Monday, October 08, 2007

A Party for Pea Haters

Well P day has arrived. The day of reckoning. For those of you who have been with the Great Big Vegetable Challenge since the beginning, a tantrum over peas is what inspired Freddie and I to start the blog.
As our march through the alphabet has gathered pace, with P for peas edging closer, Freddie had become a little nervous. These little drops of squeaky greenness used to prompt hysteria. And it seems that he is not alone. You can buy “I hate peas” trucker hats and babygros on the internet.
“Can we just do peas as quickly as possible?” Freddie pleaded. This violent hatred of peas demanded a special effort. So we held a pea-tasting party: a party for pea haters to challenge their fears. One of Freddie’s oldest friends is Esme who also hates peas, so she was invited. Her mum warned me that Esme was beyond persuasion. Alexandra and our neighbour Jack love peas. The guest list was balanced. All I had to do was to create irresistible pea recipes. Weeks of late-night teeming and ladling, cooking and tasting led to the ultimate Pea-Tasting Menu.

Petit Pois Muffins
Pasta with Pea Pesto
Pea and Basil Soup
Pea and Ricotta Tartlets

Our guests arrived. Esme’s face paled when she entered the kitchen, seeing a table full of food made with her vegetable enemy number one. I am adept at distraction. We kicked off with a pea-podding competition to see which team could pod the most peas in two minutes. As a child, this was a chore I enjoyed. The pea- haters, Esme and Freddie won, which boosted their confidence.

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The time to eat arrived. Surely the most important rule about party food is that you should be able to eat whatever you like in what ever order: jelly followed by hot dogs or Swiss roll with marmite sandwiches. There should be no tedious adult conventions about starting with a sensible main course before pudding. Esme and Freddie bit into the least threatening option, which was cake. This was a good move. If I could hoodwink them, albeit in a sweet muffin, it was a start. I acted like a drug dealer, peddling in peas.

The pea muffin was inspired by Garrett who many moons ago made a pea cupcake. He has a talent for creating exotic cupcakes: Tomato Soup, Butternut and Sage, Rhubarb and Ginger. Those who worship at the altar of cake must see Garrett as a prophet. His pea cupcake was uncompromisingly green, a Kermit of confections. I don’t see why vegetables should be confined to savoury dishes. Over the past month this inspired me to experiment with creating the sweetest, greenest little pea muffin. I used the smallest peas, the petit pois pea. It worked. Esme's mum looked on in surprise.
“I cannot believe these are made from peas. No way! Mum, look, I am actually eating peas,” said Esme. This was far too easy. Once hooked, there was no going back. It is good to mix vegetable-enthusiasts with their opposites; a little of their enthusiasm wears off. Jack consumed bowls of pasta with pea pesto, Alexandra piled her plate high. And the two pea-haters rampaged through everything, shedding their prejudices like two peas in a pod.

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Because all pea haters need to know that there is support out there, every day this week we will be posting our pea-tasting party recipes. And we aren't going to be alone. Using synchronised watches, Freddie is being offered solidarity from all corners of the globe. We are joined by the wonderful mediterranean inspired chef, Amanda, who lives in New York and who blogs at Figs Olives Wine. Also we have a beautiful pea recipe from the inspirational chef David Hall in South Shields who blogs at Book the Cook . Also we are pleased to be able to link to the wonderful chef Hannah at Hannah's Country Kitchen who are all posting some of their favourite pea recipes. Thank you to all of them!

Freddie's score for Petit Pois Muffins - a peatastic 10 out of 10.
Makes 12 large muffins
100g margarine or butter
300g self-raising flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
200ml milk
Half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 tbsp of maple syrup
200g frozen petit pois
10g of butter
1 tablespoon of half-fat crème-fraiche

Preheat the oven to 200C. Gently melt the margarine or butter in a pan. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk the two eggs. Stir in the milk, maple syrup and vanilla essence. Pour the melted margarine into the bowl containing the egg and milk. Mix it up with a fork.
In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and add the caster sugar.
Cook the petit pois in some boiling water for 5 minutes. These are smaller and sweeter than other peas. Drain and then puree them in a food processor with 10g of butter and a tablespoon of crème-fraiche.
Add pea mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork. Then add all the remaining ingredients and quickly mix it all up till the flour is fully moistened. Don’t over mix. The muffin batter will be a little bit lumpy. Divide the batter in dollops between the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. They will rise and be lightly golden when ready.

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  1. Peas are great and damn all the pea-haters!

  2. Great stuff!! Freddie faces the dreaded Peas head on and is won over by the Petit Pois Muffins - PEATASTIC indeed!

    I'm looking forward to trying all the fantastic pea recipes.

    Celia (of
    pea lover, of course!

  3. Peter M
    I know I know, it is hard when something you love is hated by others. Rest assured we are working on this...

  4. Hail the conquering heroes!!! Freddie, you should be a superhero for Halloween whose superpower is eating vegetables. A green cape is in order! Charlotte, I am blown away by the gorgeous menu you created, and I can't wait to see the rest of the recipes! I love the element of distraction/ preying on the competitive streak in us all. What a stroke of genius! A major victory for both of you and for Esme!

  5. Freddie - it is my personal mission to have you LOVING the pea by the end of the week. Stay tuned for some peatastic creations - I hope!

    David x

  6. Brillant!!!! Never thought of making Pea Muffins. I think I need to go experiment more.... They sound lovely!!!! Ham and Pea muffins..... hmmmm Thanks Charlotte.
    Best of Luck Freddie!!!

  7. Charlotte, you are definitely blazing new trails here. But I have to part company with you over the muffins. Although I am intrigued by the idea of putting savories in unexpected places (zucchini bread, carrot cake spring to mind) I'm not convinced that packaging them in what is basically a cake (a muffin) made of white flour and sugar is necessarily a good thing. I think it kind of defeats the purpose of turning Freddie on to good, healthful vegetables.

    But that's just my take on it...

  8. Ed you are right...but as the week moves on we will reveal that the cake was merely a bait. A beautiful lure to trap the pea haters, lure them into a false sense of security so that they could no longer say, I hate peas. And then little by little the healthier peas come in and tempt them. Its a means to an end...but you are right to pull me up by my apron strings and question it!

  9. you know what i love about all this? is that you aren't just trudging through recipes. y'all are on an adventure! the "if you can't get out of it, get into it" philosophy is a good one, i think. vegetable tastings as life lessons. who'd a thunk?

  10. A true triumph! Congratulations to the two haters for coming to peas. I have a pea hater, too, and I never understand it, because I have loved them forever.

  11. I've been following your blog since the wicked Dikon and I'm so glad to finally get to the dreaded peas. My 3 year old joins Freddy in his pea loathing. In fact he has NEVER liked peas. Even as an infant, a spoonful of strained peas went in and was promptly and violently ejected back out. The only thing my guy will eat that is a pea is split pea soup. But seeing as he will eat any and all beans with gusto, I tell him it's bean soup instead. I'm looking forward to trying your pea muffin, especially, but will try all your pea recipies on the little monkey and see which are keepers for him. We may yet convert more beastie boys to the way of the pea!

  12. Very clever, the pea muffin, even if it is full of sugar & white flour - a barrier has been overturned. Pea pesto, good too. The real test will be to see if Freddie and Esme will eat boiled peas by the end of the week. Plain, perhaps with butter.

    I think it probably all started with the podding competition.


  13. Congratulations to all the young pea pods! Take pride in the poignant (if unpopular) partaking of the perplexingly perfect poetry and piquant palate of pearly peas -- all without pathetic penchant for palsy or pandemonium or even panic or paranoia or paroxysm and impervious to the plight of persistent parental pea persecution and pollution. Soon, I predict, you'll plead for permission to parade through the piazza in the park with pails and platters of peas wearing (perchance?) plucky pajamas or pink petticoats carrying plush parasols and posies of petunias and leading perky poodles, all with perky panache. Pea partisans and pilgrims (and plebes!), posthaste, pivot and prevail!

    Mum, a portentous post.

    : - )

  14. Oh! I must figure out a way to make these muffins dairy free! Thanks for the recipe and for the Vanilla Garlic link.

  15. This was funny, creative and very clever! You could get ANYONE to eat peas or any veggie, Charlotte.

    Also, I tried to comment on your Pak Choi (for some techno reason I wasn't able) as I love it myself and thought your dishes looked tastey. Freddie is such a dear to give so many eights!

  16. Hehe, adorable and delicious!

  17. Congrats on all your hard work, mum and Freddie! I used to absolutely hate peas (hate hate hate, along with most other vegetables) and then one day I was a special guest somewhere with a special dish of peas cooked for me, and I couldn't say no to eating them. And it turns out they were delicious, and they're now one of my favorite vegetables! It took me until age 20 to turn that corner, so well done Freddie for beginning to make the change so young.

  18. I'm visiting again for the pea recipes, but because they are so popular in our house! If my daughter isn't eating anything in our dinner but is hungry I just go and pour boiling water on frozen organic peas and she gobbles them up as quick as she can. I should also try that Pak Choi with minted greens recipe as greens seem to be sliding down the favoured foods list recently.
    And now I want to go and check out the recipes at Vanilla Garlic, another thank you for the link.

  19. Yay for pea cakes and muffins! I wish my mom had been so determined to make me like my veggies as a kid! =)

  20. Third time lucky, it keeps saying server error!

    Charlotte, you're a genius! I thought I was bad with 'any excuse for a party' but you've surpassed any party throwing I've ever done. I'd missed all the pea posts so it was good to come in and read them all in one go.

    Way to go and well done Freddie!

  21. I love peas.

    And I love muffins

    Therefore, I must love pea muffins.

    I hope so!

  22. Hello I love your article is very good ... should put more information on your topicA Party for Pea Haters


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