The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

4:22 PM

Happy New Year

Posted by Magic of Spice

Happy New Year and Welcoming 2011

We wanted to wish everyone a delightful celebration to end 2010...
Whether you are celebrating with a simple farewell or as an extravagant event.
We wish you all a blessed and amazing New Year!

In addition we would like to highlight a few things here today...
The first being our entry into our friend Nancy's YBR on Spicie Foodie  pictured above,
 this recipe was chosen to celebrate one of our favorite recipes featured in 2010.
The original recipe can be found here. Stop by and check out everyones favorites :)

Stop by to see some amazing 2010 favorites on YBR, and save the link to
enter your own favorite for January 2011...

And next celebrating with another friend~ Priscilla of She's Cookin
invited me to share a Guest Post to close out 2010. If you are looking for
some wonderful treats to spruce up your celebrations or start of your
New Years morning jump over and look around...or just stop by to say hello :)

To close here I have to share something from another lovely blogger and friend
Deana of Lost Past Remembered  shared a post with us about a very touching
but disturbing issue. Her plight is to raise some awareness for a situation currently
 plaguing  Dublin, and I am sure many other areas in the world.

Have a beautiful, prosperous and endlessly joyous 2011...
From The Ardent Epicure
Adam, Grely and Alisha

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12:46 PM

What's on the side? Mini Mushroom Croustades

Posted by Magic of Spice

Mini Caramelized Mushroom Croustades
with Spiced Liqueur & Balsamic Glaze

To start off, I hope everyone had a lovely Holiday and are now looking
 forward to a wonderful New Year... I am sure that many of you may be
celebrating the end of this decade with food, loved ones and friends...
So today we will be preparing Croustade.
If you are unfamiliar, Croustade [kroo-stahd] is a French term for an edible
container, typically of pastry and then filled with savory ingredients or sweets.

I prepared these mini hors d'œuvre or appetizers over the Holidays and of
course they can be filled with a variety of  lovely ingredients. For these particular
croustades I had some organic Bunashimeji or Beach mushrooms, and decided
to caramelize them along with some shallots. And since ricotta basically makes
everything better, I have paired the two flavors together here. To top these off we
are going to make a glaze of balsamic and B&B liqueur. If you are not familiar with
this liqueur...B&B Liqueur is a delicate blend of spiced Benedictine Liqueur
 and fine French Cognac. And for a non-alcoholic version you could easily
replace the liqueur with an apple cider and still retain a similar flavor. 

What you will need:
*Note: This recipe is based on approximately 
8 mini croustades

For the glaze
1/4 cup high quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup B&B liqueur
Reduction pan or pan with high flared sides

For the filling
1/2 pound bunashimeji mushrooms
2-3 medium shallots
2 tablespoons butter
a splash or two of B&B liqueur
Freshly ground pepper
8 tablespoons ricotta cheese

For the pastry cups
9 sheets phyllo dough
melted butter for basting
pastry brush
mini muffin tin

Let's get cooking:

For the glaze
Place balsamic and liqueur or cider in a small reduction pan.
Bring liquid to a low boil then quickly reduce heat to low.
Continue to simmer on low until your liquid begins to have a
syrupy consistency and is reduced to about 1/4th. This should
take about 40 minutes. Note: Time for glaze will depend on both
the amount of liquid used as well as the size of pan used.
So adapt accordingly, and if using cider allow for a longer
 reduction time. And will thicken as it cools.
This can be made ahead of time and stored in a jar or
squeeze bottle and reheated in container with warm water.
This recipe should yield about 1/8th cup.

For the mushrooms and shallots
Melt butter in a medium sauté pan, then add shallots and mushrooms.
Continue to sauté over medium/high heat until shallots begin to brown.
Add a few plashes of your liqueur of sider for non-alcoholic version.
Continue to heat, stirring frequently until your liquid is reduced to thickened
sauce. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, set aside.

For the pastry cups
Thaw phyllo dough as instructed on package.
You will want to work quickly and using three sheets at
a time. Place one sheet on a clean working surface and
brush with melted butter. Take second sheet and repeat the
process, then lay atop of first sheet. Now repeat with the
third sheet. Cut the stack into equal thirds. Now take each third
and cut in half. You can now take 2 of these halves and stack
buttered side down on top of each other...creating 8 points.

Get this look:
Taking a prepared mini muffin tin, place squares buttered side down
into muffin tin. Now add about 1 tablespoon of ricotta then equal amount of
caramelized mushrooms and shallots. Once you have filled your pastry cups
take the upper portions of your dough and squeeze together over the filling.
With culinary shears cut of excess dough above the filling.
Starting in the center fan out dough in a similar pattern a a flower blooming.
Continue this process until desired amount of pastry cups are created

Brush tops with additional butter and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.
Bake until edges have browned, approximately 10 minutes or so.
Drizzle with glaze and serve warm ;)

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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5:35 PM

What's for Dessert - Holiday Butter Cookies

Posted by Sugar and Spice

Holiday Butter Cookies

Here are some delicious cookies that have a nice buttery almond flavor, and are coated with powdered sugar.  These cookies are perfect for Christmas, or any other time of the holiday season.

1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of powdered sugar (plus enough to roll the cookies in)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of nuts (chopped)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the butter, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and salt together.
Blend in the flour, baking powder, and the pieces of nuts.
Next, scoop out a small amount of dough, and form into balls on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 22 to 25 minutes, or until just golden brown.
Roll the cookies in powdered sugar, and allow to cool.


Posted by Sugar and Spice (Grely)

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8:25 PM

What's on the side? Individual Insalata Caprese

Posted by Magic of Spice

Individual Insalata Caprese

The Insalata Caprese is traditionally served by layering fresh ripened tomatoes,
fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves then dressing with high quality olive oil and
a bit of salt and pepper...Although you have more than likely seen this salad arranged
in various ways and dressed in as many. Including being served as an appetizer atop
 fresh bread or crostini. Or perhaps for your non-vegetarian guests you could serve as
 an antipasto salad by adding a bit of cubed salami and prosciutto?
 The possibilities are quite varied as are the options for serving. But for purposes
of this post we are going on the assumption that you are madly in~love
with my execution and plating :)

So we will just move on with a few words about our ingredients, and in my opinion
some important factors pertaining to this classic dish. So let us begin with the tomatoes
a very important and key ingredient...make sure that you use nice ripe tomatoes, and
avoid refrigeration as this can cause your tomatoes to become mealy. Another
factor in the choice of tomatoes is that your dressing is based off the juices of your
tomatoes and the olive oil, so the riper, the more juicy the better.

Now lets talk cheese...we are using fresh mozzarella which can be purchasable
in brine or water . This is a semi soft cheese that is traditionally served the day
 it is prepared, however packaging can add to its longevity when refrigerated.
This cheese is not aged and meant to be consumed as fresh as possible. The
texture should be wet and smooth with a soft, mild flavor. This cheese will be
of either buffalo or more commonly today, cows milk.

Next, your olive oil...this is an occasion to bring out the good stuff. As our salad
is dressed based on our juicy tomatoes with the add of olive oil, well you get the point.
For me I like the extra virgin, cold pressed and unfiltered variety.

What you will need:
4 small to medium ripened tomatoes
*Note: I used black or mahogany heirloom
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup basil chiffonade
A handful or so of arugula, or other garnish lettuce
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Get this look:
Start by carving your tomatoes into individual bowls. Making sure
to carve out over a bowl to retain juices. Now take your mozzarella ball(s)
and cut into small cubes. Add the majority of your olive oil (or to taste) to your
tomato juices, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in your cubed mozzarella,
and thoroughly coat the cheese.
Fill each tomato bowl to brimming with the mozzarella.
To create your basil chiffonade, take your fresh basil leaves starting with the largest
 and stack them. Now roll them beginning at the widest end until you meet the
narrowest end. Take your roll now and slice the width with a sharp knife to
 create ribbon like slices of basil. Adorn the top of your tomatoes with your
basil chiffonade. Now you can create small nests of arugula then place
your tomatoes on top of each nest. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a bit
of cracked pepper.

Alisha~ Magic of Spice

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3:59 AM

What's for Dessert - Holiday Peppermint Cookies

Posted by Sugar and Spice

Fluffy Peppermint Cookies with Lemon Glaze

These are delicious, cake-like cookies that are great for the holidays.  Make them with the kids, or give them out as gifts for Christmas!  They use candy canes to give a minty crunch, and are dipped in a luscious lemon glaze.

3 cups of flour
1/2 box of confectioner's (powdered) sugar (about 15 ounces)
1 1/4 cups of butter
1 egg
3/4 cup of granulated white sugar
1/4 + 1/8  teaspoon of salt
1/8 cup of fresh lemon juice (about half a medium-sized lemon)
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Approx. 1/2 cup of candy canes or hard peppermint candies, crushed finely (and a bit more to sprinkle on top if desired)


Place 1/4 cup of the butter, the powdered sugar, the lemon juice, the lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and the vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed for about two minutes, until the glaze is thickened and fully combined.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
If your candies are whole, crush them well, until they are in small pieces.  Larger pieces will create a poor texture in the cookies.  You can crush the candies by double bagging them in plastic, then smashing them with a hard, heavy instrument, such as a rolling pin.  This is a great place for older kids to help!
In a mixing bowl, beat the granulated sugar and  1 cup of butter together, than stir in the flour and the 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Mix in the peppermint candy, saving enough to sprinkle on top if desired.
Roll the dough into small balls, about a tablespoon each, and place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for eight to ten minutes, until they firm and just start to become golden on the bottom.
Allow the cookies to cool for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
When the cookies are no longer warm, dip each in the glaze, then sprinkle with the residual candy pieces (optional).
Allow the glaze to dry before eating.


Note: personally, I enjoyed the cookies with no peppermint on top a bit better.  The candy is nice inside, but a bit too crunchy of a texture on top for my personal taste.  However, feel free to adjust it to fit your desire!

Thanks to for the original peppermint cookies recipe, altered here.

Posted by Grely (Sugar and Spice)

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8:40 PM

Organics - Why Bother?

Posted by Food Pear-ings


What is an organic product?
The term organic refers to a product that has been grown or manufactured without the use of any unnatural or synthetic materials. In a society where processed foods pumped up with chemicals has quickly become the norm, the organic market offers a refuge from the pumped-up world of things like "processed cheese product" and "potted meat food product". Organics offer us what nature provides: real food.

What foods can I find that are organic?
Today, the trend of organic foods is catching on at a quick pace. Therefore, you can find many types of products boasting the organic label.
Meat, Poultry, and Fish
Animal products that are certified organic indicate that the animals are fed only organic feed (or feed in the wild), and the use of hormones or other non-organic substances. Since no synthetic materials are entered into the animals, the end product is therefore organic and natural.
Many fruits, vegetables, grains, and other products may also be found in organic varieties. These foods have been grown without the use of synthetic additives, non-organic pesticides, and other non-agricultural products. This simply means that the plants are grown naturally, and nothing synthetic is added, resulting in natural foods.
Other Products
Many other food products may be found sold in organic varieties. From spices, to oils, to coffee and tea, to entire dishes and manufactured foods, organics are becoming popular all over the world. 
Many non-food products may also be labeled organic, indicated that no synthetic materials were used in the production of those products. For instance, organic cottonclothing, or organic soap.

How can I find organic products?
Today, organics are available in most any supermarket. While the ratio of organics to non-organics is still small, the more we buy (and thus the more popular the organic market becomes), the more we will see over time. Eventually, we may be able to live in a world where processed, synthetic foods are the minority, and people value the fresh, natural taste of organic foods.
Specialty food stores are likely to carry more organic products than your local supermarket. Either way, look for products that are labeled "organic". There are strict regulations in place in the manufacture of organic foods, as well as in the labeling of foods as organic, so organic food companies will display their organic nature with pride.
If you have trouble finding something in an organic variety, try searching online.  Most food products today can be found in organic form.

Why bother?
Organic foods promote the use of natural, safe products, and promote growing and farming without the use of harmful chemicals and additives.  Organic products are foods as nature intended.  And since organic products are made naturally, they are safe for people and the environment.  In addition, the more we purchase organic products, the larger the organics market will grow, and the more natural growing we will see; this leads to a better, cleaner Earth.
And perhaps most importantly, the strict regulations regarding organic food production create more humane standards for handling animals.  The torturous conditions often found in animal breeding and processing centers are not permitted with organic foods.  Therefore, the animals are treated in a more humane fashion.  This means no pumping cows full of steroids, no cramming hens into cages so small they can't even turn.
In addition, organic farms and processing facilities produce less waste, and consume less energy than standard systems.

Why don't we just use all organic products?
The main issue with organics is the cost.  Some organic products can be cost-prohibitive to many people, when compared with standard processed products.  The more popular organics become, however, the lower the cost becomes.  So common organic products may be closer in price to a normal supermarket product, while more rare organics (something you usually don't find as an organic) may cost much more than the standard brands.
So, you have to balance what is important to you with your budget.  However, whenever possible, I highly recommend organic products.  I think you will find that you will not only feel better about yourself by using them, but they will often also taste better too!

For more information on organics, check out the USDA Web site.

Article- Adam~Truffle Shuffle
Photos- Alisha~Magic of Spice

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Peanut Noodles with Spiced Brandied Butter 
and an Award

I decided to try a dessert made from pasta. I did an experiment
using peanut flour rather than wheat flour and created both linguine
and Nutella stuffed Ravioli...And I am entering this into the
Quickies Noodle Challenge
The Challenge
Any a noodle dish of your choice.
A main dish, side, dessert or snack. Just be inventive and show some serious food love.
They will choose the most appealing and interesting or unexpected entry to win.
And what do you win? The most amazing cookbook "Quickies Morning Noon & Night"
*See the prize and link at the end of this post :)

What you will need:

For the pasta
2 cups peanut flour
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
a small bowl of warm water
Pasta machine and rolling pin
Nutella for the ravioli

For the sauce
1/2 cup brandy
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons raw agave

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

Let's get mixing:

For the pasta
On a lightly dusted wooden cutting board or work surface,
create a well in your flour. *See photo above.
Add eggs to center of your well and gently work flour into eggs.
Once your eggs and flour have incorporated you can begin to work
the dough with your hands. Continue to kneed your dough until it has become
firm and shinny, about  5 to 6 minutes. If your dough seems too dry,
add a bit of warm water. If it seems sticky, add more flour.
Set your dough aside and cover loosely with a dry cloth. Allow to rest for
 about 20 minutes. Now cut dough into 3-4 sections, working with one
section at a time and leaving remaining sections covered.
On your floured work surface, begin to shape your dough into a long rectangle.
Get it thin enough to fit to the widest setting of your pasta machine. You will
want to trim of your edges to fit to your machine. Run the rolled dough through
the machine, and repeat the process lowering the setting on the machine each time.
Continue until you have the thinness desired. For ravioli of stuffed pasta you will
want it as thin as possible.
Notes: You can set your pasta on a drying rack or over the back on a chair.
When making stuffed pasta you will want to use immediately and skip the drying step.
To prepare the stuffed pasta, cut to desired shape and brush one side of each with
warm water. Add a dollop of filling on the other cut out pasta piece. Gently lay the
damp side over the top of the sheet with filling. Press pasta sheets together being
careful not to trap any air between. Leave just about a finger width
 between filling and edges.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, once boiling a a pinch of salt.
If making both types of pasta use  two large pots. Place pasta into boiling water.
Cook stuffed pastas until the begin to float to the surface. For other pastas for about
3 minutes to al dente depending on thickness.

For the sauce
Combine butter and agave or sugar in a sauce pan with high walls. Allow butter to melt
at a low to medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until liquid is reduced
and sauce begins to thicken.

Serve immediately... I also dipped some lovely red organic pears in
85% cocoa. With some cayenne and cocoa tinged fresh whipped cream :)
Serves 4

The Award

Now onto the award...
We revived the One Lovely Blog Award from
Michael of Me, My Food and I
Michael has a most wonderfully written site, with delicious delights
at every turn. He takes us along on his journey with food, and takes us to
London with him sometimes too :) If you have yet to meet Michael, I encourage
you to stop over and say hello. There is always something enjoyable waiting :)
We thank you so much for this honor Michael...
Adam, Grely and Alisha~ The Ardent Epicure team

As usual I am not going to supply any rules here, but will be paying forward
this award to a few other bloggers that I find to be wonderful for many reasons.
Sara of Caffe Ina
Catherine of Living the Gourmet
Christo of Chez What?
Anna of Anna's Table
Nisrine of Dinners and Dreams

Quickens Challenge Prize

Quickies Noodle Challenge
Entries are open until 12:00 am EST December 14th
Presented by Denise of Quickies on the dinner table 
and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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Christmas Bean and Wilted Greens Salad
with a White Balsamic Reduction 
and Cranberry Dressing

Left over cranberry sauce anyone? I have prepared for you a salad
using my produce from a resent Farmers' Market finds. I also had in
my possession some exquisite Christmas Lima Beans and Persimmons.
For my greenery I used my carrot top greens and  pea shoot greens,
then shredded up a few of those gorgeous Heirloom Young Carrots.
 For the dressing I made a simple balsamic reduction and added leftover
 cranberry sauce with a bit of fresh sage and ground white pepper.

*Notes on the carrot greens...Pick young and organic carrots, the more
 mature the carrots are at harvest, the more bitter of a green they will yield.
 And if they are not organic, you will most likely encounter pesticide residue
that may not be easily rinsed away. As the greens are not as commonly
consumed, the concentration of pesticides with non-organics may be
concentrated in the greens above the root vegetable.

Christmas Lima Beans...
Are these not gorgeous? I am going to make a confession here, and aside from
maybe my parents, I doubt anyone know this...I hate Lima Beans! I mean the green
ones my parents were shoving at me since I can remember.
 Hate, hate, hate them!!!
I do alright with the white version that I blend with other beans, but I usually pick
 around those as well. But these babies are a joy for me. They are not only lookers,
 as far as beans go, but they have the most wonderful creamy nutty flavor.
 I can understand just why they were granted the name Christmas Lima Beans,
 and if you have never me you will once you have tried them :)

What you will need:
(Directions for 4-5 small starter salads)
6 ounces Christmas Lima Beans (soaked overnight)
8 young carrots, reserve tops
3 handfuls pea greens or shoots
1-2 persimmons, sliced in triangle wedges
*Note: you can replace above greens with any wilting green

The dressing
4-5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
4-5 tablespoons cranberry sauce
2-4 leaves fresh sage
White pepper to taste
Sunflower or other oil to taste, on the side

Let's get cooking:
Soak your bean over night in enough water to cover the beans plus about 2 inches.
The next day simmer your beans on the stove top, again with enough water to cover plus.
Simmer for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until desired tenderness. Note: They should be firm
and if your skins are pealing away you may be over cooking.
Now we will need to start our balsamic reduction, pour into a small sauce pan.
Reduce your vinegar until slightly thickened, about a third or less. Purée your
cranberry dressing with sage and white pepper until smooth.
Add your purée to the reduction with heat off, and mix throughly.

Get this look:
Arrange greens in a small bowl, alternating greens around the sides.
 Place warm beans in the center and top with shredded carrots.
Place triangles of persimmon  or other fruit between the greens and carrots.
Serve warm balsamic and purée ingredients in a separate bowl on the side.
Have sunflower or oil of choice available. Allow each person to add oil to dressing
 for desired individual preferred consistency.  The greens will wilt at
the point the dressing is introduced, but the initial introduction of the salad will
be at it's most pleasing visually prior to wilting :)

Alisha~Magic of Spice

This is going over to  Seasonal Saturday at la bella vita 

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12:03 AM

News & Reminders

Posted by Magic of Spice

News & Reminders 

First up, this is my entry for Novembers Your Best Recipe :)
Baked Brie & Cranberry Sauce  Croissants for the recipe.

Your Best Recipe

This is a monthly entry to show off your best...Entries for this month need 
to be submitted by tonight if you have not already done so. It is fast and easy
and here it an quick instruction link YBR. If you missed this month I encourage 
you to show off your best for next month.

Next on my list is the latest 
Quickens Challenge

The Challenge
Any a noodle dish of your choice. 
A main dish, side, dessert or snack. Just be inventive and show some serious food love.
They will choose the most appealing and interesting or unexpected entry to win.
And what do you win? The most amazing cookbook "Quickies Morning Noon & Night"
Entries are open until 12:00 am EST December 14th
 to submit on quickens morning noon & night here and on Lazoro Cooks here.

And now for the news
My dear friend Rebecca has a brand new app...yes I mean an APP...
You know like there is an app for that, well now there is :)

You can download this treasure here Chow and Chatter App.
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian and gives use an on the go, anytime access to the
healthiest and tastiest recipes out there. I am working on begging...I mean working with
Rebecca on featuring a recipe know as an example :)  Stop by Chow and Chatter 
here to get a good feel if you are not already a huge fan, it will just take a few moments.

So help me in sharing and supporting our friends accomplishments,
if they are new friends for you...Then stop over and have fun!

Enjoy~ Alisha-Magic of Spice

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10:36 PM

Farmers' Market Finds, Organics and Foodie Friends

Posted by Magic of Spice

Farmers' Market Finds, 
Organics and Foodie Friends 

What could be better then finding a new Farmers' Market that has certified
organics, as well as a cheese selection like pictured above? Wait I know...
shopping with friends :) My friend Priscilla of She's Cookin' and I spend this
 past Sunday at a local Farmers' Market in New Port Beach. Some of you
may remember that we spent an afternoon awhile back at a different
market that left a bit to be desired.There were some nice finds, but the
selection was limited and not heavy on the organics. This market was just
the opposite, in fact we had several storms that weekend and Sunday was
expected to be the same.Luckily we ended up with clear blue skies later that
morning. But with rain expected a few vendors did not attend, impressive
never the less and I can not wait to see what the full market has to offer.

So let's explore just a bit about my cheese selection from a local vendors
cheese stand at the market. Picnics Fine Foods is a full service catering,
deli and fine foods grocery. Here is a link to their website.

My Artisan cheese selections:

Pierce Point - organic cows milk
Semi-firm with a creamy texture
The cheese is washed in a Muscato wine, rolled in dried
 herbs and grasses then aged for three weeks.
Imparting a delicately complex layer of flavors
The cheese is only produced during the Fall and Winter
 Seasons in California by Cowgirl Creamery

Fromager Des Clarines - cows milk "mountain milk"
Served at room temperature has a thick creamy texture.
Generally served directly in the wood-chip box.
The cheese is aged for about four months and
has deep white truffle flavors and the texture of
thick creamy butter. If you enjoy aged Brie, this is for you.
Produced in France by Jean Perrin

Etude - goat’s milk
A hard firm textured cheese
Aged for about six months and has a surprisingly
smooth milky flavor, mild and nutty with a bit of
a tangy after note.
Produced in California by Andante Dairy

Rondo - goat and cow's milk cheese.
A very soft-ripened cheese with an herbed rind.
At room temperature you can see in the photo above,
the cheese becomes very creamy and soft.
With a full, bright and slightly sharp palate.
Produced in California by Andante Dairy

We found the most amazing selection of local honeys as well.
I did not get an abundance of information on the honeys produced,
but the selection was quite large. There were two selections that
really caught our attention~ Avocado Honey and the Buckwheat...
 Bee Ladies Local Honey -
If you are local to Orange County California or near by, you may
want to contact them for information on these unique and tasty honeys. 

And of course some gorgeous vegetables worth the trip themselves.
These gorgeous heirloom carrots straight from the ground (mud and all).
The photo does not do their striking and vibrant colors justice, and will
surely liven up any salad or dish they grace. And sitting in the very next bin,
pea shoots or pea greens. Have you ever tried them? They are a lovely
addition raw and added to a crisp salad. They can also be lightly sautéed
or just wilted with a splash of fresh citrus and your favorite spices.
They are also loaded with carotenes, antioxidants and vitamin k.

But the very best thing about a foodie day with a friend?
You can you the ability to try out many new items
with out worry of waste. Just load em up, then split em up :)
The Newport Beach Farmers' Market

And if you missed our Guest Post with Spicie Foodie and her new cookbook see it here.

Alisha-Magic of Spice

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Guest Post- Spicie Foodie 
with  An Epiphany of the Senses

We have a special guest here today on The Ardent Epicure...
Please join us in welcoming our most lovely friend Nancy. Nancy is
the author of Spicie Foodie the blog as well as her new cookbook
An Epiphany of the Senses. She will be sharing with us today one of
the beautiful recipes featured in her cookbook and tell us a little bit more
about the book sit back and enjoy~ 

First I would like to thank Alisha and the Ardent Epicure team for hosting me and for all of the support and friendship they have always given me, Thank you guys.

My name is Nancy but perhaps better known as Spicie Foodie. My cookbook, An Epiphany of the Senses, was just released and it is so great to be able to share it with everyone. I poured all of my heart and soul into my cookbook and I do hope that you will all see the passion behind it. I am a self taught cook and  foodie blogger chronicling all of my kitchen adventures on my blog, Spicie Foodie. 

The book is a 64 page, 7.5' wide × 7.5' tall, Full color, paperback book is filled with the scents and flavors of my kitchen and my adventures into the culinary world. The recipes are healthy and bursting with delicious flavours, aromas and exotic spices. The recipes in the book have resulted in an eclectic collection that is guaranteed to awaken your senses, and is perfect both for the seasoned cook and the novice foodie. I hope you will all stop by and purchase your copy very soon. 

An Epiphany of the Senses

Indian Curry - an epiphany of the senses
One of my favorite things in the world is curry, both making it and of course eating it. I love different types from many different countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and Japan. Which did I miss?, well these are just the one's I've tasted so far. My favorite curries are Indian curries. Why?, because of the complexity and mélange of all the different tastes, textures, sounds, smells, and colors.

Often times you will hear a Chef or passionate foodie describe food or eating a truly delicious meal as an awakening of the senses. For me the awakening came with this curry.

Touch~ the roughness of the cloves,cumin,cardamom,pepper corns and fennel,the ridges of the bay leaves, the silky velvety touch of cinnamon,turmeric and nutmeg.
Sound~the pestle pounding and grinding the spices against the mortar, the oil gently popping as the ingredients cook.
Smell~the individual aromas of the freshly ground spices as they gently meld together.
Sight~the intriguing color palette, the simmering brilliant red sauce as it turns a creamy red when adding the creamy coconut milk.
Taste~ you take the first bite; a burst of flavors. You can taste coconut,a bit of sweetness, you feel like your are tasting all the ingredients individually and at the same time all together. Then; the spiciness it's the last tingling sensation at the back of your tongue.

Today I would like to share a delicious Indian chicken curry recipe that is not difficult to make. (In a previous post I gave you my recipe for freshly ground Garam Masala, or you use what you have.) The recipe makes a big portion for 3 to 4 people.

Your ingredients:
1 lb. (500 grams) chicken breast,bite sizes
1 red onion,chopped
4 garlic cloves (1 tbsp. minced)
2 tbsp. fresh ginger finely chopped(1/2tsp ground)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup warm water Or chicken stock
2 tbsp. Garam Masala*
2 tsp. whole coriander seed (1 tsp ground)
2 tsp. cumin seed(1 1/2 tbs. ground)
1 tsp. Turmeric powder (aka curcuma)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. hot chili/cayenne powder *
1 can stewed tomatoes (14 oz. or 400grams)
Coconut milk 1 2/3 cups ( 13.5 oz. or 400 ml)

* to start with and you can adjust to your liking as you go*
1. In a large pan add a couple of spoonfuls of vegetable oil, once it's warm add the chicken and saute until it's cooked. Next add red onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until it has become soft, then add minced garlic and ginger cook for 2 minutes. Add all of the spices to the pan, and stir continuously for about 3 minutes, the spices will release their aroma.
2. Make sure the stewed tomatoes are in small pieces, then add them to the pan,combine thoroughly. If using bouillon cube dilute it in the water and add it to the chicken and spices, or just add the chicken stock. Stir the mixture and cook for another 5 minutes, then reduce heat, and add the coconut milk. Under low heat cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Almost finished, taste your curry, does it need a bit more salt or more spices? I always double the spices and triple the chili given above, because I like my curry very fragrant and spicy. But this is up to you, every one's taste is different. The more you cook with spices you'll learn to use them by feel, you won't pre-measure anything. I did, and I had to stop to measure these just so I could do this post:)
Once you've tasted and if you added anything else you should cover and let it simmer a little longer.

That's it, super simple and ready in about 30 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice or vegetable spiced rice and or some naan bread.

©2010 by Nancy Lopez-McHugh and Spicie Foodie 
Publisher : Anaja Creatif 
First Edition

We would like to again thank you Nancy for sharing your
beautiful and intoxicating recipe with us here today. And for giving us
just a taste of what lies beneath the cover of this stunning cookbook.
Please stop by and visit Nancy here on Spicie Foodie.
And you can pick up your very own copy or two of An Epiphany of the Senses here.

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9:46 AM

What's for lunch? Forbidden Rice Salad

Posted by Magic of Spice

Forbidden Rice Salad

If you have yet to try Forbidden Rice you are really missing something...
The rice was introduced into the United States in 1995 by Lotus Foods.
The rice is grown organically on small family farms in China and can be purchased
on line or in most health food stores. Although it is a bit difficult to tell in the photo,
once cooked the rice has a deep rich purple color.
This heirloom rice is prized for both it's exotic nutty flavor as well as its
medicinal characteristics. Boasting  a high concentration of antioxidants know as
anthocyanins  as well as a higher lever of various vitamins and minerals.
Now for me, anything that tells me there is an anti ageing benefit...well hey!
But the main attraction is the flavor, with little or no flavor enhancements,
it is just plain delicious ;)

What you will need:
For the salad
1 cup forbidden rice, cooked
1-2 tablespoons organic lentils, sprouted
(or a sprout mix)
1 head frisée (curly endive)
Garnish with carrot shavings, radish sprouts and pea sprouts
And a bit of Greek feta or other cheese

Let's get cooking:
Cook rice according to package instructions.
Ratio= 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cup water
This will yield 3 cups cooked rice
About 10 minutes before your rice is done,
add sprouts to your rice. Continue to simmer covered until done.
Once your rice is done, add a small amount of oil and fluff.
Mixed sprouts I used are primarely lentil , garbanzo, split pea and adzuki.
Allow your rice to cool to room temperature,
 then arrange your salad.
as desired

For the dressing
I used pistachio oil
Sparling wine
Orange/Mango juice
Fresh thyme and sage, finely chopped
1 garlic bulb, minced
*Note: I used a 3 to 1 ratio, however I replaced vinegar
with juice and sparkling wine

Alisha-Magic of Spice

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Baked Brie Croissants with Cranberry 
Sauce and Awards

There are a few awards here today, and as many of you know
 Awards=Desserts :)
This is such an easy but delightful dessert...Or breakfast even ;)
I actually am insane over Baked Brie and I have served them loaded
with sautéed mushrooms or fresh garden herbs, but never fruit??? Well
it all started with an innocent shopping trip. I was just minding my own business
trying to hurry past the cheese case...when there they were, these perfectly
adorable mini wheels of baby Brie. I instantly thought of my fresh cranberries
 I already had waiting at home, then thoughts of baked Brie filled my mind.
I can't help it, really I was born this way :) And if you have never made your
own cranberry sauce, you really must and it is so easy...

What you will need:
For the cranberry sauce
1/2 cup black cherry juice, or other juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup raw sugar
12 ounces fresh whole cranberries
A dash of nutmeg and cinnamon, ground
Small sauce pan

For the Brie
4 mini brie wheels
2 sheets prepared puff pastry
A sprinkle of brown sugar
A small pat of butter for each, melted
Lined baking sheet

Let's get baking:
For the cranberry sauce
Place juice, water and sugar in your sauce pan.
Cook on medium/high heat until sugar has completely melted.
Add additional spices, stir until incorporated.
Add cranberries and reduce the heat just a bit, stir occasionally.
Continue to cook for about 10 minutes or so, until cranberries split
and sauce begins to thicken just a bit. Place in a bowl and refrigerate
until completely cool and thickened.

For baked brie croissants:
Prepare your puff pastry dough as instructed by the label.
With a sharp knife, remove just the very top rind of each wheel of brie.
Cover each brie top with chilled cranberry sauce.
Working on a piece of parchment paper, lay out one section of your
 puff pastry dough. Place brie wheel rind side down on dough section.
Fold dough up sides until just reaching the edge with a slight overlap.
Place additional dough section over the top and lightly press to bottom edge.
Place on lined baking sheet then cover tops with a bit of melted butter
and a sprinkle of brown sugar. *See photo above
Bake in a 350 (F) degree oven for about 20 minutes,
or until just golden and flaky.

The Awards
We have a few more awards to share with you here today :)
I am going in the order received, and as previously established
with No Rules attached... We will be sharing these awards with fellow
bloggers that we enjoy for various reasons. Many sites has stunning
photography, recipes and/or wonderful stories to brighten our days.
But there is something else they all share, and that is Spirit.
They share their warmth and support for their fellow bloggers in
many delightful ways. So here we would like to continue this.

From Fimer

Fimer is the author of a most amazing site  Aux délices des gourmets
I am sure many if not all of you are already acquainted. The site is in French 
and is the epitome of food as art. Every recipe unfolds with a brilliance and
mouthwatering experience, a most definite delight for the senses. Please stop
by and take a look for yourself, you will leave most happy that you did :)
Fimer, nous remercions vous donc beaucoup pour ce prix 
Thank you,
Alisha, Adam and Grely

For these two awards we would like to extent them to:
Pippi of io...cusi come sono (Italian)
Federica of Noteficioccoloto (Italian)
Zuetonka of Don't worry, be happy (bulgarian)
Natale of Canela Kitchen (English/Spanish)

From Elizabeth

Elizabeth is the author of  Food and Thrift Finds
First and foremost Elizabeth is a genuinely delightful lady...
Every post if filled with love and enthusiasm, plus some seriously great food.
She does some amazing flavor packed veggie dishes, and we know how I like that.
Plus, she collects some amazing goodies that she finds in various Thrift Shops...
and takes up shopping with her too :) Again, I know many of you already know her
but for any of you that do not...just pop on over and have a great time :)
Elizabeth we thank you so much for honoring us with this award...
Alisha, Adam and Grely

For these two awards we would like to extent them to:
Claudia of Foodessa
Bonnie of Sweet Life
Juliana of Simple Recipes 
Karen of Tasty Trials 
Melissa of The Hungry Artist 
Emme of Food Samba 
Erin of EKat's Kitchen 
Amanda of Baking Without A Box  
Aipi of US Masala 
Evan of Sweets 
Akheela of Torview  
Please take a moment to stop by, they are all wonderful blogs and blog owners :)

Enjoy~  Alisha-Magic of Spice

This recipe is being entered into Novembers YBR
on Spicie Foodie...

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