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! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Creative Cranberry" Turkey Meatballs - Golden Girl Granola Blogger Challenge

Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe

I'm back... For those of you who don't follow along on social media, the maintenance department at my apartment complex has been working on a mold problem along one of my living room walls. Mold is not exactly the ideal environment for cooking/baking, so I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen - especially given the open floor plan and the fans blowing on the area where they ripped out the wall.

You may recall that a while back, I was invited to sample and review Golden Girl Granola. While conducting my review, I used the samples in a few recipes - Granola French ToastGranola-Crusted Pork Chops, and then I made mini Banana-Orange Cheesecakes with Granola Crust. Since then, I was invited to participate in the first annual Golden Girl Blogger Recipe Challenge, which has bloggers utilizing the Golden Girl Granola flavor of their choice, competing to come up with the winning entree recipe.

I couldn't begin to imagine what to do with granola for an entree recipe, having already used it as a crust/breading for pork chops. It seemed redundant to make fried chicken or something like that, using it in the same way, and I obviously didn't want to just sprinkle it on something, so I was driving myself crazy.

When meatballs finally came to mind, I knew that was what I would go with. The variety of granola I had chosen was Creative Cranberry, which consists of granola made with New England Maple Syrup, baked with dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and coconut flakes. The cranberries gave me the idea to make them turkey meatballs.  It turned out to be a great choice!

Because my new routine with meatballs includes creating a puree with the bread crumbs, milk, herbs, etc. and then incorporating the puree with the eggs and meat, I decided to expand on the coconut in the granola by replacing the milk with coconut milk, and instead of using processed bread crumbs, I used my wonderful Creative Cranberry Granola! In addition to using some of the granola in the puree, I included more but kept it whole, to allow for a variety of textures. 

I was originally going to go with a traditional turkey gravy, but in thinking about the coconut and cranberries and how lime goes well with both, I decided to include lime in the meatballs and the sauce, by using the zest in the meatballs and adding the juice and lime ponzu to the coconut milk to create the sauce.

I was afraid the oats might make the meatballs turn out heavy or gummy, but that wasn't the case in the least! They were perfectly light and flavorful, which is a good thing, because I now have a freezer full of them! I don't know what I was thinking - I originally picked up one pound of turkey but then decided that wasn't enough and got another. One would have been plenty.

NOTE:  If you have not worked with coconut milk before, be warned that it separates, so when you open the can, it will look like it's solid, but if you stick your spoon down into it, you will realize the middle is liquid.  Pour the can into a bowl and whisk until incorporated.

13.5 oz. can Coconut Milk, divided
1/4 small red onion
1 clove garlic
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t each salt and pepper
1 T fresh thyme leaves
2 c Creative Cranberry Granola, divided
1/2 c ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 lb ground turkey
Zest of one lime
Olive oil - for rolling

Remaining Coconut Milk
1-2 T brown sugar
1/4 c Lime Ponzu
Juice from 1/2 the lime
1/4 c water
1 T cornstarch

1 pkg egg noodles boiled in salted water until al dente
Dried cranberries for garnish - optional

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, the red onion (rough chopped), garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, thyme, and 1c of the granola, and process into a puree.
  2. Pour the puree into a large bowl, adding to that the ricotta, eggs, turkey, lime zest, and additional 1c of whole granola, and mix until combined.
  3. The mixture will be very soft/loose, so it will be helpful to cover and let it chill in the fridge for 20-30" before rolling. This will also give the liquid a chance to plump up the cranberries and the flavors a chance to blend.
  4. Preheat oven to 400.
  5. Roll meatballs to desired size; mine were approximately 2" and yielded 30. Pour a bit of olive oil into a small prep bowl to dip your fingertips into so the meatballs will all get a nice light coating as you roll them.
  6. Bake for 15-30" until cooked through - time will depend on size, etc.
  7. While the meatballs are cooking, boil your egg noodles in salted water to al dente, then drain and toss with 1-2 T butter.
  8. For the sauce, pour the remaining coconut milk into a pot and heat together with 1T brown sugar, Lime Ponzu, and lime juice until it begins to simmer; if too salty for your taste, increase the brown sugar.
  9. Whisk together the water and cornstarch to create a slurry, then pour into the sauce mixture and continue to simmer until reduced and thickened.
  10. Serve the meatballs over the buttered noodles with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkling of additional fresh thyme leaves.  If desired, also sprinkle with additional granola and a few dried cranberries for color and a punch of flavor.

Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe
Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe

Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe
Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe

Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme CafeCreative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe

Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe
See, nice and light and juicy, not heavy or dry at all.
Creative Cranberry Turkey Meatballs - Hye Thyme Cafe

I can very easily see these translating to a smaller cocktail recipe. These's that slow-cooker recipe people seem to love where they cook meatballs in grape or currant jelly with a chili sauce. Switch out the jelly with cranberry sauce and these would be perfect for that! Maybe pan fry them to get a nice crusty outer layer, then drop them into the cranberry/chili mixture in the slow cooker to finish cooking and take on that nice glaze. You could even make homemade croutons and have those pre-threaded onto cocktail spears to go with the meatball so it would be like a turkey and stuffing bite.

A big thanks to Thought for Food & Son for introducing me to Golden Girl Granola and to Golden Girl for inviting me to participate in the challenge.  Best of luck to all those participating.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cookbook Review - Summer Cocktails (and The Luxe - cherries and ice cream and booze, oh my!)

Cookbook Review - Summer Cocktails

Why, oh why did I procrastinate on this post for so long?!? I received a copy of SUMMER COCKTAILS - Margaritas, Mint Juleps, Punches, Party Snacks, and More by Maria Del Mar Sacasa (Photography by Tara Striano) from Quirk Books a while back.  I read and LOVED the book, but for some reason kept putting off going to the booze store to pick up what I would need to try one of the recipes. I'm kicking myself now, because the concoction I chose to try was so delicious, it was more than worth every second of brain freeze it produced! If the names sound familiar, you might recall my earlier review of Winter Cocktails.

First off, if you have been following along with me for a while now, you know that I'm not a big fan of cookbooks nowadays. They take up too much space in my life, and with the internet at our fingertips, pretty much everything imaginable is easily found online. That said, I'm not one to turn my nose up at the opportunity to conduct a review - you never know where you'll find inspiration. Not only did I love this book, but I seriously recommend adding it to your library. Aside from the great recipes and lovely photography, I even managed to score a few tips/tricks that I can translate to cooking and baking.

Summer Cocktails provides more than 100 fabulous beverage recipes, in addition to a section dedicated to goodies to pair along with them. The front matter encompasses Pantry and Fridge Basics, A Guide to Tools and Serveware, Know your Glassware, The Well-Stocked Bar, and tutorials on shucking oysters, quick pickling, and prepping lemongrass and pineapples. A wealth of information can be gained even before the book officially opens, with sections dedicated to:

  • Classics, Throwbacks, and New Wave
  • Punches and Pitchers
  • Frosty Drinks
  • Antidotes
  • Underpinnings
  • Fill Your Plate

There is everything from the cocktail and bite recipes themselves to multiple options for making your own infused liquors, sour mixes, simple syrups, shrubs, you name it! You will doubtless be inspired to come up with your own concoctions.

I chose to try one of the Frosty Drinks, The Luxe, which is a very decadent cherry-vanilla shake. The only "negative" to this recipe is that I automatically made the full recipe for the Cherry-Vanilla Syrup, when very little actually goes into it, so unless you have another use in mind for the rest, I would recommend quartering the recipe.

Cookbook Review - Summer Cocktails
1 c vanilla ice cream
2-4 T milk
1 c fresh or frozen cherries, pitted,
   plus more for garnish (I used frozen)
2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
   (I couldn't find the Luxardo, so I
   went with Dr. McGuillicuddy's)
1 oz Cherry-Vanilla Syrup, or to taste

3 c pitted fresh or frozen cherries 
   (about 18 oz)
1 c demerara or granulated sugar
Seeds from 2 vanilla bean pods
1 c water
1 T fresh lemon juice (I had a lime handy, so I used lime)

  1. In a food processor, combine the 3c cherries, sugar, and vanilla seeds for the syrup and process until the cherries are completely broken down.
  2. Combine with 1c water and bring to a boil over med-high, reducing to med and stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Let cool to room temp, then strain (discarding solids), and stir in the lemon/lime juice.
  4. For your shake, in a blender, combine the 1c ice cream, 2-4T milk, 1c cherries, 2oz cherry liqueur and 1oz of your homemade cherry-vanilla syrup until smooth.
  5. Garnish with additional cherries if desired, and serve immediately.
Cookbook Review - Summer Cocktails

Cookbook Review - Summer Cocktails

I think next I'll have to try the Prosecco-Blueberry-Lemon Pops. How good do those sound?!? Or maybe the Peachy Keen Punch with bourbon-poached peaches. Decisions-decisions ...

As an aside, I have to chuckle because every time Quirk Books sends me something for review, there somehow seems to be an Armenian connection. In this instance, it's one of the ingredient Sources provided at the back of the book - Kalustyan's.

Summer is officially here, so I say run right out and pick up a copy to perk up all those cookouts you're gearing up for (or follow the links below). You won't regret it!

As always, a big thanks to Quirk Books. Although they provided the book for my review, as always, the opinions expressed are strictly my own, and this is in not a paid post.

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