The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Grilled Pizza with Lemon Balm
 and Pineapple Mint Pesto


Another idea from the garden...What to do with all
of those fantastically fragrant herbs?
(As mentioned previously "Food Pear-ings" is
a collaborative between members)
Well we had an idea for a pesto combo
using lemon balm and an over-abundance of pineapple mint.
We had also wanted to try grilling a pizza
on the BBQ, so we came up with this...



 Fresh From The Garden Lemon Balm and Pineapple Mint

What you will need:



For the pesto
2 cups lemon balm, fresh
1 cup pineapple mint, fresh
3/4th cups pistachios, roasted (shelled-unsalted)
1/4th cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1 medium lemon, juiced
Half 1 lemon,zested
2 pinches cumin

Let's get mixing:
Combine all ingredients in blender 
Blend until paste forms, stopping to push down the basil as needed
 Add cheese, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper to taste
Continue to blend until smooth, adding more oil if needed
 (Can be made the day before and stored refrigerated and surface covered with oil)


For the pizza
1 pkg pizza dough
10-12 fresh wild water shrimp, shelled
de-veined and halved lengthwise 
Shiitake  mushrooms
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper, ground
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup truffle cheese, shredded halved
1/4 cup Toscano cheese, shredded halved



Let's get cooking:
Prepare pizza dough on floured board
Shape into a circular or rectangular  pattern
Brush one side with olive oil
Place on grill of a very hot BBQ grill, about 500 degrees
Allow to cook about 5 minutes or until browned
Brush oil over uncooked side
Turn dough over and allow other side to cook
again about 5 minutes
Remove from grill and transfer to large plate


In a large skillet, place olive oil and butter,
until just hot
Add shrimp, sauté until pink in color
Add mushrooms, sauté  until soft


Cover surface of pizza dough with pesto
Add 1/2 of cheese
Add toppings then remainder of cheese

Return to grill, reduce heat to medium
and cover
Cook until cheese is melted



Note: This is for a thin crust pizza...For a thick crust
double the amount of dough...
Enjoy!


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8:43 PM

What's for Dinner? - Poodle Style

Posted by Magic of Spice

A Poodle Style Dinner

This is Koko (full name Lady Kokomo) our family puppy..
She is actually 11 going on 12,and we have had her since she was 4 weeks old:)
Her name is from the song "Kokomo- by The Beach Boys"
Although she is getting a bit older, she still
behaves like a puppy. Especially when she is greeting us 
as we return home. She bounds down the stars and begins
her long lived ritual of belly rubs and kisses.
With her special, I missed you bark...

The actual given name for this dinner is "Puppy Crack"
A couple of years ago, we began to notice that
she was getting a bit too thin.
Now she has here dry food (aka crunchies),
but she only partakes when necessary.
So I decided to create a special all organic food for her. 
And several people have mentioned that
I should do a post about it, so here it is.


What you will need:
Note: I changed out the salmon with
duck or some other meat from time to time.
1 pound turkey, ground
1 4 ounce salmon steak
2 cups mixed vegetables, cooked
1 small can garbanzo beans
1 cup rice,cooked (usually brown)
5 eggs
2 tablespoons flaxseed, finely ground
2-4 tablespoons vitamin/mineral mix, optional
(I use Halo brand)


Let's get cooking:
In a large skillet, add turkey and salmon
With a wooden spatula,stir ingredients until salmon breaks apart
Continue to cook until salmon is just done
 In a food processor,grind mixed vegetables
Add vegetables and garbanzo  to meat mixture, and combine
Add rice to mixture, and combine
Now add eggs, flaxseed and vitamin mix
Continue to cook on low until all ingredients are incorporated

You can freeze 2-3 days worth in individual freezer bags 
This of course would also be adjusted depending on the size of puppy.

And as to be a fair mommy, I would like
to introduce the entire family pet line up

                                   Eden "aka Fat Kitty"                        Cabo "aka Tiny Kitty"

And one more of Koko
Cause it's my favorite of her, she looks like a teddy bear








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11:44 PM

Printer-Friendly Recipes

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

As many of you may have noticed, I have been testing out buttons that link to printer-friendly recipes on our last few posts.  We have had some requests for this feature, and I am trying to implement it as best as possible, to accommodate the need to print recipes without cumbersome pictures.
If you have any feedback or questions, please let me know by leaving a comment here.
If you are unsure of how to use the printer-friendly recipes, follow the simple steps at the end of this post.
So far, I have only updated the last few recipes, but I will try to go back and add this feature to some of our older recipes as I can.
Thanks for the patience and support!

How to use printer-friendly recipes:
1)  Find a recipe that has a printer-friendly button at the bottom (try Amaretto Dreams).
2) At the bottom of the post, click on the Printer-Friendly Version button.
3) This will take you to a new page which contains a bare bones recipe, without images or other cumbersome items on the page.
4) When you are ready to print, click the Print button at the bottom of the recipe, and this should open your printer window, so you can print the page.

Note: if the Print button fails to work due to your settings, browser, or otherwise, simply select the information you want to print (all of the text in the recipe), click on your print button in your browser, and choose the Print Selection option.
Please let me know if anyone has any issues that make them unable to use these new features.

Thanks again!

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9:38 PM

What's for Dessert - Amaretto Dreams

Posted by Sugar and Spice

Amaretto Dreams


Here is a simple yet tasty recipe for delicious almond cookies using amaretto (and who doesn't like booze-flavored desserts?!)

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups of cake flour (sifted)
1 cup of granulated white sugar
4 ounces of cream cheese (about half a package), softened
1 cup of butter, softened (do not substitute)
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon of amaretto liqueur
1 egg (yolk only)
1 cup of toasted almonds, sliced

Directions
Place the butter, the cream cheese, and the sugar in a mixing bowl, and beat until the mixture becomes fluffy.


Next, blend the milk, egg (remember, yolk only), and amaretto into the mixture.


Mix in the flour a little bit at a time until it is fully-incorporated into the wet ingredients.


Next, do the same for the almond slices, mixing the batter until the almonds are evenly-distributed throughout the mixture.


Divide the dough roughly into halves, and spoon each half onto sheets of wax paper.


Roll the wax paper around the dough, and work the dough through the paper until you form a roll about a foot long by an inch-and-a-half.


Place both cylinders of wax paper-covered dough into the refrigerator, and chill for at least half an hour, or until the dough is very firm.
When ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Cut the rolls into cookie slices about a quarter-inch thick, and place them onto a cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until they start to become golden brown around the edges.
Cool the cookies, and serve when ready.


Makes approximately 48 cookies at 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches.

Note: Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liqueur from Italy.  If you do not have amaretto, you may substitute 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract.
If desired, press whole or halved almonds into the top of the cookies before baking.



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 Ice Cream Passion Fruit Cocktails 
& New Friend Introductions

I wanted to start of with a couple of introductions.

As many, if not the majority of us are here due to our undying passion for food.
I am going to introduce to you two people that
I find to show this passion in an exceptional manor.

I will start with Penelope Tsaldari...
Penelope has a wonderful site about the art
of food and the excellence of serving.
Here is a brief from her site...
"Dining is a meaningful part of loving life. It awakens our senses in making eating,
 drinking and the art of serving, more of a
 captivating ceremony that heightens our pleasures."
Now I am neither a writer nor a critic, so this
is solely based on my personal experience.
As far as Penelope, I am enthralled by her passion.
Like any work of art, the artists ability to
make you feel what they are feeling is the heightened goal.
When I read the article “Mining The Deep Smarts of Chefs-Resources.com”
 by this delightful artist, the words seem to jump
 from my screen and into me, as if they were my own.

Now on to Chef David Buchanan
Chef David is the master mind behind Chefs-Resources
Chefs-Resources.com is a collaborative site,
in where it’s primary function is to pull together
quite literally any and all information at ones finger tips.
Regarding food and food recourses that is.
Information that is, what any chef, foodie or even a
 home based cook would more than benefit from.
As a small example, let’s say I have been posed
with the task of a dinner party.
Finding out that my guest of honor is a big fan of
Grouper… I know I’ve had it at one point or another.
However it had obviously left a dull impression.
This will not happen at a dinner party of mine,
So I research my little grouper friends here.
I am now more than well armed with what I need
to pull of a stunning presentation of a meal staring,
yes grouper. And now I know it’s range of flavor, texture and even
whether or not it is currently in season.
And so much more...

The Cocktail

What you will need:
1 1/2 cups Ice
2 cups clementine soda
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups passion fruit rum
Blender

Lets get mixing:
Place ice and clementine soda in blender, until just mixed
Add ice cream and rum, until smooth
Pour into well chilled cocktail glasses
Serves 6

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Salmon Burgers with Rum Spiced Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Avocado Salsa

OK, this post was originally to come out this last weekend.
I had some wonderful left over salmon, 
that I had intended (I swear) to create this dish from.
However, I was going through posts from several of our foodie friends,
and I got hungry,so I ate it (the left over salmon).
Just take a look at some of our
foodie friends here on foodbuzz,
Or take a look at our foodie friends here on our profile,
and you will sympathize with me.
I have since replaced my primary ingredient,
due to my initial utter lack of self control.
I basically just did a simple salt, pepper and olive oil,
then grilled it to just done.

Rum Spiced Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Avocado Salsa
What you will need:

Note: A portion of this salsa will be processed where noted

6 kiwis, peeled and chopped, halved (half processed)
2 ripe passion fruits, fruit scooped out (processed)
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled (processed)
½ habanera pepper, seeded (processed)
½ bunch cilantro, fresh and whole (processed)
3-4 tablespoons passion fruit rum (processed)
1-2 teaspoon olive oil (processed)
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (processed)
½ tablespoon cumin, ground (processed)
Salt and pepper to taste (processed)
2 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
2-4 rambutan, very ripe, peeled, seeded and chopped (optional)
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 shallot, chopped

Let’s get processing:
A long list of ingredients but a simple process

Place above mentioned ingredients in a food processor, or blender
Blend until smooth (note there will be seeds from the kiwi and passion fruit)
Once all of your flavors have become incorporated
Taste test for spice and heat, adjust as desired
Place mixture in a medium sized bowl
Fold in remaining chopped ingredients, until just combined

Salmon burgers
What you will need:

Note: Recipe is per burger patty
and salmon should be pre-cooked and flaked

1- four ounce salmon, skinless and boneless
1 tablespoon French aioli (or combine mayo and mustard)
½ shallot, peeled and diced
1/3 cup crackers, crumbed (I used organic whole wheat)
1 squeeze of fresh lime
1/8 cup truffle cheese, shredded (plus more to top)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Let’s get cooking:

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients (except butter and oil)
Once the ingredients has fully incorporated
Shape into a patty
In a skillet, heat butter and olive oil
Place patty in skillet and cook on both sides until browned
Add additional shaved truffle cheese
 on top until melted
Garnish with - Rum Spiced Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Avocado Salsa


Coming up next, the cocktail with more of the Passion Fruit Rum



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6:08 AM

What's for Dessert - Mini Peanut Butter Pies

Posted by Sugar and Spice

Mini Peanut Butter Pies

This is a fairly simple recipe that uses miniature pie crusts filled with a peanut butter filling that puffs up to make delicious, bit-sized peanut butter pies.


Ingredients

Crust
1 cup of flour
3 ounces of cream cheese, kept at room temperature until soft
1 stick of butter, also softened at room temperature

Filling

1/3 cup of brown sugar (either light or dark, according to your preference)
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
1 cup of peanut butter (chunky; note - use all-natural peanut butter with no sweeteners)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of flour

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Crust
In a mixing bowl, beat the stick of butter and the cream cheese, then stir in the cup of flour.


Refrigerate the mixture, covered, until the dough becomes firm (about an hour).
Shape the dough into small balls (about an inch in diameter), and place each ball into the cups of a mini muffin tin (not a regular-sized muffin tin).


Spread the dough across the bottom of the cup, and up the sides, to create a mini pie crust that can hold filling (be sure that the dough in each cup is relatively even all the way around).



Filling
In another mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (peanut butter, melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and flour) to create the filling.  You can use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to accomplish this, or a handheld mixer if you find that to be easier.


Fill each cup approximately three-quarters of the way full, since the filling will rise a bit.  This should cause them to fill out nicely when baked.


Bake the pies at 350 degree for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown, and the filling is puffed up and set.  Cool on a wire rack, and drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.


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Warmed Candied Ginger Broccoli Salad
 with Seared Tuna and Shrimp


I was in the grocery store picking up a few things,
and ran across a bag of organic broccoli slaw.
Now not being big on slaws, my thoughts went to a warmed salad.
The slaw has some shredded carrots and red cabbage as well,
adding a bit of color along the way.
This is a super easy throw together meal, so I am not
going to do a formal recipe for it.

What you will need:

For the warmed salad
1 package of broccoli slaw
Small handful sugar peas
A hand full of alfalfa sprouts
A hand full of micro greens
4-6 Shitake mushrooms
Almond oil

A pinch of the following
Cumin
Roasted garlic
Lemon pepper
Tarragon
Candied ginger crystals

For the sauce
2 parts soy sauce
1 part molasses
Splash of rice vinegar

For the tuna and shrimp
1 small filet of yellow fin, sushi grade
4-6 shrimp, raw

A pinch of the following
Cayenne pepper
Roasted garlic
Salt

Let's get cooking:

For the warmed salad
Heat a tablespoon or two in a large pan
Add broccoli slaw, and sugar peas
Add seasonings as desired (see list above)
Sauté a bit until just slightly softened
(you want them to remain a bit crunchy)
Allow to cool a bit
Prepare mushrooms same as the
Warmed salad, but until softened

For the tuna and shrimp
Use the cayenne, garlic and salt like a rub
Coat to desired heat you wish to achieve
Heat pan until hot
Add almond oil
Place shrimp in pan, cook on both sides until pink
Sear tuna on each side until outer edges 
are just cooked, or to desired wellness

For the plate
Create a nest using the alfalfa sprouts on each plate
Top with your warmed salad
Drizzle with the desired amount of sauce
Place a good sized pinch of micro greens on top
Place a small bowl with sauce on side for dipping
Serves 2





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12:33 PM

Food of the Week - Wagyū Beef

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Wagyū Beef

Sliced Wagyū

For the fourth part in my series on beef and steaks, I would like to dedicate a short post to discussing the wonderful Wagyū from Japan.  This type of beef is taken from special cattle that are bred only in certain areas of Japan.  The most famous of these is Kobe beef, which come from black Tajima-ushi Wagyū cattle.  There are also several other breeds, raised in various areas of Japan, mostly in secluded mountain regions.

Kobe Steaks

Flavor and Marbling
Wagyū beef is known for its astounding marbling.  In fact, good Wagyū beef is more marbling than red meat!  The high fat content of this meat gives it an enormously rich flavor, and makes it very tender.  USDA prime steaks, which are considered to be some of best and most highly-marbled in the U.S., do not even remotely compare with the steaks like Kobe.
Wagyū beef has a delicate flavor, unlike much of the meat in the U.S. It is extremely tender and juicy, and contains a very large amount of fat, making it melt in the mouth.  The fat also lends a superb flavor to the steaks (or other Wagyū beef items).  They have a very high price tag to match their elite status in the meat world.

 Wagyū Sukiyaki

Raising
Wagyū cattle are raised in very specific regions of Japan.  The cattle are bred under strict conditions and rules, to ensure that the beef that results is appropriate to be labeled with the Wagyū name. The cattle are massaged with sake daily, and sake is often added to their diet of grain.  They are usually castrated, and the strict rules of products dictates that they are raised in specific areas, slaughtered in specific slaughterhouses, and that they meet certain conditions, such as a size under a specific weight, as well as marbling and meat quality conditions.  Otherwise, the beef cannot be labeled Wagyū.

Kobe-Style Beef
In the U.S., it is very difficult to find true Wagyū beef.  What is more popular is "Kobe-style beef" or "American Kobe" beef.  This type of meat is easier to procure, and also was thought to appeal more to the American market, who expect their meat to be red, rather than pink or white.  In the U.S., when meat is labeled as "Kobe," it is usually Kobe-style American beef processed in the states using cattle that are cross-bred with Wagyū cattle.
While this is one of the best meats available in the U.S., there is nothing quite like true Wagyū beef from Japan, which may very well be the richest beef in the world.

American Kobe Steaks

Fact: did you know that the various types of Wagyū cattle obtained their different qualities from the secluded nature of the mountainous regions of Japan.  This led to the development of different types of cattle, different styles of raising and feeding the cattle, and thus distinctive meat from each different type of Wagyū cattle.

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Chamomile, Lavender, and 
Pineapple Mint Sparkle
I am growing chamomile for the fist time this year
and it has suddenly exploded in my garden.
So, I was in the garden admiring the lovely delicate little flowers,
and thought... I must use these in a recipe.
Almost before I had time to finish that thought,
I decided on a syrup and quickly fixed upon the
herbs I would balance this with.
And in a flash of genius I came to the conclusion that lavender
 and pineapple mint would do perfectly...
(OK they were really the closest adjacent to the blooming chamomile)
I have taken a few photos of my, quite wild organic garden,
to share with you...

What you will need:

2 cup of water
2-3 small bunches of fresh chamomile
1 small bunch lavender
2 sprigs pineapple mint
4 leaves spearmint, optional
2 cups raw sugar, I used organic
Sparkling water or champagne

Chamomile syrup:
In a medium sauce pan bring 2 cups water to a boil
Wash herbs and pull leaves off your mints
Break up your chamomile and lavender to release oils
Place herbs in water and bring to a soft boil
Add sugar , continue to gently boil until sugar is melted
Reduce heat and continue to simmer, making sure the sugar has dissolved
Cool completely and remove herbs, strain if necessary
The aroma was indescribable, and the chamomile
most definitely took center stage

The Sparkle:
In a chilled glass
Place about 1 inch of your simple syrup
Add sparkling water or champagne
Enjoy!
Place your syrup in an air tight bottle,
if refrigerated should last up to six months.
Other uses would include a delightful drizzle for crapes,
or basically anywhere you would enjoy a traditional syrup...

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