Savoring the Last Weeks of Spring with English Peas

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

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As Spring begins to quickly fade into Summer, I wanted to post one last nod to the tender and delicate flavors of Spring produce. The first round of English peas is a laborious time in the kitchen, everyone joins in to shell the peas. But there is a balance to spending a lot of time shelling peas, as they require hardly any preparation to shine. There is a big difference between cooking with freshly shelled English peas and frozen peas or canned peas. When I meet people who do not like English peas a movie begins to play in my mind. One of canned peas, army green in color, mushy in texture. A fitful child at a table, forced to “finish your vegetables” by a tired parent. Usually the peas are accompanied by a rubbery piece of chicken or a greyish piece of meat. It’s a sad scene. You may think this drastic, but it’s the only way I can think to explain anyone’s adherence to one of springs most tender, sweet, and fresh flavors. I stand to say that English peas, fresh from the pod, are one of the most symbolic spring vegetables. They are best just barely cooked, enough so that they are bright in color and retain a pleasant pop when you bite into them.

This salad is one we have making at the Inn this season, a guest favorite and possibly one of my personal favorites from this year. There is no doubt that peas and ham are made for each other, and adding burrata… well that’s just showing off. Enjoy while you still can.

Sweet Pea Salad with Burrata & Country Ham

Serves 4-6 people

1 cup fresh English peas, shelled
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried harissa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups of sugar snap peas, shaved thinly on a bias
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon parsley, minced
¼ teaspoon mint, minced
½ cup pea shoots
4 oz. burrata
5 (paper thin) slices of country ham

For the Peas:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in English peas. Cook for 20-30 seconds. Strain from water and quickly shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. Strain from ice water and set aside.

In a small saucepot add in olive oil. Add in shallots, garlic, and dried harissa. Gently warm, about 2 minutes. You want the olive oil to be hot, but you do not want the garlic or shallot to begin to brown. Remove from heat. Set aside and cool in he refrigerator.

In a bowl mix English peas and cooled harissa marinade. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

To assemble the salad in a bowl mix marinated English peas, shaved sugar snap peas, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and mint. Pour into a wide bowl or serving dish. Tear the burrata into large pieces and layer over the peas. Tear the country ham into rustic pieces and spread over the peas and burrata. Garnish with the pea shoots and any edible flowers you have on hand. Bachelor buttons are especially nice. Savor the last few weeks of spring.

 

 

Tomato Pie & Pappy Van Winkle, Tales from the Kitchen

Monday, May 15th, 2017

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I couldn’t tell you when I started making tomato pie. It’s not something someone taught me how to make. I am pretty sure its evolution took place during my years in the South but its origins, I claim them to be instinctual. It’s a marriage of my deep love of quiche (and everything French) married to the revelry of tomatoes in southern summers. I am not saying this is some invention of my own, but this is dish I could make blindfolded at 2am in a cave. I just make it.

Tomato Pie also takes me to a very fond cooking memory. Early in my career I was asked to make 12 tomato pies for a Chef I was working for. He needed them for an event the following day. I was asked on a Saturday night, a very busy Saturday night when I was working a very busy station. Needless to say, the tomato pies had to be made after service. My nearest and dearest line cooking partner in crime, Ben, was also tasked with making Chicken Bog for said event. Our prep started around 11:30 pm. The restaurant closed down, the kitchen was empty except for the two of us. We cooked, talked, took a few nips of Pappy Van Winkle from the bar. It was perfect. I couldn’t tell you when I started making this pie, but I can tell you that it’s magical. I hope this recipe brings you as much happiness as I have had making it.

Tomato Pie

Yields 1 Pie, 8 slices
Pie Dough*

1½ cups All-Purpose Flour
¾ teaspoon Sugar
¾ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1½ sticks Butter, diced and very cold
4½ tablespoons Water, very cold


In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together to incorporate. Add in the butter and use your fingers to mix into flour mixture until it feels coarse and pebbly. Add in water and mix until all ingredients just  beginning to become incorporated. Roll the dough into a ball shape and lightly flatten. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F. On a floured work surface roll out dough into a circle until it is uniformly around 1/8 inch thick. Line the pie pan with the dough and trim away the excess edge. Place into freezer for 15 minutes to chill well before blind baking. Line chilled dough with a circle of parchment paper that is 12 inches in diameter. Fill with whatever weights you have, such as beans or rice. Bake the piecrust for about 20 minutes. You want the edges of the pie to be a light golden brown when you remove it from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature, and then remove the parchment paper and weights. The pie shell is ready to filled and baked at this point. It can be made a day ahead, just wrap well and store in the refrigerator.

Pie Filling

2 Heirloom Tomatoes, medium sized
¼ cup Olive Oil
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1½ cups Sharp White Cheddar (Cabot is a good starting point), shredded
4 Egg Yolks
6 Eggs
½ cup Heavy Cream
¼ teaspoon Dried Harrisa
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon Parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice the heirloom tomatoes to around ¼ inch thick. Lightly oil a sheet pan with olive oil. Lay tomato slices on oiled pan in a single layer. Use a ½ teaspoon of salt to season the tomatoes. Roast for 40 minutes. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, eggs, heavy cream, and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk well, until slightly frothy.

To assemble pie, layer 1 cup of shredded white cheddar into the pie shell. Add in a single layer of roasted heirloom tomatoes, around half of the tomatoes. Next, add remaining ½ cup of shredded white cheddar. Top with remaining roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle dried harissa over the top tomato layer. Pour egg and cream mixture over the tomato and cheese filling. Top with parmesan and parsley. Bake for 45-55 minutes. The pie filling should be set and the top, golden brown. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

* The pie dough recipe was taken from the cookbook Summerland by Anne Quatrano. Her book is a look at seasonal cooking in the Southern United States and a glimpse of her creative genius. Her cooking is incredibly inspiring and I highly recommend adding it to your library.

Star Provisions