The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

 Curried and Peppered Lentil Salad
with Paddy Straw Mushrooms

This is a simple and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed as a side or main dish. The
warming undertones of our ingredients give us a very fall like feel, but this can be
enjoyed year long since our ingredients here are dried and or preserved.

Now of course you can achieve a beautifully flavored lentil salad with what you
 have on hand, and if you are wanting to venture out into the other ingredients I
do not think you will be disappointed :)

We have a few fun and not so common ingredients here today. So let us start with
our black garlic which is a fermented garlic lending a similar flavor to a roasted garlic.
Always a favored ingredient for me but can easily be substituted with roasted
or sautéed if not available.

Then we have my favorite of the dried mushroom variety...the
Paddy Straw Mushroom or "Volvariella volvacea". These beauties reconstitute
 like no other variety, with a glorious full and rich flavor with no rubbery feel.
They end with a beautiful  full flavored and textured mushroom.

Now our lovely curry, a blend of sugar, turmeric, lemongrass, cumin, pepper,
paprika, coriander, cardamom and salt. A beautiful medley of flavor that adds
 a bit of spice and unexpected aroma to our legumes.

On to our final two....our pepper varieties and boy do we have a couple of amazing
delights here. I am going to go out on an uncharacteristic limb and call these sensual,
and in all senses of the word. The aroma of either is unquestionably desirable and the
flavors so unique and unmatched. Lending both the Long Pepper as well as the
Tellicherry  to be widely sought after pepper varieties, and by many the most
desired peppercorns in the world.

If you are to splurge a bit here and there on unique ingredients, may I just say that
 I would highly recommend these both to grace your spice collection.
We will have more on both of these pepper varieties to come.

What you will need:
1 ounce dried paddy straw mushrooms
4 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried lentils
4 cups mushroom broth, hot
(from reconstituted mushrooms)
3 large cloves black garlic, chopped
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Vietnamese sweet lemon curry
1 teaspoon long pepper, ground
1 teaspoon tellicherry black pepper, ground
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
Finishing salt to taste
Leaf lettuce if desired

*Note: This recipe is based on black lentils, other types of lentils may take a
different amount of liquid and varied cooking times. Please follow directions on
individual packages for your lentil preparation.

Let's get cooking:
To start with prep your lentils as advised by package instructions, soaking
if needed. Black lentils and a few varieties take a soaking time of about
6 hours, but many do not require soaking time.

Now begin reconstituting your mushrooms in the boiling water, soaking for about
 5 minutes or so. Set mushroom broth aside keeping it hot, reheating if necessarily.

Add very hot mushroom broth to a  sauté pan and bring to a boil. Add
lentils and simmer on medium for about 20 minutes. Reduce heat,
 continuing to simmer an additional 10 minutes or so until tender.

* Note: Prepare lentils  by your package instructions using mushroom broth
 in place of water. Various types of lentils will take different amounts of water,
 soaking times and cooking times.

Once you have your prepared lentils, place in a large bowl adding olive oil,
chopped paddy straw mushrooms, garlic and seasonings, mixing well. Add
parsley and toss, place on a bed of lettuce on either a serving
platter or individual plates as desired.
Serves 4 as a side dish

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

Add To Facebook Share with Twitter Stumble This Digg This Add To Add To Reddit Post to Google Buzz Share on Myspace Share with Windows Live Pin It

Pitaya+ and Bamboo Infused Rice
 with Raw Sun-Dried Coconut 

What exactly is Pitaya+ you may be asking...? It is a juice made from the the
Pitaya fruit or more commonly know as the Dragon Fruit. This juice is USDA
organically certified and made with 100% juice, no added sugar, high in
fiber, vitamin D3 and rich in antioxidants. The +...? An addition of
coconut water that lands this juice at the top of hydrating
refreshments with a light delicious flavor.

This juice is all natural with a beautifully balanced flavor and a gorgeous deep
magenta color. For me this means not only a refreshing healthy drink, but
perhaps a lively and nutritious way to liven up some other dishes :)

So, what of this delightful juices "Social Mission"...? To start off with I will
just highlight a few of the impressive details for me about this mission but
more details can be found on their site that I will link for you.

 *They operate out of a soloar powered factory

    *The founder Chuck Casano works directly with
             producers and co-ops inspecting fruit personally.

*They support impoverished  local families of
      Nicaragua by creating a work environment
 for single mothers, paying them
above minimum wage.

         *Their main goal  is, to show the world that you
             don’t need high amounts of added sugar for
     food and beverages to taste good.

Product images courtesy of PitayaPlus

As for our rice, we started off with a specialty rice known as Jade Pearl.
This rice is infused with bamboo extract from the Moso species bamboo.
Once prepared this rice gives off a wonderful aroma of bamboo that
 has light essences of vanilla. A perfect choice of balanced flavors
against our Pitaya juice

Our salt and pepper are worthy of a mention as well. Here we have
a Black Lava Sea Salt which contains activated coconut-shell charcoal.
This salt has a wonderfully smokey flavor and onyx like crystals

Our pepper Penja Pepper "Pepper from Paradise" has a delicate
and velvety flavor with woody-musky notes.

I also came across some organic raw sun-dried coconut. A shredded
un-sweetened coconut that adds a bit of crunch and draws out
the coconut flavors of our Pitaya juice.

What you will need:
1 cup jade pearl Rice
1 1/2 cups pitaya juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup raw coconut, shaved
1 teaspoon black lave salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Penja Pepper, ground
Warm coconut oil for drizzle, optional

*Note: You can do this recipe substituting rice, salt and pepper
for more traditional varieties if above ingredients are not available to you.

Let's get cooking:
Begin by bringing un-rinsed jade pear rice, pitaya juice and lemon juice
to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 20 minutes.
Allow to stand away from heat for a couple of minutes, fluff with
a fork and distribute to individual plates or serving dish.

Sprinkle each dish with desired amount of salt and pepper. Then top
with raw coconut shavings. Drizzle with warm coconut oil if
 desired and serve warm.
Makes 3 cups cooked rice.

For more information on Pitaya Plus visit their website here.
Or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

*Disclaimer: I received a free case of Pitaya+ to try, with no restrictions
or further requests. My choice to do both a post and recipe with this
 product was my own, as well as my opinions related to this product.

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

Add To Facebook Share with Twitter Stumble This Digg This Add To Add To Reddit Post to Google Buzz Share on Myspace Share with Windows Live Pin It

Roasted Vegetable Fillo Rectangles -
 A Guest Post

Please join me over at my multi-talented friend Lazaro's place for a Guest Post!
Where I have cooked/baked up a special treat for everyone.

Lazaro is one of my very favorite food bloggers as well as chefs...he does some
amazing work that you will want to visit, then re-visit over and over again. His
site Lazaro Cooks is a feast for all of the senses and not one to be missed.

So please stop over and check it out!
Updated note: The title should read "Rectangles" as pointed out by
a wonderful friend...sorry guys a bit nervous :)

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

Add To Facebook Share with Twitter Stumble This Digg This Add To Add To Reddit Post to Google Buzz Share on Myspace Share with Windows Live Pin It

9:50 PM

What's on the Side? Cilantro Hummus with Chipotle Oil

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

 Cilantro Hummus with
Spicy Chipotle Oil Drizzle

I have been meaning to make my own hummus for quite some time. I absolutely love hummus, but I haven't ever actually made it myself. It turns out it is very easy to do, and the flavor is much smoother. Plus, you have a lot of options with it (you can toss in anything you like), and you can make as much or as little as you want!
I made a cilantro hummus with a lot of garlic, and a nice chipotle drizzle. Originally, I had planned to put the chipotles peppers right in the hummus, but the texture was not quite what I wanted, so I made a nice chipotle oil to drizzle on top! However, if you have a very powerful food processor or blender that can pulverize the chipotle peppers, feel free to put them straight in the hummus. Alternatively, you can used canned chipotles, if those are readily available. Just be aware that the spiciness will jump up exponentially, so add a little at a time.

3 Dried Chipotle Peppers (or canned chipotles)
3 Teaspoons of Garlic (minced)
5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus extra for the chipotle oil)
Juice of One Lemon (or two small lemons)
2 Cans of Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
4 Tablespoons of Tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 Ounce of Cilantro
1/2 Teaspoon of Chipotle Powder (or other chili powder that is available to you)
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin

Simmer the chipotles in water in a sauce pan until they become soft (if you are using canned chipotles, this step is unnecessary)
Place the chipotles in a mortar or bowl, and add as much oil as you want to drizzle over your hummus.  Mash the chipotles in the oil until the oil takes on a nice chipotle flavor. If you want it more spicy, keep mashing them to impart more of the chile's oils into the olive oil.
Strain the oil, removing all solid matter, including seeds.  If necessary, strain the oil again, until the oil is clear.  Note that it should have taken on a reddish color from the chiles.
Drain one can of garbanzo beans, and retain the juice from the second can.
In a food processor or blender, add your garbanzo beans.
Pour in half of one can of garbanzo bean juice.
Add the tahini, garlic, chili powder, cilantro (stems and leaves), olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin
Mix the ingredients until the hummus takes on a smooth texture, and all ingredients are fully incorporated.
If the mix is too coarse, add the residual garbanzo juice until the mixture is to your liking.
Add freshly-ground black pepper (or white pepper) and sea salt (to taste).
Note: if you want more spice, add more chili powder; if you like more lemon, add some lemon zest in addition to the juice.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, drizzle with your chipotle oil, and serve with pita bread, flatbread or pita chips.  Enjoy! 

Giveaway - "An Epiphany of the Senses"
I am also pleased to announce the winner of the giveaway!  One lucky reader will win the wonderful cookbook, "An Epiphany of the Senses"! Determined by random drawing, the winner is:

Lora from Cake Duchess

Congratulations Lora!  We will be contacting you shortly by e-mail to arrange the details for delivery of your new cookbook.  Enjoy!

This is going over to "Tailgating Game Week"

Posted by Adam

Add To Facebook Share with Twitter Stumble This Digg This Add To Add To Reddit Post to Google Buzz Share on Myspace Share with Windows Live Pin It