The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

 Winter Citrus Salad with Currants
 and Goat Cheese 

I hope everyone had an amazing and safe holiday...and are looking forward
 to 2012! I am not going to list off my planned resolutions, because quite
 frankly, I gave up on those years ago. Me and my best intentions often
 part ways rather early in the new year, but I can offer my consistent
 staple of fresh and organic goodies that come in the form
of lovely produce.

Since many of us just gorged ourselves with every holiday delight
available, I thought we would go with a fresh, light and easy salad.
 But also with a salad that is bursting with color, flavor, and a
 collective assortment of shapes and  textures.

So lets start with the cheese, a Capricho de Cabra fresh goats milk
cheese. I went with the herbed version where the wheels are rolled
in herbs for a splash of flavor. This cheese is an ultra silky delight
that has a smooth fresh taste that does not compete with the other
 flavors here. A must try if you are a fan of goats milk cheeses.

Our fruit selection is certainly worth a mention, and so I shall. Our winter
citrus consists of ruby red grapefruit and tangerines. We also have
the always favored red pear, then to really punch it up a bit, we have
added these gorgeous rubies in the form of red currants.

Joining the fruits are my favorite olives, the Lucques and the avocado, the
 later being a fruit as well, but one we tend to view as a vegetable. Then last
but certainly not least, we have the frisée as our greens.

I dressed this beauty with an avocado oil and pineapple emulsion, that
really lifted the spirit of the salad, but use your own favorite dressing
if the ingredients are not available or you just have a favorite you
think will work well here.

What you will need:
For the salad
3 heads of frisée lettuce, about 12 ounces
2 ounces radish sprouts
1 large ruby red grapefruit, sectioned
6 tangerines, sliced in wheels
2 avocados, sliced
2 red pears, julienne sliced
3-4 ounces lucques olives
(or other non salt brine version)
5 ounces red currants
3 ounces fresh goat cheese with herbs
For the emulsion/dressing 
For the pineapple emulsion
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons avocado honey
1/2 cup avocado oil
Emulsifying blender, blender or food processor
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Get this look:
For the salad
You will want to begin by laying out you frisée around. the edges of a platter
or serving dish. Place radish sprouts sporadically around the dish or spread
 out on the center of the platter. Then prepare your citrus by slicing the tangerines
 into wheels, then removing the skin and as much of the white pith as possible.
For the grapefruit I sectioned them, first by peeling the fruit, then dividing into
 individual sections then removing the thin skin membrain.

Now prepare the julianne style pear slices by using a julianne slicer or simply
 cut into thin long strips. Then place remaining ingredients on top and around
 your citrus in any order you choose.
For the emulsion/dressing
Add pineapple juice to a small bowel or into a blender. Add honey
an mix until incorporated. Now add oil very slowly until fully incorporated.

Serve dressed or with emulsion on the side.
Serves 2 main or 4 as sides

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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2:51 PM

Happy Holidays from The Ardent Epicure

Posted by Magic of Spice

Happy Holidays 
From Our Home To Yours...

Wishing everyone a safe and delicious Holiday Season!

The Ardent Epicure

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1:42 PM

What's for dinner? Winter Spiced Glazed Salmon

Posted by Magic of Spice

Winter Spiced Glazed Salmon

This is another incredibly quick and simple dish to put together for the Holidays,
 or really any meal for that matter. The warming winter flavors work beautifully
 against this gorgeous troll-caught Alaskan Coho salmon.

Alaskan Coho salmon is a certified sustainable fish, and the troll-caught have
an even friendlier environmental touch. Troll-caught refers to the fishing method
used when catching wild fish. Trollers are small fishing boats where the fishermen
use the great old fashioned hook and line method. So this Eco-friendly
method insures very low bycatch rates along with the freshest
 individually handled fish available.

What you will need:
1 pound fresh Coho salmon
About 20 cloves, whole
Olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon garbanzo bean flour
1/8th teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/8th teaspoon allspice, ground
1 tablespoon dried cranberries, ground
1/2 teaspoon long pepper, ground
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
1 tablespoon brandy or spiced rum
Note: Glaze amount is based per pound
so adjust as needed

Let's get cooking:
Lay salmon skin side down on a well-oiled baking sheet or on a piece
of heavy duty foil, well-oiled if your baking sheet tends to stick. Pierce
the salmon flesh with the cloves as shown in photo above.

Place ingredients for glaze into a small bowl and mix until incorporated.
Cover salmon with glaze and place in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees (f).
Bake until internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 140 degrees, or
about 15 minutes until fish flakes easily. Note: the temperature fish will
continue to cook when removed from the over and should reach 145
 degrees prior to serving.

You can leave the cloves in the salmon when serving being careful
to remove before eating, or remove prior to serving.
Serves 4-6

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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Simply Roasted Tomatoes with Bonne
 Bouche Cheese and a Winner

This is the time of year we could all use a little help, most specifically in the
"time saving category". We also need to offer up a few tasty appetizers to our
guests and family while they await the main event. Or perhaps, we need
something to sustain us while we Prepare, Plan and Panic!
OK, maybe the panic part is just me...

There are a few other areas we may need to consider as well.
  One, will it look like I spent time and thoughtful consideration with this?
Two, will people be able to use their fingers if I run out of mini utensils?
  Three, will this be flavorful enough, yet not overstimulate the palette
 and over stuff the tummies? Why yes, yes they can!

 Our tomato selection today are the beautifully, and uniquely colored Kumato.
Their color is actually wonderful intermixture of deep green, brown and red.
The Kumato, not to be confused with the Heirloom California Black Velvet,
 as they are very similar in color, is a specialty tomato harvested
 by select growers.

The tomatoes are grown and harvested in several different countries including
 Canada and Mexico. Aside from their intriguing color combination, they are
 considerably sweeter than the typical tomato. This is due to a naturally produced
 higher rate of fructose. Along with this slightly more intense sweetness, a subtle
 but noted tartness is present. The flavor is wonderfully balanced with a juicy
 firm flesh making them ideal for roasting, as well as any other preparation.

As for our cheese we have the ultra creamy Bonne Bouche, produced in Vermont
 on small family owned farms. The name derives from the French term pronounced
 "Bun Boooosh" or "a good mouthful", and this my friends you will want...

A fresh goats milk cheese that is hand ladled with a unique rind that has been
sprinkled with poplar ash before aging. They are aged for about 10 days and
can mature up to 45 days. The rind has a mild sweetness to it, and has a
softer more palatable texture than many similar cheeses. While the body
being incredibly smooth and creamy, with heighten notes of floral,
 citrus and just a hint of nuttiness.

What you will need:
8 ripe Kamato
Olive oil for drizzle
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 ounces Bonne Bouche
fleur de sel if desired

Let's get roasting:
Begin by slicing tomatoes into quarter wedges. Place on a baking
sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then freshly ground pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees (f) for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven, arrange on a dish or platter, allowing to cool slightly.
 Place a slice of cheese on each warm roasted tomato, sprinkle with a bit of
fleur de sel and serve warm.
Serves 8

So now on to our winner :)
Congratulations to Reem, the winner of the

2012 Spicie Foodie Calendar
The calendar is available for sale on Lulu Market Place,
currently at 25% off. This stunning calendar would make a
perfect gift for anyone on your list, including you.

Qualifying comments were selected by

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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Quince Paste, Pear and Délice 
de Bourgogne Crostini

This simple yet elegant morning toast can be enjoyed alone or as
 an accompaniment to yogurt with fresh fruit, even your favorite style
of egg. Or perhaps as a starter to warm up a lovely Sunday brunch.
What ever your fancy, these will brighten your morning

Fruit and cheese is a favorite pairing of mine, and a long time classic.
As you may have guessed we are pairing our creamy cheese with
pears personal favorite. These sexy curvy beauties
are exceedingly delicious, most notably when covered in
melting gooey cheese...

The delightful Délice de Bourgogne is a French cow's milk cheese from
the Burgundy region. For these crostini we are using a triple-crème
cheese, but you can use any soft ripened cheese that you prefer.

We are also using quince paste, which is a thick jam made from
the quince fruit. The paste is slightly sweet with hints of tartness
and a floral aroma. You can substitute your favorite jam or
 jelly if quince paste is not available to you. I recommend a
cherry or other slightly tart jam if substituting,

What you will need:
1 baguette or flute of bread
Light olive oil for drizzle
Quince paste or jam of choice
1 pear, thinly sliced
Délice de Bourgogne, or
other soft ripened cheese

Let's get toasting:
Begin by thinly slicing bread and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Spread quince paste on each slice of bread, then layer with a thin slice
 of pear. Top with a slice or dollop of triple-crème and place in
a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until cheese is melted.

And if you are a US resident don't forger to enter the giveaway for this
stunning 2012 Spice Foodie Calendar. To enter just leave a comment
here on this post. The giveaway is open until midnight Wednesday
December 14th PST. The winner will be announced Thursday December 15th.

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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9:31 AM

Holiday Giveaway- The 2012 Spicie Foodie Calendar

Posted by Magic of Spice

Holiday Giveaway- 
The 2012 Spicie Foodie Calendar 

Image provided by

My wonderfully talented friend Nancy of Spicie Foodie has this
most beautifully photographed calendar to ring in 2012, Foodie Style.
So in the spirit of the Season, I would like to give one of our amazing
 readers this stunning 2012 Calendar.

Due to time sensitivity the giveaway will be open to US residents only.
In order to participate just leave a comment here on or before midnight
Wednesday December 14th. The winner will be chosen by
 and announced here on Thursday December 15th.

The perfect gift for any foodie, or anyone with a kitchen for that matter.
And since they do make such a gorgeous gift you can find it
available here on Lulu Marketplace.

Image from calendar 

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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Cheesy Mixed and Mashed Potatoes 
and Rutabaga,Garlic Drizzle
 and Garden Herbs

As many of us are preparing for the holidays, we need a few sides and that is
one place we can safely embellish knowing that a traditional side even with
a new look or feel can be welcomed, and this side will do nicely here. A
slight twist on the classic "mashed potatoes" with an unexpected guest
perhaps, but one that loves to entertain and show off its best.

These cheesy mashed and mixed potatoes are a wonderful addition to any
meal, but have a special place at a holiday table. Infused with garden fresh
 herbs and drizzled with a sauté of garlic and oil, these beauties will stand
 up and be noticed with the best of them.

The potatoes are Yukon Gold, their yellowish gold flesh hold a secret...and that
secret is that they are one of the few if not the only variety of potato that can
 hold its own in a variety of cooking methods. These beauties are a perfect
choice for mashed potatoes, with their buttery  flavor. And even better if you
plan to retain the skins as they are thin and as versatile as well as flavorful.

These potatoes are an edible tuber, meaning a root vegetable variety
 basically, and contain anthoxanthins giving them their buttery yellow
color and boast a good dose of antioxidant properties lending
them to be healthy alongside their yumminess.

And I cannot speak of or even think of Yukon Golds without thoughts of my
friend Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks. These are among his favorite jewels and has
a plenitude of offerings featuring these lovelies on his site. So stop over and
check them out, along with many other incredible delights to be found.

My first experience with rutabagas was as a child. However not in the manner that
 you may initially assume, I did not see one nor did I devour one. No it was in fact a
mythical entity as far as I were concerned. You see, I have been a veggie for many
years including the very young years and my grandmother would always take great
effort to insure that there were an abundance of fresh vegetables for me to enjoy.

As I am sure many, if not all of you are familiar with food evoked memories. This
somewhat gnarly looking root vegetable has a bit of history for me that warms my
heart with all of my senses. You see, as my grandmother would insure my fresh
veggie delights, my uncles dog Snow a Siberian Husky, shared my devotion to
 all things vegetable. And so my first memories of the rutabaga are as such...

Snow wanting excitedly to share my raw veggie treats, anxiously awaited the
 command. The command? Oh yes the command that he would hold himself
still while the anticipation inside him visibly grew, for these few words would
send him on a journey of long awaited glory.

These words were simply..."Go find the rutabaga!" And he would, he would
search tirelessly under every sofa cushion and every possible secret hiding
 place. But he never returned with such a creature, although my faith that
 he would produce this mysterious thing never wavered. Yet year after year
the result was the same...he did get his veggie treats at the completion
 of every search, but the highly searched for rutabaga never appeared.

So here today I dedicate this recipe to family, those that are here and
 those that have moved on, and to Snow...
we finally have our rutabaga! :)

What you will need:
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
1 rutabaga, peeled and shredded
2 large sprigs thyme, leaves retained
1 large sprig spicy oregano, leaves retained
4-6 large sage leaves
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves retained
4 ounces asiago cheese, finely grated
5-6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cups half and half, warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper, finely ground
1 head garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil

Pastry bag and star attachment
Cheesecloth and twine for sachet
Fleur De Sel for finish as desired
(or use sea salt or flake salt preferred)
Hand mixer or whisk and potato masher

Let's get cooking:
Begin by peeling your potatoes and halving them, then peel the rutabaga
 and shred with a course grater. Prepare 2 separate  bouquet garni with
the fresh herbs, placing a larger portion into the one planned for the
potatoes. Place potatoes along with  bouquet garni of herbs in a large
pot of water to boil. Do the same in a smaller pot for the rutabaga.
Boiling until tender but still intact, about 20 minutes.

Strain both the potatoes and rutabaga, allowing to cool to touch.
Remove bouquet garni and save for another application (can
be frozen for added flavor in soups, stocks or stews.)

Once cooled a bit, chop or process rutabaga until minced. Then
take potato halves and grate with a course grater.  Place both in a large
mixing bowl along with shredded cheese and mash until incorporated
 and smoothed a bit.

Place butter in warmed half and half adding pepper and whisk for
a bit. Slowly adding butter mixture to potato mix and blend
with a hand mixer until creamy.

Place mixture into a pastry bag and pipe onto a parchment lined
baking sheet. Each mound should be about 3-4 inches wide.
Note: you can do any size you wish but mind the baking time.

Now we will want to sauté our garlic in the oil, until just fragrant,
30-60 seconds, but do not allow brown. Drizzle garlic oil
over each mashed mound, then bake in a pre-heated oven
at 425 degrees F, or until lightly golden and garlic begins
 to char a bit. Sprinkle with Fleur De Sel and serve
Serves 4-6

Alisha ~ Magic of Spice

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