Tag Archives: Mint

365 Fraendael day 38

The weather is unusually warm again today, which has causes Chickweed to shrivel up and die and Poppies (not edible, but poisonous, a historically useful medicinal herb) to flower.

Here is Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata), discretely in flower amongst long grass.

Poisonous White Bryony, looking as though it fancies strangling the Juniper bush.

Motherwort flourishing, still at a useful stage for harvesting and tincturing.

Hedge bedstraw. Looking similar to Cleavers.

Angelica archangelica, with it’s out-of-this-world flower heads, towing over the other pond plants.

Watermint, or at least a mint species growing in water, will decide which soon. Low growing still, building its strength in readiness to flower.

Pea Dosa with Yoghurt & Fresh Mint

Dosa are Indian pancakes, traditionally made by soaking and then fermenting rice and black lentils, in a ratio of 2 parts rice: 1 part lentils. They are extremely tasty, popular and versatile. I recently read in Wild Fermentation that the lentils may be substituted by other dried legumes. So I have been trying dried peas, left over in my cupboard from the winter.

To be honest, I prefer this pea version to the traditional recipe so thought I’d share it. I also found it easier to blend the soaked rice and peas, than blending rice and lentils. It was less effort for my Kitchen Aid which is also a bonus.

To make pea dosa I follow my usual dosa recipe and simply substitute dried peas for lentils. The toppings are endless, today I used a mixture of fresh yoghurt, two finely chopped mint leaves from the balcony, a dribble of runny honey and some blueberries.

Mint is a great wake up call in the morning and extremely easy to grow in a pot. It’s probably better in a pot than anywhere else as this perennial is very invasive and if allowed, can take over a garden in no time.

Another great topping is mashed banana and yoghurt, with or without honey.

I hope you enjoy it! Do let me know if you try any other legumes in place of peas.

Nijntje Jellies

Making jelly is a simple way to encourage little people to become interested in herbs and provide them with a different way to eat some useful ingredients.  The jelly eater that these were made for, selected the herbs herself from balcony pots.

You can use many combinations of fruit and juice, whatever you have fresh to hand really.  Apple juice is very useful to sweeten up a more sour juice and yoghurt adds more substance.  I like to add a dash of rosewater here and there but it is not essential.  Many herbs are unsuitable to children so be cautious, adding only a little of herbs you know are very safe for children.

Gelatin is an animal product.  Agar agar, dervied from seaweed, could be used in place of gelatin as a setting agent.

Nijntje Orange, Peach & Mint Jelly

5 leaves of gelatin
Juice of 2 large juicy oranges
Apple juice
1/2 fresh peach or nectarine (peeled and chopped)
A few clean, finely chopped leaves of fresh garden mint or lemon balm
Dash of rosewater
Bunny shaped food moulds (or food safe plastic cups)

1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes before draining and squeezing out the excess.
2. Pour the squeezed orange juice through a seive into a measuring jug and top up to 250ml using apple juice.
3. Pour the fruit juices and dash of rosewater into to a small saucepan.
4. Add the soaked gelatin and chopped herbs. Heat very gently, not allowing to boil, stirring constantly until all the gelatin dissolves.
5. Add the chopped fruit and stir well to combine.
6. Pour carefully into the jelly moulds and allow to set in a refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Serve from the moulds or remove firstly.

Nijntje Carrot & Yoghurt Jelly

10 leaves of gelatin
125ml carrot juice
125ml pear juice / apple juice
250ml yoghurt
2 whole canned pears chopped
A few clean leaves of lemon verbena or mint or lemon balm, finely chopped
Pinch of ground ginger
Bunny shaped jelly moulds

1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes before draining and squeezing out the excess.
2. Pour the juices and yoghurt into a saucepan, whisk up a little to combine.
4. Add the soaked gelatin, chopped herbs and ginger. Heat very gently, not allowing to boil, stirring constantly until all the gelatin dissolves.
5. Add the chopped pear and stir well to combine.
6. Pour carefully into the jelly moulds and allow to set in a refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Serve from the moulds or remove firstly.

Lamb & Mint Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Mint comes in many shapes and sizes. On my kitchen balcony grows a chocolate mint and an unspectacular variety which was given to me as a cutting and tastes great in teas and cooked dishes.  Mint is well loved by many warmer cultures for its ability to promote sweating and thus cool the body in hot weather.  It eases many digestive disorders such as flatulence, colic and nausea.  Mint can reduce teething pain in children, is disliked by rats and the British know that it makes a great accompaniment to lamb dishes, when served as mint sauce or jelly.

This recipe combines mint and lamb directly.  It is inspired by the French Elle a table magazine (number 69, spring 2010). It is cheap to make, easy to make and tastes great.

A note about pine nuts…
Increase or decrease the quantity of pine nuts to suit your taste and wallet.  I implore you not to buy cheap pine nuts, especially those from China. I buy the best quality Italian pine nuts that I can find from a trusted source. For some reason many cheaper (organic and non organic) pine nuts can cause adverse reactions and at best can remove your sense of taste for a week or so. If you can’t find good pine nuts then you could use more almond butter.  Almond butter is available from many health food shops.  If you can’t find that, use ground almonds!

You can also add a little chili, curry or cayenne pepper during cooking, to make this dish spicier, if desired.  This is a child friendly version.

Ingredients:

500g quality minced lamb
1 large onion
Small – good handful best quality pine nuts
Tablespoon of ground almond butter
Good handful of fresh mint
400g can of chopped tomatoes
Tablespoon tomato puree
1 vegetable stock cube or teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter
Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Peel the onion.
  2. Wash the mint and remove any woody parts.
  3. Finely chop the onion.
  4. Reserve about 10 mint leaves before finely chopping the rest and adding it to the onion.
  5. If serving to children, very finely chop or grind the pine nuts.  Combine with the onion and mint.
  6. Combine the almond butter with the onion and mint.
  7. Add the minced lamb, mix well to thoroughly combine the flavours.
    (steps 3-7 are very simply achieved with a food processor)
  8. Hand shape the meatball mixture into fairly small balls.  I use about a heaped desert spoonfull for each ball.
  9. Gently brown the meatballs on all sides in some melted butter combined with olive oil.
  10. Transfer the juices and browned meatballs to a casserole pan.
  11. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, remaining mint leaves, stock cube or powder and a little salt and pepper to taste.  If serving to adults perhaps add a few more whole pine nuts to the sauce.
  12. Heat gently to begin with and stir very carefully to combine the sauce ingredients without breaking up the meatballs.
  13. Bring to a gentle boil and then simmer on a low heat for about 40 minutes.
  14. Serve with white beans (cannellini) and perhaps white rice.