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March 2009 Issue
Mint
by J. Sinclair
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There's not a lot of reason for mint to be so strongly associated with Ireland and St. Patrick's Day. Maybe it's the bright green color and the freshness is brings to dishes featuring it. Whatever the reason, adding a little mint to your table is likely to add a touch of spring and this festive holiday to your home.

Peppermint produces deeply notched lance-shaped glossy green leaves on square stems that offer a sharp minty fragrance and a matching flavor. A cool and refreshing taste, this revitalizing herb can be quite penetrating. It grows prolifically in the summer and can be a fun addition to a garden, provided it is pruned regularly. Many gardeners will keep it separated from other plants to keep it from over-running gardens.

Peppermint adds a refreshing flavor to beverages, vinegar, marinades, vegetables, julep, syrups, candies, sauces, fruit salads and desserts. Pair it with lamb, seafood and meats. Finely chopped leaves give hot chocolate a flavor twist. Make a spunky tasting tea, hot or cold, that's popular in Arab countries. Flavor jellies and liqueurs with mint leaves. It can also be used as an attractive garnish. Before I leave you for the month, I'm going to share a couple recipes featuring the flavor of mint. Enjoy!

 

Mojito

  • 3 mint sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Soda water
  • Juice of 1 lime (1 oz.)
  • 3 oz. light rum
  • Additional mint sprigs for garnish
Muddle the mint and sugar with a splash of soda water in a large mixing glass until the sugar dissolves and you smell mint. Squeeze the lime into the glass. Add the rum and shake with ice. Strain over the cracked ice in a tall glass. Top with soda water and garnish with additional mint sprigs.
  • Yields: 1 serving
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
 

 

Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 45 round swirled peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Attach the bowl to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar, extracts, and eggs; mix on medium-low speed until combined. Reduce the speed to low; mix in the flour mixture. Stir in one-third of the candies. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes (or wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight).

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, form mounds of dough; dip the tops into the remaining candies to coat. Place the cookies, candy sides up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until just set, about 15 minutes. Let them cool on the sheets on wire racks. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

  • Yields: 3 dozen
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour
 



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