Thursday, June 21, 2007
It's Mint Season
My garden's mint plot has grown outrageously this year. What do I do with all my spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, peppermint, orange mint, etc.? The varieties seem endless.
My first joy is to crush the leaves in my fingers and just breath in the amazing flavours and fragrances. Yet it seems so wasteful to have such a bountiful crop that doesn't get into my cooking. There are a number of traditional uses for mint in recipes.
• Sauces for meat, especially lamb
• Cooked with peas, green beans, and carrots
• As a garnish in salads, both fruit and vegetable, and cold desserts
• Mixed in with yogurt and cucumbers in various combinations
• As a ingredient in beverages such as tea, lemonade, and cocktails
Last year I tried making Cuban mojitos as a cool refreshing cocktail for the hot summer days. My biggest problem was crushing the mint leaves so that they became integral to the drink, rather than a green soggy floating lump. From what I've read since, the key is to use the appropriate bar tool, a MUDDLER
Here's my quick Mojito recipe:
• 2 oz white rum
• 2 oz club soda
• juice of 1 lime
• 4 mint leaves, crushed by a muddler
• crushed ice
With fresh Ontario peas now in season, you must try cooking them with mint! Besides the wonderful fragrance given off when you break open the pea pods, quickly steaming them with mint completes the taste experience with a versatile side dish. If you need a recipe, here's a simple and healthy one.
Childhood dinner-time memories from England evoke the taste and smell of mint sauces, particularly for lamb dishes. Finely chop a handful of freshly picked mint leaves along with a teaspoon of sugar. Place the chopped mint in a heatproof bowl and pour 50 ml of boiling water over the mint leaves. Stir in about 1 tbsp of sugar to taste, and sharpen with 4-5 tbsp of white wine vinegar, to add a pleasant tang.
Many middle-eastern cuisines use mint. Here's a recipe for the popular Tabouleh Salad which uses a whole cup of mint leaves.
If you have any favourite uses for mint that I've missed, please leave a comment and let me know!