How do we create recipes? Here's how: Merrill reads The Dirty Life, in which the author, Kristin Kimball, mentions a dish of peas, milk, butter, salt and pepper. She tells me about the dish. I am desperate to come up with a recipe for my weekly blog post. I'd been wanting to recreate wasabi peas; nothing would deter me. Well, except for a little self-doubt. Merrill convinces me to make the milk peas as back-up. She's very sensible, that Merrill.
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I attempt the wasabi peas. Turns out that when you deep-fry peas, they turn into jet-propelled firebombs. Sarah, our photographer, climbs up onto the counter to escape the shelling. I creep along the floor to turn off the burner. The wasabi peas are a miserable failure. (Although my wood floor does get a nice oiling out of it.)
Milk peas it will be! I consult with Merrill about the amount of milk (just enough to barely cover the peas, we decide), about the butter (do a pat, don't measure!), whether or not to add lemon zest (yes). I scribble down a few notes. The peas are simmered in the milk, spooned into a bowl, topped with enough milk to pool around the base, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon zest, and crowned with a sliver of butter.
Thus, milk peas, a dish evocative of the days when a pat of butter solved everything, are born.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.