Bringing Out The Best In Spring Peas

For dedicated cooks, nothing says spring like spring peas for sale in grocery stores.

If you've only had canned peas, you might think, "Peas — yuck!" But really, there's nothing better than spring peas. The color alone can make you realize warmer weather is on its way.

And on The Early Show Friday, one of New York's best chefs, Bill Telepan, proved it.

Telepan, executive chef and owner of the Telepan restaurant, wrapped up the latest "Culinary Inspirations" series by preparing a succulent dish made with spring peas.

Since Bill Telepan opened Telepan in the late fall of 2005, his food has earned him rave reviews.

His restaurant and food truly reflect his personal style. He once said he believes in the idea that "we are what we cook."

Telepan wrote in "Inspired by Ingredients," his 2004 cookbook, that the dishes he and his fellow chefs serve at restaurants or prepare for friends and family sum up who they are.

He wrote, "Our palates are formed in childhood, refined in cooking school, honed, and personalized as we work for other chefs and dine in other restaurants, and finally shared with the public when we begin composing menus in our own restaurants."

Neither the food nor the setting at Telepan is flashy, but the flavors are pure, elegant and creative. He truly allows the flavors of his ingredients to come through.

Telepan buys locally and cooks seasonally-creating honest, robust dishes that have been hailed by Gael Greene as "bravura food" in New York Magazine. He delivers "a grade of American cooking to which all other restaurants aspire," according to Gourmet.


Pea Pancakes

For the pancake:
4 ounces sugar snap peas-strings removed
1/2 cups shelled peas (or substitute frozen peas, thaw but do not cook)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoons cream
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sugar (more if using frozen peas)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.

2. Prepare an ice water bath. In lightly salted boiling water, add sugar snap peas and cook 2 minutes. Add to ice water until chilled, about 2 minutes. Strain and set aside.

3. If using fresh peas, add to same boiling water and cook until just tender, about 2 to 4 minutes depending on size. Transfer to ice water and chill for 2 minutes. Strain and set aside.

4. In a blender, purée sugar snaps with milk and cream. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Mix in the egg. Add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Purée the shell peas in food processor and mix into batter.

5. Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter, in a medium ovenproof non-stick pan over high heat. Swirl butter around pan. Use 2 tablespoons of batter to form a pancake 3 inches in diameter. Cook two at a time. When the edges start to lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes place in oven for 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and return to oven until lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep pancakes warm.

For the topping:
1 pound fresh peas, shell on (1 1/2 cups shelled)
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut into 3 pieces on the bias (1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter
4 ounces vegetable stock or water (1/2 cup)
1 ounce pea leaves (difficult to find)
2 teaspoons finely sliced mint

1. To prepare the peas, cook for 30 seconds in lightly salted boiling water, remove and place in ice water to chill for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Place snap peas, butter, stock and a pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and pea leaves and reduce to glaze, about 3 to 5 minutes. Salt to taste and spoon over pancakes. Sprinkle with sliced mint.

Serves 4

For more of Telepan's pea recipes, go to Page 2.