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Spring Pea and Asparagus Soup


It’s time again to play “Last Week’s Supper Is This Week’s Soup”!

It’s not quite as desperate as it sounds. I like this game because it’s teaching me a lot about combining various in-season vegetables and neatly preventing me from having to waste any leftover produce even after the first or second dish I needed it for has long since been consumed.

This week I was also able to introduce a new player into the basket–peas! As I have been not hesitant to mention, the debut of fresh peas at the local farmers market is particularly exciting to me. I quickly claimed 2 lbs., as if the ladies standing around me were a threat and might snatch them all away before I could make my purchase.

Home again I checked the fridge only to realize I’d “lost” a bunch of asparagus from last week in the bottom of the crisper drawer. But there it had sat, well wrapped but without water for quite a few days. I also came up with some mint and a few spring onions. These forces combined, I had a soup bursting with bright green color and all the refreshing and energizing taste I was hoping to capture.

Green Spring Pea and Asparagus Soup

4 spring onions, sliced
one bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed and spears cut into 1″ pieces
3 cups fresh peas
4 cups vegetable broth
handful of mint leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Place broth in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add peas and cook 3 minutes more. Remove pot from heat, add in the mint, salt, and pepper, and puree. Stir in the buttermilk and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy warm or chilled.

Green Spring Pea and Asparagus Soup

Homesick for Life on the Road: Mutter Paneer


Making paneer reminds me of the brief time I spent in Nepal. Not of the streets I walked and the music I was there to study, but the many quiet hours I spent in the kitchen with the family who had taken me in, cooking alongside the “sister” who had adopted me into her household, welcoming me with an infectious smile and a cup of tea. I miss watching Hindi soap operas with her to this day, and I didn’t understand of word of them (so that’s saying something).

Our kitchen corner (left) and a view down onto wedding feast preparations (right). When cooking for 50, I guess it's easier to work outside.

Aside from your basic college survival budget cooking (lots of rice and beans and steamed carrots, in my case) I was not all that sophisticated when it came to food prep at that point in my life, and it showed painfully in this sparely equipped, two-burner kitchen. By the time I left a few months later, however, I could make curries and dals and chaats and momos…well, if not like a pro, then at least like an over-enthused novice. Paneer was another of these new delicacies, the construction of which was introduced to me in Kathmandu, though I’ve only made it a few times more in the ensuing decade.

On my last trip to NYC, however, I grabbed a bite at a little Indian lunch counter where the food was as divine as the shop was covert. The mutter paneer spoke to me through the glass. It was so tasty that once I got home I found myself fixated on the taste of it and the desire to revisit that simple cheese making process. It got me a little homesick for life on the road (if that’s possible), but the resulting dish itself was so tasty I consoled myself with quite a few spoonfuls before the paratha was even off the griddle (no recipe for those here, because I cheat and buy frozen).

*The lovely aluminum serving dish pictured above is from Don Drumm’s studio.

For the paneer

1/2 gallon whole milk
3-5 T lemon juice (best to have more than enough squeezed and ready before you start)
1 piece fine cheesecloth

In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk up to a gentle boil. Add lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition, until milk separates. Remove from heat.

Line a sieve with the cheesecloth and pour the curds and whey through to separate them. Rise the curds under cold water then drain well, gathering the curds together into a ball. Twist the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze to remove some of the excess water, then leave to hang for 30 minutes. To further press the curds into a more solid cheese that can be cubed and fried for dishes such as the one below, twist the cheesecloth closed gently but securely and place on a counter or cutting board with a weight on top to further press out liquid (I use my marble cheese board). Check the cheese after an hour and continue pressing until it has reached the desired texture (if it becomes too dry it will crumble, so take care). Use right away or wrap well and refrigerate.

For more beautiful instructions than mine, see this tutorial.

For the mutter paneer
Adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen

3 T olive oil, plus more as needed
paneer (see recipe above), cubed

1 T ginger, chopped
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1/2 inch of cinnamon stick
Pinch of asafetida

Here I must admit that I went a little cross-culture crazy and omitted the remaining spices, instead using a few spoonfuls of that amazingly delicious berbere paste I made a little while ago. However, recognizing that you probably won’t have that on hand, the original recipe indicates:

1 T coriander powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt or to taste

16 oz. frozen peas

Heat enough of the olive oil to thickly coat the bottom of your skillet and fry the paneer cubes. When they are golden brown, spoon them out onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil and set aside.

Puree the tomatoes and ginger together.

Add a little more oil to your skillet if needed and, when hot once again, add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and asafetida. Stir and fry for a few seconds, then pour in the tomato and ginger mixture, plus remaining spices. Once the sauce begins to sputter, reduce the heat and allow to reduce a bit.

Add peas, stirring to combine. Cover and continue cooking until peas are tender. Toss in the paneer and heat the dish through, adding salt as needed.

Serve with flatbread or over rice.

Ladies Who Lunch: Spring Fling Potato Salad


It doesn’t seem quite fair to have slipped the freeze of winter as neatly as we have this year. Still, with flowers pushing their way up into the light yet again and the weatherman promising 70° days this week, I’m ignoring the calendar and daydreaming about lazy afternoon picnics like it’s…well, April at the very least.

first flowers

Admittedly, there are flaws in the fantasy. Local produce amounts to little more than the crates of apples and turnips the fields produced last season, though thanks to a little help from our neighbors to the south, the delicate, hinting green of spring is available for import–a telegram that the season is on its way. Taking full advantage, some of those bright, crisp flavors inspired this perfectly packable potato salad, with just a bit of creaminess to keep the chill off until the danger of frost has truly passed.

Spring Fling Potato Salad

For the salad

3 lbs. mixed red and gold waxy Idaho potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups green peas, frozen or fresh
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 small cucumbers, seeded and diced
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds

For the dressing

3 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T pomegranate molasses
2 tsp. kosher salt
generous handful fresh basil
leaves from a few springs of fresh mint
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus additional as needed
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Boil the cubed potatoes until just fork tender, about ten minutes. Drain and reserve.

While potatoes cook, bring a second pot of water to a boil and blanch peas for one minute, then drain and plunge them into an ice water bath to shock and stop the cooking. Set aside.


To make the dressing, place vinegar, pomegranate molasses, salt, and herbs in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse until leaves are minced. Combine this mixture with the buttermilk and mayonnaise in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until dressing is well mixed. Thin dressing with additional buttermilk as needed.

In a large bowl, place potatoes, peas, cranberries, cucumbers, scallions, and sliced almonds. Toss with enough of the dressing to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Disclaimer: This recipe was written for the Idaho Potato Commission, and I was financially compensated for its creation. Previously, Wonderland Kitchen’s Take the G Train: Masala Knishes post was part of their February “Potato Lovers Month” promotion. Both of these dishes were honored with an award for “Best Recipe.”

Peas, Wonderful Peas!


We scanned the market vendor stalls and spotted our guy down the aisle–and, just as importantly, his big blue cooler.

“I can see them!” I shouted back over my shoulder, doing my best to move forward through the Saturday morning crowd without kicking a stroller or bumping a shopper. “He has the peas!”

I was sad that the party last weekend was just a shade too early to incorporate this personal highlight of the early local produce season. As a 2 lbs bag of already-shelled deliciousness was filled for me, the ladies behind us wondered how on earth you could use that much in a week. I wanted to reach into my supply and just grab a handful for them to snack on raw, but even I recognized in the moment that that would have been…weird.

Meanwhile, in addition to last week’s Mint Pea Soup and just crunching down on the little darlings straight out of the fridge, here are a few other things to do with peas. If you have a great pea recipe, please drop it in the comments. I’ll have another 2 lbs to deal with next week!

Mint Pea Dip (pictured above, left). I still had mint leftover from the party, so I whipped this up (literally–it took about 5 minutes, including blanching time) for a snack last night. It’s minty, garlicky, springtime in a bowl.

Crushed Peas with Tahini Possibly my favorite pea recipe, but I’ll have to keep testing that–for science!

Pea Pesto Crostini Haven’t tried this one yet, but it sure looks tasty.

Springing Into the Season


To introduce ourselves to Baltimore, Three Points Kitchen threw its second real-world, y’all-come-on-over event this past Sunday. Friends from far and near were kind enough to stop by and sample our kitchen’s offerings.

It was a Mad Hatter Tea Party of sorts, celebrating the arrival of the fresh produce of the season–bright pea and mint soup, roasted rhubarb, pencil-thin asparagus with wasabi dressing, duck egg salad on slices of warm baguette fresh from the oven, and radishes, baby greens, and homemade lemon butter slathered over just-baked rye bread. Plus sweets worthy of the Queen of Hearts, if we do say so ourselves.

We stopped just shy of breaking out the croquet mallets. The local Waverly Farmers Market provided most of the produce, including beautiful strawberries from the Eastern Shore that we topped with a St. Germaine Crème Anglaise. And just a few minutes shy of closing, the always-friendly staff at the Wine Source helped us procure all the parts of the Light Guard Punch we served alongside a watermelon lemonade for the abstainers in the crowd.

Want to try out what we ate? Here are a few of the recipes (if you have questions, just post ’em in the comments):

Chilled English Pea-Mint Soup

(N.B.: If you have 2 pints of heavy cream, you can make your own butter and use the remaining buttermilk to make this soup. It’s foodie pretension taken to the limit, but also incredibly satisfying kitchen crafting. If you don’t gloat too much about it, it’s really just 100% tasty.)

Asparagus with Wasabi-Mayonnaise Dip

Cornmeal Parmesan and Poppy Seed Crackers

French(ish) Baguettes

Graham Crackers

Rye Bread

Braided Lemon Bread

Spinach and Mushroom Phyllo Dough Triangles

Rhubarb Penuche Tart

Tiger Tea Cakes

St. Germaine Crème Anglaise

Light Guard Punch

Watermelon Lemonade

And finally, this post gave me the idea to embed a peony in a block of ice to float in the punch–a highly recommended decorative touch. Wish I had gotten a photo snap before it melted away.