Hye Thyme Cafe

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Antipasto Salsa with Pita Chips / Scoops

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

This is really more of a serving suggestion than it is a recipe. I don't recall what made me think to do this, but I'm glad I did. Every once in a while, our family would get together for a movie night at home, and on some of those occasions, my sister and I would serve up platters of antipasto for everyone including olives, meats, cheeses, vegetables, pita bread, etc. Sometimes we would serve it with hummus, other times with tzatziki, tabouli, or a combination. I decided to try combining all (almost) of those great flavors into one bite.

Petite dice all of your ingredients into roughly the same size, then toss with whatever kind of binder or dressing you want. I went with a simple drizzle of white balsamic vinegar and some Italian seasoning at the end. If you plan to make this ahead of time for something (would have been great for Superbowl Sunday), you might want to keep the cheese separate until just before serving so it doesn't get mushy.

Olives - A variety is nice; I used kalamatas and garlic stuffed green olives.
Peppers - Peppadew, pepperoncini, roasted red bell, and banana peppers all work well but not necessarily in one bite.  I went with Peppadews for their sweet heat and a roasted red bell pepper for its more earthy sweetness.
Carrots - If you don't want the raw texture, blanch them by dropping briefly into boiling water, then plunging into cold water to stop the cooking.
Tomatoes - A colorful medley would be nice, but I just used a few plum tomatoes this time.
Cucumber - I always prefer the baby pickling cukes - more flavor, less seedy.
Meat - Pepperoni, salami, or prosciutto are good options; I went with the pepperoni.
Cheese - Feta, kasseri, provolone, or a combination; I contemplated a combination but went with the kessari.
Artichokes - I had intended to dice up some artichokes but completely forgot about that until I was already stuffing my face. Next time!
Sauce - Italian dressing, tzatziki, hummus, balsamic vinegar, olive oil ...

I make bagel and/or pita chips fairly often. When I make pita chips, I generally cut the loaves into wedges. In thinking about a salsa and how I like to use "scoops" rather than flat chips, I decided to try making pita scoops. Although this was super easy and worked just like you would have hoped, you do end up with some scraps, so you might want to weigh that into your decision. Not a huge loss, but some. When making chips (flat) out of the pitas, if using small round loaves, you can usually get away with cutting the stack in half, stacking them again, and cutting into wedges. If you're using large rounds, the wedges end up too long and narrow, so I'll cut the stack in half, stack them again and cut a strip from the cut edge. Then I can cut the strip into three or four square chips and cut the rest into wedges.

To make the chips, line a baking sheet with your wedges, or stuff rounds into mini muffin cups, spritz with olive oil or cooking spray, and bake to desired doneness. You can add some Italian seasoning or other herb/spice mix, but with so many flavors in this particular filling, that's not really necessary for this. I gave mine a very light sprinkle of Italian seasoning in case I ended up eating a few plain or with just a piece of cheese.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

If you want to make your own roasted red pepper, just split the pepper in half and place on a baking sheet, cut-side-down.  Bake at 450 for about 20" or so until the skin bubbles up and starts to pull away from the flesh (that always sounds gross lol). Turn the broiler on for another minute or so until it starts to blister and crack, then toss the pepper into a brown paper lunch bag or glass covered bowl for about five minutes. That will give it a chance to steam and then cool to the touch, so when you take it out of the bag or bowl, the skin should slide right off for you.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

If you decide to use pepperoni, consider how much you will need and if you might be making pizza sometime in the not-so-distant future. I was originally going to pick up a little pouch of thick-sliced pepperoni, but when I saw how much cheaper a stick was, I got that instead. I diced about a 2" length, sealed up the rest and put it in the fridge. If I don't make pizza in the next week or so, I'll go ahead and freeze it.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

What do you put into your Antipasto?  Am I missing anything exciting??

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pesto-Stuffed Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

Sometimes I make a pesto chicken, sometimes Parmesan. I figured why not combine the two and stuff one inside the chicken and coat it with the other? Works for me! You can use whatever chicken you have on hand. For me, that was a package of thin-cut chicken breasts. Heck, if you have the patience for the knife work, you could use chicken tenders if you want. Hmm, that would be good to do and make them super crispy. I always try to keep a stash of homemade pesto in the freezer, but if you are using a store-bought pesto that's on the very thin side, you might want to bulk it up with some extra Parmesan so it does just run out of the chicken while baking. You only need five ingredients for this ...

Parmesan (preferably freshly-grated)
Seasoned Bread Crumbs

  1. Stir together almost equal parts mayo and Parmesan - a little heavy on the Parmesan side is better.
  2. Blot each piece of chicken dry with a paper towel then, using a very sharp small knife, slice a pocket lengthwise into the side of each piece - almost as if you were going to butterfly it open.
  3. Fill the pocket with pesto, then spread the outside with the Parmesan mixture and drip into the breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake at 350-375 until golden and cooked through. Time will vary depending on how thick your chicken is, etc.

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