Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Aye, aye Captain

We tend to eat a lot of peas in our house. The kids love them for their cute sweetness and I love them because at least it’s one vegetable everyone will agree on.

Our peas generally go into pasta dishes (pasta, pesto, bacon and peas is a family favourite) or else they find themselves mushed with butter and lemon alongside a lump of fish or some fish fingers. But most of all of course, they’re just a ladleful on the plate alongside whatever meat and other veg we have going. I even sometimes make pea and ham soup, but that’s another story.

You will imagine my surprise however, when scanning the Birdseye website (I don’t get out much these days, God love me), I stumbled across a veritable treasure trove of pea recipes. There were peas in blankets, pea and ham hock salad, pea houmous, peas on toast – you name it and the good people at Birdseye have the recipe. I was like a kid in a candied pea store! I resolved there and then to eat even more peas than we already are. I even rang those good people at Birdseye to make sure I could nick a recipe or two and then write about them, and they couldn’t have been nicer.

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“Fill your boots, Devlin!” shouted Captain Birdseye from the deck of his ship (actually it was the helpful Ellie from the press office, but I like the idea of the Captain personally answering the phone).

“Take all the recipes you want – ARRRR!”

I have yet to try the peas in blankets but I reckon that recipe is a shoo-in for familial success.

In fairness, you could wrap sawdust in bacon and it would still taste great but the sweet peas will bring a great contrast to the salty bacon – just like in pasta, pesto, bacon and peas!

Anyway… This is the recipe for Captain Birdeye’s peas, ham and cheese muffins. I had high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed – arr!

INGREDIENTS
100g frozen peas
300g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch dry mustard powder
Sea salt and black pepper
half teaspoon mixed herbs or 2 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 large egg
100g boursin cheese or another soft cheese like Philadelphia
200ml full fat milk
50g cooked ham, diced
75g cheddar cheese, grated
Butter for greasing

THE PLAN

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Preheat the oven to 180°C and while that’s happening prepare a 12 hole muffin tin by greasing well with butter.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and blanch the frozen peas for two minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

Sift the flour, baking powder and dry mustard powder into a large mixing bowl, and add the salt, freshly ground black pepper and mixed herbs or chives.

In a separate bowl lightly beat the egg with an electric whisk and add the boursin cheese, whisking until the cheese has broken up and combined smoothly with the egg.

Whisk in the milk, and then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the peas and ham.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix lightly and quickly to combine. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin tin and sprinkle the top of each muffin with grated cheddar cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm with lots of real butter and a big, self-satisfied (bordering on smug) smile.

Captain Birdseye, you’re my hero.

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