There’s a very hip restaurant in my neighborhood called Joseph Leonard; you go there, and everyone else is either more attractive or more wealthy than you. There’s a very cool bathroom with a medicine cabinet over the sink that has Q-tips, Altoids and tampons (I bet women wish more restaurant bathrooms had tampons; or maybe they do and that’s just a secret between women and restaurants?) and on every table a little jar of cornichons. It’s that little jar of cornichons (not the tampons) that I’d like to talk about today. It led to my own table decorating revelation, one involving sugar snap peas, garlic and lots of white wine vinegar.
The recipe comes, as most great recipes do nowadays, from Smitten Kitchen. She got it in turn from Epicurious which got it from “The Joy of Pickling.” Tracking recipes, these days, is like playing a game of telephone.
But there’s really no novelty to this recipe; just clean and sterilize a jar (I run mine through the dishwasher and call it a day) and then, in a sauce pan, boil 1 1/4 cups white wine vinegar (Deb finds white wine vinegar too sweet and uses the same amount of white distilled vinegar, but I like the winey flavor), 1 1/4 cups water, 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon sugar until the sugar dissolves. Then you let the liquid cool (an important step so you don’t cook the sugar snaps.)
Pack 1 pound of stemmed and strung sugar snap peas in a jar with 4 sliced garlic cloves, 1 or 2 small dried chile peppers, and–if you have them–two tarragon sprigs (I skipped those.)
Pour the cooled liquid over everything, cover the jar with a cap and keep in the fridge for two weeks before eating.
Yeah right! (Deb echoed that sentiment in her post.)
And so here’s what I put on the table when I hosted dinner parties for the next few weeks:
People were perplexed at first–was this decoration or food?–but pretty quickly people figured it out. And once they tasted them: yowza! These explode with flavor–all that garlic, chile and vinegar; they’re bracing in a very good way.
Sugar snap pea season is almost over (for shame, they’re my favorite seasonal vegetable) but you can do this with all kinds of vegetables (yellow wax beans come to mind) and if you make a lot, you may even have some leftover for winter time when you’re wearing your winter jacket and craving warm-weather food.
Heh, as if they’ll last that long.