The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

6:08 AM

Roasted Pumpkin Seed and Halloween Fun

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
and Halloween Fun

We had kids over a few days ago, so I cleaned out some pumpkins for them to carve, and set the seeds aside for a little roasting.  Roasting pumpkin seeds is something I learned from my mom, and I do it every year.  Kid love trick or treating; I love roasted pumpkin seeds!

Seeding and Roasting
All you really need is at least one pumpkin.  It can be difficult to tell whether a pumpkin has a lot of seeds, and some big ones may have few, while some small ones may have a lot.  You really just have to try your luck. 
When you gut out your pumpkins to create jack o' lanterns, if you throw away those seeds, shame on you!  Those little seeds make one of the most delicious snacks you will ever have!  Just set them aside in a bowl when you clean out the pumpkin, and you can tend to them later.

Once all of the festivities are done and it's time to roast those seeds, you need to do a little bit of prep work.  Clean the seeds thoroughly, and make sure there are absolutely no pieces of pumpkin left over.  The pumpkin flesh will burn during roasting, and become very bitter.  Just rinse the seeds in a bowl of water, and remove any bits of pumpkin that you find.  Change the water as necessary.
Once the seeds are clean and free of pumpkin pieces, drain out all of the water that you can.  The seeds don't need to be dry, but you don't want any residual water.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a baking sheet and moderately coat it in a light oil.  I used canola oil, but other oils such as vegetable, safflower, peanut (or even pumpkin seed oil!) will work just fine. 
Places the seeds on the pan, and spread them out.  You may want to scoop them with a slotted spoon, to insure that no excess water from the bowl gets on the pan.  You want a pretty flat layer, so if you were lucky enough to get so many seeds that you would need to pile them to make them fit, save half of them for a second sheet.  In order to roast them properly, you want the contents of the pan to be as close as possible to a single layer of seeds.
Roast the seeds at 350 degrees.  I don't time the seeds, as they always seem to take a different amount of time, and some people like them more or less crispy.  What you should do is check them every five to ten minutes, and stir them around, then re-flatten them on the bottom of the pan, to make sure they roast evenly on both sides.  Be careful not to burn yourself!

When they start to dry out a bit, add whatever seasonings you like.  Remember that you want the flavor of the seeds to shine, so your coating should be fairly simple.  This time, I just used some garlic salt, some freshly-ground pepper, some smoked paprika, and a little bit of ancho chile powder.  If you don't like them spicy, don't use any chile powder (then again, if you like them really spicy, try some habanero powder!)
Once they start to brown and get crispy, taste, reseason as necessary, and remove the seeds to a dish when they meet your liking.  I like mine pretty crispy and dark, but if you like them lighter, feel free to take them off whenever they suit your desire.  Just don't burn them (these burn pretty easily).  Serve them in your favorite serving bowl, and enjoy!  And remember, it doesn't hurt to check once more to make sure they have enough salt.

Note: packaged pumpkin seeds are obviously much easier to use than seeds you must extract from pumpkins, but since you're doing it anyway (right?), it's not so bad... Plus, the packaged seeds really don't have the same flavor or crispy texture as fresh seeds.

Halloween Fun
Below are some pictures of the kids having fun making some great Halloween treats, and a shot of our jack o' lanterns.  Before you ask, no, we are not professional pumpkin carvers.  Give us a break!  Haha.

These sorts of recipes are simple and easy, and great to do with the kids for Halloween.  They don't cost much, and they are a nice hands-on activity to get them involved, since pumpkin seed roasting is definitely not for kids, and the little kids can't use knives to carve up those pumpkins!

The ghoul toes are thick pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate and topped with an almond toenail.  The spiders are created by dipping fried chow mein noodles (the kind you buy in a can) into melted chocolate, and adding red hots for eyes.  Spooky!

Thanks to an old edition of the L.A. Times for the Halloween treat ideas!

Enjoy~ Adam aka Truffle Suffle

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Whole Foods Shopping and Tagged I'm It

There is a new Whole Foods here in Huntington Beach CA...:)
Now for those of you unfamiliar with Southern California or Orange County.
For me this means a much closer location than the one in Irvine~ Me Happy :)
And as you can see in the above photo, I made you a snack from some of my
shopping treats. I am going to highlight just a few of these here as they may be 
of interest and are somewhat unique finds. But I will list my full shopping 
excursion briefly as well. If you happen to be local and would like some more
detailed information on this Whole Foods location~ My friend Priscilla of
She's Cookin"  had a private preview prior to the opening. Even if you are not
local, this is a must see article on "local sourcing, local products, supporting and
 giving back to the community, and wholesome, sustainable food!"

So what did I get on my shopping spree you might ask? All right since
you are pressuring me :) I will give you a quickie shopping list and then the 
highlights for just a couple. In the shot above are just a few of the goodies.
I will tell you the truth here...I actually just popped in to get my ever so 
favorite Avocado Oil (Extra virgin cold extraction), but they did not have
any at this location. But you probably guessed, I am one of those shoppers.
You know the kind that goes for one thing and comes back with fifty...Yes
my friends that is me.

The shopping finds:
A vegetable ciabatta
Roasted pistachio oil
Various olives from the extensive olive bar
Freshly roasted coffee, roasted on site
Roasted garlic
A mega heirloom tomato (I mean huge) 
A Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh cranberries
Fresh pomegranate seeds
A truffle cheese
A sage derby cheese
2 wonderful new finds:
Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps:
A fig and olive cracker
A salty date and almond cracker
Plus a small amount ($30.00 a pound type small)
of maitake mushrooms
All of this from a trip to pick up avocado oil...OK, so I have a problem.

So let's just spend a few minutes talking about these lovely cheeses and
the (way expensive) lovely mushrooms...

The Truffle cheese is a Sini Fului Sottocenere with Truffle:
This is a beautiful unpasteurized cows milk with truffles, and a rind that 
has a light brownish grey hue and is loaded with the most delightful of
spices...Included here are coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, fennel,anise,
 licorice, cloves and truffle oil. A beautiful and fragrant cheese with the subtle 
yet lingering of hints Autumn . 
The next cheese pick is a Somerdale Sage Derby:
This is a pasteurized cows milk cheese with a stunning sage green
marbling. I found it to be quite earthy and rather subtle, in a good way.
I have not prepared either of these cheeses in a dish, as of yet....
But I you know I will :)

And for the mushrooms...they are Maitake or Grifola Frondosa.
I do not know a great deal about these mushrooms other than they are
said to be prized both medicinally as well as culinary. I chose a smaller
bunch that was not quite as pretty as some others, but due to the price I
am starting small and will work my way up as I experiment :)

Added to this throw together after shopping snack...are a black cherry
balsamic vinegar and truffle salt that I had on hand...

So now onto the "Tagged I'm It your Next" portion...
So I have been tagged again, twice actually so I will get on with the 
questions and "Taggers" :)

My first "Tagger" is Victoria of  Mission Food.
Victoria is one of the sweetest and most passioned bloggers I know.
Her energy is quite contagious and her love of all things food as well as cause,
is both honorable as well as simply a great time. She is on a stream lined
fast track to all things in our big bright culinary world.
So if you have not met I  encourage you to take the time to stop by.
 So here are Victoria's questions;

1) What cookbook could you not live without?
OK, I will admit it...I don't really read cookbooks (I can hear your gasps you know).
But I have purchased a few...And the answer would be "Mastering the Art of French Cooking~
 Julia Child"
2) Are you allergic to any foods?  If so what?
Yes...most specifically strawberries as well as all melons :( 
3) If you could eat at any restaurant in the world, regardless of its location or price, where would you go?
Taillevent, Paris
4) What was your worst cooking disaster?
Well that really covers anytime I try to bake something pre-made or cookies...
I'ts actually a family joke :(
5) What is your least favorite ingredient or dish?
Well I don't eat meat, so that would be my least favorite ingredient.
6) Did you have a childhood celebrity crush, and if so, who was it? (Yeah, I went there...)
Completely and hopelessly Mel Gibson - Most specifically Mad Max...had posters everywhere.
7) What is your favorite movie?
8) Potatoes or rice?
Usually rice but I love potatoes as well

My second "Tagger" is Nancy of Spicie Foodie 
I know you are all familiar with Nancy, but on the off shot that you are not
do yourself a favor and stop by. She is a most accomplished blogger, and a
wonderful friend. In fact she is one of our earliest friends here at The Ardent Epicure,
and most defiantly a source of constant inspiration and support. Plus her dishes
and photography are, how can I put this simply, WOW!
Now on to Nancy's questions;

1. Who taught you or how did you learn to cook?
My Dad, he is a retired Master Chef
2. Do you listen to music when you cook? If so what type or who is the artist?
Usually, it varies but 70's is a big favorite of mine as well as soul, jazz and blues.
3. What foodie gift are you asking Santa for this year? ( like a new mixer or perhaps a new camera?)
Yikes...New pots and pans I guess, but a new camera would do just fine ;)
4. What is the most difficult dish you have cooked or baked?
That is tough...Soufflés can be challenging, especially at first or when you do not prepare them often.
5. Do you have a kitchen disaster that left you in tears then, but now makes you laugh? or perhaps still makes you cry?
Wow, I would have to revert back to the restaurant days for that one. I had a very temperamental 
 Sous Chef...we were packed and I mean packed with lines and 40 min wait (probably we were softening that). I was short staffed and was in the front helping with serving etc. Things were flying in the kitchen, staff were in tears...needless to say things were burning, people crying...And I quickly became even more severely short staffed. But overall it is a memory that makes me smile, the remaining (and grateful staff) did an outstanding job covering and not one complaint
 from the clients. In fact most tried to help :)
6. What is your favorite book? Whether cookbook, biography, novel, ...
An obscure book of short stories by Valerie Martin "The Consolation of Nature"
7. What is the biggest reward to you from your blog?
With out a doubt the people I have met...most specifically a few of them being now cherished friends.  
8. Do you have a goal or is there something you hope to accomplish with your blog?
Yes but it is still a bit undefined...Working on a new project or maybe expansion
 is a better term, right now. Since it is just a working concept right now, I will leave it at that.

Now on to my eight questions and those I will tag...
I am going to use the same questions I did last time.

1) What single thing or entity most inspires your dishes?
2) What do you love most about having a blog?
3) What is you favorite type of music?
4) What would you most like to do with your spare time (if you had any)?
5) What are your 2 favorite flavor combinations?
6) What is your favored reading material?
7) Who is your favorite Chef or Cook at this moment?
8) What is your zodiac sign?

I am tagging;

Biren of  Roti n Rice
Sara of  Saucy Dipper
Angie of Angie's Recipes 
Rita of Sage Cuisine 
Karen of Tasty Trials 
LeQuan of Luvtoeat

Enjoy~ Alisha aka Magic of Spice

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Stuffed Baked Apples with Apple Velouté

This is "Part Three in the Classic Sauces with a Twist"
As discussed in the previous post, sauce Velouté is one of the Classic French
 "Mother Sauces". The Mother Sauces consist of Sauce Tomat, Bechamel, Velouté
and Espagnole  later adding  Hollandaise . Our Sauce Velouté is actually not
considered to be a finishing sauce, however for our purposes today we will be
using it as such. Sauce Velouté is a base sauce for soups or with a  liaison.
 (A combination of egg yolks and cream that is used to finish this sauce) as well
 as several other classical French sauces. So why am I adding this sauce to
the reduction series...well because this sauce uses the process of reduction.
Now this sauce is generally based from either chicken, white fish or veal. My
twist here as you may already know is that our Sauce Velouté is apple based.
The process of the sauce will be the same, with just a couple of additional
notes. As apples have a natural sugar you will need to use a slightly lower heat,
and take a bit extra caution not to brown or caramelize. The Sauce Velouté
utilizes a white stock (simmered and not broiled or baked meats with bones) 
and a blond roux(equal parts butter and flour just slightly toasted) .  

What you will need:
For the baked apples
4 large apples, preferably organic :)
8 ounces marscarpone
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small bunch of champagne grapes
2-3 sugar plums
2-3 small figs
1 cup or so boiling water
1 baking dish
For the roux
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter, clarified
*you will need about 1 teaspoon extra prior to clarifying
2 tablespoons flour
1 small sauce pan
*Note: To ensure pristine flavor use
stainless steel or enameled pan.
For the velouté
Your roux
2 cups apple stock, hot
*apple stock recipe
Pinch of salt, finely ground
Pinch white pepper, very finely ground

Let's get cooking:
For the baked apples
You will need to core your apples, like the photo above. You can do this
 with an apple corer or sharp pairing knife. Make sure to leave about 1/2 inch
of the bottom. Now take a grapefruit spoon, or regular spoon and remove the
seeds and some of the apples interior. You should have an opening about 1 inch
or so wide.In a small mixing bowl add you figs, grapes and sugar plums. You can
 leave these a bit damp after washing then add brown sugar and mix. Add your
marscarpone and fold together. Stuff filling into each apple to the brim.
Place apples in a baking dish and add boiling water to dish, enough to
cover about 1 inch deep in the pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at
350 degrees (F) for 30-40 minutes, or until just tender. Note: Baste sides
occasionally but do not baste over filling area.

For the velouté
We will start by clarifying our butter...Using your small sauce pan 
that has be slightly warmed. Add your 2 tablespoons and a bit extra to the pan
 and melt on a low heat.You will notice the solids floating to the top. This will be a
 bit foamy, as these solids begin to rise, remove them by using a large spoon just
below the surface to gently lift and separate them. Continue this process until only the
 golden yellow liquid remains. Remove pan from heat source and whisk in flour.
Whisk your mixture until smooth then return to your hear source. Keep mixing
 or whisking until your roux has achieved a slightly golden hue. Be careful
not to brown your roux, we are looking for a blond roux here.It should
take about 4 minutes to achieve a blond roux with this ratio of butter and flour.
Now remove your pan from the heat source once again and add 1 cup of
your apple stock. Again you will want to mix until smooth, then return to heat
adding the remainder of your stock. Continue to whisk until smooth, then bring
your mixture to a low simmer. Add your pinch of salt and pepper, continuing 
 to whisk and simmer for about 25 minutes or until reduced by at least a third.
Strain though a mesh stainer. We are looking for a silk like sauce here
Serve your Apple Velouté warm with the baked apples :)

Enjoy~ Magic of Spice - Alisha

This recipe is entered into 
"The Spicie Foodies Your Best Recipes of the Month"

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Apple Stock, Talk of Sauce Velouté and Awards

Let's get the first order of business out of the way... The probable first question you have for me is - You said Awards, so where is the dessert? Sorry everybody, but no dessert.
Well that is not completely true. I did make you a dessert but will be posting it later this week. Today we are making Apple Stock, a primary component of our dessert. Now the dessert itself is also "Part Three in my Classic Reductions with a Twist Series"
Have you guessed the dessert yet? Did you guess Baked Apple Velouté...if you did, then you would be correct :) For anyone that is not familiar with Sauce Velouté, it is one of the Classic French "Mother Sauces". The sauce is composed of a white stock (most commonly chicken)and blond roux. We will go into more detail in the next post.

Since we need a stock, and our stock needs to be congruent with our primary ingredient. We need apple stock. And I don't know about you, but I have never come across this in any grocery store? So we will prepare our own :)  

What you will need:
2 pounds apples or apple pieces, chopped
(I used organic McIntosh that I had odds 
and ends saved from other recipes)
1/2 lemon, cut in half
1 Bouquet Garni, with the following whole spices
1 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod
2 star anise
5-6 cloves
1/2 teaspoon orange peel
Your whole herbs should lightly crushed but not ground
Large stock pot with lid

Let's get cooking:
Place apple pieces in stock pot, add bouquet garni bag and lemons.
Fill pot with water, enough to cover apples plus 3 or so inches.
Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce flame and simmer 
covered for about an hour. Keeping an eye on your water level periodically 
to insure that it does not  boil too far down. Once your apples are tender but not mushy, remove from heat and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, then strain
 through a mesh strainer.
*Note: Do not mash through the strainer, we are looking for a clear stock.

The Award

  This lovely award was presented to me by Biren of Roti n Rice.
Biren's site is a comprehensive collection of amazing dishes and stunning 
photography. In addition to the eye popping dishes she serves up, she is one of 
the warmest individuals I have ever had the pleasure to know. If you have 
not had the pleasure, I encourage you to stop by and get acquainted.

I am going to do something a bit different here, and eliminate the traditional rules for excepting this award. I am going to choose 15 people to pay it forward to, but with "No Rules"
attached to acceptance...My reasoning for this is quite simple. I am passing this award onto people that I find make both this virtual world and real world of ours a much better place. But not necessarily due to their beautiful recipes, plating or even photography. Quite simply this group of bloggers are not only generous with their talents that they share with us so openly, but with their hearts. These individuals take time and care to support others. They use their voices, talents and blogs to do everything from environmental awareness, charitable activities, supporting fellow bloggers efforts, all the way down to simply bringing a well needed smile to someone else's face.

One more thing then on to my list...There are a few people missing from my list. This is due to the fact that Biren, whom would be on this list has already beat me to it here
Good thing though, since my list would take two posts then :) 

 1. Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks
 2. Rebecca of Chow and Chatter
 4. Shirley of Shirley's Luxury Haven
5. Nancy of Spicie Foodie
6. Priscilla of She's Cookin'
7. Dennis of  More Than A Mount Full
9. Claudia of What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine 
    and  Blogs Got Heart 
11. Faith of An Edible Mosaic
12. Victoria of Mission: Food
13. The Ladies of Zomppa 
15. Heather of Girlchef 

Enjoy~ Magic of Spice-Alisha

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10:39 PM

What's on the side? Dipped and Tagged

Posted by Magic of Spice

Roasted Autumn Squash 
Dip and Crostini

Autumn is my favorite Season, although California does not really follow many of the patterns seen in other parts of the country...You can still feel it, and see it. One place that you most definitely can start to see a Seasonal change is with the vast majority of produce. We've gone from zucchini to pumpkins, and peaches to apples...

So what's with the title you might ask? 
Well to start off with, Sara from Saucy Dipper is having a Dipstock Party  from October 21st thru 31st :) And this is a preview of one of my dips.
Wait, there's more...Our lovely Akheela over at Torview  is also hosting an event... 
Food Palette Series  through the month of October. This months color palette is Orange.
Wait, there's still more... Raven of  Ravienomnoms  "Tagged me"  a fun way to get to know more about fellow bloggers by answering 8 personal questions dreamed up by the "Tagger" . I will be answering these questions and coming up with my own eight :)

 What you will need:
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
Olive oil for basting
4-6 cloves garlic
2 small shallot
2 dried chipotle chilies, ground
Juice of one half lemon
4 ounces Greek yogurt
And a few pinches or so of the following, ground
4 mini pumpkins for serving, optional

Let's get roasting: 
To start cut your squashes lengthwise and remove the seeds, leaving skin intact.
Baste each squash half with olive oil, on both sides. Sprinkle with seasonings.Prepare a baking dish or ridged baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Place shallot and garlic in cavity of each squash and then lay them down on their tummy on prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees (F) for about 40 minutes. They should be fork tender when done. Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch. Now you will need to remove the outer skins. Note* you can use a pairing knife to gently raise the skins to ease the process.Once skins have been removed you can coarsely chop the squash and add to a food processor or blender. Include your garlic and shallots. Add lemon juice and blend until just incorporated.  Now add yogurt and blend until smooth.
Serve at room temperature in carved out mini pumpkins, or as desired.

Now on to being tagged...
Here is how the game works. I need to answer the 8 questions that Raven as asked, then come up with eight of my own. Then I have to "Tag" eight bloggers that I would like to here these questions from. 
Here are my answers to the 8 questions...

1) What is your favorite time of year? and why?
Autumn/Fall...I am a Fall baby and I love the cooler weather.
2) What was the most recent concert you went to?

Ziggy Marley
3) What was your best cooking experience in the past few months?

Tough one, but I will say making clotted cream.
4) If you could meet anyone in the entire world, who would it be?

Sorry but you did not say they needed to be alive :) Albert Einstein
5) What is your dream job?

Biological Anthropologist
6) What is your favorite joke of all time?

I have no idea
7) Are you someone who can eat food cold?

Yes, especially leftover it
8 ) Who do you enjoy cooking with the most?

My kids,my Dad or my Brother

OK, now on to my 8 questions:
1) What single thing or entity most inspires your dishes?
2) What do you love most about having a blog?
3) What is you favorite type of music?
4) What would you most like to do with your spare time (if you had any)?
5) What are your 2 favorite flavor combinations?
6) What is your favored reading material?
7) Who is your favorite Chef or Cook at this moment?
8) What is your zodiac sign?
OK, well the last one was for fun...Actually they should all be fun at least for me :)
I am tagging: 
Shirley  of Shirley's Luxury Haven
Drick of Drick's Rambling Cafe 
Ryan of Cajun Chef Ryan
Emily of Cleanliness is next to Godliness 
Claudia of What's Cookin' Italian Style Cuisine 
Mags of The Other Side of Fifty 
Denise of Quickens on the Dinner Table
Dionne of  Try Anything Once 

There are of course many more I would love to tag, but I tried to keep in mind schedule's, etc.
So if anyone else is game...go for it you know we would all love to know :) And if I tagged you but you do not have time or just would rather not...No worries, participation is always optional :)

For the contests :

Click here to join the fun :)

Click here to have your Halloween Dip Party 

Magic of Spice-Alisha

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9:32 PM

What's for Lunch? A Slightly Confused Stir Fry

Posted by Magic of Spice

A Slightly Confused Stir Fry
with Fruit and Feta Stuffed Mini Eggplant 

Why so confused? Well because I made it that way...Asian vegetables with Mediterranean spices...Would't you be confused?  OK, let's just start with the vegetables and work our way down :) As most of you are probably aware by now, we are in Southern California... Specifically Coastal Orange County. Now if you are not familiar with this area you may not be aware, but there is a heavy influence of Asian cuisines. In fact you can find a specialty within most any cultural cuisine, not as broad as LA but pretty broad. This brings us to our vegetables, and quaint Asian markets...You know I am a sucker for fresh organic produce, even if I have no clue what to do with it :)
Angled Luffa, Chinese Long Beans, ginger and Thai Eggplant-Hybrid Tiger

So, about this produce...We have Angled Luffa (aka Chinese okra). As you can see in the photo they are large and have destinct ridges running their length. They are actually a member of  the Summer Squash family and I find to be more similar to zucchini than okra. I was also informed that they should be slightly flexible, rather than firm or stiff to be considered optimal. If they are stiff in structure, they are not fresh.
I also purchased Thai Eggplant (a hybrid Tiger Eggplant). Well we all know I can not resist a mini anything, so they were coming home...As you can see in the photo above, they are small and round. They have a white body with dark green stripes...I mean cute right? They are said to be sweeter than your more traditional varieties of eggplant. 
Then of course there are these lovely Chinese Long Beans. They do not differ much from Western Green Beans other than their length.

Nutmeg, Green Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Sticks and White Sesame Seeds

Well truthfully each individual spice is common in varied cuisine, but the combination is probably not what you consider when preparing a Stir Fry. 
I started with whole nutmeg, that I crushed (you can grate if not using a grinder), then peeled my green cardamom seeds to release the inner seeds. Crushed up 1/2 cinnamon stick, then ground them to a semi fine powder. The white sesame was used as a garnish. I also added fresh grated ginger, garlic and lemon zest.
So here you have my Confused Stir Fry...I know I generally sick to the rules but...Oh wait, thats not me :) I had a new wok and these lovely veggies, so a lunch we shall have...

What you will need:

For the stir fry:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
(or use 2 tablespoons olive oil and red chili flakes)
1 small shallot, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 small ginger root, peeled and grated
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 1 tablespoon combined
(ground cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg)
Salt and pepper to taste
(about 1/2 teaspoon each)
1/8 th cup water
1 hand size bunch long beans
2 angled luffa, see prep below

1/8 th cup dark cherry balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon raw sugar

For the stuffed mini eggplant:
4-6 Thai eggplant
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 teaspoons Greek feta
4-6 teaspoons fresh fruit, or preserves
Pinch of salt and pepper

Veggie prep:

For the angled luffa:
Simply remove the ends, then with a pairing knife or vegetable peeler, remove the
 ridges. Then slice into circular pieces of close to equal thickness.
For the long beans:
Cut of ends and cut length in half or shorter if desired.
For the thai eggplant:
Remove the uppermost top and thin slice off of the bottom of each.
Then make a cross cut of each eggplant going down through the thickness, but
not cutting through. This should look similar to a blooming flower.

Let's get cooking:

For the stir fry:
Place the oil in your wak or large skillet, heat over medium/high heat.
Add garlic, shallot and ginger until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Now add your veggies and stir to coat, allow to cook stirring frequently for 
about 5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften and lightly brown. 
Add your seasonings and water, stir and reduce heat just a bit. Allow to 
simmer uncovered until softened but slightly firm, about 10 minutes or so.
Now add lemon juice, sugar and vinegar and raise heat back to a
 medium/high. Stirring frequently until liquid has reduced almost completely,
and vegetables are tender. Garnish with white sesame seeds.
For the eggplants:
Take prepared eggplants and drizzle with olive oil and lemon. Add a pinch of
salt and pepper. Place in a baking pan in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees (F).
Baste often in juices, and bake until fork tender. About 30 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.Then add fruit or preserves
 and sprinkle with feta.

So now that there is a new Wok in The Ardent Epicure kitchen...???
Serves 2...Adjust the flavors to your liking. Get creative :) 

Magic of Spice-Alisha

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