Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thank You, Rick Bayless

Recently, I've found a nice little food community on Twitter. Local DC bloggers, fellow foodies and even a few celebrity chefs to share recipes (140 characters or less!), restaurant recommendations, food tips, ideas and twitpics of our latest creations. A few days ago, Rick Bayless (of Frontera Grill fame in Chicago and recent winner of the third episode of Top Chef Masters) posted a picture of his ever growing mint garden. I, having an abundance of mint growing from my indoor Aerogarden, tweeted Rick asking if he had any interesting or innovative ways to use the herb. To my complete surprise (and humble elation), he replied:
@jenwexler Mint faves right now: agua fresca (mint, cucumber, lime, pineapple), fresh fava or pea soup with mint and grilled green onion.
After I caught my breath, I resolved to make Rick's suggestions this weekend (and hopefully tweet some pictures back to him!). Both recipes were new to me, so I set out to do a little internet research - getting general proportions of fruit to water for agua fresca (a light fruit drink available in stands throughout Mexico) and the best way to combine peas, mint and onion in soup form. The improvised results were outstanding and have been officially added to my repertoire. Thank you, Rick Bayless.
Agua Fresca with Mint, Cucumber, Lime and Pineapple
(makes 2 1/2 quarts)

1/2 medium size cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1/4 pineapple (8-10 medium cubes)
1/4 lime (juiced)
handful of mint leaves

Combine cucumber, pineapple, lime juice, and mint leaves in blender. Strain liquid through fine mesh sieve into a pitcher. Fill remainder of pitcher with water. Serve over ice.


Chilled Pea Soup with Mint
(serves 3-4)

2 cups of English peas, shelled
1 leek, white and green parts, sliced thin
1 large clove garlic, sliced thin
1 garlic scape, sliced thin
2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
truffle oil, for garnish

Heat olive oil in heavy stock pot. When warmed, add leeks and garlic scapes, sauteing until soft (10-15 minutes), avoid browning. When leeks are softened, add peas and garlic, being careful not to burn garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth and cook peas for 5-8 minutes until just tender. Transfer soup to food processor, add mint, and puree to desired consistency, adding remaining chicken broth as needed. Transfer pureed soup to a clean bowl and set over an ice bath, to preserve the soup's bright green color. Serve chilled sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper, and a swirl of truffle oil. Garnish with fresh herbs.
Enjoy!

Linked to from: Agua Fresca on Foodista

6 comments:

FoodTravelDiva said...

WOW..what a privilege to get a tweet from a top chef! I'm glad you took his suggestions...the recipes look packed with well blended flavors. If you don't mind I'd love to direct Foodista readers to your blog. If you are keen, add your choice of widget to this post and you're all set!

Alicia Pray said...

Greats recipes!

/Hanna
freelance photographer

lisaiscooking said...

Very cool to get ideas from Bayless himself! These both sound fantastic too.

Jill Riter said...

nice photos!

Amy said...

Hey, thanks for posting the Agua Fresca recipe. I'm going to try it this weekend. I've got a ton of mint growing on my back patio now and I need to start using it!

Anonymous said...

Having tried this delicious Agua Fresca when at Frontera Grill recently, I'm excited to try out this recipe. It tasted like the tropics! Saw Chef Bayless while dining; he was intently using his iPhone--perhaps Tweeting about something tasty in the kitchen :)

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