Fresh Mint! Cool!
by Lori Grossman
When the days get longer and the temperature rises so high that you'd swear you're ready to faint, hold on. Think cool thoughts. Include some (home-grown if possible) fresh mint in your menus.
The origins of mint have been lost, with some sources claiming that mint is native to Europe, while others point to the Mediterranean, or the Near East. Whatever its origins may be, today mint is grown around the world. There are more than 25 species of mint and unknown numbers of garden hybrids. Both spearmint and peppermint have naturalized and are found growing wild from Nova Scotia south to Utah, Tennessee, and Florida.
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Growing Your Own
Stuffed ArtichokesA healthy Turkish-style dish that's tasty and is served cold. Perfect for a hot summer day!
Cut off the artichoke stems and outer leaves. Bend back the inner leaves and snap them near the bottom, leaving the fleshy part attached to the base. (The fresher the artichokes, the easier they will snap. Cut the leaves if necessary.) Slice off the innermost leaves just above the base and completely scoop out the fuzzy chokes. As you clean each artichoke, rub it with half a lemon sprinkled with salt to prevent discoloration. Put it in the lemon-flour-water mixture.
For the stuffing, heat the oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onions. Add the nuts and cook until they turn golden, then stir in the rice. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice and sauté for 5 minutes longer. Add 2/3 cup boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the rice is almost tender and the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley, dill, and mint.
Remove the artichokes from the liquid, setting it aside, and stuff them with the rice and nut mixture. Arrange in a single layer in a flameproof casserole dish. Add the reserved lemon-flour-water mixture and 3 tablespoons olive oil, pouring it between the vegetables and the side of the pan.
Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the artichokes. Put a sheet of moistened waxed paper on top and put on the lid. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour. Let cool in the casserole. Lift them out onto a serving platter and serve cold, garnished with lemon slices and dill. Makes 6 servings.
Mint Chocolate CakeA delicious cake with a kiss of mint.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Just before serving, dust top of cake with confectioners' sugar. Garnish with mint flowers. Makes two 9 or 10-inch round cakes, one Bundt cake, or one 9x13-inch cake. Serves 12.
Chocolate Mint Ice CreamIf you're going to overindulge, this is the way to do it.
Beat the egg yolks until light and frothy. Slowly pour in the syrup, beating constantly. Continue to beat until the mixture thickens.
Place the half-and-half and chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the chocolate melts. Heat until the mixture is almost to the boiling point, then remove from the heat and cool the saucepan in a large bowl filled with ice cubes.
Whisk the chocolate and egg mixtures together. Pour into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. To be really decadent, serve with crème de menthe drizzled over the ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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