I went to the farmers' market on Saturday morning looking for something to welcome me back from a few hectic months of travel, promotions, gatherings, and general chaos. I'm not sure what I was after exactly - inspiration, familiarity, surprise, a new ingredient to explore? I was welcomed by plump and perfect ruby red cherries, vibrant green fava pods, paper sacks brimming with peas, and the smell of jasmine flowers in the air.
After an hour or so, arms filled with perfect provisions, I popped into one of the little boutiques to choose a present for my mom. That's when I spotted Eric Gower's new cookbook. My eyes lit up, my bags immediately hit the concrete floor, and I made a grab for it.
Let's talk briefly about Eric. Part of what excites me about his approach to cooking and recipe development is the way he utilizes a global palette and plenty of whole ingredients in unique ways. I suspect Eric and I have much in common in the way we think about cooking, but that being said, our "go-to" ingredients are slightly different. One example, Eric has a more intimate knowledge of the Japanese pantry than I do (he lived there for fifteen years), and it shows in recipes punctuated by yuzu, miso, and maccha. So...I love to see what he is cooking, and what he is excited about sharing. Couldn't throw down my credit card fast enough for this book.
To get a sense of where Eric takes us with The Breakaway Cook, have a look at the short-list of recipes I've marked to try from it: Maccha Poached Eggs, Butternut-Ginger Spring Rolls, Mole Tofu with Spiced Bread Crumbs, Pomegranate Tofu with Pink Lentil Crust, Habanero Fried Rice, Cauliflower "Couscous" with Basil Lemon Sauce, Baby Artichokes Braised in Yuzu, and Jasmine Biscotti with Almonds. There are plenty of vegetarian recipes in this book. Eric also includes a seafood chapter, as well as poultry & meat.
His baked pea recipe (Baked Peas with Tarragon, Yogurt, and Pistachios to be exact) immediately caught my eye. Creamy tarragon spiked yogurt pistachio sauce combined with sweet green peas. No disappointment here - it was easy, delicious, and you could use any leftover pistachio dressing in a hundred different ways (salads, sandwich spread, dip, etc). I suggest you make double the dressing.
Thank you for the fantastic book Eric! I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I'm sure I will.
Baked Peas with Tarragon, Yogurt, and Pistachios
Eric uses frozen peas for this recipe. I had a big sack of shelled English shelling peas from the market and went with those instead. Either way, whatever you have on hand. If you can't find Greek yogurt, strain some plain yogurt through cheesecloth over a bowl for an hour to thicken it up - delicious.
1 pound frozen baby peas
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 500F. Put the peas in a clay pot or a small Dutch oven and gently heat them on the stove until they thaw, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put the tarragon, scallions, olive oil, yogurt, and 1/4 cup of the pistachios into a blender and puree. Gently mix into the peas, sprinkle the top with extra chopped pistachios (Heidi note: season with a pinch of salt, or to taste). Bake for about 15 minutes - about the time the top will begin to brown. Remove and serve in your best serving bowl.
Serves 4 or 5.