Saturday, July 11, 2009

Green With Envy

Other than those that are green, the array of the colorful produce available for my gastronomic enjoyment is surely gaining an inferiority complex.   It seems every time I reach for my apron, I am getting ready to prepare something green!

Before I move on to the rest of the colors that the summer has to offer, I wanted to share with you the recipes that have gotten all the other vegetables so riled up.  

I have a very small garden outside my kitchen door where each year I grow tomatoes, various herbs, mint and basil.  My basil plants are so full and bushy that I took the opportunity to make pesto.  In my opinion, there is nothing more tasty,  versatile and screams summer like bright green basil pesto.   Toss with pasta or drizzle over slices of toasted baguette to nibble on while you enjoy a refreshing glass of wine on a warm summer evening.  

Basil Pesto

  • 4 cups basil leaves/washed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts/toasted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan/grated
  • 2 garlic cloves/minced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Puree all ingredients in a food processor, add more olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
Peas...every kids nemesis come dinner time.  Unless of course they've had them fresh out of the garden. Fresh from the garden and prepared properly these emerald gems are hard for anyone to refuse.  Thankfully Chef Dale Hawkins reminded me of my love for fresh peas when he sent me a bag full of them on a recent CSA delivery.  After I spent a bit of time coaxing all of them from their delightful pods, I enjoyed them in Chef Hawkins recipe for Fresh Pea Salad.

Fresh Pea Salad

Ingredients Mint Dressing:
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cup dried dates, pitted
  • 1/2 small serrano chile, stem removed
  • juice and zest of one lemon
Directions Mint Dressing:
  • Puree mint, dates, chilies, and lemon jusice and zest in a food processor or blender.  You can thin this out to desired consistency by adding water a little at a time.  
Ingredients Salad:
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 1 small head romaine or mixed lettuces cut into shreds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • fine grain sea salt
Directions Salad:
  • Cook peas in salted boiling water for approximately 20 seconds, the key is to not overcook them.  Immediately after cooking, submerge them in an ice bath.  When ready to serve, toss the peas, lettuce and pumpkin seeds together with 1/2 of the mint dressing and salt to taste.
Anyone who grows mint in their garden is undoubtedly left scratching their head each summer wondering what they are going to make with the abundance of mint that has threatened to take over their garden.  Wonder no more!  Try this refreshing mint tea recipe I recently found in Gourmet magazine.  It's a little work, but well worth it!

Mint Tea

2 quarts of water
10 mint sprigs, leaves pulled off and cleaned
1/2 cup sugar

Bring water, mind, and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.  Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher, pressing on and then discarding mint.

~~Joy Bell

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Gingersnap Day

Today is National Gingersnap Day and the perfect opportunity to share with you one of the best gingersnap recipes I've ever come across.  I fell in love with this recipe while visiting a bed and breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina with my husband.  They were set out for guests in the afternoon and when I bit into one, I was immediately reminded of my grandmother and her daily afternoon ritual.  Each afternoon around 1 p.m. she would make a cup of hot tea and enjoy it quietly with a few gingersnaps. I’d watch her dip them into her tea and then let them melt in her mouth. Following in her footsteps, that is precisely how I now enjoy my gingersnaps (or my tea- depending on how you look at it). The gingersnap recipe at the Red Rocker Inn brought me such wonderful memories that I couldn't leave without it so I asked the owner if she would share it with me. She was kind enough to say yes!  I've made them several times and enjoy them especially during the holidays but regardless of when I've made them, I have never been disappointed! These are fantastic gingersnaps and when you eat them it's possible you just might feel like you had an English grandmother too!---Joy Bell

Red Rocker Inn Gingersnaps


 12 tablespoons margarine
 2 cups sugar
 2 eggs
 ½ cup molasses
 3 ¾ cup flour
 2 teaspoons baking soda
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
 2 teaspoons cloves
 2 teaspoons ginger


 Cream margarine and sugar together
 Beat in eggs
 Add molasses and sifted dry ingredients
 Mix well
 Roll into 1” balls dip in granulated sugar
 Place on greased cookie pan and bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes

Note: Since this recipe is from a bed and breakfast, it makes 85 cookies! Often times I’ll cut it in half, unless of course I’m making it for large groups.

~~Joy Bell