Started off on the right foot with my 2018 resolutions - the important one being to regularly keep up with friends. We had dinner here the other night on a ludicrously hot day – 40˚C. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure whether the new stove might land unannounced or whether the old one would behave. So we did it all cold. Here’s the menu.
Iced pea and mint soup (So, so pure)
Eggs mayonnaise – our eggs, boiled, yolks just firm, masked in real mayonnaise. Not the sweet stuff in a jar, I made it. Each half had an anchovy fillet and tiny capers.
Whoops – forgot to make a main course
Cheese, grapes and a fougasse* – (Cheese - see previous post.)
Pavolva with strawberries, passionfruit and cream – large and lavish. I macerated the strawberries for the day with some castor sugar and kirsch. Whipped the cream.
Licorish & red berry tea and some too, too delicious sweeties from Iran (praline and cardamom) brought by Angela and Hossein Valamanesh and chocolate fudge brought by Mirna & Ian.
Now, this menu was cold, was prepared well beforehand, was easy to serve, immensely satisfying and totally non threatening, even if I say so myself. (I bought the Pavlova base, for heaven’s sake, leaving the guests to boast about how they all made theirs from scratch.)
Try this soup, if you like chilled soup. You won't believe it. It’s beyond zen.
Iced pea and mint soup - easy for 6, and a little over, in case.
1 kilo frozen baby peas**.
Mint leaves 1-2 per person
Seasoning & 2 tbsp of EVO (optional)
Place peas, just covered in water, in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, lower heat a little and simmer, uncovered for about 2 minutes.
In the meantime, have ready a deep bowl in which you place your colander. This is VERY important because you have to save the cooking liquid. (It's so easy to tip it down the sink.) Have also another bowl with a tray of ice cubes.
Drain the peas into the colander, reserving all the cooking liquid. Dump the peas onto the ice cubes and toss about to quickly chill them, keeping them bright green.
Set aside 6 generous tablespoons of peas, covered in a small bowl.
Measure out 800mls of pea cooking liquid.
When cool enough to handle, "blitz" the peas, adding the liquid bit by bit, until you have a creamy consistency. This must be done thoroughly to obtain a totally smooth purée, (otherwise, you might have to sieve it, which would be a shame).
Season the soup with salt. You will need to balance the sweetness of the peas.
Chill. Making it the day before (if you're going to be busy) will not "tarnish" the colour.
To serve - check the consistency of the soup. It should be creamy not what I call hippy-soup. (See next post.)
Sliver the mint leaves not too long before serving so they don't blacken. Give each guest a bowl with the reserved peas and some mint in the centre.
Serve the soup (over which you have poured a thin stream of EV olive oil) in a tureen, at the table.
I had this first in Paris served in a martini glass with a small spoon. Set aside a larger quantity of peas and hold back the pea liquid to obtain a heavier purée.
I matched the plates to the peas - Bing & Grondhal, Erantis. These from around 1955 but the design carried through from 30s to the mid 70s.
*Fougasse - a flat, slashed bread, chewy and studded with black olives, made here in Adelaide by Muratti Patisserie.
**Frozen peas - of course we all want food home-grown, organic and fresh but like sweetcorn, when you pick peas, you need to have the pot bubbling on the stove beforehand. When peas are picked, the sugar starts converting to starch, practically immediately. I've bought organic peas, shelled them with my own bare hands and they were like bullets. Frozen peas are fantastic, as are broad beans.