Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday - Brunch with Anno and Mint Pesto

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

Yesterday was a special day.

I have a very dear friend, and many of you "know" her: Anno of Anno's Place. Anno and I knew each other long before our entry to the blogiverse, and while our main connection started as being fellow homeschooling moms, with children the same age and husbands who worked together, we quickly discovered our similar loves of reading, cooking, and writing, and from there moved on to discussions about family, life, the universe and everything. She also writes a great blog.

Anno is one of the rocks in my life. When I need sage words or gentle energy, I know I can turn to Anno. When I need lyricism, I can read her stunning writing. When I need to know how to cook paella, use a neti pot, hook up a sink - there's Anno again.

Another thing Anno and I share is that we're caretakers. We have several people in our lives who need much of our time and energy. For that reason, we seldom have time to really relax together - I cherish our almost-weekly meetings for a quick cup of coffee, but it's lovely to have more time.

Yesterday we had that opportunity: C is up north at camp and m is taking a workshop at the teen center in town, so we had hours available.

And I really wanted to do something nice for Anno, and admittedly, for me as well. So I made us brunch:

We had strawberry scones and whipped cream, Nuria's Rice Mint Balls with Pistachios and Shrimps (but no shrimp - sorry, Nuria, shrimp seemed a bit much at 10:00 a.m.), with mint pesto:

fresh figs stuffed with mascarpone and topped with toasted walnuts and drizzled with honey:

and squash blossoms stuffed with fresh mozzarella and proscuitto:

D was very happy, because there were lots and lots of leftovers. Michigan weather decided to cooperate for a change, and Anno and I were able to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the warm sun (hence the rather shadowy photos). The best part of the brunch was Anno, and while I took her picture, I also promised her that I wouldn't post it unless it was a good picture, and the photo really didn't capture her warmth, beauty and charm, so you'll just have to imagine that part.

Nuria, of Spanish Recipes Pic by Pic, posted this amazing recipe for Rice Mint Balls with Pistachios and Shrimps. I have to say here that Nuria has opened a new cooking world to me and her wonderful blog teaches us not only about Catalan cooking, but also about various aspects of life in her region of Spain. She is also generous and supportive as well as wonderfully creative, so if you haven't visited her, please do! As I said, I bastardized it a bit, and the next time I will certainly make the shrimp version. I think this might be my new favorite "go to" summer appetizer. Nuria speaks of the necessity of dipping sauce, and one she suggested was mint pesto, without giving a recipe. "Mint pesto?" I thought. "Hmmm... I have mint, I like pesto, sounds good!" So I experimented and Anno and I both loved the results. I think this would also go wonderfully on whole wheat spaghetti, linguini or a similar noodle, and might even be good as part of a cold noodle appetizer, etc. So, Nuria, thanks for the wonderful inspiration and the heavenly rice ball recipe!

Mint Pesto

1 large handful of fresh mint leaves
1/2 large handful of fresh parsley
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small handful of toasted walnuts
the juice from 1 - 2 limes to taste
1 garlic clove
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Whirl mint leaves, parsley, garlic and walnuts in a food processor until well blended. Drizzle in the olive oil and lime juice and keep processing until a pesto consistency is reached.

Place in bowl or cup and add salt and pepper to taste.

Roll rice balls in dipping sauce before eating. YUM!

Finally, another nod to Nuria, who gave me this lovely award.

I've been remiss for several days in acknowledging her thoughtfulness, but as you probably know, it's been a bizarre few days. I have the privilege of passing it on to five more bloggers, so here are my pics for today, although I wish I could pass it to all of you:

Nuria, right back at you! ;-)
Anno, because I couldn't ask for a better friend
Sisters Sassy and Honeybunch of Sisters of a Different Order, because I get to MEET you guys tomorrow! Yay!
April of It's All About Balance, for providing such a great event on Monday, (Blogblast for Education), where I got to meet such cool folks and read such great posts on education
(Okay, I'm cheating here, squeezing in an extra) Teacher Patti of Teacher in the Hood and Kim of The Farmers Marketer - to local friendships and connections online and off!


Núria said...

Did you hear a BIG CLONC? That's me falling on the floor!!!! You are just adorable!!!! :D Ahhhhhh I'm so excited you tried the Mint rice balls... plus... you liked them!!!! And all those nice words you said.... ooooooohhhh you did make my day today! SMUACK!
Great mint pesto! I remember I saw a couple of recipes in the net and that's why I mentioned it in my post, but I couldn't remember where I saw them... now I have yours!!!

Thanks a lot sweetheart♥

Korie said...

Going to check out Anno and Nuria niw :).

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

That is some brunch spread. I am a big fan of scones. I found a great recipe for blueberry ones in the Foster Market cookbook.

right now it's too hot to cook or bake anything. :(

Goofball said...

Rice Mint Balls with Pistachios and Shrimps

fresh figs stuffed with mascarpone and topped with toasted walnuts and drizzled with honey

squash blossoms stuffed with fresh mozzarella and proscuitto

sounds like heaven...I am going to move to A2 so I can come for brunch all the time! I am droooooooling like crazy here.

[gone now to look for a mop to clean up my wet desk ;) ]

Charity Tahmaseb said...

Sounds like you and Anno had a lovely time.

... and I'm soooo hungry now.

anno said...

It was all just gorgeously exquisite -- the food, the company, the conversation, the sun on your balcony, the bright herbs in their clay pots. A very special day. And I feel like a very lucky girl. Thanks so much!

Peter M said...

Jen, that's an impressive spread and I'm so glad (almost as much as Nuria) that you whipped up one of her dishes.

The lady and her food are very special.

Virtualsprite said...

That sounds absolutely divine! I'm jealous. Sounds like a wonderful day.

I still haven't made it to the farmers market, but every time I read your blog I want to go! You inspire me.

jennifer said...

I am so jealous. So jealous.

glamah16 said...

What a great spread. The rice mintballs look great. I loveNurisa style of cooking.

Marianne Arkins said...

I want to have brunch with you and Anno ::pouts:: -- LOL

Everything looked amazing.

And, I'M GOING TO THE FARMERS MARKET TOMORROW!!! Can you tell I'm excited??

Thistlemoon said...

That sounds DELICIOUS Jen, and what a great way to spend time with your friend! Isn't it just the best to have friends like that? Nuria is an awesome cook! :)

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Ooh, I *so* want to come to the next brunch....

Dru said...

I'm glad you had a nice visit with Anno. I would be willing to sample the food you had at brunch. All sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen

Your meal looks so fabulous and you've given me several ideas for the *three* kinds of mint I have growing in my garden!

And thanks for the shout-out to the Farmer's Marketer too. Looking forward to meeting you in person at the upcoming lady food-bloggers picnic!


Jen said...

Nuria, thank YOU for all your wonderful recipes, cultural lessons, etc. And your wonderful warmth and enthusiasm - you truly are a gem!

Lilac - I think you'd love both blogs!

NYC, that's so ironic - now you have your baking things, but Roma is not cooperating... But all those fresh fruits!

Goofball - I told you that you should visit. ;-)

We did have fun, Charity! I wish you lived closer.

Anno, it was just great to have that time together!

I couldn't agree more about Nuria, Peter. My favorite recipes these days are all coming from fellow bloggers - your Greek dishes have had me in great stead!

Jen said...

Sprite, it was great fun!

Jennifer, you're welcome any time. ;-)

Glamah, I so agree. Maybe you can show CS this entry to encourage him to head this way.

Marianne - yes, I can tell! I wish you could join us, too. It would be great fun.

Jenn - it's a wonderful way. And I'll tell you - with kids, those times get much, much rarer. And yes, Nuria is fabulous!

Jen said...

Michelle - I so wish you could! I'd also love to see your corner of Calabria. You, by the way, were the first person from whom I learned about my latest addiction - squash blossoms!

Dru, I'd be happy to have you.

Kim, I'm looking forward to it, too!

Meg said...

Your spread looks fabulous. I had a snack bag of Cheez Its for lunch--took 7 girls to an indoor waterpark.

Hey, if you've got a chance, Hamell On Trial is playing at Frankies in Toledo this Friday. It's a nice intimate atmosphere in which to see him. You can couch surf at my place.

Jen said...

Meg, that's SUCH a wonderful offer and I'd love to come, but I'll be driving C back from camp. We'll have to do an Ark date soon - you can certainly couch surf here as well.

April said...

Thank you, Jen! You've made my day countless times!!

Momisodes said...

If there's a heaven, I'm sure this is what's served for brunch. All of that sounds marvelous.

The mint pesto sounds right up my alley. I have nearly all of those ingredients in my kitchen now...I just need to buy myself a food processor :(

K.C. said...

This entire dinner inspired me. from start to finish... The mint pesto especially... so wonderful... so great! Kayce

Betsy said...

Oh man! I don't know which I'd enjoy more, eating all that gorgeous food or sitting out in the sun chatting with you and Anno! :-)

Mikaela said...

well.. I really hope I'll get that bonus so that I can come and try all of this:)

Jen said...

April, you've made mine as well - you have no idea. ;-)

Sandy, it doesn't have to be fine... you could chop all this and stir in the olive oil and lime juice. It would still taste as delicious.

Kayce - thanks so much for stopping by and thanks for the kind comments!

Oh, Betsy, I'd love that!

Yes, Mikaela, we're ALL hoping that bonus comes through!

Sister Sassy said...

Jen is as awesome as I thought!! I keep sitting her thinking I should ditch work and spend the rest of the day at the beach with her (under an umbrella of course)


Thistlemoon said...

I just really needed to come back and take another gander at those figs...I am in heaven just looking at them!

Goofball said...

hey Jenn, how are you doing? You're a bit more silent online than usual. Very busy?

Liz Dwyer said...

How wonderful of you to make brunch and how sweet that you celebrate your friendships in such a meaningful way! It's totally put a smile on my face.

I'm so busy eating my way through all the restaurants I've missed and my mom's cooking, that I haven't hadn't cooked anything!

Anonymous said...

I'm imagining myself at that table eating figs right now. You really put out a fabulous spread.

Becca said...

My mouth is watering, even though it's long past brunch time :)

I'm so glad you two had some time together to relax and enjoy each other's company. It reminds me I haven't had any time like that with my best friend in a long time - but she's the gourmet cook, so maybe I should send her these recipe's! LOL

Anonymous said...

Why are you punishing me with those stuffed figs? They look awesome :)

Heather said...

Why, oh why, do I come look at food blogs when I'm full? All that tasty food makes my tummy a bit squirrely. :D

You guys and your sweetness awards. I love it!

Sarita Leone said...

Wow, it all looks great! And I love it that you got to visit with a dear friend. Good for you!

Thanks for the recipe! :)

Jen said...

Sassy, I had an absolute blast, too! I hope that you're having a great Sisters weekend!

Jenn - they're SO easy. Just toast walnuts and chop them. Split the figs from the top (cut down as an X), scoop in some mascarpone and top with the walnuts and drizzle with honey. They're great. And they're even better the next day, I've found. ;-)

Los Angelista - it's good to take a break sometimes! It's so much fun to revisit old tastes from home.

Renae - It was fun to do!

Becca - you should join us some time. I think you're fairly local, right?

Maryann - so make some! Look above at the note to Jenn. ;-)

Well, you know that Nuria has to be the sweetest woman out there! No wonder she's great with rewards. ;-)

Sarita, you're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by, too.

Flower Child said...

this looks amazing! now I know what I'm having for brunch tomorrow

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I did see this recipe over at Nuria's place. It sounds like you ladies had a wonderful day:D

Anonymous said...

WOW! I need a nice friend like you in my life to cook an amazing brunch like this! Looks awesome.

Lore said...

You're both lucky for having such a great friend! Those squash blossoms look so good I could eat them all