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. I'd been wanting to recreate wasabi peas; nothing would deter me. Merrill convinces me to make the milk peas as back-up. She's very sensible, that Merrill.
I attempt the wasabi peas. Turns out that when you deep-fry peas, they turn into jet-propelled firebombs. 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.
Put the peas in a medium saucepan and pour over enough milk to barely cover the peas. Add a large pinch of salt. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer -- keep an eye on it, milk loves boiling over! Simmer until the peas are just tender.
Spoon the peas into a serving bowl (or 4 small bowls), adding enough milk to pool in the base of the bowl. Season with the salt, lemon zest, and pepper. Top with the butter pats.
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.