Peas and Mint

Peas and Mint

Spring has finally sprung here in Minnesota and we seem to be hungry for green…green grass, green leaves and green peas and mint.  I have always been a fan of peas…and as a little girl have fond memories of shelling peas on my grandmother’s back porch, opening each shell in search of green pearl treasure.  I also love the sweetness and crunch of sugar snap peas and I couldn’t make up my mind at the market when I was out on my quest for green stuff for a spring salad, so I had to get both.  I wanted a salad that tasted fresh and bright which calls for a healthy handful of fresh mint .  Here is the salad I came up with to welcome the arrival of spring….

Spring Peas Salad with Mint, Mache, and Sheep Feta

serves 4
1 cup shelled English shell peas, blanched and chilled
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
4 cups fresh mache leaves
1 cup crumbled sheep milk feta cheese
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sprinkle of flake salt
fresh ground black pepper
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Toss the peas, mint, mache, and feta cheese together in a bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients together to make a light vinaigrette and toss with the peas and mache. Divide onto 4 plates and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Salty Tart Bakery

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Last month Betsy Nelson and I had the privilege to shoot some delicious products for the Salty Tart Bakery.  If you haven’t had any of their baked goods visit them at the Midtown Global Market.  It’s a trip you won’t regret.

Exploring Chocolate

Chocolate Testing1715Dark chocolate bar

Chocolate Testing1156Cocoa nib and vanilla bean infused bourbon.

Chocolate Testing1188Chocolate BudiniChocolate Budini

We love chocolate.  What can we say.  So our culinary explorations involved chocolate of different sorts.  We were inspired by a recipe posted by Boozed and Infused.  So we picked up a nice  bourbon from Buffalo Trace and infused it with cocoa nibs and vanilla bean. Allowing the flavors to meld for about a week, the resulting ambrosia is ready to sip, drizzle over ice cream or pour into a cup of coffee.

From there we moved on to budini baked chocolate pudding. A perfect dessert with a warm molten center to go with our infused bourbon.

Meyer Lemons

Dreamed I was an eskimo
Frozen wind began to blow
Under my boots and around my toes
The frost that bit the ground below
It was a hundred degrees below zero…
And my mama cried
And my mama cried Nanook,
a-no-no Nanook,
a-no-no Don’t be a naughty eskimo
Save your money, don’t go to the show
Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said oh, oh oh
Well I turned around and I said ho, ho
And the northern lights commenced to glow
And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow
-Frank Zappa
(thanks so much for that inspiration, Frank!)

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It was not quite a hundred below zero, but pretty cold, even by Minnesota standards. So, when it’s twenty below and you have cabin fever the very best solution is to bundle up and make some yellow snow.  And by that I mean Meyer Lemon snow cones.

Meyer lemons are one of my favorite citrus fruits, so when they are in season I celebrate their flavor in just about anything I am making, using them for  drinks,  salad dressings,  marinades and baked goods. Their flavor is very fragrant and  tastes sweeter than a regular lemon.  It is important to use the zest as well as the juice as the zest is the part of the lemon with the most aromatic qualities. Grated Meyer lemon zest added to a simple sugar cookie recipe completely elevates the simple to spectacular.    Thinly sliced Meyers arranged over a roasted chicken makes a comfort meal a little more special.  So, be inspired by the flavor of the Meyer lemon by smelling and tasting it and adding it to your favorite recipes.  

I had happened to have an excess of Meyer lemons leftover from a photo shoot, so decided to make a quick Meyer lemon syrup, and since there was plenty of snow on the ground that was clean and white (I carefully avoided the snow where the huskies go…) snow cones were the perfect treat for a winter day.  (When in Minnesota, don’t fight the winter…embrace it! )  Anyway, making the syrup is very simple…in fact it is basically a simple syrup, using equal parts of lemon juice and granulated sugar and the zest of the lemons used for the juice.  
 
Meyer Lemon Syrup
makes about 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
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Combine the juice and sugar together in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat while stirring just to simmer, and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest.  Allow to cool at room temperature for at least a couple hours.  Then strain out the zest and transfer the syrup to a bottle and cover and store in the refrigerator.  The syrup will last at least 2 weeks stored in the refrigerator and is great added to cocktails, fizzy water, poured over ice cream, yoghurt, shaved ice, or snow!
 

If you don’t have a supply of fresh snow use shaved or crushed ice.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners to contain the snow or ice and drizzle with the Meyer lemon syrup.  If you want to make boozy snow shots, use Meyer Lemon limoncello

lemons

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I still found myself with more Meyer lemons we decided to whip up some Meyer Lemon Macarons.  I had looked through several recipes and ended up using one we found on Food 52.  We ended up cutting the recipe in half because we really didn’t think we would end up consuming them in a short amount of time,and since French macarons are really best when consumed within a couple of days.  One thing we learned is that they are much better when filled and then stored for at least a few hours before consuming, which makes the meringue part less crumbly and brittle. The Meyer lemon curd for filling will also keep at least a week in the refrigerator, and the meringues will keep for at least a week if you store them in a well sealed container.  The Meyer lemon curd is also delicious spread on toast or shortbread or swirled into vanilla Greek yoghurt or whipped cream. 

We have been totally enjoying citrus season.  Tom has been making marmalade with Seville oranges and blood oranges.  I have been loving adding Meyer lemons and Kefir limes to salad dressings and drinks.  What are your favorite ways to celebrate the fresh and uplifting flavors of citrus?