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, October 17, 2016

Concord Grape Pie

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

I had never heard of Grape Pie until one of the guys I work with mentioned it, but apparently, it's a big thing in this part of NY. It is actually his favorite pie, so when I happened to come across some concord grapes at a local orchard, I couldn't help but try it. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised - it turns out that a grape pie isn't all that different from a blueberry pie. I was afraid it would be like eating a slab of grape jelly between pie crusts instead of a few slices of bread and some peanut butter!

Even though I'm glad that I made it, I have to admit that I probably won't do it again - it's not that I didn't enjoy it (and yes, it did get my co-worker's seal of approval), but there are other pies that I prefer, and this one is somewhat labor intensive in that you have to squeeze all of the grapes out of their skins and press the filling through a sieve to sort out all of the seeds (I get bored quickly). At least now I won't be afraid to order it if I come across it on a menu.  

2 c flour
3/4 c Crisco shortening
2 T butter
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sugar
6 T cold water

Roughly 8 c Concord grapes
2-3 t lemon juice
2 heaping T corn starch

1 egg
food coloring - optional

  1. For the crust, throw all of the dry ingredients into a stand mixer, or food processor with the dough blade in place, and run until they start to pull together, then add the water, a little at a time, until a dough forms. You could also opt to melt the butter, put everything in a covered bowl and shake the heck out of it until it comes together.
  2. Divide the dough into two portions - one slightly larger than the other if making a standard double crust, or in a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio if decorating with a cluster of grapes, etc. Shape each into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill while working on your filling.
  3. Rinse and drain the grapes well, then squeeze the pulp into one pot, reserving the skins in another.
  4. Over medium heat, cook the grapes until very soft, approximately 10". When they first start to release their liquid, scoop out about 3/4 c to use with the corn starch to create a slurry - that way, you aren't watering down your filling.
  5. When the grapes are soft, stir in the lemon juice, then press through a fine sieve directly over the skins, to remove/discard the seeds.
  6. Stir the corn starch into the reserved juice to create a slurry, then stir that into the still warm grape mixture. If the mixture doesn't immediately thicken because your filling has cooled too much, you might want to put it back on the heat for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 and spray or lightly butter a 9" pie plate.
  8. Roll out the larger piece of dough and insert it into the pie plate, trimming all but about 1/2" all the way around. If you will be decorating the top rather than using a full top crust, fold the edge under and then pinch all the way around to flute, or press a serving fork all the way around to crimp it.
  9. Fill the pie with your filling and, if using a top crust, trim the crust and fold over the bottom crust, edging as noted above.  Beat the egg with a splash of water and brush over the top, cutting a few slits to allow steam to escape.
  10. If decorating with leaves and grapes, trace a circle onto a sheet of parchment paper to make sure you aren't making your grape cluster bigger than the space on top of your pie. Use a leaf cookie cutter to create leaves, drawing on some veins with the tip of a knife. To make the grapes, I used both ends of a melon baller for different sizes, and just free-handed a stem. Slightly overlap the circles, forming a cluster pattern, and top with the stem and a few leaves, making a few more leaves to scatter on the pie's empty space. Because I have a lot of food colors, I separated the remaining egg wash after brushing the edge of the bottom crust and mixed in some purple, brown, and green to tint my shapes. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and bake along with your pie - be sure to keep an eye on it, as the shapes will bake faster.
  11. Bake the pie at 400 for about 15", then lower to 350 for 45-50".
  12. Allow the pie to cool, then transfer the cluster of grapes and leaves to the top.

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

You may have noticed that the top is dotted with butter in the photo above, but I didn't mention butter in the recipe - part of that was automatic from making other pies, but it also included the butter in most of the grape pie recipes I looked at before starting. I should have realized it didn't make sense as I was doing it - the filling has been thickened, so it's not like the butter is going to melt in between the grapes and make it's way through the filling. All it did was leave odd looking spots on the top of my pie, so skip it!

Hmm, now that I've got PB&J on the brain, would it be too weird if you swapped out some of the Crisco in the crust for peanut butter?    

Monday, September 5, 2016

Chipotle-Adobo Roasted Chicken

When cleaning out the freezer recently I found a zip-top bag of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce. I vaguely remembered opening a can a while back but couldn't remember what I had used it for. Also having a chicken in the fridge at the time, I decided to thaw out the chiles to make this Cihpotle-Adobo Roasted Chicken.

I'm not a big sauce/gravy person, so it didn't occur to me at the time, but this would have been even more awesome if I had used the drippings to make a gravy, especially if you make mashed or baked potatoes to go with it. That would be sooooo good over potatoes! Great flavor, and just the right amount of heat.

1 roasting chicken
4 T butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 t each salt and pepper
3-4 chipotles in adobo sauce
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large orange

  1. Pat your chicken dry and set in roasting pan (with or without rack). I like to chop an onion and a few carrots and put those in the pan before adding a chicken. It looks like I got mad at my chicken and shoved a carrot up its backside, but that's really not the case. ;)
  2. Stir, or pulse together in a your food processor, the butter, salt, pepper, garlic, and three or four of the chiles with some of the sauce (how much depends on your taste and how much heat you like).  I mixed mine by hand, but it would really blend together better if you threw it in the food processor - not a big deal since it's all going to melt together anyhow.
  3. Once that's combined, wash and dry your orange well to remove any wax, etc., then zest the peel and squeeze the juice into the butter mixture, stirring or pulsing to blend - not all of the juice will mix in.
  4. This part grosses me out, but it's over pretty quickly and is totally worth it ... at the opening of the cavity, stick your fingers under the chicken skin and gently work your fingers in there to separate the skin from the chicken. Scoop up the butter mixture with your hand and rub it all over the chicken under the skin.
  5. When you've gotten all of the butter mixture on the chicken, go ahead and rub the residual butter on your hands over the outside of the chicken, then pour any juice that didn't mix in over the top - the sugar in the juice will help caramelize and crisp the skin for you.
  6. If you want, stick the orange peels inside the chicken, so the heat will cause a nice citrus steam bath while roasting, for extra moisture. I put them in whole, but if you're concerned about the air circulating, feel free to cut them into smaller pieces.
  7. Start roasting the chicken at 450 for 15-20" to get that nice crispy skin going, then reduce to 350 until done - time will vary depending on the type of pan you're using, the size of your chicken, etc., but most seem to come with thermometers nowadays. If not, and you have your own thermometer, stick it into the meaty part of a leg - avoiding the bone - and the temp should be at least 165⁰. You can also slice between the leg and the bird to make sure the juices run clear.
If you did want to make a gravy, you could do it two ways - right in the pan, then strain, or start a roux in a separate stock pot and then strain in the drippings, adding water or chicken broth as needed.  On those occasions when I do make gravy, I like to start it off in a separate pot, so I'll whisk together equal parts butter and flour (depends on how much I'm making, but 2T or 3T of each is usually good).  When that starts to get some good color going, strain in the drippings and liquid and let come up to a boil and start to thicken, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  I find if I do it the other way around - whisking the butter and flour (or cornstarch) into the pan drippings, I'm more likely to get lumps. Even though you're straining out the lumps, you're not getting the full benefit of that thickening agent because it didn't blend in.

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