Two seasonal favorites: the affinity of shell peas with potatoes is classic; and to celebrate strawberry season, make this sensational icebox cake
From New England gardens shell peas hit the farmer’s markets first — before new potatoes appear by the end of June to early July, and the affinity of potatoes and peas makes for a heavenly match.
Generally I like to cook the peas separately for a few minutes in boiling salted water and refresh in ice water to keep its bright green color. But for this dish I just add the peas into the pot of boiling potatoes during the last few minutes of cookery. The final fillip of butter and cream brings out the sweetness of the peas and the potatoes become velvety and rich. Add some chopped mint, dill or parsley and generous amounts of salt and pepper and you’ve got a spectacular side dish to serve with grilled chicken, salmon or pork. Or add additional cream for a saucier finish and serve over homemade biscuits or cornbread for a one-dish meal.
Use the leftovers (if there are any) to make potato-pea cakes. Just mash the potatoes (skin on) and peas together, form into cakes, refrigerate to firm up then sauté in butter and oil. For a crusty finish, dip the cakes in beaten eggs and dredge in bread crumbs or panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs) before sautéing.
Potatoes and peas in cream and butter
Increase the amount of potatoes and peas for more servings
Servings: 2 to 3
6 new potatoes, slightly larger than golf-ball size
1 pound peas in the shell (shell weight) to yield 1 cup shelled
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream, or more as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped mint, dill or parsley
Bring a medium size pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes (skin on), cover slightly, and lower the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes or until a knife can pierce the potatoes easily. Add the peas and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.
Drain the potatoes and peas. Return to the pot and for a few seconds dry out the potatoes on the heat. Add the butter and cream. Boil the cream until it’s reduced slightly. Stir together until creamy. Add generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Garnish with the herbs and serve immediately. You can also prepare this in advance and add a bit more cream to reheat.
Use the leftovers (if there are any) to make potato-pea cakes. Just mash the potatoes (skin on) and peas together, form into cakes, refrigerate to firm up then sauté in butter and oil. For a crusty finish, dip the cakes in beaten eggs and dredge in bread crumbs or panko before sautéing.
Seasonal note: There’s only a few weeks left to the first blush of strawberry season. Afterwards look for the ever-bearing variety, which come to the markets by the end of July. This very simple icebox cake shows off the essence of strawberries beautifully.
Strawberry icebox cake
About 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafers to yield about 3/4 cups crumbs
About 2 tablespoons sliced, blanched almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
6 large strawberries, or more as needed
4 to 6 medium-size strawberries, hulled
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Juice and zest from 1 lime
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor add the cookies and almonds and process until you have fine crumbs equaling about 3/4 to 1 cup.
Put into a small mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Add the melted butter and stir until moistened and combined.
Add about 2 tablespoons crumbs to 4 to 6 ovenproof custard cups, 6- to 8-ounce capacity. Pack down. Put on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until firm. Cool completely before filling.
Meanwhile put the 6 large strawberries into a food processor or blender and process to a puree to equal at least 1/2 half cup puree. You may need to add more strawberries.
In a large mixing bowl add the sweetened condensed milk and stir in the strawberry puree, lime juice and zest. Fold in the sour cream until fairly well blended; using a whisk at the end gently combine any bits of sour cream that haven’t blended in.
Ladle into prepared custard cups. Top each with a hulled strawberry. Cover each dish lightly with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, preferably 4 hours or overnight.
New potatoes, Beth’s Farm Market
Shell peas, Beth’s Farm Market and Alewive’s Brook Farm
Butter, Bisson’s Meat Market, Topsham, raw-cream butter
Cream, Beth’s Farm Market (high-fat content heavy cream)
Strawberries, Beth’s Farm Market