Tag Archives: mint

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup with Fresh Mint

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Desserts….oh, how I love them!  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, layer cakes with buttercream frosting, chocolate walnut brownies – I could go on.

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But I also love very simple, no-bake desserts, especially as summer comes around.

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These strawberries fit that bill.  It is likely the simplest dessert you’ll ever make.  It’s not so much a recipe, as a simple preparation of a few good, fresh ingredients.

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Use the freshest, ripest strawberries you can find and toss with fresh lemon juice and sugar.  As it sits, the strawberry juices release to form a syrup along with the lemon and sugar.

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To serve, top with créme fraîche, the tang of which pairs nicely with the sweet syrup, then sprinkle with fresh herbs like mint and/or basil.

It is the perfect end to a summer barbecue, when everyone is quite full, but that sweet tooth is saying “feed me”.  And it honestly could not be any easier!

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1 year ago:  Avgolemono Soup

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup with Fresh Mint (serves 4)

Note:  Fresh basil is also nice with this dish; or do a mixture of mint and basil.

14 ounces (400 grams or about 3 cups) strawberries

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons créme fraîche or sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


Using a small paring knife, hull the strawberries.  That is, remove the stem and hard white core.  Quarter the strawberries or if they are small, just cut in half.

Place in a medium bowl and gently stir with the sugar and lemon juice.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Spoon strawberries and syrup in four small bowls.  Top each with a dollop of creme fraiche (about 1 tablespoon per bowl) and sprinkle with fresh mint (about 1/2 tablespoon per bowl).

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Watermelon Slushie

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Freezing watermelon may be my favorite food discovery of the year!  I don’t know how many times I’ve bought a whole watermelon and unless we’re entertaining a crowd, after 3 days of sliced watermelon with dinner we have all hit the wall.  Then I still have at big chunk of watermelon taking up valuable fridge space and after a few days it’s gone off and it’s in the bin.  And have I mentioned how I hate throwing food away?

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Well, no more.  Freeze that leftover watermelon (or after tasting this slushie you may start buying watermelon just to freeze it!).  Cut the melon into chunks (I do roughly 1″), place in a zipper freezer bag and lay in the freezer.  Takes at least 4 hours to freeze, overnight is best, and then it’ll keep for at least a month.

The best part about having frozen watermelon is that you can easily whip up summer of 2015’s favorite drink – watermelon slushies!!  I can’t tell you how refreshing and delicious and addicting these are.  No more slushies with the colored syrup from the fair.  It’s just watermelon, fresh mint leaves, fresh lime juice and a bit of honey.  The watermelon has lots of water and is frozen, so no need to add ice, so you have pure, undiluted watermelon loveliness.

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This next paragraph is for the serious food geeks out there, so if you don’t fall into that category, feel free to skip to the following paragraph.  For such a simple recipe (4 ingredients, one step) it did take a lot of fiddling to get it right.  First, I started with frozen watermelon and added water (if you use all frozen watermelon it’s too thick – more like sorbet – which isn’t bad, but most blenders won’t be able to handle it) but it was too diluted and didn’t taste like much.  Then I started playing around with various degrees of watermelon frozen-ness, but that seemed like a big pain to have to prepare the slushy at that one moment in time with perfect frozen-ness.  I also toyed with adding cucumber, but it didn’t add anything.  A brainstorm came and I thought to combine frozen and fresh and after playing around with a few different ratios I got it right at 2/3 frozen to 1/3 fresh.

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If you want to get even crazier, put the slushies in small cups and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight and you’ll have watermelon ice!  A healthier alternative to ice cream.  So many options with this recipe.  Now for my next food exploration….freezing strawberries and mixing in a food processor with a bit of cream to make quick strawberry ice cream.  Will keep you posted!

Watermelon Slushie (serves 2)

Note:  A medium-size watermelon will make about a dozen slushies, so you need less than a quarter of a melon to make this recipe.  If you are making more than 2 slushies, don’t double/triple/quadruple the recipe as that amount probably won’t fit in your blender.  Follow the recipe as is and just keep making more batches.  To freeze the melon, cut into chunks and place in a zipper freezer bag.  Lay bag flat in freezer, trying to get watermelon into a single layer, and leave overnight or 4 hours minimum, in order to ensure fully frozen.  If you want to prepare slushies ahead of time, pour into glasses and place in the refrigerator up to an hour before serving.  After one hour it’ll still taste delicious, but loses the slushiness.  Also, for happy hour feel free to stir in a nip of vodka.

2/3 lb (300 g) frozen seedless watermelon chunks (see Note above) – about 2 heaping cups

1/3 lb (150 g) seedless watermelon chunks (regular…not frozen) – about 1 heaping cup

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

5-10 mint leaves, torn in small pieces

1/2 tablespoon honey (depending on watermelon sweetness, may need to add more)


Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine.  Depending on quality of blender (mine isn’t the best), you may need to alternate pulsing the blender with giving the ingredients a good stir with the handle of a long spoon to ensure everything gets blended properly.

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Shaved Asparagus and Mint Salad

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Spring is in the air and fresh asparagus is once again in the markets.  Yes, it’s available year-round, but nothing beats freshly picked.  Buy it from your local farmer’s market, if possible, as asparagus contains sugars that turn to starch once it leaves the ground.  The sooner you eat it (and how could you allow a beautiful bunch of asparagus to sit around?), the better.

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When selecting asparagus, look for bright green color and a tip that is tightly packed with a dark green or slightly purplish color.  Thick or thin, it doesn’t matter.  However do snap off any tough, woody ends: bend the spear and it should snap where the woody bit begins.

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Enough with Asparagus 101, on to the eating.

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Once spring hits I’m done with the heavy, baked comfort food of winter and ready for something crisp, crunchy and cold.  This gorgeous salad ticks all those boxes.  There’s the sweet taste of asparagus, shaved into thin strips, coated with a lively vinaigrette and tossed with roasted nuts for a bit of crunch as well as parmesan for a bit of saltiness and fresh mint, because who doesn’t like fresh mint?

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So step away from the oven and get spring started with this brilliant raw salad.

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Shaved Asparagus and Mint Salad (serves 4 as a side dish)

Note:  Thicker asparagus spears are easier to shave, so go for thicker asparagus as opposed to thinner, if you have the choice.  If you don’t have sherry vinegar substitute 1 tablespoon sherry plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.  Also, if you enjoy the concept of the shaved asparagus salad, feel free to play around with different vinaigrettes.   A roasted garlic vinaigrette would be nice or a classic French vinaigrette.

1 pound (450 grams) asparagus

1/4 cup (35 grams) toasted hazelnuts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (see Note above)

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese


Rinse asparagus then break off any tough, woody ends using the snap method.  That is, hold the asparagus and bend at the end until it snaps off.  The woody bit should snap off and you’re left with nice, tender asparagus.  Shave asparagus using a vegetable peeler, rotating asparagus as you peel so all sides get peeled (otherwise you end up with a wider flat piece as opposed to skinnier pieces).

Rub off as much of the dark outer peel of the hazelnuts that you can (if some won’t rub off, don’t worry).  Using the blunt end of a meat cleaver, crush the hazelnuts.

In a medium bowl combine the asparagus, hazelnuts and mint.

In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar and honey.  Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form a vinaigrette.  Pour over the asparagus and mix with salt and pepper to taste.  Shave parmesan cheese on top (I use a vegetable peeler to make large curls).

Adapted from Meatballs&Milkshakes on Food52

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Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways

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Tis the season!  There’s nothing I enjoy more at this time of year than jamming the holiday tunes and baking cookies while a chilly wind blows outside.  Speaking of Xmas tunes, I’ve got a sweet playlist this year – Straight No Chaser “Christmas Cheers”, She & Him “A Very She & Him Christmas”, Ella Fitzgerald “A Swinging Christmas”, Johnny Cash “The Classic Christmas Album”, Willie Nelson “Pretty Paper” and finally “Soul Christmas”.

Baking cookies is a ritual I’ve enjoyed with my mom and Grandma since I was little.  I can even prove it:  hanging in my hallway is a pic of my brothers, Grandma and me baking away when we were probably 2, 4 and 6!  Now the tradition continues as I bake with my two daughters (and will be soon baking with my mom in a few weeks!!!).  So with all the holiday craziness, and we have it x2 as we celebrate Chanukah as well, I still set aside time for at least one cookie-baking day (or at least cram it in after school!).

I started making Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways because I thought it time that I get my own annual Christmas cookie since my mom has our family’s cookie repertoire down-pat.  I didn’t have to look any further than double – chocolate – mint!!!!  This is a tender, shortbread-like cookie – a “meltaway” – coated with white chocolate then dipped in dark chocolate with a final drizzle of dark chocolate for good measure.  They’re quite rich, so I like that they are little bites.

The recipe makes a lot – almost 4 dozen cookies.  So plenty extra to give as gifts!  Or if you’re like my household, plenty to last through the weekend.  Oh well, we’ll just have to make a second batch for gifts.  I’ll start jamming the tunes.

Double Chocolate Mint Meltaways (makes about 48 cookies)

Note:  You may need to adjust the amount of peppermint extract.  When I made these cookies in the States they tasted mintier, which leads me to believe that not all mint extracts are created equal.  Best to start out with less and taste test to see if you want more.  The cookies should have a subtle mint flavor – not shamrock shake level.

Cookies:

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar

2 cups (250 grams) plain, all-purpose flour plus extra for coating the fork

White chocolate ganache:

5 tablespoons heavy, double or whipping cream

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 ounces (200 grams) white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dark chocolate ganache:

7 ounces (200 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract


Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C).   In an electric mixer cream the butter, vanilla extract and mint extract until light, about 3-5 minutes.  Beat in the sugar only until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat in half of the flour only until combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Stir in the remaining flour using a spatula or wooden spoon (dough will seem dry but keep mixing – it will come together).  Roll dough into small balls (if you have a scale and are as anal as I am, 10 grams is a good size per cookie).  Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with baking (parchment) paper (alternately you can grease the cookie sheet, though it’s not as effective).  Dip a fork in flour, shake off any excess, then press down on dough ball to flatten it to about 2″ (5 cm) diameter.  Bake until just beginning to brown at the edges, about 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the tray, then remove to a wire rack or a piece of baking paper on a flat surface.

While cookies are baking make the white chocolate ganache.  Bring cream and butter to simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.  Add white chocolate and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the mint extract.  Transfer the ganache to a small bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to spread (should be consistency of lemon curd), about 15 minutes.

Spread ganache on the flat side of the cookie (not the side with the fork marks).  Set cookies with white chocolate ganache facing up, on a cookie sheet lined with baking (parchment paper) or foil. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.

Melt dark chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Carefully remove dark chocolate from over the water (steam can be very hot).  Stir in the mint extract.

Dip one end of a cookie into the dark chocolate ganache.  Gently shake cookie to remove excess chocolate.  Place cookie with white chocolate ganache facing down back on the same cookie sheet.  When all cookies have been dipped, using a spoon drizzle excess chocolate over the fork-pressed side of the cookies.  You will probably have leftover dark chocolate ganache (the recipe makes more than you’ll need so it’s deep enough for dipping).  Chill until all chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.  Remove cookies from cookie sheet, place in an airtight container or two and refrigerate for up to two weeks.  Cookies can be eaten chilled or let sit out about 10 minutes at room temperature.

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Pomegranate Mint Crostini

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Today was the first of two Holiday Appetizers cooking classes in my Two Aprons kitchen, otherwise known as my London basement.  The classes are such a joy to teach – I can’t believe I get to cook and talk about food for two hours straight!  On the menu were Pear Ginger Toddies (good way to start off the class, especially as some were nursing colds and it was dark, drizzly and chilly outside), Spinach Bars, Spiced Mixed Nuts, Garlicky Bean Dip with Baked Pita Chips, Smoked Mackerel Endive Boats, Strawberry “Santa Hat” Brownie Bites and last, but not least, festive Pomegranate Mint Crostini.

Crostini is a blank canvas.  Top it with whatever bits and bobs lurk in your kitchen.  Have a day (or two) old baguette? Slice it, brush with olive oil, toast in the oven and it’s ready to be topped.  Leftover grilled vegetables in the fridge?  Smear the crostini with goat cheese, top with the veg and drizzle with balsamic.  Puree frozen peas to make a pea “pesto” and top with sliced cherry tomatoes and freshly shaved Parmesan.  But when it’s the holiday season, nothing makes a more festive topper than the red pomegranate and green mint.

Pomegranate seeds are gorgeous and good for you, but a pain-in-the-neck to remove.  Luckily I recently discovered a new genius technique for extracting them.  It’s from Sami Tamimi, a London chef who is part of the Ottolenghi deli, cookbook and restaurant group.  Basically you cut the pomegranate in half, then holding the pomegranate in your hand, cut-side facing down, you spank it with a wooden spoon (so cruel!) and slowly but surely the seeds come out with minimal peel/membrane.  Give it a try; more detailed instructions are in the Note following the recipe below.

Try Pomegranate Mint Crostini out this holiday season.  And don’t forget the bubbly…..

Pomegranate Mint Crostini (makes 24 crostini)

Note:  Cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.  Pomegranate can be seeded up to 4 days ahead of time, just keep refrigerated in an airtight container or zippered bag.

24 baguette slices, about ½”/1 cm thick (1 baguette will be plenty)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup (75 grams) ricotta cheese, stirred

3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (see Note above for instructions on how to remove seeds)

2 tablespoons fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon honey


Preheat the oven to 375º F (190º C).  Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking tray.  You may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your tray.  Brush each slice lightly with olive oil and toast until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Rotate tray halfway through baking if your oven tends to bake unevenly.  Let cool.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with about ½ tablespoon of ricotta.  Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sliced mint, drizzle with honey and serve.

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