Chef Gerard Craft was just 25-years-old when he opened his first restaurant in St. Louis. An easterner by birth, he headed west to Salt Lake City, Utah to be a snowboarding photographer, but then became obsessed with the kitchen and cooking.
After honing his skills at some of the best restaurants in the West as well as New Jersey, he settled in the gateway city, St. Louis.
He’s now the chef and owner of four popular St. Louis area restaurants; Niche, Taste by Niche (a modern speakeasy), Brasserie by Niche (a classic French bistro) and his newest establishment, Pastaria.
Craft is a four-time James Beard Foundation finalist for Best Chef: Midwest and Food and Wine named him Best New Chef in 2008.
The chef visited "CBS This Morning: Saturday" and shared his ultimate dish, pistachio ravioli with brown butter.
Pistachio ravioli with brown butter
2 cups roasted and salted pistachios, shelled (halves are OK)
4 1/2 cups (3 ounces) arugula
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1. Place the pistachios in a medium-size pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly, and keep the nuts going at a lively simmer. You want them to get nice and soft. This will take about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, and set aside. Immerse arugula in the boiling water to blanch; remove immediately with tongs, and place in the icy water to stop the cooking. Squeeze the excess moisture from the arugula, and place it in your blender.
3. Add mascarpone to the blender.
4. Remove your pistachios from the heat, strain, and then add them to your blender. Puree the mixture, seasoning to taste. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to fill your raviolis.
Egg yolk pasta:
2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
20 egg yolks, very lightly beaten
1. Place 2 cups of the flour into a food processor with its dough blade attached. With the processor running, slowly add egg yolks. Once the mixture comes together in a uniform mass, probably only about 20 seconds later, remove from the food processor. It will be a nice bright yellow. (Note: depending on the humidity, and the size of your egg yolks, your dough may be either slightly dry or slightly tacky at this point. Don't freak out! If dry, add another egg yolk; if tacky, add more flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, and pulse until the dough forms.)
2. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour, and knead your dough by hand into a round ball. It will become very smooth. Wrap with plastic, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
3. At this point you can roll out the dough. Or, you can chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to roll. Be sure to bring the dough to room temperature before rolling. Either way, you definitely want to roll out the dough the day that you make it.
1. Cut room temperature dough into eight pieces. Re-wrap seven of them in the plastic.
2. Lay out long pieces of parchment paper, and dust very lightly with flour. (These will be for setting your pasta atop once it's rolled.)
3. Lightly dust a clean work surface and press on the remaining 1 piece of dough with your palm to flatten to about a 1/2 inch thickness. You want to form a nice rectangle as you do this.
4. Now roll the pasta through the machine, beginning at setting #1 and finishing at #7. You'll be working with a nice long, thin sheet by the end. If it's too unwieldy, you can cut it in half or thirds as you work. Lay out your sheets in the flour-dusted parchment paper. Repeat this process with each of the remaining 7 pieces of dough.
Putting Ravioli together:
Pastry or basting brush
Two pastry cutters (2 3/4” and 1 1/2”)
1 egg lightly beaten with a fork
1. Using the blunt side of the large cutter, make 50 soft imprints on several sheets of pasta.
2. Using a tableware teaspoon, mound half a teaspoon of the pistachio puree in the middle of the indents.
3. With your pastry brush, lightly paint the egg wash around your fillings.
4. Carefully drape the other sheets of pasta over those with filling. Now use the blunt side of your small pastry cutter to tamp around each of the fillings. Don't cut! You just want to seal the pasta around the filling, removing as much air as possible. Once sealed, you can cut out your raviolis with the large cutter. At this point, use your thumb and forefinger to press around the edges, to be sure there is a nice seal. This also helps to cook the pasta quicker.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Handful of pea shoots
Parmesan, freshly grated (always good to have a large chunk in the fridge)
3 tablespoons coco nibs
1. Bring two large pots of water to boil.
2. Drop in the raviolis and cook until soft, about two minutes. You'll see the pasta start to become limp when it's near done, but the best way to be sure it's ready is by tasting one. It's not a bad job; I promise! We have a cook who used to make two or three extra every time, just to sample…
3. While the pasta is cooking, sauté the butter in a small saucepan on high heat until the butter begins to smell nutty and turn golden brown.
4. Now add the lemon juice, but be careful of the hot butter.
5. Skim the cooked raviolis from the water and plate 5 per person. Taste an ravioli to be sure they’re cooked through.
6. Toss the pea shoots in the brown butter, then pour a generous serving of the mixture over each plate.
7. Top with grated parmesan. Finally, sprinkle a few cocoa nibs over each plate and serve.
Orange salad with olives and red onion
5 large oranges, such as navel oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, minced 1/2 cup picholine olives, chopped 1/4 cup olive oil Salt, to taste
1. Toss all ingredients together, season as needed, and serve immediately.
2.5lbs of radishes, peeled and oblique cut
2 T Olive oil
1/2 T Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ea. Slices country loaf, toasted and rubbed with a raw garlic clove
1. Add oil to saute pan on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add radishes and cook until they are completely tender and golden brown.
2. Finish radishes by adding lemon juice and seasoning with salt, pepper.
3. Spoon onto the garlic toast when ready to eat.
Mama Rodolico's Tiramisu
1 lb. mascarpone
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 large box Pavasini biscuits
3 espressos, long
1. Make coffee. Let cool.
2. Beat egg yolks with sugar. Add mascarpone and mix together until well
3. In another large bowl, beat egg whites until peaked and carefully fold into egg & sugar mixture.
4. In a large, high sided serving dish layer, Pavasini, lightly moistened with cooled coffee, cream mixture until dish is full.
5. Dust with cocoa, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours before serving.