The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

7:28 PM

What's on the side? Savory Pumpkin and Feta Soufflé

Posted by Magic of Spice

Savory Pumpkin and Feta Soufflé~
A 5 Star Makeover

For this months 5 Star Challenge we were given a delightful, and
oh so versatile ingredient, and that ingredient was squash...

Fall is most certainly the right season to feature any one of the delicious 
varieties available and in season. So I went with Pumpkin, pumpkin pie squash
to be exact, and I even played around with the idea of doing a pumpkin pie 
soufflé, but in the end savory one out.

And as is with each of our 5 Star makeover Challenges, this month
is hosted by my wonderfully talented friends Natasha of 5 Star Foodie
and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks...please stop by on Friday to see the
entire groups creative and delicious contributions.

Have I ever mentioned that the soufflé is my "fear" dish? I mean they really
make me nervous. I am pretty sure they are my #1 in disastrous kitchen episodes,
but then again I have had some beauties delivered to the table as well.

Of course the only true way to master anything, including your fears is to face
them head it is a soufflé we shall have!

What you will need:
For the pumpkin purée
2 pounds pumpkin squash
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon course sea ground salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, finely ground
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground

For the Soufflé
Prepared pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup half and half, warmed
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 ounce Greek Feta

Let's get cooking:
For the pumpkin purée
In a large baking dish with sides, place about 1/2 cup or so of water
along with herbs and garlic. Place pumpkin(s) halved lengthwise face
down into dish and loosely cover with foil.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes
or until skins can be easily pierced.

Once you have removed them from the oven, place face down onto
a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Separate pumpkin flesh from skins and place in food processor
along with seasoning, pulsing until smooth.  Place in a
large bowl and set aside.

For the Soufflé
Begin by preparing a blond roux by melting butter in a small to
medium sauté pan over medium heat. Slowly add flour and whisk
until mixture begins to foam up a bit, about 21/2 to 3 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat source and slowly add half and half,
continually whisking until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes or so.

In a small clean bowl at room temperature, whisk egg yolks
until creamy, just a few seconds.

Slowly fold egg yolks into roux and whisk until blended. Then
slowly fold roux mixture into pumpkin purée.

Now in another clean mixing bowl, whip egg whites until
firmly peaked but not hardened.

Gently fold egg whites into pumpkin  purée mixture a
little at a time until just incorporated.

Again gently fold the soufflé mixture into lightly greesed
individual sized soufflé cups or ramekins to the brim
or just below, then top with crumbled feta.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for about 25 to 30
minutes. Note* Do not open oven door during baking time,
or until you can see that the tops have puffed and are golden.
When done the tops will be set and golden with the soufflé
body being slightly giggly :)

Serves 6 as a side
Serve immediately!

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare
 with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky

As you can see, today we are going to take a peek into this visually stunning
cookbook by my dear friend Faith of An Edible Mosaic. A book of
which I just happen to have the honor of having a pre-release copy of.
Thank you Faith :)

For our first post, I will be sharing just a couple delicious selections from the 
book, but there will be more to come in the next few weeks.

Photo by Faith Gorsky

I chose two recipes to indulge with to start off, and I must say
 they were both dishes that I will be making again and again!

First I found myself intrigued by the idea of a potato dish seasoned
with is that for an unexpected yet delightful flavor profile!

The potatoes can be fried, roasted or boiled so I opted for boiled, but
any preparation will do wonderfully here. These garlicky spuds with
the fresh burst of cilantro are an extremely happy combination
anyway you choose to serve them.

Photo by Faith Gorsky

And to help us wash it all down, we relied on the assistance of this scrumptious
selection of recipes once again and leaned toward the sage tea.

Sage being a favorite herb of mine, and one I had yet to try as a drinking
tea, the decision was really an instant one. Oh, and of course there is
 also the little fact that I have an abundance of this precious herb
growing quite wildly in my garden.

Plus since we have been experiencing very high and unusual temperatures
as of late, I went iced but will most certainly be trying hot as well.

Photos by The Ardent Epicure

Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic 

Instead of frying the potatoes, you can boil them for this recipe if you prefer. To do so, put the peeled and cubed potato in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until fork-tender, about 5 to 7 minutes; drain the potato and toss with the sautéed garlic/cilantro mixture. Or the potatoes can be roasted; preheat oven to 425°F (220°C); toss the peeled and cubed potatoes with 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large bowl; spread in an even layer on a large baking sheet and roast until soft and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 22 minutes

Oil, for frying
2 lb (1 kg) potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons olive oil 4 cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle with 1 teaspoon salt
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), minced

1.Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with about ½ inch (1.25 cm) of oil. Heat over medium heat; add half the potato and cook until tender inside and golden outside, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the potato to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and cook the remaining potato the same way.

2.Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic and fresh coriander leaves until the garlic is light golden and the cilantro is wilted, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3.Add the potatoes and cook until warm, about 2 minutes; serve warm or at room temperature.

Sage Tea

Tea in the Middle East is rarely drunk as is. Instead, herbs, spices, and/or flowers like jasmine, mint, or sage are used to flavor it. Sage tea is particularly useful to drink after a meal, as it is said to soothe the stomach and aid digestion.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 1 minute
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (500 ml) water
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 black tea bag

1.Pour the water and sage into a small pot; bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
2.Turn off the heat; add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved.
3.Add the black tea and steep 2 minutes.
4.Strain the tea to remove sage leaves; serve.

Note: Recipes have been provided by Faith Gorsky taken from
that is now available with the link above for pre-order.

Photos by Faith Gorsky

And if these little tasting previews are not enough to make you
jump on a pre-order of your very own copy...take a look at
this incredible array of goodies above!

The cookbook is due for official release November 6th 2012!

Plus, don't forget to join us in a few weeks when we will be trying
 out a few more recipes and enjoy a chat with the lovely
Faith herself :)

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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Rum Spiced Apple Butter and 
Mascarpone Puff Pastries

These delectable treats were meant to be my 5 Star challenge entry for September,
but as you can see...I did not pull it together on time. Still I thought this delicious
treat should not go un-posted, so here she is :)

Our wonderful ingredient selection for this challenge was of course "Apples"!
Talk about a versatile ingredient, really is there anything more appropriate
to kick of the lovely, and hopefully soon cooler, fall season?

I chose to make a fall inspired spiced apple butter...with a bit of a boozy twist.
Now this is a simple apple butter method, so no real canning preparations 
are really required.

And while we are in the mood for some apple love, stop over and
see the rest of this talented groups delights here.

What you will need:
For the apple butter
3 pounds fresh organic apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup maple sugar
1//2 cup unfiltered apple juice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1.4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 vanilla bean split
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dark rum

For the stuffed puff pastry shells
6 frozen puff pastry shells
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnimon, ground
7 ounces mascarpone
rum spiced apple butter

Let's get cooking:
For the apple butter
Begin by placing peeled and chopped apples, along with all other ingredients,
except rum into a large pot with a tight fitting lid.

Stir apples and other ingredients briefly to incorporate, then bring to a boil over
medium/high heat.

Once you have achieved boiling point, reduce heat to medium/low and
cover. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until apples begin to
soften a bit and most of the liquid has absorbed.

Remove from heat source and mash apples against the sides of your
pot until they resemble a chunky applesauce.

While apples are still warm, add rum and mix thoroughly.
Return to a low heat for a few minutes or so while continuing
to mash until liquid is reduced almost completely.
*Note: if using the vanilla bean, remove at this point.

Remove from heat once again then begin to blend using
 an emulsion blender while apples are still hot.

Continue with the blender until you have reached a smooth
glossy texture.

If additional blending is desired you can transfer to a food
processor or blender and continue to pulse until desired
texture is achieved.

Leave at room temperature, or chill slightly in refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups apple butter

For the stuffed puff pastry shells
Follow instructions on packaging for pastry shells.

In the meantime, mix maple sugar and cinnamon, then set aside.

Remove shells from oven a minute or 2 before required baking time.

Brush shells with melted butter and sprinkle on the maple sugar
cinnamon mix.

Remove hats, or tops from the pastry shells and allow
shells to cool to touch.

Stuff with mascarpone and top with rum spiced apple butter.

Serves 6 for brunch or dessert

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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