Welcome to Test Kitchen — a series dedicated to experimenting with our Edible Garden collection!
Each month, we’ll speak with a chef or mixologist about one of our indoor herb garden or indoor vegetable garden plants. In addition to expert preparation and care instructions, they’ll share an exclusive food or drink recipe that’s as fresh as the ingredients themselves.
Next up is Lisa Ludwinski of Detroit-based bakery Sister Pie, who’s mixing it up with our mint plant!
Mojitos, tabbouleh, and mint chocolate chip ice cream — all of these seemingly unrelated dishes have one thing in common: fresh mint. This humble herb lends powerful flavor to countless desserts, drinks, and entrées of disparate backgrounds, from mediterranean tzatziki to distinctly American thin mints.
“In my world, mint is super versatile,” says Lisa Ludwinski, owner of beloved Detroit-based bakery Sister Pie. “I’ll use it in soups, grain salads, and of course, baked goods like pie, scones, and cookies.”
Ludwinski started Sister Pie in 2012 from her parents’ kitchen in Milford, and has since put down roots in Detroit’s West Village neighborhood. In addition to frequent dance parties, community sits at the heart of their company culture — they source ingredients from over 25 Michigan farms and companies and aim to hire women from Detroit proper.
Known for her non-traditional flavor combinations (hello, Apple Sage Gouda Pie), Lisa frequently incorporates herbs into her inventive concoctions. The below recipe for Fresh Mint and Lime Shortbread is no exception. This mint recipe is an elevated take on one of Lisa’s childhood favorites and is quite possibly the best use of your fresh mint leaves.
How to Store & Prepare Mint
To keep your freshly-grown mint as flavorful as possible, she suggests “storing it in the refrigerator with the stems sitting in an inch of water.” When you’re ready to take on her shortbread recipe, simply “pluck off the leaves as needed, roll them up, and finely mince,” she explains.
How to Cook with Mint
As mentioned above, mint is incredibly versatile — Lisa recommends using it in sweet and savory dishes alike. “In addition to pies, scones, and cookies, I’m especially inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine’s use of mint — I love it in things with lamb, yogurt, and cucumbers.”
In her opinion, there’s no such thing as too much mint. “I like to use an aggressive amount of fresh mint in cooking, but that’s really the case for me and any herb,” she adds. “For savory foods, I’ll often use mint at the end, either right before serving a dish or during the last couple minutes of cooking. My goal is to capture the brightness from the herb and transfer that to the bite.”
Recipe: Fresh Mint and Lime Shortbread Cookies
This treat is inspired by Lisa’s childhood love of lemon cooler cookies from the grocery store. “The powdered sugar dip really packs a punch of nostalgia, like I’m eating them out of a box from the cookie aisle at Kroger,” she adds. “For me, they have the perfect balance of sweet and tart.” Find the full recipe below.
Makes 36 cookies.
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup finely minced fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup powdered sugar, plus more for coating
- 2 teaspoons packed grated lime zest
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, massage the mint with the granulated sugar.
- Place the butter, powdered sugar, lime zest, and mint mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very smooth with no visible chunks of butter.
- Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the bowl, then add the lime juice and mix until just incorporated. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix on low speed until completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a cylindrical log approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter (see opposite). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes. Pro tip: You can mix and shape the dough up to 2 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until 1 hour before you intend to roll out the dough. Alternatively, you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months, then let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with the recipe.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the cookies about ¼ inch thick. Carefully transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the edges are just slightly golden.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Before serving, toss the cookies in additional powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Reprinted with permission from Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski, copyright © 2018. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Image copyright © by E.E. Berger.