Tag Archives: mint

thai turkey burgers

13 Feb

Healthy cooking has never been my forte. I am capable of eating a pat of butter with no bread. I’ll lick the mayonnaise spoon. If I fry bacon, I’m saving that precious fat to cook asparagus later.

To me, ground turkey meat is a bizarre health food invention — a tasteless pink goop that cooks up to the texture of styrofoam. The only way I know how to make this paltry poultry bearable is by masking its shortcomings with tons of fresh herbs and fish sauce (umami!).

I can’t figure out where we found this recipe originally, but I believe it was called “Thai Turkey Burgers” due to the combination of basil, cilantro and fish sauce. We ended up adding mint along the way to punch things up further. It’s like a patty version of laab/larb, a Thai dish where ground meat is served in lettuce cups.

I like eating these Thai Turkey Burgers over a bed of quinoa salad, but they’d be equally great on a traditional hamburger bun with all the fixings. Don’t forget the mayo!

thai turkey burgers
the healthiest thing i know how to cook

* 1 lb ground turkey (don’t use super lean or burgers will be too dry)
* 1/2 medium onion, diced very small
* 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
* 1/3 cup basil, chopped
* 1/3 cup mint, torn
* 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons fish sauce (I like the 3 crabs brand)
* 1 egg, beaten
* Vegetable oil

Place turkey in large mixing bowl; add onions, cilantro, basil, mint, garlic, fish sauce and egg. Mix with your hands until just combined — do not over mix.

Scoop 1/3 cup of turkey mixture and form a ball by passing back and forth lightly in your hands. Set aside and repeat with remainder of mixture. Should make around 10 miniature patties, around 3″ in diameter once flattened.

Heat a skillet over medium heat; add enough vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan. Add meat balls to pan and flatten into patties by pressing lightly with your fingers. Cook for around 4-5 minutes on each side taking care to flip and adjust heat when first side is browned. Cook in batches, if not all fit in your pan at once. Serves 3-4.

the great indoors: zucchini with mint and red pepper

11 Aug

While running on Lake Street this evening, I passed by a couple tending to their petite sidewalk garden. The white-haired man wore a khaki vest with too many pockets and posed quite contently with a hose in-hand over his trough of flowers.

It reminded me of my grandpa and how he’d spend hours every afternoon watering the yard — the front yard, the back yard, the court yard, the orchids, the vegetables, the strawberries, the ferns, the protea, the bonsais, the cacti, even the ditch (an old irrigation ditch we grew marigolds in). I never thought of it as odd, but that was a serious amount of time spent on plants!

How much time do I spend on plants? Only as long as it takes me to cook them. Someday when I live in a city that actually experiences summer, I will have a garden and spend ridiculous hours tending to my plants. Until then, I will celebrate summer from the great indoors.

zucchini with mint and red pepper
grill pan makin’ it happen… real grill, even better!

* 5 medium-sized zucchini
* 1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half
* 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* a dozen large mint leaves, finely sliced
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like)
* salt & pepper

Preheat your grill to medium.

Cut each zucchini in half crosswise and then cut each half into 1/8″ planks. In a very large bowl, toss the zucchini with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Lay the zucchini on the grill and cook for about four minutes per side, keeping the heat moderate so you’re sweating them and not really giving them a ton of color. Turn the heat up to high and grill for about a minute more on each side to mark them. Depending on the size of your grill, this may need to be done in batches.

Remove the zucchini to a large platter. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with the vinegar, mint and red pepper flakes. Drizzle this over the zucchini, being sure to evenly distribute the pepper flakes, sprinkle with salt & pepper.

roasted red pepper, eggplant & feta salad

3 Aug

On special occasions, I like to blow a small fortune on cheeses for a fabulous spread… who doesn’t? For everyday cheese eating, I love venturing for a slice of fresh feta from the Mediterranean grocery near my house. Unlike the plastic container of crumbles you normally get, this feta is sold by the pound — delicately sliced to order from a giant brick soaking in brine. It’s perfectly creamy, mild, and not too tart…. perfect to nibble or toss into a salad.

Speaking of cheese, Monday night marked the Bachelorette season finale and we couldn’t have been more excited for “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.”

The gals and I got together to scream obscenities at the TV and enjoy an equally colorful spread of bites — a leafy salad studded with ripe peaches, point reyes blue cheese and homemade candied walnuts, a DIY platter of grilled bread, steak, onions, fennel and homegrown (!) yellow squash, plus an eggplant and roasted red pepper salad made with my favorite fresh feta. We were bored by the bachelorette’s predictable choice of Latin lover, Roberto, but not disappointed by our fab feast!

Roasted Red Pepper, Eggplant and Feta Salad
adapted from Small Bites

* 2 red peppers, quartered, seeds and stems removed
* 3-4 small eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
* 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 small red onion, sliced into half moons
* 6 oz feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* small bunch of mint lives, roughly torn

dressing
* 1 small garlic clove, crushed
* juice of 1 lemon
* 3 tsp pomegranate molasses
* 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp each salt and pepper

Preheat the broiler to high. Place the peppers skin side up on a nonstick baking sheet. Place under the broiler, cook until blackened, then transfer to plastic bag, seal, and allow to steam 5 minutes. When cooled, peel off the skins and discard.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan, set aside.

Brush the eggplant with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook under broiler until crispy on both sides.

To make the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a jar and share to combine.

Arrange the eggplant and pepper, sprinkle with onions, feta and cumin seeds. Spoon on the dressing and garnish with mint. Serves 4 as a salad course.

mint chocolate cupcakes, metrics mayhem

15 Jul

At Christmas time, Trader Joes makes a special candy cane version of their Joe-Joe cookies (fake Oreos), which happens to be a favorite of my friend Mariel. So, when asked to make birthday cupcakes for her 30th, I set out to find a recipe that would mimic that oh-so-festive mint and chocolate combination.

Unfortunately, a search for “mint chocolate cupcakes” returns surprisingly slim pickings. However, one recipe stood out with a description stating “like an AERO chocolate in cupcake form.” If you’ve ever had an AERO bar, the titillating sensation of bubbles of chocolate bursting on your tongue immediately springs to mind. I was definitely going to make this recipe.

Of course as AERO would suggest, this recipe comes from the UK, specifically from the kitchen goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. While I am a huge fan of Nigella, she does live in the land of metrics and I am total crap at mathematical conversions. But… I will do just about anything for the sake of a cupcake.

Here is my metrics conversion masterpiece. Perhaps a tad bit off, since the cupcakes turned out slightly more concave than convex…. all the more room for butter cream frosting!

mint chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting
adapted and converted from Nigella

batter:
* 1 2/3 cup self raising flour (not the same as AP flour, but you can find it at Safeway)
* 4 tbsp cocoa powder
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 1/8 c super fine sugar
* 2 sticks unsalted butter
* 4 eggs
* 1 tsp peppermint extract
* 3/4 c plain choc chips

icing:
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sieved
* 1 tsp peppermint extract
* green food colouring

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

Place 18 paper wrappers into muffin tins.

In a bowl sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat butter and sugar together in another bowl. Add eggs one at a time and beat together.

Add flour mixture gradually. Stir in the mint extract and chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into cases and bake for about 25 mins.

To make icing, beat icing sugar and butter in a bowl stir in the mint extract, and just enough food coloring to turn the icing mint green.

Ice the cooled cupcakes and decorate with chocolate chips or sprinkles.

Did I mention our cowboy party theme?