Season: Home grown best in June and July

One very sad but thought-provoking incident happened to me a few years ago. I was buying fresh peas in the pod in a supermarket, and the sixth-former doing a Saturday job on the checkout asked me if I could tell her what they were. Perhaps the positive side of that comment was a kind of affirmation that I really needed to produce my How To Cook books.

Fresh-shelled peas are one of the most delightful vegetables of all – young and tender, they melt in the mouth when cooked and taste wonderful raw. Sure, it takes a bit of time to shell them, but sitting by an open window, or in the garden on a bright summer's day, shelling peas can be wonderful therapy. When they first arrive they're incredibly sweet and tender, but later on they get bigger and have quite a different character and flavour. I like both equally.

Imported Kenyan peas are not quite as good as the summer home-grown peas, but I think we are very fortunate to have them available all year round, and ready-shelled, too.

To cook young, fresh-shelled peas, first remember to buy 8 oz (225 g) in the pod per person. After shelling, pop them in a steamer with some salt and give them 1 minute before you bite one; they shouldn't take any longer than 2 minutes in all. If they are a bit older, they may need 3-4 minutes.

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