Mint Julep Brownies

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves (I used about 8 leaves)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
Frosting
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place 1 cup (2 sticks) butter and chopped chocolate in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until both butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine sugar and mint in a food processor and pulse until mint is finely chopped and incorporated into the sugar.
  4. Place eggs and mint sugar in a large bowl and whisk together well.
  5. Gradually whisk in chocolate/ butter mixture.
  6. Whisk in flour, salt, and bourbon.
  7. Pour into a lightly greased 9X13-inch pan. Bake 25-28 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
  8. To make frosting, melt chocolate in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together. Add 3 tablespoons milk and beat, stopping to scrape down the sides, until smooth.
  10. With mixer on low, slowly add chocolate and then beat on medium until mixed well.
  11. Mix in vanilla extract and salt and add an extra tablespoon of milk if frosting is too thick.
  12. Spread frosting on brownies.
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Mint Julep Brownies

Recipe – Lavender Lemonade

lavenderlemonade

Delightfully refreshing, lavender lemonade is a great way to showcase your skill at making flower simple syrups. Makes 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts).

1 cup lavender simple syrup (see below)

1 cup lemon juice

4 cups water

Mix ingredients directly in the pitcher – don’t bother dirtying up one more thing. Adjust the flavors according to your own taste preferences.

Lavender Simple Syrup

Colorful flower-infused simple syrups have oh so many hues. Strong and sweet, they are best used as bases in other recipes, such as sorbets or drink mixes.

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp lavender buds

* Lavender is a potent herb, and this syrup will get stronger the longer you let it infuse, so be careful to taste for your own preferences.

Dissolved sugar in water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer. Place flowers in a nonreactive bowl (by that I mean glass, enamel, or stainless steel). Pour hot syrup over top and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the flowers. (I know it is a shame to discard the flowers, but you must unless you are using the syrup right away). Floral simple syrup ca be stored in the fridge for 1 or 2 months. If it begins to crystallize, simply heat it again until smooth. Makes 2 cups (1 pint).

This recipe makes a vicious simple syrup. For a thinner version, use 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Either type will work well in recipes that call for simple syrup.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more recipes

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Photo: thesharedsip.com

Recipe – Lavender Lemonade

Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are another great way to increase the beauty and productivity of the planting beds throughout your backyard. A number of plants are grown for their edible flowers, such as nasturtium, violas, and calendula, but did you know that many vegetable and herb flowers are also good to eat? Summer squash blossoms are, of course, the most well known, but here are a few more ideas for how to eat the flowers growing in your garden.

Agastache, violas, scented geranium, nasturtium, calendula, lavender, borage, and rose: Use the petals of these edible flowers as cake decoration, ravioli fillings, or sprinkled over salads.

Kale, mustard, and collard greens: Add the flower buds to stir-fries or braised greens, or cook by themselves with some olive oil and garlic.

Arugula: Arugula flowers have a sweet flavor tinged with the pepper quality of the arugula leaves and make a delicious salad ingredient.

Winter squash: The flowers can be used just like summer squash blossoms. More delicate and often not available at grocery stores, winter squash flowers are equally delicious.

Herbs such as chive, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory, and so many more: They all have beautiful and tasty flowers that can be used in the kitchen. Bright blue rosemary blooms add a fun , spicy kick to winter salads.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Edible Flowers

Tea and Cocktail Gardens

MintCollection
Plant a gourmet mint collection. Don’t just plant peppermint when there are so many to choose from: apple, ginger, pineapple, chocolate, spearmint, banana, Persian, and strawberry mint round out this collection. Used as a part of a stylized Mediterranean garden, Italian-style urns keep the mints from taking over the rest of the herb garden.

In addition to being staples in the kitchen, many of the wonderful herbs that grow well in containers can be used to make tea and cocktails. If you’ve never tried sage bergamot or rosemary lemon tea, you are in for a real treat. Herbs also make delicious simple syrups that can be added to carbonated water or used to infuse alcohol for fun cocktails. Dedicate a single container as a “tea garden” or “cocktail garden” and plant it with all kinds of herbs, including chamomile, lemon verbena, and mint. There’s no need to keep all your tea and cocktail herbs together, though. Because so many favorite herbs are also colorful, flowering perennials, you can dot them in various containers throughout the garden. Whichever herbs you choose, they are easy to put to use. You can dry herbs and make your own tea bags out of muslin, or simply grab a few handfuls of fresh herbs to put in your teapot. Note that tea made from fresh herbs takes longer to steep than tea made from dried herbs. Pour boiling water over the fresh herbs and let them steep for fifteen to twenty minutes.

CulinaryHerbs
Culinary sweet bay, oregano, thyme, mint, and rosemary are all great ingredients for tea and cocktails.

Simple syrups to use in cocktails are made by heating sugar and water together over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off your burner, add the desired herb, and let steep. Once the syrup has cooled for fifteen to twenty minutes, strain, and then use. A basil-infused simple syrup is an excellent sweetener for freshly squeezed lemonade and is the basis for a number of refreshing summer cocktails. Edible fruit and flowers such as cucumbers, lemon, rhubarb stalks, berries, and elderberry flowers are also great homegrown additions to your repertoire of cocktail ingredients. Some favorite herbs for making tea or cocktails are:

  • anise hyssop
  • bergamot
  • chamomile
  • dill
  • lavender (great mixed with mint)
  • lemon verbena
  • mint (note that mint is quite invasive and can take over your herb garden quickly, unless it is constrained by edging, planted in its own container, or slowed down by shade conditions)
  • rose hips
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme
Tea and Cocktail Gardens