Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pasta & Fresh Peas...and already buttered toast

Growing sweet green peas is always a challenge chez nous since we often do not have a long enough bout of cool weather for them to do really well. The ones planted this past February have produced a middling harvest, but the lack of abundance is more than compensated by the remarkable taste of what I consider to be more akin to green candy than a lowly veggie especially when it's eaten raw right out of the pod. Super fresh peas only need about a two/three minute dunk in simmering water. They are exceptional in form and substance when they come out of their beauty bath. If cooked longer, they will lose the very vibrancy which makes eating them so special.

Choose your pasta and put in boiling water.  Don't forget to add a handful or so of shelled, rinsed, fresh peas about a few minutes before the pasta is done.

With a few minutes more of cooking time, pasta and the just added peas will both be done

Saute some minced garlic and thyme in olive oil. Add several tablespoons of pasta cooking water. 

Since last season's garlic harvest is depleted, I have started pulling the present planting and using the bulbs without any curing. Their pleasing taste is closer to green onion than garlic.

By mid-July, they will have formed a cluster of papery, separate cloves instead of the onion-like bulb at present

Toss the slightly underdone, drained pasta into the skillet and cook the sauce down until all is coated well. Grind some black pepper over it and salt to taste.

Grated Parmesan could be sprinkled on but I am usually scoffing this simple but excellent dish before I even realize that there is cheese in the fridge. If there is some fleur de sel on the table, I do manage to dust my serving with that.

Some may say, too many peas! I say, not enough!

As with green beans, it is necessary to keeping picking pea pods every other day to encourage a bigger harvest. During the several weeks of harvesting, I have no problem fitting them into our menu.

Peas, potatoes (also from our potager) au gratin, and pot roast of lamb

Machines purpose built for just toasting bread are usually hard to keep crumb free while the bread needs not to be too thick or too thin. By the time it comes to the table, it is no longer hot enough to melt butter whose application then grates the toast causing an avalanche of crumbs. I do bake slathered-with-garlic-and-olive-oil whole slices of sourdough rye for topping our French Onion Soup and saute bread in bacon fat. However, sometimes you just want hot, buttered toast.

Using room-temperature butter, apply a thin film to both sides of the slice. Place in a heavy-bottomed skillet and grill at moderate heat for a couple of minutes or until it is toasted to your preference. Flip over and repeat.

This pan-grilled bread has a soft inside and a crunchy crust. And it is already buttered!

We like accompanying this kind of 'toast' with homemade soups. Flavoured versions (herbs, cayenne, cinnamon, vanilla extract, etc.) can be substituted, but usually I go plain because French butter is fabulous by itself. Of course, instead of the yellow yummy stuff, any tasty oil can be used, like olive or walnut or sesame.

Carrot soup and its best friend, grilled sourdough rye

English lavender, which bees adore, is in full bloom.

Two strawberry beds in front; rhubarb, raspberries & a corner of a tomato bed in the background

That's a bee, right? I don't want to be waxing poetic over hornets!

Oh yes, the early summer garden is humming along. Foreground: fennel, sage, tub of blueberries; mid-ground: staked tomatoes, two potato beds -- the yellowed foliage is a soon-to-be-harvested midseason variety; background: laurel nursery bed, irises, grapes, blackberries, red currants, and small peach tree. Incidentally, that's a duvet cover in the upper right and not some immense, tropical flowering plant intent on taking over the garden.

The early variety of the two potted -- to provide the acid soil they need as the pH of our soil is neutral -- blueberry plants already are putting out a few plump, sweet berries.

À la prochaine!

How to make fresh green pea pesto

Giulietta Carrelli, her courageous toast 'palace', and how the artisan toast craze started