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Monday, 11 May 2009

Mint

I love the refreshing taste of Mint and grow this in my garden, but you can do more things with it than just do mint sauce to accompany the Roast Lamb.

The new shoots are coming through and even if you don't grow your own this herb is readily available on Markets in large bunches or from Asian food shops.

I therefore thought I would share some of the recipes that I use for this very versatile herb. But there is more than one variety and they all have their uses.

Here are just a few varieties:

Buddlehia Mint
Ginger Mint
Pepper Mint
Eau De Cologne Mint
Pennyroyal
Spear Mint
Apple Mint
Pineapple Mint
Chocolate Mint

How about matching a particular mint to a particular dish.

I still think that simple ways are often the best way to use ingredients and one of my favourite ways to use a couple of small sprigs of mint is to lift the flavour of peas. I usually cook my peas and then about 10 minutes before the end of cooking I add the sprigs of mint to give the maximum amount of flavour. I remove the mint before draining, then add a knob of butter and run the peas around the small amount of butter which glazes them and accentuates the flavour. Yummy.

Preserved Mint Sauce

Approx half a pint fresh mint leaves
1/2pint vinegar
6oz Demerara sugar

Chop the mint finely and put into a measuring jug to obtain the right amount put the vinegar and the sugar into a pan and heat slowly dissolving the sugar. Keep on a rolling boil for 2 mins and then stir in the mint. Leave until cold. Decant into small glass jars with vinegar proof lids.

I make a keeping Mint Sauce every year which consists of finely chopped mint which is stored under vinegar for use in the winter months (not a lot of vinegar) just to top up so all the mint is covered, sealed and then stored on the Pantry shelf.

I then reconstitute it with a couple of teaspoons of the preserved mint, with some hot water, sugar or top up with further vinegar/or wine it really is lovely with Garlic Roasted Lamb.

Mint Vinegar

Mint Vinegar with white spirit vinegar or white wine vinegar. The chosen mint is just literally macerated in the vinegar i.e. I put the mint into my bottle or jar then pour on the vinegar (your container must be absolutely spotless I use sterilising tablets and boiling water). Seal and store on the pantry shelf. I usually leave about a month before using.

Morroccan Mint Tea

Morroccan Mint Tea is traditionally sipped sweet and hot but it can also be served chilled and is very refreshing.

Makes approximately 1 pint

1 scant tablespoon of loose green tea
2 packed generous tablespoon of Moroccan Mint leaves or other mint as available.
Sugar or honey to taste

Bring 1 pint water to the boil. Warm a tea pot. Put the Green Tea and Mint leaves in the pot. Pour on the boiling water. Stir in the sugar or honey to taste if you wish. Leave to infuse for 3 to 5 minutes, strain and serve, preferably in tall glassed or fine china cups.

If serving iced, strain through a muslin lined sieve (or coffee filter paper) after 5 minutes leave until cold and then chill.

Chocolate Mint Mousse Serves 2

4oz plain dark chocolate (if you don't like dark use either milk or white)
2 eggs separated
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of fresh chopped mint (recipe says either Morroccan, Spearmint or Curly)
Whipped Cream for Decoration
4 whole mint leaves

Method

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (don't let the water boil and splash into the chocolate (alternatively use a double boiler or a microwave). When smooth and liquid remove from the heat and give it a stir. Beat the egg yolks and add the chocolate whilst it is still hot (this will cook the yolks slightly). Add the Coffee and the chopped mint.

Leave the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes. Beat the egg whites until stiff (but not too stiff) and fold them into the cooling chocolate mix. Spoon into containters. When you are ready to serve put a blob of whipped cream in the middle and garnish with the whole leaves.

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