Category Archives: Homemade

Fresh Mint Infused Mojitos Recipe by Chef Maven

fresh rooting mint sprigs
fresh mint sprigs rooting in water

fresh mint sprigs rooting in upcycled and clean soda bottles by the kitchen window

So I was cleaning out my fridge this afternoon and am about to go to a local Thai restaurant http://www.sukhothainy.net/ which serves up delicious curry and pad thai like no other. Their steamed dumplings are just as divine as their hand-rolled spring rolls. But before I would reward myself of said Sunday early dinner, I just had to empty the refrigerator of forgotten food.

And what did I find? Mint – two packages I had meant to use at the Kentucky Derby party I never had nor went to… but that doesn’t mean that the fresh mint I bought from the grocery store is a goner for sure.

How To Root Fresh Mint – even store-bought mint:

In fact did you know that fresh mint is one of the easiest of herbs to root in water?

I found a fun empty soda bottle which was already cleaned, added fresh water, and after clipping several mint leaves into a large pitcher, I took the remaining stems with picked off leaves and all. Clipped their bottom stems jut a bit and put them into water to root inside the soda bottles.

In one case as you see in the photo, I reused my soda bottles which are now currently rooting rex begonia leaves, and the other couple of bottles are bottles I created using stained-glass faux-paint. Within one short week, I should start seeing roots from the fresh cut sprigs of mints.

Now where to put them in your yard? The mint plants are wonderful at keeping bugs at bay, and be warned that mint can be agressive as it likes to stretch it’s wings and spread. You can limit where it spreads by planting the mint in containers which are then placed into the ground. This will prevent some of its runners – very much like strawberries, from finding new spots to grow new plants.

I welcome this herb into my garden, as it is one of the few fresh perennial herbs I have yet to put in. But remember, I only moved here a few months ago – so a good chef’ garden takes time to mature – heck knows I have every flower plant under the sun it seams.

So now you want to make fresh mojitos! This is my fun version – enough for four servings. You can obviously adjust the amount of alcohol.

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • juice of four (4) fresh squeezed limes
  • zest of four limes
  • 2 cups of lime-flavored seltzer water
  • 1/4 cup of raw sugar. – Or 3 tablespoons of honey mixed in with the lime juice, then added to the drink.
  • four ounces of white rum
  • pitcher
  • wooden spoon or muttle spoon

I grabbed my pitcher, placed the mint leaves, tore a few up, etc. Then added the sugar, grated the zest, then sliced the limes in half. By using a fork, I squeezed out the fresh limes right over the mouth of the pitcher, Then cut the halves of limes once more (into quarters) and placed them inside the pitcher along with everything else except for the rum and seltzer water.

Then using a mottle or the back of a wooden spoon – or if you have an old wooden potato masher, that works great too. Muddle the mixture for three minutes 0 You are trying to break down the oils in the leaves of the mint with using the sugar as a breaking down agent along with the pieces of lime. Then add the rum, then stir. Then add half of the seltzer. It’s ready to serve up!

Enjoy!

 

 

The Chef Mavens Homemade Pesto Focaccia Bread Recipe

pesto foccacia with shallots

pesto foccacia with shallots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So with the winter upon us, and yet another snow-bound day stuck at home I have continued with baking up a storm in hopes to match the storm outside my windows in New York. I decided to take my pizza dough recipe and turn it into a wonderful pesto foccacia bread with a few shallots baked on top along with a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper to spice it up just a bit.

There are many variations of course that you can create the right focaccia just for you and some of those suggestions are listed below.

To make this delectable side bread, it’s easier that saying pizza pie!

The How To’s…

1) You can either make your own homemade pizza dough (which is what I did) or buy store bought pizza dough and then adding three tablespoons of pesto (link goes to my easy and affordable to make pesto recipe) into the dough using a mix master or by kneading it in with your hands.

2) While stretching the dough into a rectangle onto a oiled cookie sheet, preheat your oven to at least 400 degrees. The using your fingers – sort of ‘type’ on the bread creating little ‘valleys’ – the photo above shows some of those divets made by my fingers…

3) Add various toppings – as pictured I added a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper, freshly cracked pepper, course kosher salt and sliced shallots on top before placing the foccacia dough into the oven for baking. Then drizzle a little olive oil on the top – max two tablespoons, you are not trying to drown the dough.

4) Once your particular toppings are on – place into a preheated oven at 400 degrees and let bake for roughly 20 minutes. Dough should be nicely lightly browned. Let cool slightly – then either slice into strips or tear off pieces and serve up with your favorite salad or pasta dish.

I tore off a few pieces and dipped them into hazelnut oil – oh deviously delicious!

Other delicious and possible topping combinations: don’t forget to drizzle a little olive oil prior to baking…

1) chopped sun-dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary chopped and crumbled goat cheese

2) Chopped/sliced kalamata black olives, crumbled feta cheese and sliced shallots.

3) Simply plain with just adding salt & pepper on top.

Once finished, wonderfully browned – you can either cut it into strips or tear off pieces and serve it up with your salads. I took a little and dipped it in hazelnut oil – just incredibly yummy!

Let me know what combinations you have come up with, I’d love to hear about them!

chow ciao for now!

The Chef Maven

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