Tag Archives: mint

Shallot Yogurt Dip

The Consortium for Making Yogurt Dangerously Delicious

Yes, it’s an actual consortium.  I started it as an excuse to convince myself that anything that I put greek yogurt on is immediately transformed into food that is healthy and restorative.  I’m about to test my theory on a gyro platter with extra french fries.

This recipe is for days when tzatziki is far too great a challenge for you.  Not that tzatziki is all that hard to make, but when I have even less in the fridge than I need for that, I turn to this shallot yogurt. Worst case scenario, I’ll used dried mint and *cringe* dried parsley to make it happen and never look back. If you DO have fresh mint and parsley, though, this one is beyond a delight, providing refreshing coolness to whatever you deign to serve with it. Continue reading Shallot Yogurt Dip

Israeli Cucumber Salad

Cooler Than a Fucking…Well, You Know

This salad is too cool for school – it just stares you down like it’s the reason that your life is spectacular and you should adore it as such.  The recipe is wicked simple – just a little chopping and a light vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice to hold it all together.  It’s versatility, though, is the selling point – meaning that you can serve it with any and all things grilled or top it with feta or mix in some orzo and BAM BOOM, you’ve got yourself a new dish and a new recipe to save for the treasure trove.  Don’t thank me – thank the Olive Tree Cafe for the inspiration.  They hooked me on the stuff and I had to craft a similar recipe for myself. Continue reading Israeli Cucumber Salad

Lemony Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint)

One of my absolute favorite aspects of food blogging is being able to float down the rabbit hole (a la Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and not the more macabre connotations of the expression) of food histories.  Maybe I get the desire from my mother, an expert etymologist and language expert.  Or from my father, the history buff with a memory like a steel trap for facts and figures of all kinds.  For whatever reason, I seem to approach all of my posts similarly – dig through my personal recipe book for dishes that I’ve been cooking for years, wade through the memories that accompany them, and then circle back on the actual history and general origins of the dish.  It always leads me to these tangential thoughts that are as much a delight for me as I hope they are for you, dear reader. Continue reading Lemony Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint)

Simple Tabbouleh

Despite my undying love for New York City and all of its glories, I hate that sunshine there is at a premium.  With much of the year swathed in gray, there’s something endlessly appealing about the 364 days of sunshine that Phoenix has to offer.  I’ll probably never truly fit in here on the left coast (I’m an out-and-out East coast ex-pat, who bleeds 100% DC love when cut), but lemme just say that when Cali kids speak of their junkie-esque need for light on the regular, I kind of get it.  My move out here to the lawless desert has provided me with blissful sunshine and true blue skies that could cure the seasonally depressed in an instant, and I’m totally hooked.

Nothing speaks more to my adjustment to the bright perfection out here in AZ than my urges to whip up all sorts of cold salads.  From chilled pastas and crisp veggies sopping up vinaigrettes, to a simple toss of fresh berries, splashes of liquer and a chiffonade of mint, these chilled dishes keep my kitchen cool and my mood light.  Tabbouleh is a favorite of mine – this herby salad is a quick accompaniment to grilled meats, a homey companion on a mezze platter of hummus and olives, or a throw together potluck favorite that pairs up with any and everything on the buffet line.  Best of all, it’s a throw-together dish that is forgiving in terms of time – you can prep it ahead or even serve it right away.  Arabic for “little spicy,” tabbouleh is the marriage of tart, spicy, savory and sweet – all that you want for a cool summer supper. Continue reading Simple Tabbouleh

Crostini di Fave (Fava Bean Crostini)

Foodbuzz 24 x 24 | An Ode to Orvieto

This recipe was a part of a special menu for Foodbuzz’s June 2011 food blogger party, 24×24.  Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period.  Read more about my meal along with all of the other recipes at An Ode to Orvieto.

Although I was first truly introduced to them in Italy, the lovely fava bean is wordly in all senses of the word.  Burgeoning natively in Asia and North Africa, and found in gardens just about everywhere else, the fava (or broad bean) serves as a tender, meaty bean that can be transformed into all sorts of loveliness.  I first tucked into them as a part of a simple appetizer in Orvieto, Italy.  We had started going to this restaurant in town that we referred to lovingly as “The Italian Pottery Barn” – aside from the menu outside and the screamingly tasty smells coming from the kitchen, one would think that they were shopping for glassware and rustic furniture over a delicious bite.  This dish, comprised of creamy fava beans slathered over crisp toast and topped with curls of pecorino romano, was the perfect opening to some of the most gorgeous farm-fresh meals I’ve eaten in Orvieto.  I remember the first time I tried these babies, my friend told me that she would never try them because typically people with fava bean allergies tend to die the very first time they tried them. She explained that she didn’t want to take a chance, all the while I nodded my head as I tucked in to the most perfect fava bean puree dressed with fruity, local olive oil. Her loss – more for me.

This recipe is sometimes served rather chunkily, but I first had it as a smooth, almost hummus-like spread.  Some folks make it with a heavy kick of garlic or basil, but the way I had it, the seasonings were mild, allowing the fava beans to shine.  The best thing you can do is get the tastiest olive oil to drizzle, your favorite bread for toast points (I love a good ciabatta) and the most savory, nutty pecorino you can find.  Then, with a minimal amount of cooking, you can relish in the the joy of the fabulous fava bean.

Crostini di Fave (Fava Bean Crostini)

1 loaf of ciabatta, sliced into 1 inch ovals
1 clove of garlic
olive oil

1 lbs. of unshelled fava beans
juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly-squeezed
4 tbs. of white balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. of olive oil
2 cl. of garlic
3 sprigs of parsley, leaves removed and stems discarded (save stems for stock)
4 sprig of mint
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of black pepper

pecorino romano

Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and toast until golden and crisp.  Rub the warm slices with the clove of garlic and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Remove the fava beans from their husks and drop into the water.  Drain and cool under running water.  Remove the beans from their outer white membrane – you’ll have two split bean halves that’ll come out of the husk.  Drop the fava beans, lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Slather a few tablespoons of the fava bean puree on the toasts and shave pecorino romano over the top.  Drizzle with a good olive oil and serve.

Strawberries with Elderflower and Mint

I adore putting together a menu, but like a grocery shopper entering the store with a rumbling tummy, I find that I often set myself up for a challenge.  Between my need to feed my guests with reckless abandon, to a love of a seemingly daunting menu, I face the issue of running out of steam.  Couple that with my lack of prowess in the realm of desserts, I find that many of my menus end up being a bit front-loaded in terms of the serious cooking.  Which is why, lovely readers, I am a sucker for a dessert that is simple to prepare, with a heavy dose of wow factor.

Summertime on the east coast (or pretty much anytime on the west coast – you guys have easy access to berries!) always meant an abundance of ripe strawberries just begging to be picked up and taken home.  In my house growing up, we always kept it simple – cut the tops, halve the berries and toss with a few teaspoons of sugar.  As the berries hung out, they’d give off the most lovely scarlet juice, which we then used to sauce the little shortcakes you could pick up in the produce section of the store.  A little whipped cream, and we were in business. Continue reading Strawberries with Elderflower and Mint

Swiss Chard Dolmades

Recently, my good friend Joey (owner of Maple Ave Restaurant in Virginia – if you haven’t eaten there yet and are near by, shut down your computer and go right now.  Or at least bring this with you on a laptop and get someone to drive you there) posed the question on her Facebook page “What’s your favorite Fall vegetable?”  I was completely in line with people’s responses of pumpkin and squash.  I even gave a silent nod, though no one mentioned it, to artichokes (oft thought of as a Spring veggie, artichokes actually love the cold).  But my answer, which came with not a moment’s hesitation, was swiss chard.

These noble leaves are the kings of greenery in my book – tender yet hearty, and full of earthy flavor that so much more refined than spinach.  Members of the beet family, the stalks vary in shade from paperwhite to golden and garnet (just as you’d see of beets in the market).  While I typically love my chard sautéed simply with olive oil and garlic, or luxuriously bathed in locatelli, cream and melted shallots, the leaves are so versatile, you can work them into pretty unique formats.  This recipe not only showcases the greens, but also leverages their quick cooking time.  Typical dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, involve a lot of soaking and braising of the leaves to coax them into tenderness.  Swiss chard needs no such thing – just a quick dip in some boiling hot water to make them pliant, and a short cooking time of a mere half an hour.  Something to think about during the week when extra time is at a premium (“What? The Office is about to start?  Let me hurry up and finish cooking already…”)

These dolmades are made with ground lamb and rice, but feel free to replace the lamb with beef for simplicity, or leave the meat out entirely and make a batch with just rice and herbs.    I top the leaves with an Avoglomeno sauce that’s adapted from Greek queen of chefs, Cat Cora.  It’s a luscious blend of eggs, lemon and dill and is equally devourable hot or cold, and just elevated the dolmades to a whole ‘nother level.

UPDATE: For a kickass vegetarian filling, check out this recipe over at My Darling Lemon Thyme.  It’ll have you praising Spring for being one of the sexiest seasons around.

Let’s get crackin…

Recipe for

Swiss Chard Dolmades

1 bunch of swiss chard leaves (about 12-15 individual stalks)
1 lb. of ground lamb
1 c. of instant rice
1 tbs. of dried mint (can use fresh)
1 c. of onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp of olive oil
1 can of chicken broth

4 large eggs
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp. of pepper
1 tsp of dill
scant pinch of salt

Set a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  While that is coming up to temperature, make your filling.

In a large bowl with your hands (or gently with a stand mixer) mix the beef, onion, mint, rice, pepper, salt and olive oil.  Make sure to combine all ingredients but not overmix.  Set aside.

Prepare your swiss chard leaves by cutting out the fibrous middle stem while keeping the rest of the leaf intact.  Set aside.  Once your water is boiling, take the leaves, one at a time, and plunk them into the boiling water for 1-2 seconds and then remove them to a plate.  Since we are not shocking them with a cold water bath after removing them from the hot water, the leaves will continue to cook a bit as they cool.  This is perfect for getting them pliant.  After you’ve cooked all of the leaves, set up a station where you can roll the dolmades.  On a clean cutting board, place a leaf flatly on the surface and add a heaping tablespoon of meat filling.  Fold the two sides of the leaf in over the filling and roll the whole thing up like the world’s smallest burrito.  Place the stuffed chard in a 13x9x2 pan, seam side down.  Repeat with remaining leaves until you run out of filling.

Pour a can of chicken broth over the leaves and cover with foil.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the leaves are tender and half of the stock has been absorbed.  Remove from the oven and let sit.

In a mixing bowl with egg beaters or a stand mixer, beat the eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and dill until frothy and pale golden.  Continuing to beat the mixture the whole time, carefully pour in the remaining chicken broth from the pan of dolmades.  Make sure to do this slowly, or you’ll have lemon flavored scrambled eggs instead of a smooth sauce.  Once it is all incorporated, pour the mixture into a sauce pan and turn the heat to medium.  Continue to whisk the sauce until it thickens enough to  coat the back of the spoon.  Pour sauce over your dolmades.

Serve them immediately as a hot dish, or let rest to room temperature or even cool as a variation.  These little guys are good every which way.

Nyquil-Induced Trishy Lou Brownies

Say, What’s in These Brownies? Um, Deliciousness…

Nyquil brownies…yeah, I said it.  You look a little sick and also a little skinny, so I thought I would do you a favor.  You’re welcome.

This recipe is actually a hack of the clutch recipe of my best friend Kate’s mom’s brownie recipe, combined with the idea of Nyquil Brownies as featured on Bittersweet Blog.  Let me tell you this, if ever there were two recipes that were meant to be combined, it’s these two.  I stumbled upon the Nyquil Brownie recipe on FoodBuzz and laughed my ass off – they were touted as a way to get rid of unwanted house guests, but for me, they proved a way to get rid of the noxious green swill in my medicine cabinet.  I hate that shit with a passion and yet it still ends up next to the Mucinex every winter.  WTF, Nyquil?  Bittersweet has you whip up a lovely cheesecake topping for boxed brownie mix, and spikes the creamy goodness with a shot of the mint Nyquil.  Genius, I thought, and I immediately tucked the recipe away.

Nyquil Brownie © Spice or Die

Though I’m no baker, I recently fell in love with Pat O’Malley’s super fudgy, failproof brownie recipe.  They taste like gourmet, are easier than box brownies and satisfy an addict’s level of chocolate craving.  I don’t know why I just thought of the song Constant Craving, but if K.D. Lang came over, I’d serve these brownies.  But I digress – these brownies deserved some sort of crowning glory, and I decided what-the-hell, how about Bittersweet’s Nyquil topping.

I liken them to Thin Mints in taste.  The hubby said they remind him of Andes Mints.  I didn’t really get a definitive response from my other buddies munching with me other than “mmmmmmmm”.  Best of all, they didn’t make us sleepy so much as blissfully happy that we thought to put all of the goodness together in a pan.  So I’m sorry if you’re looking for a way to kick people out of your house – this doesn’t seem to work as quickly as I had hoped.  But it does seem to work to make some culinary excellence, so I’m fucking fine with it.

The cream cheese topping was thick for me, so rather than bake in a rectangular pan, I cooked mine in a 9 in. round pan (3 in. tall) just like a cake.  This works REALLY well and looks gorgeous when you cut into it – like a giant chocolate mint cheesecake.  If, however, you’d like to go with traditional brownie squares, use a 13×9 pan and cut the cooking time down a bit to keep the brownies moist – about 10 minutes.

Nyquil-Induced Trishy Lou Brownies

1 package cream cheese softened
1/2 c. of sugar
1 egg
1 shot of green Nyquil (or 1 tbs. of creme de menthe, or 1 tsp of peppermint extract plus 4 drops of green food coloring)

1 stick plus 3 tbs. of butter (11 tbs.)
4 oz. of baking chocolate (4 squares)
1 1/3 c. of flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 tsp. of vanilla
1 tsp. of peppermint extract
4 eggs
2 c. of sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Using a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer and a bowl), cream together the sugar, cream cheese and Nyquil (or mint flavor of choice) until smooth.  Add egg and blend until creamy.  Set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, add butter and then the chocolate on top.  Microwave until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes) in 30 second intervals, taking mixture out to stir in between.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar over the melted chocolate.  Stir.  Add the vanilla, peppermint extract and eggs and stir.  Do not overmix.

Pour brownie batter into a buttered (or cooking sprayed) 9 in. round baking pan.  Pour the cream cheese mixture on top and spread evenly to cover the brownie batter.  Bake for 45 minutes until the edges are cooked through and the middle of the brownies are just set.  When cooled, cut into wedges and serve.