Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cooking ExperiMINT!

Recently I have noticed that I absolutely LOVE cooking with mint! Have you tried it? I have been adding it to almost every culinary adventure lately from sauces, and dressings, stir fry's and diced up and mixed into salads- I just can not get enough of it! I must admit, I go through pretty intense food and flavor explorations pairings, tasting and learning along the way. Sometimes these culinary explorations don't turn out so great, but other times I find some new, awesome, out of this world flavor combinations, and through this process, I learn. Three months ago I was totally into cooking with sage. A couple of months ago I was adding cinnamon into savory dishes. Last fall I was adding finely ground coffee into random recipes, from meats dishes to baked goods. Cooking is all about having fun and I encourage you all to get in the kitchen and get creative. Explore flavors and try NEW things!!

Rosemary Lavender Mint Tea
1/4 cup of mint leaves
1/2 t. fresh rosemary or 1 sprig
4 sprigs of lavender
5 cups of water
Raw honey to taste
Add all ingredients into a teapot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Let ingredients steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste. ENJOY!

Basil-Mint Lemonade

To make infused mint and basil simple syrup:
Mix 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of sugar into a saucepan
Set stove to medium heat
Wisk water and sugar to incorperate the sugar crystals
Add 1 sprig of basil + 2 sprigs of mint
Steep for 10 - 20 minutes until mixture is not cloudy.
Remove from heat and discard mint and basil.
*Fill a large pitcher 1/2 way up to the top with ice.
Pour simple syrup over ice.
Add juice of 6 freshly squeezed lemons or
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Add the juice of 2 feshly squeezed limes or 3 T lime juice
Add the juice of 2 freshly squeezed oranges or 3 T.
Fill the rest of your pitcher with cold water.
Stir and ENJOY!
** This is fantastic by itself or paired with Thai or Indian recipes!!
( This can also be made into Mint- Lavender Lemonade by swapping out the basil leaves for lavender sprigs when you make your simple syrup).:)

Apple & Beet Salad with Fresh Mint, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

*This is an extraordinarily tasty dish!
In a large mixing bowl combine the folowing:

1 Honey Crisp or Pink Lady Apple cut into1 inch chunks, seeds and core removed.
1 Cup of oven roasted beets cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 sprig of mint ( leaves
removed and sliced)
1/4 cup of walnuts toasted and chopped
2 T of fresh goat cheese or feta
Serve over a bed of fresh spinach or arugula

Apple Balsamic Dressing

In a food processor add the following ingredients:
2 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
*PULSE food processor until garlic is finely chopped*
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2*t. sea salt
2 t. dijon mustard
1/4 cup of apple juice
3 T. of Balsamic Vinegar
*BLEND food processor*
Keep food processor going and pour blended oil 2 cups (olive oil and canola) in SLOWLY in a small CONSTANT stream to emulsify the dressing.
Amazing Cilantro-Mint Chutney

In a food processor, add the following ingredients:
1 cup of fresh cilantro ( bottom stems removed)
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 serrano peppers ( seeds
removed if you don't like spicy food)
2 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
1 t. of fresh ginger
1 Lime zested and juice
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt to taste
2 T of fresh plain yogurt (Greek- style preferably)
** This can accompany pretty much everything from bread, to chicken, seafood, meats and vegetables.

Tzatziki Sauce ( Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce)

In a mixing bowl add the following ingredients:
1 16 oz. tub of plain Greek- Style yogurt
3 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed and finely diced
3 sprigs of mint leaves removed and chopped
1 t. black pepper
2 t. of sea salt or to taste
2 cucumbers ( *see preparation notes below)

To prepare the 2 cucumbers:
Peel the outside skin. Cut cucumbers in half length-wise.
Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds ( discard)
Grate the remaining seedless cucumbers.
With your hands SQUEEZE the grated cucumbers and remove all excess liquid.

* stir in grated cucumbers to the yogurt mixture.
**Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

**This is fantastic with chicken, turkey, meat, bread, and vegetables.Enjoy!!!

Chickpea ( Garbanzo Bean) and Quinoa Greek Salad
1 19 oz. can of Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 cucumber * striped with peeler 4 times and cut into 4 long strips, and again into 1/2 inch chunks.
1 can of artichoke hearts, cut into 4 ( drained and rinsed)
2 sprigs of mint ( leaves removed and chopped)
1/2 small red onion diced small
* a potential fancy it up option: just add kalamata olives, blanched asparagus, or sliced pepperoncinis

For the dressing:
3 T of olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cracked black pepper

Mix in dressing over garbanzo bean and quinoa salad.
Top with crumbled feta cheese.

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