The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Mulled Cognac Cranberry and Clementine
Chutney~Cooking Red to Remember


As many of you may already be aware, December 1st is World Aids Day.
And my dear friend Angela of Spinach Tiger is putting together a 
"Cooking Red to Remember" round up on that day. 

So along with many other bloggers around the world we are cooking up red.
 Red to remember and  most of all to honor the lives of those lost, and reach
out to offer a small amount of comfort to their loved ones.


We dedicate this post in celebration of the lives of all those affected by Aids
and HIV. We also want to honor and celebrate all those who work tirelessly 
in an effort to find a cure.

Red to Remember

And since it is the season for all things cranberry, we are going to start there.
Plus mulled anything during the cooler weather seasons screams comfort to me.
Then trow in a few bright and sunny seasonal clementines, 
equals one happy girl. 


What you will need:
For the mulled cognac
2 rounded tablespoons mulling spices
1 cup cognac
4 clementines, juiced

For the chutney
12 ounces fresh cranberries
3-4 clementines, skinned and chopped
1/2 cup maple sugar
1 teaspoon light oil (like grapeseed)
1 cup mulled cognac


Let's get cooking:
For the mulled cognac
Place mulling spices that have been bruised or lightly crushed into a prepared
sachet, or create your own with cheese cloth and cooking twine.

In a small to medium sauce pan, place fresh clementine juice and cognac
along with sachet of mulling spices. 

Over a moderate heat bring mixture to just below a boil. Reduce heat and
cover allowing to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. 

Note: if your sachet is not completely submersed in liquid, stir occasionally
making sure the spices stay damp. 
Set aside

For the chutney
Begin by peeling your clementines then sectioning them. Removing the 
membrane and inner skins, then chop into chunks.

Place cranberries and clementines into a medium sized pot. Add sugar
gently agitating with a wooden spoon to coat the fruit.

Now add oil and mulled cognac bringing mixture to a low boil. Using
a wooden spoon continue to mix ingredients and press cranberries 
along the sides of the pan to release juices. 

Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for about 25 minutes or so,
or until desired thickness is achieved. 

Note* If chutney becomes too thick, add more mulled cognac or juice
to bring to desired texture.

Serve warm with your favorite bread and cheese...


Enjoy~
Alisha~Magic of Spice

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Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole
A Holiday Classic~5 Star Style


To start off with, we would like to wish all of our friends who celebrate
A Very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

And in honor of the holiday, our 5 Star Cooking Group is doing a classic
"Green Bean Casserole" Makeover :) Thank you to our wonderful hosts
Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks.


Now I have to tell you that my original thought was to stick with all the
classic ingredients, well at least how I remember them from childhood. With
the exception of the canned cream of mushroom soup. I thought perhaps a
mushroom Sauce Mornay of sorts? A lovely thick creamy and cheesy
gravy...how could that be bad?

But then I saw it, yes a portabella cream of mushroom soup from
Trader Joe's, the decision was a no brainier at that point. So, since
we were going the portabella route I decided to lay my crunchy
onion crusted green beans right over a snug bed of sliced and
sautéed portabellas.


What you will need:
For the  baked green bean fries

1 pound fresh whole green beans
2 eggs
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper, ground
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup crispy French fried onions, lightly salted
Ice and large pot for blanching.

For the sautéed portabellas
2 large portabella mushrooms
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the cream of mushroom sauce
11 ounce carton of portabella mushroom soup
6-8 ounces half and half
fresh ground pepper to taste



Let's get cooking:
For the  baked green bean fries

Start by preparing your eggs by gently whisking them, adding
Fresh ground pepper and continue to whisk to incorporate. Then
Place in a large enough bowl to accommodate the green beans.
Next mix panko and crispy onions in a mortar or heavy bowl
and crush.

Then take two separate plates,
or one large serving plate, and place your flour on one with the panko/onions
on another .

Now take a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Have ready
a bowl with an ice bath. Drop raw beans into the boiling water
for no more than 2-3 minutes, then quickly remove placing in the
ice bath until completely cool.

Leaving the beans still damp, dredge through flour shaking off excess.
Next place into egg bath and coat all sides, then dredge through panko/onion mixture.
 Then lay coated beans onto a lined baking sheet, slightly spaced.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees 8-10 minutes, turn and continue
to bake another 8 minutes or until panko crumbs are golden brown and beans
are just tender. 

For the sautéed portabellas
Gently brush off any debris from your mushrooms and
slice into 1/4 inch pieces lengthwise.

Place mushrooms into a dry non-stick pan, or with just
a drizzle of oil. Sprinkle with a pinch or so of salt
to help sweat out excess liquid. 

Once they begin to loose liquid and start to become limp and
tender, add a bit of oil and crushed red pepper. Continue to sauté
for a few minutes until tender. 

For the cream of mushroom sauce
Add condensed mushroom soup and half and half to 
a medium pot. Heat gently until hot and keep warm.

To arrange place mushrooms on individual plates, top with
crispy green bean fries then drizzle this cream of mushroom sauce. 

Serves 6 as a side




Now, while we are on the subject of most delightful things. I wanted to point
out these beautiful dishes that I used for this post. These were made by a wonderful
and talented ceramics artist Robert James Murphy.

You see, I was explaining to Robert that it can be a challenge to photograph
glazed ceramic dishes at times, and that I would love to find a more matte
surfaced type. Then one day he dropped these beauties off at the store for
 me :) You can see more of Robert's work at RJM Ceramic Designs.


Enjoy~
Alisha~Magic of Spice


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6:00 PM

Autumn Recipes and In The News

Posted by Magic of Spice

Autumn Recipes and "In The News"


Have I mentioned that Autumn or Fall is my favorite season? 

I love everything about it, but most especially the smells and warm spices. This
seasons eats are just the best, right? And even as a vegetarian, I do love all of those
those extra pound inducing sides...perhaps a bit too much, but I am probably 
not alone there :)

And since I do love the delicious dishes that make up this time of year, I
thought I would share some dishes that I had previously posted but just may be 
worth another look. I mean, we can all usually need some fresh ideas for sides
and lighter meals around the holidays...


As for the last portion in our title here, I do have some news, and several of you
are probably already aware. For the rest of you, if anyone has been wondering 
why I have made a partial disappearing act from beloved site and foodie world...
here she is, my second baby! 

Her name is "The Paint Chip", and she is a lovely little shop down on the 
Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. She is loaded with goodies from
home furnishings, décor, local fine art, jewelry and hand made body products. 

So now all I have to do is figure out how to organize my time, or rather 
effectively organize my time. Plus I just moved, and that has opened up 
a whole plethitude of other time organization issues. 


But rather than show up empty handed, I bring you a few dishes that you may
enjoy during this beautiful season Autumn...So Happy Autumn to all of you
here on the Northern Hemisphere! (Yes I do know it's half over already, but
I did say I am way behind right ;)

Now let's get to the food!
Starting with the top left...





And now I will leave all of you lovelies with a photo of The Paint Chip's
Mascot, our Mermaid :)


Enjoy~
Alisha~Magic of Spice

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