Tag Archives: green peas


This last weekend turned out to be a good family gathering. Sarah drove from San Francisco with her two boys. We spent the days enjoying some of the attractions of Southern California even though it was cold and overcast. Sarah was disappointed that Bay Area weather followed her. The boys swam – shivering – in the unheated pool. There were walks along the seaside cliffs and among the yellow waves of flowering mustard. Everyone is on a diet. Mine is medically prescribed, Carol’s is more casual, and Sarah’s is a crash strict vegetarian regimen. For a few hours we were fairly conscientious. Our first evening’s meal was a green salad with shredded rotisserie chicken and various vegetable additions. Dessert was fruit salad, actually a mixed fruit and berry compote. On that I gained two pounds! What???

Dying eggs, filling Easter baskets, and trying out an antique Easter bunny chocolate mold that Sarah found in Petaluma were all subliminal messages to relax our diet ambitions…and so we did.

After dress-up church, Carol came home for a brief walk before she launched into preparation of a delicious feast that set back my weight-loss ambitions by several days. We enjoyed a Southern California evening with drinks and snacks on the patio. The weather had a change of heart that made it possible.. Then Carol began the cavalcade of food with tiny glass cups of chilled creamed asparagus soup topped off with a dollop of lemon cream and a bit of asparagus tip.  We sipped the delicious amuse bouche and watched for the green light as the sun dipped below the ocean horizon. As always, we did not see it.

Carol often makes a chilled mushroom soup that she serves as a first course, but because it’s spring and Easter, and because it is high season for asparagus, she changed her menu. The lemon cream was a good foil for the vegetal soup. In preparing the soup, the final step is to puree the soup mixture. Just be aware that a regular blender will not work. Carol used a Vita-Mix for several minutes to get the velvety texture. I guess you could also pass the mixture through a tamis, but that sounds like a lot of work to me.

Chilled asparagus soup with lemon cream

At Carol’s request, Sarah made “Spaghetti with Peas, Lime, Goat Cheese and Duck Fat” from Rich Table, pages 129-131. The dish was a popular favorite when the restaurant first opened. It has been off the menu for a while, but it is featured in the cookbook. Sarah brought her own supply of fresh green peas and pea tendrils from San Francisco, but I am sure that Los Angeles peas would have worked. You can probably find your own pea tendrils in a little plastic clamshell at a store like Whole Foods. Who would think that green peas and spaghetti are a delicious combination? Clearly, goat cheese and duck fat contribute to  the rush of flavors, but the finished product is both beautiful and delicious.

Sarah heads to New York City after her visit here for the James Beard writing awards. The cookbook is a finalist for best cookbook in the restaurant and professional category. Good luck, Sarah.

Spaghetti with peas, lime, goat cheese, and duck fat

Add to that  a beautiful glazed Japanese-style ham with honey-glazed carrots and hard rolls and the feast was complete…


You can’t have a feast like that without dessert. And so Carol made a three-layer spice cake filled with berries, topped with cream cheese frosting along with fresh blackberries. Ice cream on request. So long to any last remnants of a diet.

Spice cake with mixed fresh berries

But there’s always Monday.



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The holidays of spring are nearly over, and I have been eyeing my bathroom scale with disbelief. My son and his family were in SoCal this past week because of a family situation that did not foster celebration. They’re back in the Bay Area with the plan to observe a family Seder last night. Carol invited us to her house for a feast on Sunday. And a feast it was! I spent several days making gravlax along with a Swedish dill-mustard sauce from a recipe of a dear, old-time friend. That, along with garlic crostini, deviled eggs (some stuffed with shrimp), and olives, made the appetizers for our Happy Hour on the patio while watching the sun go down over the ocean. Why wouldn’t you like Southern California?

But that was only a modest prelude to the meal that lay ahead. Here’s the menu:

  • roasted leg of lamb
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • rice pilaf with currents and hazelnuts
  • fresh green peas, snap peas, and watercress sprouts
  • Moroccan carrots

Susan made two contributions to the meal. First she made a batch of rolls from her mother’s recipe. Over the years we had had them at many meals on the farm when there weren’t biscuits. They were always popular – and delicious. She also made coconut cupcakes at the request of one of the young folks. Then they decorated them with frosting, shredded coconut and nerds (I lost points when that was the only candy I could find at the store, but they actually turned out to be a positive addition to the final version.)

Carol has a very large collection of cookbooks, and she is always looking for different versions of common foods along with unusual foods. Over the years she has gradually brought her whole family out of the doldrums of eating only meat and potatoes. She also always puts her own twist on the recipe.  I’m not sure of the source recipes of several of the dishes, but I know that the Moroccan carrots came from Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook (W.W. Norton and Co, New York, 2010) The dish is delicious, and Carol used a mix of various colors of carrot to create a stunning visual effect. The same thing was true with a dish of fresh green peas and snap peas. The recipe called for pea tendrils, but my son-in-law struck out looking for them in several stores, and the farmers’ market was closed for Easter. Carol, always innovative, substituted watercress sprouts. IMHO the substitution improved the dish.

Kevin had bought some special wine for the occasion, and I contributed a bottle of Klinker Brick old vine zinfandel from last year’s visit to Lodi.

Needless to say, it was a very special and memorable family evening.

Here’s the recipe for Mom Mom’s homemade rolls.


Mom Mom’s Homemade Rolls


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 6½ cups all-purpose flour


  1. Place sugar, shortening, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Scald milk and pour over ingredients in bowl. Stir until mixed, and let cool.
  3. Dissolve yeast in water.
  4. Beat eggs lightly and add to yeast mixture. Then add these ingredients to the cooled milk mixture.
  5. Beat in the flour to form a smooth dough. Allow to rise until doubled (about 2 hours) or refrigerate for later use.
  6. Shape into rolls and place in greased muffin pans. Let rise again until doubled.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until browned to your liking

Makes 36 medium rolls

Cook’s Note: The easiest shape is to cut out circles with a biscuit cutter and place them in the pans. You can make fancier shapes by rolling balls of dough between your palms; clover leaf rolls with three small balls dipped in melted butter and placed 3 to each cup; fan-tans with 5 or 6 layers of rolled-out dough separated with melted butter and cut into squares; Parker House with flattened balls of dough with an off-set crease cut across them, topped with melted butter, folded on the crease,  and baked on a greased cookie sheet.


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Summer is winding down, and so is our local farmers’ market. Apples and pears fill baskets of all sizes. The air is bathed with the singular smell of roasting chiles. That smell always anticipates the fragrance of burning piñon as nights cool off and fireplaces are lit. Nearly every vendor has piles of potatoes of all shapes, colors, and sizes. This last week I bought fresh-roasted green chiles which I used for pork posole for my visiting son and fingerling potatoes with no particular fate in mind for them.

I considered creamed potatoes with green peas, which is a long-time family favorite, I decided against that because I would still have to come up with a protein. Then I thought of Burgundy beef or, in its French guise, boeuf Bourguignon. The first time I ever had Burgundy beef was in my internship days. I was making $75 a month, so any cheap or free food was always welcome. Most of the hospitals still had staff meals, so they served as the house staff’s main source of sustenance. In general, the food was less than gourmet.  One of my colleagues was dating  a dietetics intern who worked at the VA hospital. She always knew the menus in advance, and the VA food was by far the best. We would make sure to go to the VA when the menu was especially good, and we always were sure to make Burgundy beef night.

At the time we were mystified about the name, certain  – especially with the VA – that it didn’t refer to Burgundy wine. What a surprise when a couple of years later, my new bride and I were watching Julia Child on our 14-inch black and white television set in our basement apartment. Julia made what we considered to be a very fancy French dish. boeuf Bourguignon. We realized that it was our old VA standby, Burgundy beef. We tried out Julia’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. It was the most delicious stew that either of us had ever had. But like most Julia recipes, it was not straightforward, requiring multiple steps to get each ingredient cooked just so before everything was combined.

This is an easy version that is still pretty good. I used a braising pan in the oven, cooking the stew for about 4 hours at low temperature, but a slow cooker would work perfectly. Julia Child’s recipe doesn’t call for green peas. She suggests them on the side, but I tossed in some frozen peas at the last minute for color and a boost of the healthy index. The most important thing is to make it easy on yourself.


Easy Peasy Burgundy Beef


  • 1 pound stir-fry beef, cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks  (Choose your own kind of beef. Stew meat is fine; filet would be over the top.)
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6-8 stems of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms (one fiberboard basket)
  • 10 boiling onions, blanched, outer skin peeled, root and stem ends trimmed and pierced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in obliques
  • 1 rib celery, cut in triangles
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed (optional)


  1. Over high heat in a braising pan, brown the beef in olive oil. Stir in the flour to coat the beef. Cook until the flour is lightly browned and the oil is absorbed.
  2. Add the beef stock, red wine, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, mushrooms, onions, carrot and celery. Return to the boil and cover.
  3. Transfer to the middle of an oven preheated to 215°F. Braise for 4 hours, until the potatoes are cooked through and the beef is tender. Stir occasionally, and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. About 10 minutes before you are finished cooking, stir in the peas. Serve.

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I went to the farmers market this weekend and was surprised to find that the fruits and vegetables usually available this time of year were missing. We live at 7,000 feet, so the growing season is usually later than in other parts of the country. We also had a late spring,  and things are just behind schedule. On top of that, I’ve recently visited farmers markets in Southern California, Texas, and Louisiana where the season is much further along.

The market did have a lot of greens and root vegetables, but not many stone fruits or tomatoes. I found a few heirloom tomatoes that had been grown under protective tents. I’m going to use those to make panzanella. I also found the first peaches of the season, and I plan to use those for my version of Strawn’s Café Famous Peach Ice Box Pie.

The big finds, though, were green shell peas and tiny new potatoes. When I was growing up, we always planted green peas by Saint Patrick’s Day to assure a good crop. Then, when they came in, my grandfather, father, and I would sit on the back step, eating them raw, fresh out of the pod. In the American South, green peas are called English peas to distinguish them from the black-eye, Crowder, purple hull, and cream peas that are so important there. I don’t know what the English call green peas. Maybe one of my blogger friends from the UK can help me out.

The freshly dug potatoes looked delicious, and at one stand they had been carefully sorted by size, so that one basket was filled with tiny potatoes no more than an inch and a half across and all practically the same size. Boiled new potatoes like those are among the luxuries of early summer.

All of that reminded me of one of my favorites of childhood: creamed peas, new potatoes, and pearl onions. So that’s what I made for supper. Even though that’s an old-timey dish, it was every bit as good as I remembered.


Creamed Peas, New Potatoes, and Pearl Onions


  • 1 pound small new potatoes, washed
  • 1 cup pearl onions, fresh or frozen
  • 1½ pounds unshelled green peas, shelled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill fronds, snipped


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes, return to the boil and cook until the potatoes are pieced with a cooking fork, about 20 minutes. They should be not quite cooked through.
  2. Add the pearl onions and return to the boil for another 5 minutes. Then add the peas and boil for another 5 minutes or until the peas are done. Drain.
  3. In the meantime, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. The mixture should be foaming. Stir for a few minutes to cook the flour.
  4. Pour in the milk and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. It is alright if it begins to boil, but at that point remove from the heat.
  5. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add sesame oil to taste. Be gingerly, as sesame oil can be overpowering. Stir in the snipped dill
  6. Pour the sauce over the drained vegetables. Mix until well combined. Serve immediately.
  7. Serves two to four as a side dish.




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