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, 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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Corn and Watermelon Salad

Corn and Watermelon Salad (Hye Thyme Cafe)

This recipe was borne out of pure curiosity. I had picked up a small watermelon and several ears of corn at the market, intending to have corn with dinner and cut into the watermelon the next day, but then I started to wonder. I did a search of corn and watermelon together, and sure enough, a bazillion different salsa and salad recipes popped up. I was introduced to the combination of watermelon and tomatoes last year, so why not watermelon and corn?

Chili powder goes well with both, so I decided to start there. Cumin is another flavor that works well with corn, and it seemed like it might be a nice balance when played against the sweetness of the watermelon. That turned out to be a good choice, because they all worked really well together. 

The next day, I decided to shred some lettuce, slice some little tomatoes and cucumbers and pile a mess of the Corn and Watermelon Salad over the top. That was great too! I just ate another big bowl for dinner tonight.  It will be even better in August when the corn will be at its peak of flavor here.

Rather than boiling the corn like I normally would, I decided to remove it from the cob, toss it with a bit of oil and the herbs and then roast it to really infuse those flavors. You will definitely have a few stray kernels, but if your corn is flying all over the kitchen, that means you're not cutting close enough to the cob and are losing a lot of that great corn flavor.

5 ears corn
2 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1 T chili powder
1/2 - 3/4 t cumin
1/2 red bell pepper, petite diced
1/4 c red onion, petite diced
1 lime
1 T white balsamic vinegar
Approx 3c petite diced watermelon

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Remove kernels from corn and toss together with the olive oil, salt, chili powder, cumin, and zest from the lime.
  3. Transfer to baking sheet and roast for 15-20" until just starting to brown a bit around the edges; let cool.
  4. Toss the cooled corn in a large bowl with the diced pepper and onion, balsamic vinegar, and a good squeeze of lime juice.
  5. Gently fold in the watermelon and chill for 30" before serving.

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