D. and I decided to revive our supper club and, for the occasion, I thought I'd throw a Keller recipe into the menu. However, with the Chem GRE studying going on, I didn't have time for anything too time-consuming, which ruled out 99.9% of the recipes in Bouchon and The French Laundry Cookbook.
And the Keller cookbook collection is going to get bigger... my copy of the recently released Ad Hoc at Home is due to arrive tomorrow. So excited!
Anyway... right, a Keller recipe that didn't take until my 30th birthday to complete. The winner was Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps. This is probably one of those times when I should be extra-happy that I live in Southern California, because they're still available. Not super-sweet, but they were pretty good. Buying the peas and truffle oil also gave me a chance to visit Specialty Produce, which is a wholesale produce playground that's open to the public.
After buying 5 pounds of peas and a bottle of white truffle oil, I came home and enlisted D.'s help in shelling them. I followed the cooking instructions to the letter, adding just enough peas to the boiling water to form a single layer. While I waited for the peas to cook, I grated Parmesan cheese finely for the Parmesan crisps. I made sure they were big enough to be a "lid" on the mugs that I would serve the soup in.
After the peas were cooked and puréed in the food processor, the recipe calls for it to be scraped through a tamis. I don't have one, so I used our fine-mesh strainer and a spatula. One note with the food processor, I had to use a little water to make the purée less pasty and easier to work with.
Ok, I understand that the fine mesh makes a smoother purée, but sheesh, this took a little time and muscle. In the end, I had a little over 3 cups of smooth purée and less than 1 cup of the larger-particled pea detritus. I saved it, hoping to use it for risotto.
Once I had the purée, it went into the blender with some vegetable broth, but it was still pretty thick. However, I didn't want to compromise the flavor with too much broth or water, so I kept it thick. On the stove it went for a gentle heating, where I seasoned with salt and white pepper. When I was ladling it into mugs for serving, I drizzled a little bit of truffle oil on top of the soup and had my guests give it a good stir. A small amount of chives for garnish and a Parmesan crisp to cover the mug.
Blasted auto-focus caught the mug and the crisp, but the soup is blurred. Ah, well... the soup was delicious, with strong pea flavor balanced out by the truffle oil and Parmesan crisp.
Check out Carol's version of the soup. I didn't look for her entry until after the dinner party and was so glad to see that I followed her footsteps with the "mugging". I'm also glad I managed to cook the peas correctly and that her soup ended up being pretty thick. I guess thinning it out is an option, but that strong, sweet pea flavor is going to fade away.
It's easy, fabulous, and the Kermit-green of the soup makes for beautiful presentation. Grab a copy of the book and see for yourself.