Spring-flavored pea pancakes even taste green. The combination of crème fraiche and chives and spunky smoked salmon made a perfect counterpoint to the flavorful pillow-y cakes. Everyone at our Easter buffet lunch enjoyed them and I can now add a notch to the list of vegetable-laden pancakes that have been a theme around here for a while. They make great finger food for those fundraising events I am frequently invited to cater.
Peas figure large in our spring gardens. Tendrils of the Austrian winter peas that acted as a cover crop for our former-driveway-turned garden will be clipped and used in salad, or spun into pesto. The extra pea seeds that I didn’t plant have been sprouted into lanky shoots to be sprinkled around as garnish or layered in an egg salad sandwich (they’re pictured on the left aside a chicken salad). Meanwhile, the shoots of bush peas are patiently poking up from cold soil and the climbers are inching their tendrils up poles and along strings.
We won’t be eating peas from our garden for a good month but that doesn’t stop the longing. I used good quality frozen peas for this recipe, which worked just fine. Later on, when local shelling peas are available, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison and will not be surprised if the frozen ones win.
Sweet Pea Pancakes, adapted from Suzanne Goin, The A.O.C. Cookbook
2 c fresh or frozen shelled peas
1½ tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
½ c heavy cream
1/3 c all-purpose white flour or gluten-free flour (such as Cup 4 Cup)
Freshly ground pepper
Optional: finely chopped chives
2 tsp or less butter for the griddle
Topping: Crème fraiche or sour cream mixed with chopped chives and maybe a little Meyer lemon zest, smoked salmon, and maybe some pickled capers
If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain and cool them. If using frozen peas, thaw them at room temperature for 20-30 minutes until they are soft but not mushy. Place the peas in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, cook the butter until brown (but not burnt) and pour it into a small cup to cool.
Pulse the peas in the food processor to 20 seconds to chop the peas to a chunky consistency. Add the egg, egg yolk and cream, and process until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Add the chopped chives if using. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
The batter can be made ahead to this point. It’s best to use it within a couple of hours.
Place a griddle over medium heat until uniformly heated. Add butter to coat the pan and turn the heat down a little. Drop about a tablespoonful of batter on the griddle and cook the pancakes for about 4 minutes, being careful not to brown them too much. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes or so until cooked through.
Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with sour cream or crème fraiche mixed with chives and a small piece of smoked salmon. Capers and lemon zest are other possible garnishes.
Makes 20-30 pancakes depending on the size.
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