Baby peas

(Recipe #13, pages 51 – 52)

Bring water to a boil with plenty of butter; add the freshly shelled peas a bit at a time, letting the water return to a boil after each addition. Peas must have plenty of water and cook quickly. If cooked too slowly or too long, or if left to stand for a time after they are ready, they lose their pleasant flavor.

Shortly before serving, add some salt – just a little, because peas, like carrots, can easily be oversalted – and, if they aren’t sweet enough, a bit of sugar; stir them with finely chopped parsley and a pinch of cornstarch or flour mixed with some water – a teaspoonful is enough for four servings. Instead of stirring the mixture in, as soon as the peas are boiling you can knead together some flour and butter, roll it into a ball, and add it to the peas. It will gradually disperse, thickening the broth a bit and giving the peas a pleasant taste. If there is enough liquid, at the end bread dumplings, optionally lightened with beaten egg whites, can be cooked in it; the recipe will be found under “Dumplings.”

Another method of cooking young peas: Melt a piece of butter, add the peas, and let them sweat for ¼ hour, stirring frequently. Immediately add some boiling water and proceed as above.

Peas can also be cooked until tender in water and just enough salt, drained, and mixed thoroughly with chopped parsley and plenty of butter.

In part as decoration and in part to make a finer dish, you can garnish the peas with crayfish tails or fish fritters.

Cooking time: about 1 hour.

As a side dish: roast chicken (young), veal cutlets, meatballs, summer sausage, raw ham, tongue (warm or cold), smoked salmon, baked eel, sole, or other fish cooked whole.

Note: To prevent the peas from losing their young and aromatic quality, they must be picked fresh, shortly before cooking; they must never be shelled the evening before.

Among the many varieties of peas, we can justifiably single out the English wrinkled pea; besides having a pleasant, sweet taste, it cooks quickly. Unlike other peas, it takes on a strong flavor soon after cooking, remains tender for an unusually long time, and even when it already appears to be hard it can still be cooked.

Translated by David Green.

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