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, January 29, 2015

Apricot-Coconut Bread (Three strikes, but I'm not giving up!)

This is an example of what food bloggers sometimes go through. You try a recipe, but it doesn't work out quite right, so you don't want to post it for others to try until it's "perfected." As delicious as this bread is, I've made it three times now, and it's still not "right." That's what people are referring to when they talk about "recipe development." It's not just about making something - it's about making sure it will work right and can be repeated by others. This comes into play more with baking than cooking. You have to do it and then do it again to ensure you get the same result. The problem here is in the rise ... or lack thereof. I'm not getting that nice airy texture I'm looking for.

The first time I made it, when I saw that the dough hadn't risen, I thought maybe it didn't like that I had soaked my apricots in a little Amaretto, or this particular dough should have been prepared in a different order - sometimes I'll dump everything together, sometimes I'll bloom the yeast, add the other wet ingredients, then the dry, etc.

For the second attempt, I omitted the Amaretto, bloomed the yeast first, swapped out the milk and butter for water and oil, and mixed everything until it pulled into a ball before adding the coconut and apricots. Same result! What the heck is going on? Then it occurred to me that it must have been my yeast. I usually buy bricks of yeast and store it in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. I figured it had been around for too long, so before my third attempt, I picked up a strip of fresh yeast packets at the grocery store.

Third attempt - went back to the milk and butter but again skipped the Amaretto. I whisked the dry ingredients together, sprinkled the yeast into the well that formed in the center, added the wet ingredients and mixed until it pulled into a ball, then added the coconut and apricots. This time, I got a bit of a rise out of it, but still not what it should have been.

The old saying is "Three strikes and you're out," but I'm not giving up yet! I have baked breads with all kinds of things in them before with no problem, but I do recall seeing some recipes that call for letting the dough rise before adding the mix-ins. That has left me with one more idea ... maybe the shred on my coconut is so fine that when I mix it into the dough before letting it rise, it's messing with the bubbles the yeast should be forming.

If anyone else has a different idea about what might be going on, I'd love to hear from you!

 The first loaf was a 5-strand braid.

The second loaf was a 6-strand braid.

The third loaf was another 6-strand braid.
This one rose during baking, making the braid spread open.

One reason I haven't minded trying this again and again is that it makes the apartment smell so good!  :)

The last two loaves are currently residing in the freezer. I plan to turn them into an overnight French Toast Casserole.

Stay tuned ... I'll get it right eventually!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

I have had Poutine on the brain since having it back in August. We had gone to Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse for a family outing, and two orders were placed for the table as an appetizer, along with Fried Green Tomatoes. I was thinking they were crazy for ordering two, knowing how much food would be coming still, but it's a good thing they did! Their Poutine came with brisket, and quickly vanished.

I had never seen cheese curds before moving to New York. The first time I saw them were at an indoor farmer's market. They are often referred to as squeak cheese, because when they're really fresh, they squeak when you bite into them. Since then, I have noticed them in many of the local grocery stores, in a variety of flavors.

Because I love Chianti-Braised Short Ribs so much, I was originally planning to make a batch of those to go with my Poutine, but when I saw the cider at the market, I quickly switched gears. Even if you're not into Poutine, you should definitely make the ribs. Sooooo good!

There is enough liquid here to accommodate additional ribs if you need them. I was making this just for me, so I bought six ribs, figuring I'd use two for the Poutine, then have the rest for during the week. Same goes for the potatoes if you're making your french fries from scratch - figure on two per person, then add one or two extra at the end for good measure. Don't worry though, if you don't want to make your own fries, frozen will be fine. 

Boneless beef short ribs (2 per person)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
1 lg onion, sliced or chopped
2 cloves garlic (or 1t jarred minced garlic)
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 c beef broth
2 c apple cider
Russet potatoes (2 per person plus 1 or 2 extra)
Oil for frying potatoes
Cheese curds
2 T flour
2 T butter
Gravy Master (optional)

Pat your ribs dry so you are searing them, rather than steaming them, and season well with salt and pepper.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Coat pan with olive oil and sear the ribs for 2-3 minutes on each side over med to med-high heat, then remove from the pan. Because you will be covering the pan anyhow, I staged my ribs right in the cover.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

To that same pan, add your onions, stirring to coat in all that nice beef flavor and to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. When the onions are soft, add the garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring for a few seconds more - you do not want to scorch your garlic.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme CafeCider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pour in the beef broth and bring up to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Let that bubble and reduce by about half, to concentrate that beef flavor.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Next add the cider, again letting it simmer and reduce for a few minutes, then turn the heat down to low and add the ribs back to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated. Cover the pan and let cook for about 3 hours, flipping the ribs about half way through. You want to check on your temperature every once in a while - there should just be a few bubbles breaking the surface here and there - barely a simmer. You can see in the photo on the right that after 3 hours, they are falling-apart tender. Another option would be to sear the ribs, then add everything to your slow cooker and let that run all day on low until the ribs are tender.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

In a separate pot, whisk together the 2T each butter and flour to cook into a roux, then either pour the pan juices from the ribs into the pot, or strain it into the pot for a nice glossy gravy. If you want, add a few drops of Gravy Master for extra richness and color. Let boil for a minute or two to thicken, then reduce the heat and keep warm while you make your fries.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

If you are making your french fries from scratch, wash and peel your potatoes, then slice lengthwise into layers, then into fries.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

I like to use a deep pot to prevent spatter, but a deep skillet is fine as well. Heat your oil until when you add a droplet of cold water from your fingertip, it immediately pops. Add the potatoes, stirring often with a spatula to prevent sticking together or to the pan, until they float and are golden and crispy around the edges. I like mine crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb any extra grease, and sprinkle with salt.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Break your ribs into pieces, then toss with the fries and cheese curds on a foil-lined tray. Pop under the broiler for a minute or two to let the cheese curds get melty and the ribs re-heat. Scoop into bowls with a spatula and drizzle with gravy.

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cider-Braised Beef Short Rib Poutine: Hye Thyme Cafe

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