Friday, September 07, 2007

Catching Up and Using Discards

When I was a teenager, it was my job to shell the peas picked by my dad from our garden. (It was such a lovely garden that I often dream I am back there). Now and again I would fold one side of an open pod over (towards the inside), so that the crisp outer shell would snap leaving the inside membrane intact. This could then be peeled off and discarded and I would then keep nibbling on as many crisp sweet peapods as I wanted. Some people still grow peas, and the following recipe is as good a way to use the pods as any I have yet discovered. Note: as this is an American recipe, some measurements are given in cups. 1 cup = 8 fl.oz

Pea Pods Piper: serves 4
2 tblsp butter
1/4 cup flaked almonds
4 oz (110g) mushrooms, sliced
2 cups shelled fresh peas
1 cup stripped pea pods, chopped 1" (2.5cm) pieces
pinch salt
1/3 cup chicken or beef broth/stock.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and saute the almonds until just golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove almonds and add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until their juices have evaporated and the mushrooms turned golden. Remove from pan and set aside. To the pan add the peas, pea pods, salt and stock, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until tender. Return mushrooms and almonds to the pan and simmer for a further minute then serve.
Note: To keep some peas to use another day, use less of these and more of the pods.

Pea Pod Soup: serves 4
1 - 2 carrots, grated
pea pods taken from 1lb (500g) peas
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 -3 sprigs mint
1 oz (25g) butter
salt and pepper
Remove stalks and membranes from the pea pods. Chop the pods and put into a pan. Cover with water and simmer until tender (depending upon the age of the pod this could take up to an hour). Sieve or liquidise. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the prepared carrots, onions and celery. Saute gently for about 15 minutes. Stir in the pea pod stock, season to taste and serve hot, sprinkled with finely chopped mint.

As we often discard pea pods, so we do with watercress stalks. They have loads of flavour, so why not turn them into this soup.
Watercress Soup: (V) serves four or more
1 lb (5oog) potatoes
2 bunches watercress stems
watercress leaves
2 pints (1.2 ltrs)
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk or cream
1/2 oz (15g) butter
salt and pepper
Peel and boil the potatoes in the water,together with the watercress stalks, adding watercress leaves a few minutes before the potatoes are tender. When the potatoes are quite soft, put everything into a blender or processor (may have to be done in two batches), then blitz, sieve and return to the pan together with the milk/cream and the butter. Season to taste, heat through and serve with a sprinkling of chopped watercress leaves.

The following is an old farmhouse recipe and a good one for using up the last of the season's parsley. Traditionally made without adding honey, but I found by including this, the end result was so much like 'real' honey you wouldm't believe. But of course, for a fraction of the cost.
Parsley Honey: makes about 1 1/2 lbs (700g)
4 oz (110g) parsley, leaves and stalks
1 1/2 pints (845ml) water
1 lb (450g) sugar
1 heaped tblsp thick honey
Wash the parsley and put into a big pan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour. Strain through a sieve, then return the liquid to the pan. It should now measure 1 pint (570ml), if not make it up to the pint with water. Add the sugar and slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and cook at a rolling boil for 20 minutes. Stir in the honey, and when that has dissolved remove from heat and pot up into small, sterilised screwcap jars.