The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

8:52 AM

What's for Breakfast - Greek Style Oatmeal - Recipe

Posted by Magic of Spice

Chilly Morning Greek Style Oatmeal
Note: Make the night before

What you will need:
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon wheat germ, toasted
2 tablespoons dried apricots, chopped
1 date, chopped
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
6-8 ounces Greek style yogurt, plain
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
Fresh fruit, for topping

Let’s get cooking:
 In medium saucepan combine water and oats, bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes (oats will be firm)
 Remove from heat and transfer to mixing bowl
Allow cool 5 minutes, and then stir in yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, 
cinnamon, pumpkin spice and dried fruits
 Cover and chill 12 hours 

Prior to serving, reheat your oatmeal over low heat, about 10 minutes
Add your additional honey, stir
Divide into serving bowls, allow to come to room temperature
Top with pecans, fresh fruit and a splash of cream if desired

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3:54 PM

Food Tip - Choosing Eggs

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Choosing Eggs
Eggs are a common food product in most households.  Whether used as an ingredient to make something else, or starring as the main dish, eggs are consumed all over the world.  From baked goods, to omelettes, to mayonnaise, the egg is a nutritious and tasty ingredient you find everywhere.
But how do you know which eggs to pick?  Most supermarkets nowadays have so many different types of eggs, it can be very confusing to choose the right one.  Here are a few pointers about how to pick eggs.
Eggs are perishable.  Be sure to check the date on the package, to make sure they are not going to spoil.
The thin shells on eggs crack very easily.  Open the package, to make sure that every egg is fully intact; do not buy a package with cracked eggs.
You may see white or light brown, or dark brown eggs.  Other than visual appeal, there is no real difference between them.
Eggs come in different sizes, and this is ultimately to your discretion.  If you are following a recipe that does not state the size of the egg (such as "one large egg") it is best to go with a standard large egg, which is the most commonly-found.
In the U.S., here are the sizes available, from smallest to largest: peewee, small, medium, large, extra large, jumbo (note that most grocery stores will not carry small eggs).  A medium egg is roughly 90% of a large egg, while a jumbo egg is roughly 110%.
A cage-free egg is one that comes from a chicken that is not kept in a cage.  However, this does not necessarily indicate that they are kept in the open, free-roaming.
Literally, this should mean that the chickens that laid these eggs were left to roam outside, not stuck in a cage or shed.  However, with the regulations that are currently in place, this may not necessarily be the case.  The chickens may in fact be kept in tiered aviaries.  However, this is definitely the more humane option when compared to regular eggs, if you do not have a direct supplier that you are sure lets their chickens roam freely.
Organic eggs are eggs from chickens that have been fed only organic feed.  This means that the feed has been grown naturally, and without the use of pesticides.  It also means that the chickens have not been given any unnatural growth treatments.  Organic eggs are always cage-free, whether or not they are labeled as such, and these chickens must be let outside.  Therefore, this is the healthiest, and most humane option.  No matter whether the package says "cage-free," "free-range," "grain fed," or anything else, if it says "organic," you are buying the safest eggs in the market.

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3:42 AM

Food of the Day - Clarified Butter

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Clarified Butter
Clarified butter, also known as "drawn" butter (though simple melted butter is sometimes referred to as drawn butter as well) is a form of butter from which the milk fat solids and water have been removed. What this results in is a clear form of pure butter fat that has a pure taste, a transparent color, a high smoking point, and a longer shelf-life.
 Clarified Butter

Why Clarify Butter?
1. Clarified butter has a good-looking transparent color that makes it great for visual appeal. It is often served as a dipping sauce for some luxury foods, such as prawns or lobster.
2. Clarified butter will last longer than regular butter. Removing the solids causes the butter to retain a longer shelf life. Clarified butter can be stored at room temperature, and may keep for two months or longer.
3. Clarified butter has a high smoking point. This means that when it is used to sauté or fry foods, it will retain a high temperature for a longer period of time without burning. If you turn a pan on high heat and put regular butter in it, it will burn within minutes. Thus, clarified butter is great for cooking foods at high temperature, where you desire the flavor of butter, but are worried about burning.
4. Clarified butter has a great, rich and pure flavor.
Storing Clarified Butter
Clarified butter will not spoil if left out on the counter like regular butter. However, if you are clarifying your own butter, be aware that the butter must be thoroughly clarified in order to achieve this. If any milk solids are left in the butter, it will be prone to spoilage. Therefore, if you are unsure, simply store the butter in the refrigerator.
Note: store clarified butter in an air-tight container, especially when kept in the refrigerator, since it is very prone to picking up the scents of other foods, and may alter or ruin the flavor of your dishes if it picks up the wrong types (e.g. fish, onion, etc.).
Types of Clarified Butter
Ghee - this butter from India is boiled until the water has evaporated and the milk solids have settled. The clarified butter is then scooped off.
Ghee is used very heavily in India, and is also used in other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Beurre Noisette (or brown butter) - in Europe, this is melted butter that has been cooked to separate the solids and butter fat. The butter is then cooked until it starts to turn brown, hence the term "brown butter". This butter has a distinctive nutty flavor.
 Beurre Noisette

This type of butter is commonly used in France for baking, but may also be found used throughout Europe, not only for baking, but also for a sauce.
How to Make Clarified Butter
Use unsalted butter. Over a low heat, melt the butter in a pan until it separates into layers. Skim off the foamy top layer with a spoon. When the top layer has been removed and there are only two layers left (the clear butter fat and the milk solids that have settled to the bottom), take the pan off of the heat, and let it sit for a minute or two to be sure the solids have settled. Next, strain the mixture through a fine sieve or through a very fine cheese cloth. You may also use a gravy separator to assist with this process.
Another way to separate the solids from the butter fat is to cool the separated mixture in a refrigerator until it becomes solid, then scrape off the fatty layer.
Tip: if you want to make a more powerfully-flavored butter, such as beurre noisette, continue to cook the butter in the pan after it has separated, until it reaches a rich brown color.
Serving Tips
Try serving small containers of clarified butter alongside plates of shrimp scampi or lobster.
Also, try clarified butter with fresh seasonal vegetables, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. This goes especially well with broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans!
Lobster with Drawn Butter

Note: I recommend storing your clarified butter in the refrigerator, since there may be some milk solids left. However, be aware that the clarified butter will become grainy when it gets cold. In order to retain its transparent color, serve it right away or melt it before serving.

For a great recipe using clarified butter, check out the Food Network site.

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Morel and Asparagus Quiche 
"Real Programmers don't eat quiche.  
They eat Twinkies and Szechwan food." - unknown

What you will need:
1 1/2  cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 large eggs
10 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubbed
1/2 ounce morel mushrooms, dried
1 cup of asparagus
1 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
 1/2 cup Comté cheese, shredded
1 green onion, filely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Note: It is best to prepair quiche a day in advance
Then reheated

Let's get cooking:
Mix butter and four in a food processor, until texture is that of a cornmeal
Add 1 egg, continue to mix until it holds together
On a floured board, roll out dough to a pie shpe
Press dough into lightly buttered 9 inch quiche or tart pan
(You can also use a springform pan)
Place in refrigerator and chill completely
Soak mushrooms in hot water, about 20minutes
Gently squeeze out liquid and dry with paper towel
Slice mushrooms lengthwise
Sauté asparagus is a bit of olive oil until soft

In a bowl wisk remaining eggs and half and half
Add salt and pepper to egg mixture
Sprinkle cheese and onions over prepaired crust
Place mushrooms and aparagus on top
Pour egg mixture over entire area

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degeese on lower rack,
until egg mixture has become firm to touch
Allow to cool, loosen edges with a knife

Serve with a dinner salad or fresh fruit plate
Add a champagne cocktail
Just add a bit of your favorite juice to a glass of champagne

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5:07 PM

What's for Desert? - Rum Caramel - Recipe

Posted by Magic of Spice

What's for desert? Rum Caramel Sauce

Caramel is a confection made from cooked sugar
 Caramels can be as simple as sugar and water, they are often enriched with butter or cream
Variations are flavored with the addition of vanilla, honey, chocolate and/or nuts
 The texture of caramel can be soft, chewy, or firm, depending on the ingredients and length of cooking time

What you will need:
5 ounces water
1 1/2 cup fine grain sugar 
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon rum
Heavy sauce pan
Large pan of cold water
Fresh Fruit
You need to work quickly when making caramel,  if it starts to harden before you've finished ,
 gently reheat in the saucepan until it is warm
Caution; Hot sugar can cause bad burns,
 use a deep pot and wear oven mitts to protect your hands

Let's get cooking:
Put the water into a heavy and deep stainless steel saucepan 
 Slowly add the sugar, cook over a low heat, slowly dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally
 It is important to dissolve the sugar completely, as once the syrup starts to boil any sugar crystals can turn the caramel grainy
Push the sugar to the center as it starts melting, to keep it from burning
 (Note:  Don't move sugar that isn't melted yet or it will end up lumpy)
Increase the heat and bring the syrup to a simmer, about 15 minutes
Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure an even colour, but don't stir
 Once it is a deep amber , about 4 minutes
Add your butter, until melted
Add rum, stir until incorperated
 remove from heat
Immediately place pan over your cold water bath, to stop cooking
Once cooled you can use to dip fruits and cheeses
For any remaining caramel;
Set the caramel, pour it on to an oiled baking sheet to harden, then break into pieces 
Use these to top ice cream or other desserts
Once set, caramel should be wrapped and/or stored in an airtight container 
Will keep about one week

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10:14 AM

Whats For Breakfast - Turkish Coffee For Two - Recipe

Posted by Magic of Spice

 The name "Turkish Coffee" is the preparation, not the type of coffee bean
Turkish Coffee is unique in three ways;
First the coffee is never filtered, second it is boiled
Third the coffee itself is ground to a fine powder

Whats For Breakfast - Turkish Coffee For Two

"Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love."
Turkish proverb

Turkish Coffee Set

What you will need:
A hand full of dark roast coffee beans, raw
(Or purchse roasted and groung Turkish Coffee)
Large skilled
Sugar, optional
A cezve,(Turkish coffee pot)
2 fincan,(Turkish coffee cups)
A kahve degirmeni,(Turkish coffee grinder)
2 1/2 cups water, use your coffee cups to measure

Lets get roasting:
Place a handfull of dry, unroasted coffee beans in a skillet
On a stovetop heat over medium-high heat, turning constantly
Continue to roast your beans for 15-25 minutes
Note: The longer your roasting time, the darker and richer your beans
Your beans will begin to become oily,
this should take 15 minutes or lesss
Continue to roast until all beans are oily and have a good strong aroma 
At this point you can continue to roast for an additional 5-10 minutes
Place coffee beans on a paper towel and allow to cool
Remaining beans can be stored in a bag, unrefrigerated
You can purchase raw coffee beans online

Lets get brewing:
First you will need to grind your beans
Note: Turkish coffee requires a very fine grind,
 most grinders will not cut it
You should use a grinder specific to Turkish coffee
Fill your coffee pot with 2 1/2 coffee cups of cold water
Add 4 teaspoons of turkish coffee, ground and sugar if desired
Place your coffee pot on the stove, simmer over lowest heat possible
Continue to stir until you start to see a layer of froth on top
Just before the coffee starts to boil and you have your froth,
remove pot from heat and divide foam among coffee cups
Replace coffee pot on stove, bring to a boil
Remove from the stove, wait about 20 seconds or so,
and repeat boiling process, up to 3 times, 
depending on the strenght you wish to achieve
Pour coffee into cups and wait several minutes before serving
Note: Do not stir coffee once you have poured into cups,
there should be a layer of grounds at the bottom of your cup

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5:11 PM

Recipe - Herbed Croutons

Posted by Magic of Spice

Herbed Croutons    
What you will need:
1/2 loaf of Italian or French bread, slightly stale is best
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese, finley grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chives, dried
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
(or use a combination of your favorite herbs)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Lets get bakeing:
In a small mixing bowl, combine, oil, cheese with herbs
Slice bread then cut into cubes
Place cubes into a large mixing bowl
Slowly drissle oil mixture, continuously turning until evenly coated
Spread seasoned cubes evenly on a lightly greased bakeing sheet
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, until golden brown
Allow to cool, can be stored in a sealed plasic bag
Makes  10-12  servings 

Try with our

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