We're a few weeks off from November the 5th and therefore Bonfire Night yet, but I was so excited to find dried black peas - aka maple peas - at the stall of the man who sells herbs, spices and dried foods in my local town. I had been on the hunt for them in order to have a go at making traditional Lancashire Bonfire Black Peas - a dish which is particular to the North West of England, and is eaten on Guy Fawkes Night, the 5th November.
My memories of eating black peas involve me trying to stay warm on Bonfire Night, slathering them in vinegar then scooping them out of a small tub with my mittens on, while watching fireworks clash and burst in the sky. They conjure up wonderful childhood times for me.
For those outside of the UK - Bonfire Night is the same as Guy Fawkes Night - when we morbidly mark the occasion of when a man named Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up parliament with a gunpowder plot, and was burnt for committing treason. We have bonfire parties and fireworks, and sometimes burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, when people can be bothered making one. Although black peas are also often served on Halloween, too, nowadays.
I have always loved black peas, best when they have gone mushy and have plenty of salt and vinegar on the top. However, I have never made them myself, surprisingly. Until now, that is.
And ahhh yes - they are vegan too, by default of being simply a type of cooked-up dried pea, pretty much left in their water with some seasoning added. It's funny, because I know so many people who say they have never eaten vegan food, and yet I know they have eaten black peas! So, um, they are wrong, hehe.
And to let you know - these turned out just like I remember them. Basically, the trick it seems is to boil them to the back of beyond, so they have no memory remaining of their life as a hard, dried pea!
Anyhow - whether you'd like to cook them up for Halloween or indeed for Bonfire Night, or just for the hell of it because you can - here's how I made mine:
Traditional Lancashire Bonfire Black Peas
To serve 6-8 people (the peas are meant to be eaten as a small snack/nibble, rather than a main course) use about:
1 cup / 150g black peas (maple peas) - soaked in water for 24 hours
After soaking and draining the black peas, cover them in plenty of salted water in a large pot, and bring to a raging boil. Then turn down the heat to a rolling boil, cover the pan, and boil for about an hour or slightly longer.
You want the peas to be very well-cooked, with the skins coming off. Once the peas are cooked and soft, drain them.
Now - to make the black peas really tasty - do the following with them:
1. Put 250ml / 1 cup of cold, fresh water in a pan, add the peas and bring the water to the boil. Turn the heat down to a high simmer.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock / bouillon powder to the peas and also 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar, as well as some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Allow the peas to stay on a high simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The peas are ready when there is a small amount of grey-black liquid in the pan, just enough for the peas to be moist but not lots of liquid left.
4. Serve the peas individually in small pots, and sprinkle with salt and vinegar for the traditional way of eating them.