Archive for the ‘Mint’ Category

CALABACITAS CON CREMA (Zucchini squash with cream)

Friday, May 1st, 2015

This recipe comes from Diana Kennedy’s “The Cuisines of Mexico”. Diana writes: “There are hundreds of ways of cooking squash in Mexico, and every cook has her own method and seasoning. This was our maid Godileva’s way of preparing them, and the dish frequently appeared on our dinner table. It has an exotic flavor, and is quite unlike any other squash dish I have come across.”

* Diced zucchini, about a pound and a half (can include chopped up zucchini blossoms if you have them)
* Small ripe tomato or two, diced
* 6 whole peppercorns
* 4 sprigs fresh coriander
* 2 sprigs fresh mint
* 1/2″ stick cinnamon
* 4 whole cloves
* 2 whole chiles serranos
* 1/2 cup light cream
* Salt to taste

Combine everything in a pot and cook over a very low flame, stirring occasionally so it does not stick. Add a little water if it looks like it is getting too dry. It will take about 30 minutes to cook, the zucchini should be very soft, the milk or cream should be absorbed with no liquid remaining in the pan. The chilies should remain whole and just flavor the squash — it should not be picante. It is even better reheated the next day.

Anne Harvey’s “Potluck Pesto”

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Last evening in the garden, Ted was trying to give away a huge bunch of assorted fresh herbs, and he and Anne and I got to exchanging recipes. Anne mentioned her “Potluck Pesto” which she said turned out to be amazingly tasty. It will keep indefininly if you freeze tablespoons of it on a cookie sheet and store in zip-lock in the freezer. Here’s what to do:

Survey your garden for any herbs you might consider “pesto worthy”. Anne specifically mentioned arugula, mint, celantro, basil, tarragon, dill, marjoram, perhaps a tiny bit of lavender — use your imagination, there are no rules here. Pick everything in the proportions that will taste good to you, and when you get home get rid of stems and other “grassy” non-flavorful parts.

Here’s a basic pesto recipe to get started:

    1 cup assorted pesto herbs
    4 heaping tablespoons of parmesan or romano cheese, chunked or grated
    A few fresh garlic cloves (optional)
    Enough extra-virgin olive oil so that your blender can do it’s thing (start with 4 or 5 tablespoons)
    Handful of walnuts
    Salt to taste

Wash and spin dry the herbs. Put herbs in a blender along with the parmesan/romano and olive oil and blend till you get a lumpy paste. It may take a bit of coaxing to get the blending process to initiate. Add a handful of walnuts and blend till not-quite smooth. Transfer to serving dish and add salt to taste. Adding a squeeze of lemon is also another possibility.

I made it last night and Anne is right, it is delicious.

Roasted Beets: Three Variations on a Theme Plus a Footnote

Monday, June 4th, 2012

These three ideas come from the “Three Bowl Cookbook: The Secrets of Enlightened Cooking from the Zen Mountain Center” by Tom Pappas, long-term tenzo (cook) at the monestary. In Buddhist monasteries, meals are served in three bowls, reflecting the original alms bowls of mendicant monks. Tom writes: “Dogen Zenji said ‘Preparing food is offering the great assembly comfort and ease’.”

**For All Variations: Wrap beets tightly in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour until they are fork tender (or steam or boil on the top of the stove if you don’t want to heat up the oven). When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into large chunks. Then proceed with one of the variations.

Variation 1: Ralph’s Beets with Mint. For 2 lbs beets, mix the juice of 1/2 lemon with a handful of fresh mint torn into pieces, add salt and a tiny bit of olive oil. Can also add zest from the lemon if you like. Mix with the beets and serve.

Variation 2: Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar. Toss the chunked beets with balsamic vinegar to taste and serve.

Variation 3: Roasted Beets and Greens. Cook the beet tops in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, then drain and plunge into cold water. Drain and squeeze out as much water as you can, then chop the greens and set aside. Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan and sauté the greens until softened. Add the cooked beets and the juice from 1/2 lemon to the pan and toss. Season with salt and pepper and serve. NOTE: if you don’t have presentable beet tops, sauté chopped chard or spinach instead. No need to parboil it first.

FOOTNOTE: In Maine, where my father’s side of the family comes from, “beet greens” are a special springtime treat. Baby beets, no larger than 1 or 1 1/2 inch, are lightly scraped with a paring knife, whisker roots trimmed, then steamed briefly with their tops still attached. Be very careful not to overcook. Serve hot with butter or cold with a few drops of vinegar.

You will probably have to grow your own baby beets in Philadelphia because <sniff> none of our local farmers sell beets this young.

Mint Flavored Sugar for Fruit Salad or Lemonade

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

In a mortar, lightly bruse a sprig or two of mint in sugar to release its fragrance or, alternatively, whirl a few fresh mint leaves with a couple of tablespoons of sugar in a blender to create a lovely sweetener for fruit (make sure the mint is dry). This sugar is meant to be made fresh, so only make as much as you need — it doesn’t keep well and gets lumpy because of the moisture from the mint.

Especially good with peaches, blackberries, strawberries and pears. This sugar is also great for making lemonade. Remember to garnish with a few mint leaves.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

This salad is extraordinarily exotic and delicious, but it requires two things: it must have orange flower water and it must be served very cold

1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp freshly juiced lemon juice
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp orange flower water
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper, lightly sprinkled to taste
Fresh mint for garnish

Combine all ingredients except mint and chill for several hours or overnight. Serve garnished with slivers of mint.

Note: you can find orange flower water at Bitar’s, N.E. Corner of 10th and Federal, or at the Indian grocery at 42nd and Walnut, or at DiBruno Bros. in the Italian Market.