Monday, March 17, 2014

Snow & St. Patrick’s Day = the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Like peanut butter & jelly, Romeo & Juliet, and well, Baileys and coffee, an often little-known match made in paradise is snow and peas.

It’s a day for “wearin’ the green” – and the true green is to be found, where? 
In the garden.

Here is a March Mash-Up that is a sure-fire garden success.

Some have confused the St. Patrick’s calendar-marker and think it’s the day to plant the seeds.

Good gardeners know the old adage:  “Plant your pea seeds in Mid-March – by St. Paddy’s and then pray for snow on St. Patrick’s Day.”  (Or near enough to the calendar date)

So this could be the best year ever for our peas! 
Last year was a winning tandem mash-up too.

Last week, we checked the weather forecast; and tickled with the pending snow scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day in the Mid-Atlantic/New York area, we planted our pea seeds.

This morning, we woke to a blanket of snow. 

Blanket is the operating word here.
Snow brings nourishment and insulation to the soil

March Madness

This is not some beer or Jameson-infused garden hallucination.

Rather, the snow blanket tucks in those newly-planted seeds, keeping them warm and snug; content too because they know that warm spring sun will warm them soon enough.

We use Burpee ( and other cool or early seed varieties found at our local hardware store.

We plant our pea legume seeds spaced along the edible garden’s fence – perfect for trellising the pea tendrils – and further – they are so pretty to look at.  You can also easily plant peas in your containers.

photo courtesy: Butte in the Farm

So, cheers to the March Mash-Up. 

And now you can sit back, enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day parade and a day of Erin Go Braugh Food & Drink. 
See my Examiner story on Re-Discovered vintage Irish whisky cocktails to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in grand style – and sipping your drink with the smug knowledge that beer and whiskey are plant-based beverages. 
In fact, Whiskey is fermented beer!


Peas, Please.

Soon enough, you will be harvesting your oh-so-tasty peas.  
photo courtesy: Gookosystem

In the meantime, you can prepare to make this scandalously-good Pea Soup Recipe from my cookbook, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook.

This recipe is from Chef Jason Weiner, chef and co-owner of Almond restaurants – located in both Bridgehampton and New York City:

English Pea and Mint Soup with a Parmesan Flan and Smoked Bacon 
photo courtesy: Food & Wine

Yield: 6

First make the Soup Base:

4 Large Leeks (white part only, split in half and thoroughly rinsed—they can be sandy)
1 Large Russet Potato (peeled and medium diced)
1/4 Stick of Butter
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Sprig Each of Thyme, Parsley, and Tarragon
1 Bay Leaf
1 Rib Celery
1 Quart Chicken Stock (if using a store-bought product dilute with half water)
1/4 Cup Crème Fraiche
Salt and White Pepper to taste

·      In a heavy bottom pot on a low flame put the butter, leeks, potatoes, a couple pinches of salt.
·      Stir often with a wooden spoon until the potatoes and leeks become translucent. You don’t want the vegetables to take on any color so attention and a low flame are important.
·      Add the wine.
·      Tie up the herbs and bay leaf in a bundle with butcher’s twine and add to the pot.
·      When the wine is no longer releasing an alcohol aroma add the stock.
·      Simmer until the potatoes are soft.
·      Take the herbs out of the pot.
·      Puree in a blender with the crème fraiche. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Sometimes the soup needs a squeeze of lemon as well.

Now make the Pea puree:

2 cups shelled English peas
2 nice handfuls baby spinach
Salt to taste

·      Blanch the peas until they are tender in a pot of heavily salted water. Immediately transfer them to a blender.
·      Now quickly blanch the spinach in the same water.
·      Now puree the spinach and peas with about a cup of the soup base.  Cool immediately to maintain the vibrant color.

The Flans:

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 yolks
Salt and white pepper.
Cooking spray

·      Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
·      In a sauce pot, bring the cream to a simmer. Whisk in the cheese and let reduce slightly. 
·      Put your yolks in a mixing bowl.
·      Slowly whisk the cream into the yolks. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
·      Spray six 2 oz. Ramekins or shot glasses. Divide the flan mixture among the molds. Put the flans in a hot water bath, cover with a couple layers of plastic wrap and put in the oven on the middle shelf.
·      Cook until the flans are set up—about a half hour or so.


1/4 cup bacon lardons
1/4 cup homemade croutons
1 tablespoon mint chiffonade

·      Divide the mint, bacon, and croutons into six warm soup bowls
·      In the center of each bowl place one flan.
·      In a saucepot, warm the soup base. Whisk in the pea puree.
·      Either serve the bowls as they are and serve the soup tableside, or divide the soup into bowls and serve.

And to learn more about Gardening, Register for the Spring classes at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)

Fundamentals of Gardening:

Be sure to enter the fun NYBG – Garden Glamour quiz – you can win $25

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