MARC FOSH IS THE BULLETIN´S MICHELIN STAR CHEF ANY QUESTIONS OF FOOD, E-MAIL USTHE taste and texture of fresh peas has almost been forgotten in these times of convenience and frozen foods. Most people can't even remember the last time they tasted sweet, fresh peas straight from the pod and rely solely on the frozen or, worse still, the tinned ones that sit in a foul-smelling, awful tasting, cloudy liquid. I'm a big fan of fresh peas and early spring is the best time to use them. OK, I know it's a fiddly, time consuming job to shell and peel the buggers, but the difference is enormous and they are definitely worth all the effort. They are high in vitamin C and are a good source of fibre and phosphorus making them good energy foods. Fresh peas are wonderful braised with lettuce, stirred into pasta carbonara or cous cous. They make perfect partners for fish or meat. Cook them with almonds, artichokes, fennel, mushrooms or baby onions; flavour them with mint, rosemary, sage, savoury or thyme. My favourite risotto has to be pea and smoked bacon. I've just put this on my new Simply Fosh menu and it's proving to be really popular. It has a wonderfully robust flavour that is hard to beat. Peas also make for a great soup and it can also be served hot or cold. You can flavour the soup with mint or rosemary but, I normally flavour mine with fresh lemongrass that adds a little lift and an amazing aroma to the finished soup. Broad beans are also just coming into season so why not try this tasty Catalan dish flavoured with ham and butifarra, a type of Spanish black pudding.
FRESH PEA AND SMOKED BACON RISOTTO (serves 4)
l 300g risotto rice (arborio,vialone nano)
· 1.5litres chicken stock
· 250g frozen peas
2 Medium onions (finely chopped)
2 Garlic cloves (crushed)
· 1tspn. Fresh thyme
· 100g smoked bacon lardons
· 100g butter
· 75g freshly grated parmesan
· 1tbsp. Mascarpone cheese
· 2 tbsp. Olive oil l 200g fresh peas (cooked and shelled)
Bring the chicken stock and frozen peas to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. place in a liquidizer and blend to a puree. Pass through a fine sieve and season to taste.
Melt the butter in a heavybottomed saucepan and add the smoked bacon, chopped onion, crushed garlic and fresh thyme. Cook gently and allow the onion to soften without colouring. Add the rice and stir to coat well. Increase the heat and add a large ladleful of pea stock. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add more stock and continue to stir until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice has softened. Add the fresh peas, mascarpone and season to taste. Stir in the olive oil, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and your risotto is ready to serve.
FRESH PEA AND LEMONGRASS SOUP (serves 6)
3 leeks (finely chopped)
1 onion(finely chopped)
· 50g butter
2 potatoes (peeled and diced)
· 1.5l chicken stock
2 lemongrass sticks (finely chopped)
1kl fresh peas, shelled
· 250ml milk
Saute the leeks, lemongrass and onion in the butter in a heavy saucepan until tender. Do not allow to colour. Add the diced potatoes and stir to mix. Pour in the stock; bring to the boil and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the milk, season to taste and liquidise the soup in a food processor until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and serve hot or cold.
HABAS A LA CATALANA (CATALAN BROAD BEANS)
· 2kl broad beans
250g streaky bacon, diced
250g serrano ham, diced
· 200ml olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g butifarra (black pudding)
· 1 bay leaf
· 100ml medium sherry
· 50ml anise brandy
· 1tbsp. Chopped parsley
12 mint leaves, torn
Sweat the onions, crushed garlic, bay leaf and streaky bacon until the onions start to soften. Add the broad beans, sherry and anise. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and place the sliced butifarra on top of the beans then sprinkle with the chopped parsley and torn mint leaves. Replace the lid and cook for another 10 minutes, season and serve.
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