Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Phoebe and food. They both arrived when I needed them most. When I look back and as humans we often do, my days at university usually feel like failures. Long surrendered days on the sofa staring at the television or lethargic trips to the library. I had always loved reading and literature, but I was filled with a, at the time, unexplained discomfort. I was a little lost and faced each day with an overwhelming undertone of melancholy, a slow repetitive drumbeat. This all changed, a day with Phoebe or a day cooking was a submission to happiness. We would spend our time wandering through the streets of Brighton, window shopping, sitting huddled on a pebbled beach for a hazy winter sunset and accompanying the afternoon in a café with a cup of tea. My early attempts to impress Phoebe were with food and this proved to be a difficult task at the time. I was a definite neophyte in the kitchen, but to make things harder I became aware that Phoebe is a self-proclaimed ‘super taster’; an affliction which, according to her, means she cannot deal with any strong tastes. Spice is no-go, herbs have to be a distant hum and do not even attempt a crack of pepper. Pork was off the menu, fish a rare treat and lemon was treated like the anti-Christ. The short of it was, Phoebe was fussy. Thankfully, her taste buds have relented and she now is a relatively open-minded eater, but at the time I had to find a way to cook delicious food with a healthy dose of limitation. Cooking for Phoebe feels like writing a haiku, there is no space for thrills.
The early meals I cooked were simple and ingredient based. I made a lot of mistakes, overcooked pasta, burnt omelettes, undercooked pastries, scrambled carbonaras, baked bricks of bread and tears when any of these aberrations occurred, but Phoebe would eat, with a smile and a contented slouch in her seat. Macaroni Peas was one of my first triumphs in the kitchen and that may sound ridiculous for such a simple recipe, but once eaten on a cold brumal night, you will not be unable to avoid falling into that contented slouch in your own seat and feel a warm grin spread across your face.
Ingredients: Frozen Peas, Garlic, Butter, Pasta, Parmesan, Mint, Basil, pine-nuts.
Put two pots of boiling water on the stove, salt one pot well and add pasta. Add Peas to the other.
Whilst the peas are cooking, which will only take a couple of minutes, melt butter in a pan with chopped garlic.
Add most the peas, garlic butter, parmesan, mint and a little cooking water to a blender and mix into a paste.
When the pasta is cooked, add the paste and some more reserved cooking water, and toss to gain the emulsification of the liquids.
Top with parmesan, basil and toasted pine nuts.