Seasonal Cooking 23 Jun 2012 08:59 am
Read the recipe here.
I’m happy as a clam because it’s early summer and that means peas in the farmers markets. Sugar snaps and shelling peas are at their short season’s peak and I’m eating them at every opportunity. I’ve made some simple dishes like steamed shelling peas with roasted potatoes, but this week I wanted to get a bit fancier. Crepes, I thought, would make a nice wrapper for some sautéed sugar snaps, and would put a dent besides in the binfull of buckwheat flour aging in my fridge, needing to be used up.
Wilkow Orchards always has great sugar snaps at Brookyn’s Boro Hall farmers’ market: plump, crisp, so tender you can eat them raw. I brought some home and prepped them carefully, snapping off the stem ends and pulling them down along the pods’ undersides to pull out any strings. For good measure I do the same along the backside of the pod, in case there are any ‘back’ stings, but these were so tender I needn’t have bothered.
I sautéed them together with turnip greens from the Paisley Farm CSA and a nice, fresh spring onion. I finished the mixture with goat cheese for a simple and tasty crepe filling. I used my standby Joy of Cooking recipe for the buckwheat crepes, though of course you can use whatever crepe recipe you have on hand, however plain or fancy.
So far so good, but the dish needed a sauce to round it out. My repertoire of sauces is, I must confess, pretty limited, so at first all I could think to do was make some variation on that familiar mainstay, the Béchamel. But a flour-thickened sauce didn’t seem quite right. It wouldn’t be summery enough for this dish.
I’m lucky to have on hand a copy of Sauces, the excellent cookbook / reference book, by James Peterson. There I learned that one can use reduced cream in place of a floury roux to thicken a sauce. I used this technique to thicken a flavor base made from the greens tops of the spring onion, sauteed in butter. To this I added white wine and stock, cooking until the liquid was mostly evaporated. Then I added a mixture of cream and crème fraiche, and cooked it down until it reached a thick, spoon-coating consistency. I flavored it with some prepared mustard, chopped herbs, salt and white pepper. (I’ve written up these steps in recipe format here.) The result was a perfect topping for my crepe-wrapped peas and greens.
Paradoxically, though rich, the cream sauce tasted lighter than a floury béchamel would have. I’m very happy to add reduced-cream sauces to my arsenal, but I must admit it’s a bit of an embarrassing discovery: it’s such a simple and basic technique that I’m sure it’s already well known to many home cooks. I’m excited to experiment with more variations soon, assuming of course that I don’t use up all of my cream by spooning it over strawberries.