10 Ways Tuesday: Peas

Peas (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with spring peas:

1.  Spring Pea & Herb Salad

Each year I look forward to cooking this Spring Pea & Herb Salad, excitedly pulling the card from my trusty recipe box. It’s the whole package: vibrant color, fresh flavor, and interesting texture. Peas, edamame, watercress, sorrel, and spring onions are tossed in the best extra-virgin olive oil and a couple pinches of flakey Maldon sea salt, then garnished with fresh mint and edible flowers. The flavors are more pronounced at room temperature, and so this salad is well-suited to carrying along on a spring picnic. It’s also great packed for a cheerful, healthy lunch.

2.  Smashed Peas on Crostini

I was smitten with Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Incredible Smashed Peas and Fava Beans on Toast the moment I saw him preparing it in his garden on the show, Jamie at Home. Peas, fava beans, mint, pecorino cheese, and olive oil are pounded into a purée with a mortar and pestle, then spread over grilled bread. Fresh mozzarella and pea shoots finish off the dish. It’s a beautiful celebration of the sweet, succulent pea in all its glory.

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Ingredient of the Week: Peas

This week at la Domestique we celebrate spring peas. In Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters writes, “The arrival of freshly picked green peas is one of the events that define high spring at Chez Panisse.” I remember sowing peas in my community garden plot last year and building the trellis, forcing wooden stakes into the hard, dry Colorado soil. Watching the peas grow was such a miracle, their dainty tendrils reaching out to grasp the trellis, winding around and around, encircling the netting. Each day they seemed to double in size, climbing further towards the sky, green leaves displayed proudly, soaking up the sun’s rays. Then there were delicate white flowers, shivering in the Colorado breeze. The next morning I had to do a double take when- could it have been overnight?- I found a bounty of two-inch-long pea pods dangling under the flowers. The trick in harvesting peas is allowing them to ripen and fill their pods comfortably, but making sure you get them before the birds do. It always seems that the opportunists know the perfect moment of ripeness and manage to beat the gardener to it by a few painful minutes.

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Cook in the Moment: Recipe for Mussels Cooked in Rosé

Recipe for Mussels Cooked in Rosé (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

On September 30, 2008 I met Michelle Obama. Just before the November election, Mrs. Obama came to CU-Boulder with the purpose of rallying students to register to vote. It was an exciting time, before the recession had taken its toll on the American spirit. I could feel the importance of the moment, that Michelle Obama was going to be our next first lady, and this was a golden opportunity to get close to her- one that would probably not happen for me again. Being several years out of college, it was intimidating to walk onto campus at CU-Boulder, so I was relieved when one of my best girl friends wanted to go with me. The Colorado sun shone brightly on that warm September day, and we felt the audacity of hope warm us through as we stood in line at the football field, waiting for the gates to open.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Rosé Wine

Red Grapes in a Vineyard, Niederweiler Germany (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ideas for enjoying Rosé wine during the warm days of late spring:

1.  Rosé Steamed Mussels

Dry rosé, with its mineral character and hint of fruit, is the base of a spicy broth infused with the briny flavor of mussels in this recipe from Food & Wine. It’s a simple dish and quick from stove to table, as the mussels need only sauté in garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, and rosé for about 5 minutes before they spring open and are ready to eat. A pat of butter enriches the broth and parsley leaves sprinkled over at the last minute add fresh, herbal flavor.

2.  An Aperitif with a Salty Snack

Rosé was made for aperitif, the endearing French habit of enjoying a drink and a little snack to stimulate the appetite for supper. In the charming book, Aperitif, Georgeanne Brennan writes, “A rosé made in the French style, dry and let, yet full of body and substance, is a most alluring aperitif.” She suggests pairing chilled rosé with “the indigenous flavors of Provençe terroir” -an assortment of olives, roasted garlic, anchovies, charcuterie, or tiny sautéed clams. Just remember, aperitif is supposed to stimulate the appetite, not satiate it.

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Ingredient of the Week: Rosé Wine

This week I suffered my first (and only) sunburn of the season. It’s now warm enough to steal a Friday afternoon at the pool before the kids get out of school and ruin all the lovely peace and quiet. Each year, I cautiously don my bikini and creep out to a lounge chair in the sun, soaking up the rays until I’m warmed through. Sweating in the sun feels good, and makes me thirsty- not for water or lemonade, but for rosé. This dry “pink wine” is something I look forward to every spring when the latest vintage is released. Meant to be drunk young, for the most part, rosé should be enjoyed within the first year or two of the vintage. To really appreciate rosé, you’ve got to understand what it represents. Mark Oldman describes Provençe as the original home of rosé in his book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine, writing, “that paradisiacal region of sun-kissed slopes and lavender meadows remains a locus of rose’s spiritual soul.” A Mediterranean coastline of fun and sun in the southeast of France, the mother of the best rosé in the world, Provençe produces blushing pink wines with minerality, floral essences, a hint of berry or melon fruit, and a truly refreshing acidity guaranteed to quench your thirst on a hot day. The beauty of any rosé is its ability to be crisp and refreshing like a white wine, with the depth of flavor and body of a red wine.

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