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Crazy Brocco-Flower, a Cookie Sale, & the return of Coconut Peas

My blog has unfortunately been on a bit of a hiatus lately, but I had some things to share with you, so here goes.  On a bright note, now I know what my new year’s resolution will be: Blog more!


Romanesco: Silly Look, Serious Taste

Let’s start with the first.  If you have never seen a cauliflower or broccoli like the one here (sources seem to refer to it as both Roman cauliflower or Roman broccoli) then I would guess you are not alone.  This is the Romanesco variety and I think it is fabulous.  They do look more like something out of the Super Mario Brother’s garden than your local farmers field, but I think that is what makes them so much fun.

We recently had this for the first time while dining at Forequarter in Madison and I’ve had my eye out for it since.  These made an appearance at a local grocery store over the weekend, so I picked one up.

For my first try at cooking this, I divided this into florets and tossed them with olive oil, a grated garlic glove, some minced hot peppers, rosemary, and of course some salt and pepper.  I pan roasted these in an effort to save time, but would go with an oven roast at high heat for 20-30 minutes next time.  The conical shape made it difficult to char anything but the stems.  Despite being just a little underdone, I found the flavor to be delicious.  Of course, I had to finely grate on a little cheese before serving. I chose some Belavitano Gold for this and was very happy with that selection. I can’t wait to find another one of these so I can perfect the method.  Check out some shots from my romanesco cooking adventure.

Next item of business to share is information about the Milwaukee Foodies Bake Sale. If you are going to be in Milwaukee this weekend, you should check it out. Local bakers are donating cookies that will be sold to benefit the charity Cookies for Kids’ cancer. The sale is downtown at Best Place from 12p.m.-4p.m. Here is a link to more information:

You may remember my award-winning Chewy White Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies. I will be donating some for the sale! If you know anyone who might be interested in attending this, please do share the blog or forward the link above.

Milwaukee's Best Cookie 2011

Milwaukee’s Best Cookie 2011

As promised, I had three things to share. The last must be prefaced with a quick childhood story. My signature dish from my childhood was what we called “Coconut Peas”. It was literally frozen peas and sweetened coconut. My family pretended to like it, but it is now something we joke about.  Well, tonight they made a reappearance of sorts.  I was trying out a green curry spice rub from World Market on a flat iron steak and needed a quick side dish.  With no fresh vegetables in sight, I grabbed some frozen peas and threw together the following in a saucepan.

The New Coconut Peas

The New Coconut Peas

  • Bulgur cooked in chicken broth
  • Peas
  • A little lemon juice and zest
  • Drizzle of garlic olive oil
  • Dash of half and half
  • Chopped Marcona Almonds
  • Flaked Unsweetened Coconut 
  • Salt and Pepper (of course)

The verdict: This was pretty tasty and paired great with the green curry beef. Maybe I was on to something back in the 80s…

Thanks for reading and hope this inspires you to cook something new or buy some cookies for a good cause.  Cheers!


Citrus Pea Crostini

Any host with the most knows that having an arsenal of reliable and easy appetizers is a must.  Here’s one that is simple and possibly unexpected.  Combine peas with pecorino and citrus and you’ve got a tasty spread worthy of topping your favorite baguette.  In the proportions listed, the spread will be rich and can be lightly spread to thin slices for your standard french baguette. If you’re looking for more of a topping to really dollop onto the bread, I would add additional peas.  The nice thing about this is that you can really garnish this with a variety of options, so it is quite flexible.  I had to laugh though because this is a bit of pesto “stand in” for times when you don’t have fresh basil on hand…but I had fresh basil and couldn’t help myself from using this for a little garnish.  I also still had an Ancient Sweet fresh sweet red pepper, which adds a perfect contrast of color.  Roasted red peppers, tomatoes, fresh mint, and lemon zest are just a few other garnish ideas that come to mind.

Citrus Pea Crostini

  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped Pecorino (can also sub your favorite firm & salty Italian cheese)
  • 1 small garlic clove chopped (feel free to adjust the garlic depending on preference)
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 3/4 cup defrosted frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • baguette sliced, brushed with olive oil, and toasted
  • garnish of your choice



In a food processor, combine cheese and garlic until very well combined.  Add lemon juice, 1/2 cup of peas, and olive oil. Pulse until mixture is pureed.  Add in the last 1/4 cup of peas and lightly pulse until they’ve broken up, but traces of the skin are seen.  (You can just puree all together, but I like the resulted texture from following this technique.)  Spread onto your baguette and top as desired.

This also tastes great stirred into pasta. Enjoy!