Pesto is such an easy thing to make, and you can do so many things with it: put it on crusty bread, toss it with hot pasta, top chicken or fish with it, stir it into some plain Greek yogurt for a creamy dip, or simmer it with heavy cream to make a cream sauce. The other nice thing about pesto is that it doesn’t always have to be the traditional basil kind. Get creative with it! 
     I had some peppery arugula and thought that fresh mint would complement it perfectly for this pesto. It worked! The pesto has a nice flavor, with a subtle hint of the mint.  This is truly fantastic after it sits for a day or two and the flavors have time to marry.  Enjoy!
---Karly


ARUGULA MINT PESTO

1 packed cup fresh arugula
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Zest of one orange
Juice of half an orange
½ cup whole almonds
¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Grapeseed oil (you can also use olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste

     Combine everything but the oil in a food processor and blend for one or two minutes. With a food processor on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


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     The quintessential pair. Chocolate and mint. Who doesn't think of chocolate when thinking of a dessert with mint in it? Such was the case for me, especially when I had considered that I hadn't had a brownie in forever. But, as is the custom here at KP, I had to do something a little out of the ordinary. So I rolled up the brownie and gave it a filling! So rich and delicious! Can you diggit?

--- Jenny

CHOCOLATE MOCHA MINT

BROWNIE ROLLS

Brownies:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt

Mint Filling:
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ teapoon salt
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
2-3 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons milk or cream

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in both sugars. Cool Slightly. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, along with vanilla extract. Stir in flour and salt. Spread in a greased baking pan and bake 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack.

     Use a hand mixer to blend butter, salt and sugar. Stir in coffee and mint. Add milk to desired consistency.

     To assemble: After brownies are cut into squares, roll a brownie to a 1/4” thickness. Spread icing over brownie and roll up. 


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     I was eager to work with lamb, given this was my first time to actually prepare it myself, rather than eating it in a restaurant. But I'm tired of the old "mint jelly" idea. I decided on a salsa, and was very pleased!
     As for the lamb, the combination of the two was a warm, bright taste, and I ate every bite!

--- Jenny


LOIN OF LAMB WITH
RASPBERRY MINT SALSA

Salsa:
1 green apple, diced
1/3 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons diced white onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2-3 tablespoons chopped mint
juice of 1-2 limes

1 pound lamb cuts (loin pictured here)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

3-5 hours in advance, mix salsa ingredients and refrigerate.

Lightly brush cuts of lamb with olive oil and sprinkle garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper over meat. Grill until cuts have reached desired doneness.

Spoon salsa over lamb and serve with vegetables.
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     I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and mint. I had recently seen a recipe for orange pots de crème, and thought I’d try making a chocolate mint version. A pot de crème is a French custard dessert. Since I have never made them before, I found a recipe on the Food and Wine website for basic pots de crème, and I modified it slightly to make them chocolate mint.

---Karly


CHOCOLATE MINT POTS DE CRÈME

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (same as Sugar in the Raw)
2 cups heavy cream
½ to 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
4 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate 

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. If you don’t have a double boiler, then put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of
simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the peppermint extract. Set the chocolate aside.
     Beat the eggs and the egg yolk with the sugar until well blended. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it begins to simmer around the edges. Slowly drizzle the cream into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly. It’s really important on this step to make sure you are constantly whisking and to make sure it’s a slow drizzle so that the eggs don’t cook. Once the cream is incorporated into the egg mixture, stir in the chocolate. 
     Fill four 4" ramekins with the chocolate mixture and put in an ovenproof casserole dish. Skim off any bubbles or foam that forms on top of the custards.
     Fill the casserole dish with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the pots de crème for 30-45 minutes.
The middle of the custards should still move a bit. CAREFULLY remove them from the water bath and allow to cool on a wire rack, then cover with tops with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
before serving. 
     Serve with whipped cream if desired.

     Serves four.

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     I couldn’t decide what to do for my main dish for mint week. Then, I thought about doing something inspired by one of my favorite cocktails, the mojito. At first, I thought about marinating chicken in a mojito marinade before cooking it, but on the day I made the recipe I didn’t really have time to let the chicken marinate properly. This recipe is what I came up with, and it turned out great!

---Karly


MOJITO CHICKEN
1 pound chicken cuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Cumin to taste
Coriander to taste, optional
Olive oil
Half of a large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons flour
¾ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ cup rum
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

     Season the chicken cuts to taste with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Pan-sear or bake the chicken until done (remember the meat thermometer to check doneness). The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your cuts and your cooking method.

     In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the cream, and then stir in the rum and lime juice. Let the sauce come to a simmer and thicken a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the chicken. Garnish with a little more chopped fresh mint, if desired.

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     Welcome! We have once again started our Secret Ingredient Cook-off, and this week, we chose to highlight MINT! Mint leaves are yet another ingredient that can be used with sweet and savory dishes alike, so we chose to challenge ourselves with our usual Appetizer, Main Dish, and Dessert set-up. Karly and I came up with some real winners this week!
     As for the dish in this post, I have to tell you about my usual recipe-choosing process: either I get inspired or I don't. If I'm not inspired, I google the ingredient and see what pops up, then I tweak an idea to make it my own. Otherwise, if I am inspired, then it's a totally organic, magical thing. It makes me feel like I'm a stinking GENIUS! Well, I got news for you: this was a personal inspiration, and I'm completely happy with it! Low fat, low-calorie, and it's a quick fix. Total preparation time: about 20 minutes! And it tastes great!

---Jenny


INDIAN-SPICED CHICKEN FINGERS WITH 

CREAMY CILANTRO MINT SAUCE
Chicken fingers:
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons yellow curry
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tsp salt

Sauce:
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
¼ cup chopped almonds
2-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste

     For chicken fingers: Preheat a pan of oil (to a depth of about ½ inch) to medium heat. Combine flour and seasonings in a medium-sized bowl. Dredge chicken pieces in mixture and fry 2-4 minutes on each side.

     For sauce: Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. When adding milk, start with 2 tablespoons and add one additional tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
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