Tag Archives: Peas

Beef and Snow Pea Stir Fry

This is my third (but not yet last) “pea” recipe. This is one of those recipes that look difficult at first glance, but when you get into the core of the dish, it takes less than 10 minutes to put together.

The trick here is to set up an efficient mise en place. With a good set up, this dish is a breeze to make.

  • 1 lb flank steak, sliced into strips
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon dry Sherry
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sliced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/2 lb. snow peas, whole but trimmed of stems and strings
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

In a glass or plastic bowl, combine the steak, Tamari sauce, sherry, corn starch and sugar. Mix well, and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the meat in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 3-4 hours.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add the peanut oil, ginger, tobasco sauce and garlic. Allow to cook for 20 seconds. Add the meat and all remaining marination sauce into the wok and brown the steak. This should take approximately two minutes.

Add the water chestnuts and snow peas into the meat. Stir fry for 20 seconds before adding the chicken broth. Stir until the peas just start to get tender, but there’s still a fair amount of crispness to the pea pods. Add the sesame oil, and stir fry for another 10 – 15 seconds.

Serve immediately either by itself or over rice.

Serves 4

tags technorati : Recipes Stir Fry Beef and Snow Peas

Tips and Hints for Peas

As fresh peas and dried peas handle differently, I’m going to divide the tips up accordingly.

Dried Peas

  • One pound of dried peas equals 2 1/4 cups. When cooked, this 2 1/4 cups of dried peas equates to 5 cups after cooked.
  • Dried peas come from several varieties of field peas, and are a different variety from fresh peas or those found in the frozen food section.
  • Dried peas can be stored in an airtight container for up to one year at room temperature. They can be stored indefinitely if frozen.
  • Discard any discolored or shriveled peas, as they indicate immature growth.
  • Split peas do not require soaking prior to use.
  • Whole dried peas do require soaking and may be done overnight with the peas placed in a large bowl and at least three inches of cold water.
  • To Quick soak the peas, put the peas in a large pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 hours. Drain the water and use as needed.
  • Refrain from using salted water for cooking the peas, as it toughens their skin. Salt the peas after they are done cooking.
  • Remove the peas from the hot water once the cooking is complete.

Fresh Peas

  • Peas season runs from early spring to the first few weeks of summer.
  • Choose medium sized pea pods. Larger peas will be too starchy, while the smaller peas may be underdeveloped.
  • Choose fresh peas that are firm and plump. The colors should be bright, consistent and unblemished.
  • The pea that is more recently picked will have higher sugar content (and thus will taste sweeter). Once picked, peas will convert this sugar to starch, which will affect its flavor.
  • One pound of peas in their pod equates to roughly one cup of peas shelled.
  • Fresh peas can be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to two days
  • Shell peas immediately prior to use, to prevent sugar loss.
  • For a quick vegetable broth, use the pea pods and cook them in 4 cups of water (or previously made chicken or veggie stock) for one hour.
  • Prevent overcooking your peas. When done, they should still be crisp on the outside, but tender on the insider. They should have lost little to none of their color.
  • Acidic foods will leach the color from peas.
  • Frozen peas do not need to be cooked prior to use in other dishes. It is acceptable to add the frozen peas directly to the dish 2 to 3 minutes before the cooking time of the dish has completed cooking.
  • Frozen peas are one of the few vegetables whose taste is not excessively diminished by the freezing process, and are a decent substitute for when fresh peas are unavailable.
  • One 10 ounce package of frozen peas equates to 1 1/1 lbs od unshelled peas.

Technorati Tags: Food Tips, Peas,

Yellow Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup

There are some soups which can stand on their own. Others work best when pared with another dish, be it something as straightforward as a sandwich or as complex as a paella. As an example, when I think about chicken soup I typically think about the soup alone. When I think of Tomato soup, inevitably I also think about grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Because Tomato soup is best served with grilled cheese sandwiches.

This soup falls into the later category. By itself, it’s okay, but with some other food at it’s side it becomes manna from heaven. Which leads me to believe that there’s a new culinary law I can add to Kate’s Laws. Let’s call it “Kate’s Law of the exponential taste increase of soup”. This law states that one can improve the taste of most soups simply by serving a tasty sandwich.

The corollary to this law is that the crunchier the crust of the sandwich bread, the more effective the sandwich will be in improving the taste of the soup.

  • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup split yellow peas, dried
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sour cream and chives (to garnish, and thus – optional)

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, pancetta, ginger, star anise and cumin. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize.

Add the bay leaves, tumeric, water and peas. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F)and cook until the peas are soft, about 90 minutes give or take 15 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and diced squash. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a light boil (210 – 212 degrees F) and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, remove the bay leaves and star anise. Puree the soup either through a wand or a blender. Return to heat and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

Top with sour cream and chives and serve.

Serves 4-6

Technorati Tags: Recipes, Soup, Peas, Butternut Squash

Risi e bisi (Rice and Peas)

Risi e bisi

It’s been a while since I’ve made an Italian dish that didn’t contain tomatoes and/or capers within it’s ingredient list. When it comes to Italian cooking at home, I’ve learned to play to the crowd.

That being said, when I decided to research peas, this was the first recipe on my list. The primary reason has more to do with the name than the dish’s reputation. This is the way my mind works at times, where I’m drawn to a recipe based on it’s name more than what the recipe actually entails.

When approaching Risi e bisi, the basic image that should be in your head is thus – A soupy risotto. Not overly soupy mind you, but it should be far more “wet” than your typical Italian rice dish.

As with most Italian recipes, this is not the defining recipe for risi e bisi, as it lends itself to many interpretations. For example, if I were to make this again, I’d probably add a touch of saffron, or go a bit heavier on the ground pepper. But this recipe below is a good starting point.

One last point…For the peas- Frozen peas are okay I suppose, but fresh peas from the pod is where it’s at. As an added bonus, the pea pods can be thrown into a veggie stock which you can use in the risi e bisi.

If you believe you can make a decent dish with canned peas, then you are the walking definition of the word “optimist”.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onions, for garnish

Place a large skillet over medium heat, and place in the oil, onions, garlic and pancetta. Cook until the onion starts to turn tranlucent, between 8-10 minutes.

Add the rice and 1 cup of the veggie stock. Allow the stock to come to a boil and then be absorbed by the rice. Once absorbed, add one ladle of stock. Repeat this process until you get the consistency you wish, noting that it’s likely that you won’t use all of the veggie stock.

When the risi e bisi finally gets to the consistency you wish, complete the dish by adding the parmesan cheese and butter.

Serves 6 – 8

Technorati Tags: Recipe, Rice, peas, risi e bisiItalian Food

When the rice is half done, add the peas with the minced parsley.

Mendal’s Joy: History of Peas

Very few foods get the same level of caché that peas get when discussing their place in history. What other food can lay claim to their use in the discovery of modern genetics? Could you imagine how different our world would be if Mendel used asparagus rather than peas? There’s a alternative fiction book by Harry Turtledove that you’ll never see.

Peas, in the form of field peas, were very likely one of the first crops developed by man. Archeologists have found evidence of peas at sites in Iraq dating back to 7000 BCE. It is guessed (and quite frankly, when it comes to foods of the ancient eras, there’s a fair amount of guessing), that peas originated in what is today modern northwest India and Afghanistan. But the peas back then weren’t the bright green garden variety we think of today. Instead they were most likely a smaller, darker version, cultivated more for it’s longevity (when dried) than it’s taste.

It was these dried peas that were common in ancient Greece and Rome. Roman Apicius, one of the first cookbook author in history, published no less than nine recipes for dried peas, indicating that the food was known, and used most often when fresh foods were unavailable. In other words, peas were likely a food of second or third choice.

It is unknown when peas hit China, although it’s probably safe to assume that they arrived in China before they arrived in Ancient Rome. It is said that the peas were called hu tou, which roughly translates to “foreign bean”. There are some folk who feel that it was the Chinese who cultivated peas to be eaten fresh, as well as eaten within the entire pod.

By the time the Middle Ages were in full swing, dried peas were commonplace and often perceived to be food of the poor. Fresh peas, not surprisingly, were seen as a delicacy and were something of a requirement on the dinner tables of the rich and noble. Several dozen varieties were noted with botanists of the era noting peas seeds that were large or small; white, yellow, gray or green seed colors; and smooth, pitted or wrinkled seeds. By the 1800s The Vegetable Garden, an encyclopedia of cultivated vegetable plants published in France, devoted 50 pages to the different varieties of cultivated peas, only some of which still are grown today.

The pea that first comes to most American minds is called the “garden pea” which did not arrive on the scene until the late 1700′s. The popularity of the pea was such that when canning methods were developed for commercial production, it was the little pea that was the first legume to get put into the can. The same for the frozen food industry.

So we’re going to take a look at peas over the coming weeks, with a few articles devoted to them, as well as a few recipes. If you have a favorite pea dish, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can’t dig up a decent recipe for it

Technorati Tags: peas, food history