Cook's Country (February/March 2016)
Bittens, we are overwhelmed.
Since we wrote about feeling a little stuck last week, you've sent some truly amazing emails and comments. You've told us what you like about this blog, and (aw, shucks) what you like about us. We got choked up reading through all your notes and kind words. It was humbling.
You reminded us that we really have created a great community of people who like to cook, who like to eat and -- most importantly -- who just like each other. It's like we just go together, Bittens.
We go together like peanut butter and jelly.
We go together like peanut butter and chocolate. (Okay, yeah, maybe we just love peanut butter.)
We go together like rama-lama-lama, ka-dinga-da ding di dong. (Something that's been incessantly stuck in our brains since we watched Grease: Live two and a half weeks ago.)
We go together like peas and carrots.
Now how's that for a segue?
Peas and carrots are indeed a classic combo. But as Cook's Country says in the write up about this recipe, they've fallen out of favor. They're not fancy or impressive, and there's something a little grade-school-cafeteria about them. Can peas and carrots be revived?
Cook's Country throws in some smart little tricks to help here. For instance, salting the carrots for a few minutes before cooking them, to help get a jumpstart on their flavor. And mashing one cup of the peas gives the dish a richer heft, while bringing out more of the peas' flavor. One other Cook's tip bears repeating for emphasis here: Do make sure your peas are thawed completely before you use them in this dish. Ours weren't, and the texture of the final dish wasn't as nice as it could have been.
All in all, it's a wonderful side dish -- tasty and fresh and comforting. (We're sure that has nothing to do with the 5 tablespoons of butter*.) It's even, dare we say, a little refined. We could almost imagine serving this at a dinner party. And when's the last time you said that about peas and carrots?
And as for us, dear readers, don't worry. We're not going anywhere. We're going to keep thinking about how we might shift or evolve the blog a bit. But you've reminded us again of how special this is to us, and how much we love it. We don't know where we're going to end up, but we're excited for the journey with you!
(*We actually only used a total of 3 tablespoons here -- one to melt in the pan and two more to stir in once you take the veggies off the heat. We found that to be plenty of butter for our tastes.)
Notes from Cook's Country: For a smooth puree, make sure peas have thawed completely. A variety of fresh herbs will work here; choose your favorite from the listed options.
3 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
4 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
2 shallots, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives, mint, or tarragon
Combine carrots and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl. Process 1 cup peas, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in blender until smooth, about 1 minutes; set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and carrots. Cover and cook until carrots are just softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add remaining 3 cups peas and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until peas are heated through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Stir in pea puree and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, bring to simmer, and cook, uncovered, until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in remaining 4 tablespoons butter until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and serve.