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High Summer - Starters and Light Bites

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Season’s best peas

Peas start to appear in spring months in warmer climates and can be continuously harvested through the summer months. Freshly picked English peas, snow peas, and sugarsnaps are wonderfully sweet. They pair perfectly with mint, chile, garlic, and ginger and complement ham, bacon, duck, and seafood.


English peas

Plump, juicy English peas have a uniquely sweet, grassy flavor and a tender-crisp texture. They should be lightly cooked to prevent them from becoming starchy.


Petits pois

A naturally small-seeded variety, petits pois are the sweetest of all peas. They are delicious eaten raw or lightly cooked.

The tiny peas need only a minute or two in boiling water.


Snow peas

The flat, edible pods and minuscule seeds have a sweet, herbaceous flavor. They add crisp texture and brilliant color to stir-frys.


Sugarsnap peas

Rounder and fatter than snow peas, the edible, fleshy pods and seeds are crunchy and wonderfully sweet. Eat them whole or thickly sliced.

Originally from the Middle East, peas are now grown in warm climates worldwide. One of the most difficult tasks for the farmers is to protect the plants from birds.


Essentials

Varieties available

Essentially two varieties: peas for shelling and those eaten pod and all.


Preserve

Blanch and freeze.


Buy

Pods should be evenly green, with no brown, yellow, or decay spots. Look for plump English peas that are not quite touching in the pod; avoid fat pods with oversized peas. Snow peas and sugarsnap peas should be crisp and moist.


Store

Eat as soon as possible to preserve their sweetness. Keep them in a closed plastic bag in the fridge for no more than 1–2 days.


Cook

Boil or steam until just tender. Also stir-fry or tempura-fry snow peas and sugarsnap peas.


Recipe ideas

Minted pea and ham soup

Pea and mint risotto

Pea and pancetta tart


Season’s best sweet corn

True to its name, sweet corn is a type of maize with the sweet, golden, or white kernels set in rows along the central cob. The kernels can be eaten on the cob or cut off before cooking. Harvested in high summer through to early autumn, they have a short season. Best paired with melted butter or bacon, they also taste amazing with Cheddar cheese, fish, chicken, chiles, and peppers.


Baby corn

Unlike full-grown ears, baby corn is completely edible, including the central cob. With its mild flavor and crunchy texture, it is a useful ingredient in stir-fry meals, as a colorful vegetable crudité, and cut in pieces in soups, stews, and salads.

The tiny cobs are no more than 4in (10cm) long.


Yellow sweet corn

Classic corn varieties have differing sugar contents: “normal,” “sugar enhanced,” and “super sweet.”

Deep yellow kernels will not be sweet. Choose pale, creamy-yellow ones.


White sweet corn

The flavor is not as sweet as yellow corn but is still delicious. It is a popular vegetable in farmers’ markets. Look for mixed white and yellow cobs.

Native to Mexico and Guatemala, but grown all over the world from the tropics to any northern region with a sufficient growing season, sweet corn is an important staple crop.


How to remove sweet corn kernels

One of the sweetest vegetables, the flavor of fresh sweet corn easily beats that of canned or frozen ones. Preparing the cobs to eat whole or removing the kernels is very straightforward.

Remove the husks and all the silk threads from the corn-on-the-cob. Rinse the husked corn under cold running water.

Place the blunt end on the cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife and slice straight down the cob. Rotate the cob and repeat.


Essentials

Varieties available

Whole cobs; baby cobs; kernels; fresh, frozen, or canned. Other products include cornstarch, cornmeal, polenta, and popcorn.


Buy

The cut end of the cob should not be dry and the leaves should be fresh and bright. Choose well-filled cobs; if you puncture a kernel with the thumbnail, the fluid should be milky, not clear or paste-like.


Store

Best eaten on day of purchase or store, wrapped in damp paper towels, in the fridge for 1–2 days at most.


Cook

Roast whole in the husk, or shuck (remove husk and silk) and then boil, roast, or grill. Boil, braise, bake, or sauté kernels.


Preserve

Kernels and shucked cobs can be frozen.


Recipe ideas

Mexican sweet corn soup

Scallop and sweet corn chowder

Sweet corn and bell pepper filo triangles

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