Fanny's romp through a few hors d'oeuvres has included some delights and some low lights too, but it's certainly opened my eyes to another world of 'outside the menu'. Fanny does say that although she has helped increase my overall culinary repertoire, she reminds me it remains small. I know my place. To finish things off, for now - there will be more 'advanced' hors d'oeuvres to come we are promised - Fanny tackles a vegetable that I am sure we all take for granted. Peas. I don't really think about them too much, occasionally boil some up as an accompanying after thought, or fling some in with some pasta. Surely I am not alone?
Fanny treats them far more regally and royally, making a Casserole of Cooked Peas, or Petits Pois à la Française. I've seen this dish on different retro and historical cooking shows, normally being scoffed at rather than scoffed speedily though. It's essentially a different way to cook peas, for me at least, which may seem a little extravagant today, but Fanny reckons is the only way to treat such a wonderful vegetable when in season.
Fanny lines a lidded casserole dish with the outside leaves of a well-washed lettuce. Of course she does. I don't have a lidded dish, so use a glass bowl which I can fit with a foil lid. Fanny has taught me to be resourceful. The lettuce is the old-fashioned limp, round kind, no need for an iceberg here, we won't be eating it anyway. Fanny adds perfectly ordinary shelled peas, which have been freshly prepared by one of the assistants. Thankfully the supermarket has done mine for me. I know... Please don't send me nasty letters, it's been a busy week.
To the peas, Fanny adds a mix of good 'bone' stock (I use vegetable bouillon of course), white wine and seasoning before topping it all with yet more lettuce leaves. It seems to be a day for switching, all I have is some Vermouth, always to hand in case an emergency Martini is required, so Noilly Prat is sloshed in. It's only a tablespoon of each, which doesn't seem very much at all. Fanny cooks hers with the ever helpful instruction of 'until they are ready', which for me is around 45 minutes. I assume it is the same for everyone, but you'll know best.
Fanny dredges out the now wilted, grey and pulpy lettuce leaves, which she says look like pond weed (she's not joking) and mixes the cooked peas with a little mayonnaise and the casseroled cooking liquid to serve. The peas themselves are nice and tender - not at all like Fanny warns they might be if cooked incorrectly. If so, they'd be more like the ones Miss Mattie in Cranford swallowed with mouthfuls of water because they were so hard! Not these, the casseroling technique worked well, and the lettuce cushioned them perfectly. Fanny flings her discarded leaves onto the compost heap, so don't be worrying about waste. They do taste great, very, erm, pea-ish and very fresh. Not like bullets, no need for mouthfuls of water. Fanny's final warning is to take a note of what I serve to whom, as my still small (ok, I get it) repertoire could cause resentment to guests if served often. So, for one time only, unless I forget my notebook, peas anyone?