The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Espresso and Cocoa Cookie Sandwich

OK, remember a few days ago Sugar and Spice made these amazing
hazelnut white chocolate chunk cookies, and I begged him to make me 
a few special ones? Well special because he had to chill them quite a bit longer
so that they would be nice and soft, and he had to make them mega sized...
Well he did, because he loves me...
Or maybe because he did not want to hear me plead any longer?
If you missed it you will want to check out that recipe here.

So I have been on a bit of a mousse kick and thought I could prepare something 
special with a mousse and these scrumptious cookies.
I will admit I can not make cookies, in fact I am miserable at it...
I can burn them though :( I am even worse at the pre-made garlic breads,
you know the ones in the grocery store.
The only people that come running when I try that one is the fire department...
OK , so there are quite a few talents that I do not posses...
 I prefer to delve deeply into those that I can at least pass off with some pride:)


What you will need:

For the mousse
8 ounces chocolate 60% or more cocoa
4 tablespoons espresso and cream
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and chunked
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons caster sugar (fine grained)
1 pint heavy whipping cream, halved
2 large cookies, per sandwich
2 heat proof bowls
2 sauce pans that above bowls will fit neatly atop
1/2 banana per cookie sandwich, sliced  (optional)

For the whipped cream

2 tablespoons Aztec hot chocolate ~
a combination of cocoa, cinnamon,cayenne and sugar 
(I used in place of 2 tablespoons of sugar) 
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

For garnish
Champagne grapes
Raspberries
Hot fudge
And of course the whipped cream


Let's get cooking:
For the mousse
In one of your heat proof bowls
Add chocolate/cocoa, butter, espresso/cream and coffee liqueur
Set over your pot of low boiling water
Stir until completely combined

In your second bowl set over a pot of low boiling water
Add egg yolks  and sugar, whisk until thickened about 5 minutes

Allow each of these mixtures to cool at room temperature
While they are cooling take you  1st 1/2 pint whipping cream
In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, mix until softly peaked
Note: do not over mix, just allow to peak

Now combine your chocolate mixture with your egg mixture,
very gently until just combined
Add this to your whipped cream, just folding in to gently combine

For the whipped cream:
Take your remaining 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream
Add your
Aztec hot chocolate powder
(or your own combination)
Whip with a hand mixer or whisk until you achieve a slightly firm peak

Putting it together
Lay one cookie bottom side up
Place sliced banana all around the perimeter
Layer with mousse, and place on top second cookie
Cut in half lengthwise
Place each halve on a desert plate then garnish
Drizzle with hot fudge, add your whipped cream
Top with champagne grapes and raspberries


Enjoy~

This is going over to 2010 YBR over at Spicie Foodie




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11:42 PM

What's for Dinner? - Layered Savory Salmon Cheesecake

Posted by Food Pear-ings

Layered Savory Salmon Cheesecake
We had in our possession some wonderful smoked salmon that a friend had given us...
There are several ways to enjoy smoked salmon, and one of them being
salmon mousse. Of course there are also many ways to enjoy a salmon mousse.
So what about a savory cheesecake? OK, so we have decided!
A Salmon Cheesecake, frosted with Salmon Mousse and topped with
Cayenne Peppered Whipped Cream, then garnished with Caviar.

This was also a chance to use some more of our garden fresh herbs,
and we chose a coho salmon which is a Pacific Ocean salmon verses the Atlantic variety.
The coho is also abundantly available in the Great Lakes as a fresh water catch...FYI
For this dish the coho (aka silver salmon) was chosen over the Atlantic salmon
(aka chinook) for its lower fat content and milder flavor.
I mean we are melding it with a ton of cream and cheese :)
P.S. It has a much friendlier price tag too...
Oh, almost forgot...the garlic was an extra special treat too,
the garlic was a French variety Rose Du Lautric.
And can I just say, WOW! The aroma was exquisite...

What you will need:
For the crust
3/4 cup almond meal, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup unbleached flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of sea salt
9 inch spring form pan


For the cheesecake
1 pound salmon, baked or broiled
2 pounds ricotta cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup aged white cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
4 eggs
Juice of 1 small orange
Zest of 1-2 small oranges
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup fresh marjoram leaves
2 sprigs fresh dill
1 small to medium shallot
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
 Fleur de sel and ground white pepper to taste


For the mousse
4 ounces smokes salmon
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
Juice of 1/2 small orange
Fleur de sel and white pepper to taste


For the whipped cream
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon raw agave (or sugar)
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper


Let's get cooking:

For the crust
In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs, butter, almond extract and vanilla extract.
Pour into a food processor adding, almond meal, four and sugar.
Blend until combined.
Grease your spring form pan and lightly dust with almond meal.
Press crust mixture evenly across bottom of the pan.
Bake in a pre-heated of 325 degrees  for about 10 minutes.


For the cheesecake
In a food processor chop garlic, fresh herbs and shallot.
Add all seasonings, cheeses, zest, juice and egg,
 blend until completely incorporated.
Pour ingredients into a mixing bowl and fold in flaked salmon.
Pour mixture into your prepared spring form pan.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees  for about 1 hour,

or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the mousse
In a food processor add smoked salmon until smooth.
Add cream, cream cheese, juice, slat and pepper.
Blend until completely incorporated.
Allow to chill for a bit.

For the whipped cream
In a mixing bowl mix cream, agave and cayenne until soft peaks form.

 To serve
Allow cheesecake for cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan.
Remove outer ring of pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cooled spread mousse over entire cheese cake.
Slice individual servings and top with your whipped cream caviar and salmon roe...
Or serve the caviars on the side :)
Enjoy~

P.S perfect with some sparkling wine



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11:10 PM

What's for Dessert - Hazelnut White Chunk Cookies

Posted by Sugar and Spice

Hazelnut White Chunk Cookies




This is a quick post with a favorite recipe around here. A little something extra special
 for a week day evening. And we will be featuring these lovelies in two posts.
I have prepared a few extra for a wonderful dessert, that Magic of Spice and I have 
cooked up for you- Stay tunned.

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 cup of brown sugar, packed (we used dark, but you can also use light)
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of hazelnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate (you may use chips or bars chopped into chunks; we used both)
1 cup of butter, softened (unsalted)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract



Directions
Preheat you oven to 300 degrees
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, mixing well.
Next, in another bowl, combine the brown sugar and white sugar, then add the softened butter and mix into the sugar.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture, and beat until everything becomes fluffy.
Add the dry mixture and white chocolate pieces to the wet mixture, and blend until thoroughly incorporated.

*Freeze the dough for an hour or refrigerate overnight.  This will make the dough more difficult to scoop, but will result in a more moist cookie that will last longer without drying out.

Scoop the dough out in tablespoons or a melon baller, and place each ball of dough on a cookie sheet, leaving sufficient room for growth when the cookies flatten.
Bake the cookies at 300 degrees for approximately twenty-five minutes, or until they become golden brown and begin to crisp around the edges.
Cool the cookies on a rack and serve when ready.



Enjoy!

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Prosecco Cocktails the Hard Way

These were little Sunday afternoon goodies I prepared,
while we were prepping for tomorrow night's dinner.
Hey, we get a bit hungry and thirsty...
I had a nice freshly baked (not by me) vegetable focaccia,
and some Boursin on hand. As well as some Prosecco.
Imagine me having Prosecco on hand :)
What you will need:
Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
Lemon slices, frozen
Lime slices, frozen
Grapefruit slices, frozen
Lemon Lime ice cubes, or fruit ice
Raspberry infused vodka
Pink grapefruit infused vodka
Champagne flutes, chilled

What you do:
For each glass, fill 1/3 of the way with your choice of infused vodka.
Add frozen slices of fruit of your choice, and juice cubes.
Top of with Prosecco...
Serve with bread and cheese if desired.
Enjoy~




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12:51 AM

What's for Lunch? - A Salad in the Nude

Posted by Magic of Spice

A Salad in the Nude

What could be sexier for a summer dish than a salad in the nude...
This is a fork and fingers salad with dressing on the side,
and no added seasonings or spices.
In fact there is not even a recipe, just a list of ingredients.


I had some lovely green and yellow organic beans,
as well as some wild rice that was just hanging out in my pantry.
The wild rice gave me a bit of a hard time as far as plating the dish.
It in no way wanted to cooperate as far as any shape that I wished.
Do you think that is why they call it Wild Rice? I suppose not:)
But overall it ended up being a very sexy dish...

What you will need:

For the salad:
For the lettuce I used baby butter, mache and radicchio.
1 scoop wild rice
Sliced avocado
Mandarin orange slices
Sliced red and yellow bell peppers
Green and yellow beans, whole and raw
Greek feta cheese, crumbled
Candied walnuts

For the dressing:
Lemon curd
Sparkling sake, or sparkling juice
Splash of grapeseed oil
Splash of white balsamic vinegar

Mix above ingredients to desired consistency.
Serve on the side for dipping or pour directly onto salad...


Enjoy~

This dish is being entered in The Festive Rice Event on Torview


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9:59 PM

What's for Dessert? - Colossal Sugar Plum Dumplings

Posted by Magic of Spice

Colossal Sugar Plum Dumplings 
No this is not a super zoomed close-up,
the dumplings really are the size of two or more of the largest
 biscuits you have probably ever had, combined.
I had it in my mind to create some plum dumplings,
but you know me...once I had the basic thought and I start playing
around with the ingredients I have available, all bets are off.

My sons stopped off at the ranch market and brought me home some,
very large and juicy organic plums and threw in some cherries to boot :)
I had on hand wheat bran, flaxseed, wheat flour, rice flour and oats...
So I decided to create my soft dough from a mixture
of these instead of  traditional flour.
So this of course is going to give us full-fledged rights - to play with our food :)

I also decided to really bring out the flavor of these lovely summer fruits.
So, we are going to lightly sauté them in a bit of sugar, butter and wine.
Happy yet? OK then let's play with our food...

What you will need:

For the filling
3 cups plums, pitted and chopped
1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
(or any combination of stone fruits you prefer)
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili pepper, ground
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
(or vanilla extract)
Several dollops of mascarpone cheese  

For the dough
2 tablespoons raw blue agave
(or caster sugar)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs, just softly whipped
1 package cream cheese
2 cups,whole wheat flour
2 cups combined - of the following;
finely milled oats
 wheat bran 
finely milled flaxseed
rice flour
(or use 3 cups flour, or 2 cups flour 
combination with available above ingredients)
A bit of milk

For garnish, a mixture of sugar and cinnamon
* The dough is where we really begin to play with our food
If you are not already familiar with the texture of a soft dough
you will need to play with it depending on the chosen flours.

Let's get cooking:
For the filling
Wash, pit and chop plums into small chunks.
Wash, pit and divide cherries into quarters
In a sauté pan add butter, brown sugar, wine,
cinnamon, ancho and vanilla paste 
Once butter has melted, stir to combine
Add fruit and stir to coat
Place on low heat and continue to simmer,
stirring occasionally, until fruit is softened and liquid
 is reduced to just a bit of a syrup
Set aside and allow to come to room temperature


For the dough
In a large mixing bowl, with a hand mixer, cream butter and agave
In a smaller bowl lightly whip eggs by hand
Add eggs to butter mixture, and beat until incorporated
Add cream cheese and 1 cup of flour mixture
Beat until incorporated, continue at 1 cup of flour
until you have achieved a soft dough (not tacky)

On a floured cutting board, place a small handful of dough 
Roll or hand press out a 4x4 square 
(make 2 per dumpling)
At this time check on your cooked fruit mixture
If too much liquid is present, strain a bit 
*Note: you want a slight amount of syrup but not liquidly in consistency 

Place  about 2 tablespoons of fruit mixture on top of dough
Then add a dollop of   mascarpone
Taking your second square of dough and placing over filling
*Note: you are going to be shaping these into basically a cylinder
Tuck your top layer in close to your filling
Leaving a bit of breathing room for the filling
Once your top layer of dough is in place,you will need
to press these edges down onto the bottom layer
Cut away ant excess of the bottom layer,
leaving only enough to mold your dumpling
to be folded up and pressed into you cylinder like shape

Fill a large pot with water and a bit of sea salt,
bring to a rapid rolling boil
Place your dumpling on a large spatula and gently place in boiling water

You can do more than one dumpling at a time 
depending on the size of your pot but do not do more than 2 or 3 at a time
Allow to sit in boiling water for 12-15 minutes or so
until all sides are slightly firm, you may need to dunk them 
down into the water here and there. Once they are floating and firm
gently remove with a straining spoon, making sure that they are relatively dry

Now sprinkle you sugar cinnamon mix on a board or plate
Lay your dumpling on top, then sprinkle more cinnamon sugar mix over the top.
Serve warm or at room temperature
Each dumpling serves one...


Enjoy!

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Seafood Mary - 
A Guest Post by Chef David Buchanan
Of Chefs-Resources


We are so excited that Chef David as agreed to do
a guest post for us...and I barely even had to twist his arm
to pry this stunning dish from him :)

Chefs - Resources provides an invaluable resource tool
for culinary professionals as well as enthusiastic foodies
 from all walks of life.
So once you are done salivating over his wonderful
creation,stop in and say hello...

Without further rambling from me,
please allow me to present;

A guest post by Chefs-Resources which specializes in culinary information for Chefs, Culinarians & Foodies.  Detailed info on over 150 oysters, plus culinary profiles of fish by species, and much more."


Seafood Mary
This dish is a sampler appetizer of some of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite seafood.
  Dungeness Crab, House Smoked Sockeye Salmon, fumet poached Scallop and Shrimp…
 King Neptune himself would favor this dish.  And it is paired with a Seafood Mary Sauce, which is an updated cocktail sauce using fresh horseradish and lime juice.  I feel that this ‘lighter’ sauce compliments the seafood better than a traditional cocktail sauce which is thick and tends to cover and mask the flavors of the seafood.



Seafood Mary Ingredients:

3     Each       Dungeness Crab Fancy Legmeat
1     Each       U-10 Shrimp Alaskan Spot Prawn, poached, chilled
1     Each       U-10 Scallop, poached, chilled, cut in half to form 2 disks
4     Tbl          Cucumber, brunoise
4     Tbl          Tomato Concasse
1     Oz           Smoked Salmon on NW Skewer
1     Each       Lemon Wheel, thin slice
1     Each       Lime Wheel, thin slice
1     Each       Lemon Wedge, curled
1     Each       Fennel Sprig
1     Oz           Seafood Mary Sauce

Seafood Mary Procedures:

Gently poach the Shrimp to Medium in 1 Qt fumet seasoned w/ 1 Tbl Old Bay.  Chill Shrimp in walk-in (do not chill in ice water as this will deplete flavor).  If the shrimp is cooked properly it should be slightly translucent in the center after it cools.  Do the same with the Scallop separately.
For assembly, use a Martini Glass or similar glass.  Arrange the cucumber on one half of the bottom of the glass and arrange the tomato on the other half.  Arrange the seafood in a presentable manner, trying to get each item to be visible out of the top of the glass.  Place a slice of lemon and lime wheel between the two slices of the scallop.  Add the lemon wedge and fennel frond garnish.  Finish with the Seafood Mary Sauce, poured gently down the center of the seafood but not splashing it all over.  Add another 2 oz of the Sauce to a side dish for dipping.


Seafood Mary Sauce Ingredients:

1  Qt     V-8 Juice

  Tbsp  Tabasco

1.5 Cups   Fresh Lime Juice

1        Cup  Ketchup

3  Tbsp  Fresh Horseradish, micro-planed

1/8  Tsp  Sea Salt

Seafood Mary Sauce Procedures:

Combine all and mix well.  It may need a touch more lime juice or salt.


The Seafood Mary Sauce also goes well with fresh Oyster Shooters.  I recommend using Grey Goose Vodka in the shooters and a splash of the Seafood Mary Sauce.  There are over 65 varieties of raw oysters to choose from in the Pacific Northwest.  That’s a lot of Shooters!  And of course the East Cost also has a plethora of selections.


Again, thank you so much Chef David and Chefs-Resources
for providing us with such a delightful Guest Post:)


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 Champagne Mousse with Candied Lime
and Mint Essence plus an Award:)


I am not at all sure how to start, but I know
that unless I make this portion rather short...
We could be in the running for "The worlds longest post" award.
There are just two things that I wanted to add here.
The first being that I accidentally added double the champagne
to this recipe when I was preparing it.
Now normally I am just, woo-hoo!
But as a warning, your mousse will take considerably longer to set...
And will be on the creamy verses fluffy side.
Second my favorite champagne flute (you will see in other photos),
had an untimely and tragic ending after the final photo opt:(
And it just happened to be the very last of its kind.
On a positive note, as stated in our title we have received our first award!
So I will be presenting the recipe and then move on to the award.




What you will need:
For the mousse
8 ounces of white chocolate, a good grade
6-8 tablespoons champagne or dry sparkling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and chunked
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons caster sugar (very fine grained)
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 heat proof bowls
2 sauce pans that above bowls will fit neatly atop

For the candied limes with mint essence
4-5 fresh limes, sliced (see 1st photo above)
2 cups water
3 cups sugar (I used the caster)
4-6 leaves of fresh mint (I used spearmint)

*Please note that the candied limes with mint essence
take over an hour, so you may want to start them first





Lets get cooking:
The mousse
In one of your heat proof bowls
Add white chocolate, butter and champagne
Set over a pot of water that is at a low boil
Stir until completely combined and melted

In a second heat proof bowl
Set over the second pot of water and a low boil
Add egg yolks and sugar
Whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes or so


Allow both the chocolate and egg mixtures to egg room temperature
While these are cooling, add cream to a mixing bowl
With a hand mixer, whip until just softly peaked (do not over mix)

Now combine your egg and chocolate mixtures
Blend these gently with a spoon until just incorporated
Take whipped cream and very gently fold into mixture
Just allow the ingredients to gently combine

Place into individual serving dishes and chill

The candied limes with mint essence
In a large sauté pan add water and sugar
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer
Add lime slices and mint leaves

Simmer on low for about 1 hour
Making sure that the lime slices are well coated
Periodically turn slices to coat each side evenly

Place a rack above wax paper or a baking pan
Place your candied lime slices on the rack
Allow to cool completely, until no longer tacky to the touch

Arrange as desired...
I placed a candied lime atop each cup of mousse as a garnish.
But they are quite delicious on there own:)



Now for the Award!


This wonderful award was was presented to us
by an amazing food blogger and woman.
We were so honored to be acknowledged by our fellow blogger
Memoria of Mangio da Sola whom is an amazingly accomplished Lindquist
as well as a fantastic cook/baker. She is a delight to read,
and is fearless with her variations of posts...
We loved her from the moment we stubbed upon her site,
and she is a true joy...
And we most graciously thank her for including us.



The guidelines for accepting this award are :
Thank the person who gave it to you
Tell 7 things about yourself
Pass the award on to 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered, 
and think are fantastic.
For the seven things about us:
  1. We are a team of three - And a family, Mother, Son and Son In Law. We also have a fourth post name under Food Pear-ings that is dedicated to joint efforts. Each of us contribute above posting in the following ways...
  2. Truffle Shuffle- Site development
  3. Sugar and Spice - Baking and quality control (tastes everything)
  4. Magic of Spice - Artistic development
  5. Truffle Shuffle aka Adam is a food connoisseur and IT specialist
  6. Sugar and Spice aka Grely is a baker and lover of all things good food
  7. Magic of Spice aka Alisha is an artist and former professional chef
Our choices for the 15 bloggers, however because we are so new
it is a bit hard to filter between newly discovered.
So we will do our best to award appropriately.
And we would quickly like to thank all of our "older foodie friends" as well:)
  1. Vintage Sugarcube  Jenn -She has a very new site but Oh WOW...Food is a serious good time here.
  2. For The Love of Yum Nadia - What a beautiful site, fantastic photos and oh so wonderful food.
  3. The Duo Dishes Chrystal and Amir - Food with a passion. Wonderful site and expressive dishes.
  4. Bebe Love Okazu  Judy - Such a fun and thoughtful site, every word is a treasure.
  5. Firefly Suzana - Talk about versatile...This site has everything,oh and food too:)
  6.  Cinnamon Spice - Reeni, OK just take a sec to check out the "Pantry Basics" if you can get past the wonderful dishes:)
  7. Roti n Rice - Biren  Fantastic photography, amazing dishes and great stories...could you ask for more:)
  8. Anncoo's Hobby - Anncoo from delectable sweets to curry there is alway something to memorize you.
  9. Lawyer Loves Lunch -  Azmina For her fun and inspirational projects and office adventures.
  10. Foodie House - Lauren Beautiful dishes, great stories and just a good read.
  11. The Homegrown Gourmet - Jill, Always creative and inspiring. 
  12. Geli Heimann's Kitchen - Geli  Always creative, great write ups and reviews and such great photography.
  13. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness - Emily Always fun and always great food.
  14. Chez Myrtille - Myrtille, The site is in French but the most beautiful food and stories you will ever come across.
  15. Just Food Snobs -  Good food and good conversation always.

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