Posts Tagged ‘Mint’

“Perfect First Date” Mojito Lamb

Posted on: August 23rd, 2010 by Carla Johnson 5 Comments

I pity them greatly, but I must be mum,

for how could we do without sugar and rum?”

~  William Cowper

by Heather Jurczyk

We generally don’t tell this story when people ask how we met. Most of the time people give us these crazy blank stares of “you did what? Seriously?” We stick to met through friends. Where friendsis basically the internet and metis pretty much we Twittered each other to death. We had just too much in common. Both food bloggers? Check. Both computer geeks? Check. Both made a silly decision to bake our way thru a virtual bread bible? Checkity check check. So when I casually mentioned that I was moving back home to the Midwest and driving myself thousands of miles across the US, he simply said “Want company?”

And in truth, that was how we MET met. Face to face. On the roof of an airport parking garage in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. We must have thought “Hey we don’t really know each other – why not drive along together in a cramped vehicle for umpteen million hours and abuse our bodies with energy drinks and beef jerky and chex mix and cheddarwursts and gummie bears because THAT my friends, is the PERFECT idea for a first date!”

Actually, it was what happened afterwards that made it all worth while. Like, “kitchen magic”. We ate. Oh did we eat. And we cooked. And grilled. And baked, smoked, roasted, fried, sautéed and more. I cooked for him. And he cooked for me. We cooked together and nearly killed each other. But somewhere between “I THINKI know HOWto chop an ONION!” and “No kidding that’s BACON? I thought it was a puppy…” the smoke from the kitchen fire cleared and we realized just how damn good we were together.

– Follow Heather and Jeff’s culinary adventures on their blog –

Mojito Lamb

(also works GREAT with chicken)


  • 5 lb. Leg of lamb

  • 3/4 cup light rum

  • 3/4 cup fresh mint (Spearmint)

  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 2 habanero peppers

  • 6 cloves of garlic

  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cumin

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/2 t pepper

  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.

2. Pour over lamb and allow it to marinade for 24 hours, turning occasionally. (8 hours or less is fine for chicken…)

3. Grill until until done basting occasionally with the marinade. (A 5 lb. Leg of lamb generally takes about 2 hours) your meat thermometer will read 145° for medium rare (preferred), and 160° for medium to medium well.

Heather and Jeff serve it with Lemon Onion Israeli Couscous and Touch o’ Mint Tzatziki.

Lemon Onion Israeli Couscous

1 C Israeli Couscous
2 T Olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into eighths
2 C chicken broth or water
1 T fresh chopped parsley
juice of one lemon
1 t red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Toast couscous in live oil for about 5 minutes – until it is golden.

Add in the onions and saute’ till just translucent.

Add broth/water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer till almost all the broth is gone and the couscous is tender. About 10 minutes or so.

Add parsley, pepper flakes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Touch o’ Mint Tzatziki

1 C Plain Greek yogurt, drained.
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated and drained.
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 T white wine vinegar
Squeeze of half a lime
1 T fresh dill
1 t fresh chopped mint
1 t salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Immediately before serving, add 1-2 T of olive oil and mix to blend well.

The Mojito.

By George Sinclair

People who make Mojitos are forever using phrases such as “traditional recipe”,
“classic recipe”, and whatever weasel word comes to hand at that particular
moment. I see no shame in proclaiming ones own interpretation of a classic
recipe as being the best, this is a subjective term after all; For every one
person you find who likes a drink a particular way, you will find another who
thinks the opposite. Thats just how things are.

Historically the Mojito seems to have popped up in Cuba during the late 1920s;
Quite how is not known; Was it a native concoction? or was it a re-
interpretation of a Mint Julep, created by American bartenders fleeing to Cuba
from the «evils» of prohibition (1920-1933).

The earliest citation/ recipe for the Mojito is from 1931, and the drink was entitled the “Cuban Mojo”; With “Mojo” meaning soul, and “Mojito” meaning “Little Soul”.

“Cuban Cookery, including Cuban Drinks”, by De Baralt (Blanche Z.), 1931

RUM COCKTAIL (Cuban mojo)

In medium size glass put :

  • One teaspoonful sugar
    * Juice and rind of a green lime
    * Sprig of mint
    * One jigger Bacardi Rum
    * Several pieces of ice
    * Fill glass with soda water.
    * Serve with a long spoon.

“Stuck on Reduction” Grilled Watermelon Salad with Madeira Caramel

Posted on: July 18th, 2010 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

Carla Johnson author cooking With SinFive years before the Boston Tea Party, there was another party, the “Madeira Wine Party.” A ship smuggling Madeira wine for John Hancock was seized by the British – the same John Hancock who eventually signed the Declaration of Independence. A fight broke out. Hancock won and received his beloved, smuggled Madeira.

“He at first refus’d us peremptorily; but at dinner with his council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanc’d to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen.” ~ Ben Franklin, 1744, asking Governor Clinton of NY for more cannon power in Boston.

Photo credit of Chef Tim Wasylko

What gravy is to English cuisine, demi-glace is to French cuisine. French cuisine has a few select “Mother Sauces” that are the bases of all other sauces – Bechamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Tomato & Hollandaise. If you’ve seen the movie “The Hundred Foot Journey,” you know how beautiful the Mother Sauces look and taste.

Espagnole is the Mother Sauce for demi-glace. Demi-glace is basically beef stock reduced. The industry standard is 50% beef stock 50% sauce espagnol reduced by ½.

When Chef Tim Wasylko was in culinary school, the demi-glace classes piqued his interest. He was enthralled by what happens when liquids are reduced. As liquids evapourate, the flavours become concentrated, so he began experimenting by reducing all the liquids he encountered. He made adult snow cones from a reduction of blueberry juice and Cabernet wine. Then he made a port-wine caramel to put on ice cream.

Tim says,

“Madeira port – a fortified sweet booze like that reduces down to a wonderful caramel. Awesome on ice cream or banana tempura split. Go get a bottle of Madeira and reduce it down to a caramel. It’s life changing.”

Carla Johnson author Cooking With Sin


“Stuck on Reduction” Grilled Watermelon Salad with Madeira Caramel

Serves 4
½ medium sized seedless Watermelon
1 bunch mint
1 bunch basil
1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
12 pieces of asparagus, blanched and peeled
200g goat cheese.
1 bottle of Madeira


  1. Pour bottle of Madeira in a large pot and place over moderate heat, bring to a boil – allow to boil hard for approximately 20 minutes or until it has reduced down to slightly less than a 1/4 cup. It should coat the back of a spoon and be nice and thick. Let it cool. Once cool, pour into a plastic squeeze bottle.
  2. Cut watermelon innto 4 square shapes approximately 5 cm by 3 cm thick. Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime, and chopped basil. Toss and let rest one hour. Reserve the marinade. Place the watermelon pieces on a high BBQ grill for 1 minute per side. Allow to cool.
  3. Blanch the asparagus and cut in 7 cm long pieces. They should all be the same size.
  4. Shape goats cheese in rounds or rolls 2-3 cm in diameter. Cut into medallions.
  5. Assemble: Toss the asparagus in the marinade from the watermelon. Put 6 pieces of asparagus tight together – and perfectly lined up – down the centre of a plate. Then place the grilled watermelon on top of the asparagus in the opposite direction. Place 2 slices of goats cheese on top and make a zig zag design of the Madeira caramel in the squeeze bottle over top.



Looking for more salad recipes? Try “Pork Ninjas” Salad Dressing


Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin

Carla Johnson Cooking With Sin