Presto, pesto: Cooking with fresh mint

Posted: June 27, 2013

MINTED LAMB BURGERS

2 pounds freshly ground lamb

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Olive oil

4 ounces sliced feta

4 brioche buns

4 tablespoons hummus

Lettuce (garnish)

Sliced tomatoes (garnish)

4 tablespoons store-bought fruit chutney

Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Combine lamb, onion, mint, garlic and seasonings in bowl. Shape into 4 to 6 large patties. Brush with olive oil and place on grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side.

After flipping the burgers, top with feta cheese. While cooking, lightly grill buns and spread each bun (top and bottom) with the hummus. When meat reaches desired doneness, remove from heat and serve on brioche buns with lettuce, tomatoes and chutney on the side. Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Chef Jim Coleman, Liberté Lounge, Sofitel

Lamb pairs naturally with sweet and spicy ingredients. Mint Pesto with flaked red chilies and Mint Watermelon Chutney will make this dish a certain success.

LAMB TWO WAYS

Rack of spring lamb

Salt and pepper

Herbes de Provence

Extra-virgin olive oil

Mint Pesto (see recipe below)

Mint Watermelon Chutney (see recipe below)

Red chili pepper flakes

This recipe begins with a rack of spring lamb. French half the rack and separate into two "lollipop chops." Wrap the bones in foil so they won't discolor during cooking. Season with salt and pepper and herbes de Provence and grill. (The lamb will cook quickly so only 2 to 3 minutes per side.)

With the other half-rack, separate the tenderloin from the bone. Season the loin the same as you did the chop, but this time sear the loin with the olive oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

Let both chops and loin rest before plating. Slice the loin into four even slices. Divide and place on two plates with the chops, a serving of chutney and a dollop of pesto.

MINT PESTO

1 tablespoon mint leaves

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 teaspoon almonds

1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic

1 1/2 extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor. Makes 2 servings.

MINT WATERMELON CHUTNEY

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cups seedless watermelon, medium dice

1 tablespoon red onion, small dice

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped

1 tablespoon poblano chiles, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoon Kentucky bourbon

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon cola

1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Salt and pepper

In a large sauté pan coated with vegetable oil, sauté the red onion, ginger, poblano and garlic. Add watermelon for one minute and toss the ingredients together. Add brown sugar, then deglaze with bourbon and lime juice. Add the cola and let cool. Finish with fresh chopped mint, salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.

Source: Chef Michael Luongo, Glenmorgan, Radnor Hotel

CHILLED MINTED

PEA SOUP

4 cups cold purified water

1/4 avocado

3/4 cup raw baby spinach (2 handfuls)

1 garlic clove

2 mint leaves, or more to taste

2 cups fresh or frozen peas

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

Add the purified water and next four ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the peas and a few pinches of salt. Run the blender on high and slowly add extra virgin olive oil until the chilled soup becomes very smooth.

Optional: Garnish with a dash of togarashi spice, lime zest, diced apples and poached lobster or shrimp. Serves 4-6.

Source: Chef de Cuisine Caitlin Mateo, Square 1682

MINT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE FUDGE BROWNIES

For Chocolate Mousse:

1/2 pound semisweet dark chocolate

2 cups heavy cream

1 quart heavy cream

8 yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For fudge brownies:

1/2 pound semisweet dark chocolate

1/2 pound unsalted butter

10 leaves fresh mint

4 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

Salted caramel:

4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon sea salt

For the mousse: First, make a ganache by bringing 2 cups cream to a boil, add a half-pound semisweet dark chocolate into chocolate and stir. Allow to cool.

Using a mixer, mix 4 cups (1 quart) heavy cream, adding a quarter-cup sugar gradually, until soft peaks form. Set aside.

On high speed, mix yolks with remaining half-cup sugar for about 5 minutes. Add the ganache and vanilla. Fold the heavy cream in gently with a rubber spatula.

For the brownies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and a half-pound semisweet dark chocolate in a double boiler. Add the fresh mint. After the butter and chocolate melt, strain the mixture into a bowl.

Whisking by hand, blend 4 eggs with 2 cups white and 1 cup brown sugars and tablespoon of vanilla extract for about 2 minutes, then add the melted chocolate/butter/mint mixture. Fold in flour and salt.

Pour into a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray for 45 minutes, turning the pan in the first half hour. Make brownies one day in advance to make it easy to cut them into small pieces.

For the salted caramel: In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook 4 cups sugar with the quarter-cup water over medium heat until it turns dark caramel in color. Add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream very slowly, stirring to incorporate, while adding the tablespoon of salt. The result will be gooey and easy to drizzle.

To serve: Crumble two brownies and create four alternating layers inside a small jar: brownie, mousse, brownie and mousse. Finish with salted caramel drizzle and garnish with fresh sprig of mint. Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Chef Carlos Aparicio, Zavino

SHRIMP WITH MINT PESTO AND WHITE WINE

1 pound (13 to 15 count) peeled and deveined shrimp

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup dry white wine

6 cups cooked basmati rice

3 bunches washed mint leafs (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 chipotle peppers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

To make the pesto: Put mint, garlic, chipotle peppers, butter, salt and pepper in a food processor. Turn on processor and in a steady stream add oil until ingredients are well incorporated. Makes about two cups.

Melt the tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and cook shrimp over medium-high heat until shrimp are slightly pink. Add 1 cup pesto and wine, and cook until shrimp are cooked through, about two minutes. Serve over warm basmati rice. Serves 6.

Source: John Mims, Carmine's Creole Act II

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