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.
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.
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.
PETIT POIS MUFFIN
Makes 12 large muffins
100g margarine or butter
300g self-raising flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
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.