Monday, June 11, 2012

weekend snapshots... and a recipe at the end

I'm all about pink flowers lately.

gerbera daisy

I'm usually more into yellow flowers. But it must be the baby girl fever happening all around me. I know 4 women around me who either have given birth to a baby girl or are expecting a baby girl this year. There's something in the water in Cleveland :)

peony petals starting to open...

I don't usually buy flowers for myself, but I went ahead and got some pink peonies... they truly are special, being available only once a year.

peony in bloom

 Last weekend a group of us hosted a baby shower for a friend, due in the end of July. It was an all-Indian group (except for me - although I've become an honorary Indian now, I guess!). So the weekend involved making a triple batch of palak paneer (spinach and cheese dish) - using 2 bunches of fresh spinach from the CSA and 3 packages of frozen spinach. But it turned out to be a hit - yay!

The baby shower was pretty fun. I planned a few baby games, and thankfully everyone was up for it...

Left: Each guest wrote a suggestion for the baby girl's name on a piece of paper, put it into a jar, and the mommy-to-be opened them one by one to guess who suggested the name. The most fun name in the bunch was Mirchi (spicy!). We all got a kick out of that.

Right: Guests cut a piece of string according to their best estimate of the size of the mommy-to-be's baby bump - without actually measuring her belly. The one with the closest estimate won a prize - a chocolate bar from yours truly. The one who won had the exact measurement! The others were pretty close. Well, what do you expect when half the group are engineers!

 Left: Indian tradition to bless the expecting couple

Right: guests wrote wishes for the baby, which will go in a scrapbook later

I ate. A lot. After coming back from India, I took a break from Indian food (believe it or not!). I do love it and typically crave it at least once a week, but I realized that eating it everyday 3x a day for 2 weeks (in India) took its toll on me. On our way home from our travels, even A. said, "I think we're both Indianed-out" (yes, that's a new technical term he came up with) and decided to have Chinese noodles and dimsum at our Mumbai airport layover.

But at the baby shower, everyone brought food and I ate a little bit of everything - samosas (dumplings with spiced potatoes), pakora (stuffed peppers, battered and fried), channa masala (chickpeas), dal (lentils), the palak paneer A. and I made, gulab jamun (doughnuts in syrup - like their version of beignets, I suppose). Whew. Everything was really good.

So the next day, I needed some lighter food again...

spring salad with radishes and minted peas

Just a few handfuls of lettuce, sliced peppery radishes, and minted peas...

Minted Peas, for the party-food-hangover

about 2 cups of fresh peas, shelled (or frozen peas)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
zest of half a lemon
a few squeezes lemon juice
chopped fresh mint

I got these peas from last Friday's produce pickup. I realized later that I should have cooked these the very same day I got them - as fresh peas start converting its sugars into starch the longer it sits. Which is why frozen peas actually tend to be sweeter - because they are shelled and frozen right after they are picked. Although these peas were still good and had a nice snap when you bite into them, they had already lost some sweetness. Note to self...

(On a side note. I'm so thankful to have a husband who is not above shelling peas with me.)


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water (season from the start!), then add the peas. Meanwhile prepare a bowl of ice water. Once the water comes back up to a boil and the peas are bright green (this happens fairly quickly!), take the peas out of the boiling water and plunge them into the ice bath to stop cooking.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet - I like combining the two for flavor, and also because the olive oil helps with the butter's low smoke point (so the butter doesn't burn quickly). Drain the peas and add them to the skillet. Let cook until heated through, then season with salt (if needed) and pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice to taste. Add the chopped fresh mint at the end.

This can be a great side for another entree, or as a salad mix-in as we did. I didn't even need extra dressing for the salad, as the peas already had a minty and lemony olive oil and butter flavor. Just a tiny pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper over top, and it was good to go. It made for an easy, fresh, and light Sunday dinner after the (over)eating the day before. ;-)

Have any of you eaten fresh peas the same day they were picked? I'd love to hear, as it seems like a luxury nowadays - unless you grow your own, that is.

Off to work. Have a great week!

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Dianne Khu said...

i love your photos mia! and i love gulab jamun! it's like bread-y yema soaked in syrup! and gosh i can totally relate about bingeing then feeling guilty the following day! i've been trying to eat healthier myself.

Mia said...

Thanks Dianne!

Yes - party food, though really delicious, can be quite overwhelming sometimes! I always want to try everything - takaw mata kasi!

Mia said...

PS - Dianne, I did not make the connection between gulab jamun and our yema! Tama ka - there IS a resemblance! I'm actually not usually a fan of gulab jamun as it tends to be way too sweet for me - but the ones we had at this party tasted really fresh and not overly sweet.

Ok this "conversation" is making me miss our sweets from the Philippines...pastillas de leche, espasol, buko pie...

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