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Everyday Gourmet: Mint magic

By Kim Dannies

Mint may herald spring, but it also deserves a starring role in autumn cooking. It is the most abundant, beautiful herb in the garden right now, yet we forget to incorporate its magic into our cold weather cooking. Here are a few mint-friendly dishes to try before the cold snap arrives.

Greek Mint Yogurt Sauce

This is my fall version of tzatziki (ta-zee-ki); use it as a dressing, dip or sauce. I love it smeared on lamb kabob gyros.

Triple line a colander with paper towel and add 16-ounces of Fage full-fat Greek yogurt. Let the yogurt strain for 1-2 hours. Gently envelop the yogurt pulp with paper towel and squeeze remaining liquid. Add yogurt to a prep bowl.

Shred two cucumbers (with skin and seeds) onto a flat plate. Wrap the pulp in two layers of paper towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Add cuke pulp along with 4 minced garlic cloves, the zest of one lemon, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2 cups gently torn mint leaves to the yogurt. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper; makes 2 cups.

New Potato Mint Salad

The new potatoes are finally in and mint is their natural partner. This crowd pleaser will quickly become a classic in your kitchen.

Gently scrub 5 pounds of baby red potatoes. If the potatoes are not bite-sized, then cut them in half (leave the skins on.) Fill a large saucepan with cold water; add the potatoes to the water; boil until tender, 15 minutes.

Fry 8 strips of bacon until cooked, but not crispy; drain; cut cooked bacon into pieces using kitchen scissors. Strain the cooked potatoes and add to a prep bowl. Liberally sprinkle potatoes with sea salt and fresh pepper. Fold in 8 ounces of creme fraîche (or sour cream), bacon and 2 cups of frozen peas (that have been thawed). Add 1-2 cups of gently torn fresh mint leaves. Fold mixture lightly. Taste and adjust for seasoning; serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.