Milk Peas

- Amanda

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.

Milk Peas

Serves 4

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh peas
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Salt
  • 4 pats unsalted butter
  • Freshly grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


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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).

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Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

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.


boulangere May 16, 2011
Except my mother would have used Milkman instant milk and margarine.
RisaCooks May 15, 2011
This sounds similar to something I once read too. Forget where. I love peas - fresh or frozen. right now I have a big bag of snap peas in my refrigerator - we've been eating them every day or so. So good. I am going to try this. Normally I either steam them and then top with butter, salt and pepper OR I stir-fry with garlic and ginger. This sounds good. Thanks Amanda. Sorry the Wasabi Peas didn't work out. I would love to figure that out myself.
kkosko May 15, 2011
Yum! Never thought about doing this with peas. This is how my family always made lima beans.
Kitchen B. May 13, 2011
Lovely steps to follow to 'attempt' a bowl of wasabi peas but 'nothng ventured, nothing ......'

I remember reading a story by Maya Angelou or Terry Macmillan where the author recounted a hot summer's day and mentioned mushy peas simmered with a touch of brown sugar and a drop of vinegar or something along those lines. I've been making it that way since....even if I've forgotten the source.

I do like Milk peas.
boulangere May 13, 2011
If only someone had snapped the winning photos: the photographer cowering on the counter, the cook on hands and knees advancing towards the stove.
lorigoldsby May 13, 2011
Thank you for making me laugh about your pea firebombs, had I been sampling the other pea dish when reading your blog, i bet milk would have shot out of my nose I guffawed so hard! Of course I am only laughing WITH you, because i have had my share of culinary disasters. But really, we want to see the evidence--we laugh with our eyes first (and hearts next!) ;)
boulangere May 16, 2011
Fabulous image, lorigoldsby! I'm with you.
wssmom May 13, 2011
I want to see a slideshow of the wasabi pea attempt ...