Mushy Peas

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The first time I had mushy peas was, not surprisingly, in London when I was visiting my daughter. And, not surprisingly, I had them because they came with my fish and chips. I was a little skeptical, not being a huge pea lover, but they were good! Really good!
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The peas are often also served along the other quintessential British pub dish meat pie.
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The peas traditionally used for mushy peas are called marrowfat peas, and they’re dry peas, cooked from scratch. But I have never seen them, and decided that a bag of frozen peas will have to work.

What gives mushy peas their unique flavor is mint. It turns out it’s really a lovely combination!
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I found a recipe on the Jamie Oliver website. Mushy peas are insanely easy to make.

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Mushy Peas
Recipe by Jamie Oliver

1 knob butter
4 handfuls podded peas
1 small handful fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
1 squeeze lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

So since I have no podded peas, here’s my version of this recipe.

1 – 1 pound bag frozen peas, thawed
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
1 squirt lemon juice
Salt
Black pepper

Drain the peas in a colander to remove any excess water from the peas.
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Place the peas in a food processor and pulse. I made mine a cross between whole peas and completely mushed up peas. I noticed that in my top photo with the fish and chips, the mushy peas look like a mixture of pea purée and whole peas, and the peas with the meat pie look softer, and more mushy. So you can probably make them just about any way.

To quote Jamie Oliver: “You can either mush the peas up in a food processor, or you can mash them by hand until they are stodgy, thick and perfect for dipping your fish into.”

I think mine might not be stodgy enough, but then, I’m not sure what stodgy means.

Place the butter in a medium-sized pot that has a lid, and add the stodgy peas.
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Add the mint leaves, cover the pot, and simmer the peas on low for about 10 minutes.

Give the peas a good stir, then add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.


And that’s it!
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Unfortunately, I didn’t have fish and chips, but I did pan-fry a Swai filet and the combination was fabulous!
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I’m wondering if children who hate peas might actually enjoy mushy peas!

L’Escargot

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There is a restaurant in the Soho district of London called L’Escargot that is owned by the famous/infamous Marco Pierre White. My daughters and I have dined there three times, and each time has been a perfect experience.

The food is exceptional, and not too over-the-top. The service is perfect. The ambiance is lovely. And we’ve always relied on the in-house sommelier, who has always been successful with wine choices, as well.

The reason I wanted to write a post on the restaurant has a lot to do with Marco Pierre White. He’s a hulking monster of a man, with a kind of bad-boy sexiness that really intrigues me. It’s also what’s gotten him into trouble on many occasions, according to his autobiography*.

In one post earlier this year, I wrote about my food experiences in the U.K., and how things have obviously changed from the days when the U.K. culinary world had a terrible reputation primarily based on its bland food. I’ve been lucky enough to spend weeks in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, as well as in England, and have been thrilled with the obvious “improvements.”

In this post I wrote that Marco Pierre White played an integral role in changing the course of all things culinary. I’ve read his book, but many others as well that focus on that period of time in culinary history, and it’s pretty obvious that he was one of the first of few to shake things up in restaurant kitchens.

Recently I was watching Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, and on this show he actually met up with Marco Pierre White. They went hunting together and it was a very interesting show. They make quite a bad-boy pair, although ever since Mr. Bourdain had a baby he’s mellowed. He even quit smoking. Mr. White still smokes.

But in the show’s introduction, Anthony Bourdain said that Marco Pierre White had single handedly changed the course of England’s culinary journey. Single handedly!!! I had only said that he played an integral role! So take that Mr. Obnoxious male commenters!!!

Another really interesting tidbit, for those of you who don’t know, when Mr. White retired some years ago, he withdrew all of his Michelin stars. He felt he didn’t deserve them when he wouldn’t actually be at his restaurants. I feel that is very humble and noble.

He still owns quite a few restaurant other than L’Escargot, but I wanted to mention my experiences there because of the perfection involved. Here is my daughter’s starter of sardines one night.
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If you have ever watched the show “Hell’s Kitchen,” then you’re aware that Gordon Ramsay is a stickler for the highest level of quality. The competing chefs are supposed to have perfection as their goal. Risotto must be cooked properly. Fish must be cooked properly. No piece of rotten lettuce on the plate. Medium rare is medium rare – nothing other.

And having unfortunately dined in establishments over many years where perfection is never aspired to, I take having a great meal in a great restaurant very seriously. That means you’re never bothered by the staff. Every one is polite. You can ask questions and you get answers. And the food is perfect. And this is why we continue to return to L’Escargot.

I can’t remember for the life of me what this is, but I know it was good!!

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Here is a photo when I went with my younger daughter on our apartment-finding trip to London in 2010.
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Here I am with my two daughters a few years ago when we went in December. I didn’t have bangs yet, but that’s me.

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I absolutely adore going to a perfect restaurant. It’s what they all should be. Thank you.

* Marco Pierre White’s autobiography, The Devil in the Kitchen is a fabulous read. It’s on my kindle, but here’s the photo of the actual book.

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update: The restaurant, L’Escargot, is now no longer owned by Marco Pierro White.