I have something short and sweet for you today. Or should that be short and savoury? I do love an idea that turns a regular idea upside down, so today may I give you Pea Shortcake and Savoury Eclairs?
The countryman knows there’s logical reason why peas are the first crop he puts in. It’s because green peas, fresh-picked from the garden, are the best crop he raises. There are, of course, some peculiar souls who place sweet corn, or tomatoes, or even green cucumbers ahead of peas. Occasionally one hears of a gardener who rates carrots and beets toward the top of the list, but most farmers agree that these two edible roots are winter grub.
The time has come to spread good tidings to a food-conscious world regarding another way of eating green peas. Admittedly they are sweet and delicious served in a cereal dish with plenty of the water in which they were cooked. A pint of peas plus a cupful or two of the juice is an acceptable side dish. But for the genuine, superlative, mouth-watering method of consuming peas that have tarried no more than thirty minutes from vine to table, no process yet invented equals pea-shortcake.
One starts with a deep soup plate. On the bottom place the four halves of two home-made biscuits. The biscuits should have firm, crunchy brown crusts; the interiors should be fluffy white and piping hot. Spread butter generously over these four pieces and pause two minutes while the butter soaks into them. Then take the potful of peas and pour the green nuggets and their flavorful juice over the buttered biscuits. The fragrance that rises to the nostrils is better than all the perfumes of Araby. It’s a spicy, tantalizing, nostril-tickling aroma that’s compounded of peas, butter, biscuits, and anticipation.
Two heaping soup plates of this plus a quarter of a fresh rhubarb pie and a glass or two of cold creamy milk, and a man is refreshed for the afternoon’s work. Pea shortcake isn’t in the cookbooks. But when the countryman gets around to writing that book of recipes, he will give the dish the prominence it deserves.
New York Times, May 19, 1945.
Ingredients: Cream puff recipe; 2 oz. cooked ham; 1 oz. butter; salt and cayenne; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 2 oz. cooked tongue; 2 oz. cooked corn beef; ½ oz. flour; little nutmeg; ½ pint milk.
Method: Make cream puff mixture [choux paste]. Force through a bag on to a buttered tray and bake 25-30 minutes. Mince meats, melt butter in a saucepan, then stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add milk and nutmeg and stir over heat until boiling. Cook for three minutes. Add sauce to meats and fill into eclairs as you would cream into cream puff.
The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania) of 2 September, 1954.