first zero-waste restaurant (which is making the move to Hackney Wick) and one of our Forward Foodies, is releasing Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint this month, so we’ve got one of his recipes for you to try. This summery dish made from peas and milk, is simple and in using multiple parts of the pea plant and two different preparations of milk, it demonstrates Silo’s holistic approach to ‘super-natural cooking’. It is a fairly technical recipe, with the weights and processes more suited to a pro kitchen but it can be done at home. In line with the philosophy of Silo, it’s a way to make sure no produce ends up in the bin, so it’s one to try if you have these ingredients knocking about and you don’t want to throw them out.
What You Need
Fresh full fat un-homogenised milk and cream from an organic grass-fed dairy (to make 10g of curd and 10g of whey)
Rennet, vinegar or lemon juice
Mint and neutral oil (4g)
Young peas and mange tout (50g)
Pea flowers (4-6)
What You Do
1. Make the mint oil. Blend equal parts mint and neutral oil until it reaches 62°C. Leave to infuse for 12 hours. Pass through a chinois and muslin cloth into an appropriate vessel.
If you don’t have one of those fancy blenders that heats as it blends, you can just quickly blanch the mint, dry it and then blend it with the oil.
2. Make the curds. In a heavy-based pan, heat 4 parts milk and 1 part cream up to 38°C, remove from the heat and add 1% acid in the form of rennet, lemon juice or vinegar. Stir the liquids together. After 30 minutes the curds and the whey should start to separate.
You may have to add more vinegar then you think to get the curds to separate, especially if you’re using un-homogenised milk, but it does still work.
3. Gently pour the mixture through a muslin cloth and leave in the fridge for 3 hours, or until the curd is how you like it. Keep the whey for the reduction.
4. Make the whey reduction. Reduce the whey to between half and one-tenth its original volume – the more it reduces, the darker its colour and flavour. Each batch is different, so keep tasting it until it’s as you like it and/or it’s right for the dish.
5. When the whey has reduced by half, pass it through a cloth, as the whey proteins separate at this stage, it will have an unpleasant texture and bitter flavour. After passing continue to reduce until it has a light amber colour.
This can be a bit tricky – you may have to pass the whey more than once to get it right. We had some issues with this and ended up leaving it out, and the dish still tasted good without it.
6. Steam the peas and the mangetout, tumble together and acidify with bright vinegar, 1% salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange around the curds and whey, and decorate with the pea flowers.