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! :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Salt and Vinegar Microwaved Beet Chips

I was gifted some beets the other day and hadn't had Beet Chips in quite a while, so I decided to use a few of the beets to whip up a batch. Actually, I was first thinking about pickled beets, but that would have entailed dragging my lazy butt to the grocery store for onions and fresh garlic. I reverted back to chips, but still thinking about the whole pickle thing got me thinking about salt and vinegar potato chips ... you see how this goes.

Slice beets thin
Dip in vinegar
Sprinkle with salt (sea salt is nice)
Microwave in short bursts of time, flipping between each
Keep careful watch once they start to dry out/crisp


Because it has been a while, I was trying to remember the amount of time in the microwave called for and decided to refer back to my blog. To my surprise, it seems that I never actually posted Beet Chips. That's probably because there really isn't a recipe to speak of. Even so, I love them so much, they're definitely at least worth a mention!

I know for sure that I burned my original batch. To be more accurate, I set them on fire. Yup, on fire! Once you get past a certain point in drying them out, you need to keep a close eye on them because of their sugar content. The sugar will start to burn - not particularly tasty - and then they'll burst into flames, so don't leave the room.

That was why I wanted to refer back to my apparently non-existent notes.  I think I had made them (the subsequent successful batches that is) on a paper plate and gave them 30 seconds, flipped them, then gave them another 30 seconds on that side.  

For these, I would be starting with them wet, since I was dipping them in vinegar first.  That meant a longer time in the microwave.  I also didn't have any plain paper plates and didn't like the idea of nuking something wet on dyed paper plates, so I was using a dinner plate lined with paper towels, and I hand-sliced the beets, as opposed to using the mandoline.  All of these factors, in addition to your own microwave's power settings, will have an effect on how long they take.

No matter how thick/thin you slice them, what you cook them on, etc., the one thing you need to pay attention to is the sound ... once they start to sound like Rice Krispies, making those little snap, crackle, and pop noises, that's when you really need to start paying attention to them, because they're drying out. You will also notice by then that they have started to fade in color - just like anything else. Imagine getting splashed with water; where the water hit, your clothes are darker, but as that water dries, the color fades back. As the beets dry, they go from that nice dark purple to sort of a dried rose petal pink.

So it's really a matter of trial and error.  Because you can only fit so many slices on a plate at one time, I sliced one beet into thin rounds, dipped each into vinegar and transferred the slices to the paper-towel lined plate, sprinkling the tops with a bit of sea salt.  Knowing they would take longer than the "naked" beets, I started off with 45 seconds on one side, flipped them and gave them another 45 seconds on that side, but realized they were still pretty steamy, so I had to repeat that a few more times.  For the next beet, I started at a minute and a half, flipped, repeated, then decreased the time to 45 seconds for another round.

It may sound annoying to keep taking them out and flipping them, but to me, spending a few minutes that way is infinitely better than waiting for them to come out of the oven nice and crisp.  I've made them in the oven as well but prefer them this way.  I find that they cook more evenly and have a better crisp.

So let's see, that's apple and butternut squash chips in the oven and beet and pepperoni chips in the microwave. Have you tried that before? If you have pepperoni in the house from making pizza, try zapping a few slices to turn them into chips. Great for snacking, or for crumbling and using in place of bacon. (I'll probably get hate mail now for suggesting something other than bacon!)  ;')

Whether in your oven, microwave, deep-frier, or dehydrator, go forth and chip something ... except maybe beef.  Chipped beef may be awesome to eat (I have never encountered it myself), but it sure sounds gross, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava

After making a batch of Sweet Italian Sausage Cheese Bouregs recently, I was left with an extra sleeve of phyllo dough. I decided to play around with a new Paklava. It would need to be a small one though, since I only had a half pound of dough left. I wasn't crazy about that first version. I used chocolate chips, and even though I ran them through the food processor with the peanuts to break them down some, they still didn't really melt well, and I used altogether too much chocolate anyhow.

Annoyed by that first result, I had to try it again. I used the same size pan - 8x8", but I used a full pound of phyllo and less chocolate. At first I was thinking I just wasn't crazy about it, but after it had a day or so to "dry out," I was hooked! It wasn't until after I made the second batch that it occurred to me that I could have used peanut butter chips rather than actual peanut butter, which would have yielded a drier result, but I prefer real peanut butter, so I'll probably stick with that in the future, just maybe use a slightly larger pan so the filling ingredients are spread more thinly.

1 box (1 lb) phyllo dough
2 sticks butter
1 heaping T Crisco shortening (optional)
1/2 c peanut butter
1 c peanuts (I used dry roasted)
Chocolate (chips or otherwise - I used a 4.25 oz Symphony bar)
1 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 lemon

  1. Melt together the butter and Crisco - technically, it's better if you actually clarify the butter, but that's not mandatory.  As for the Crisco, it helps keep the dough crispy.
  2. Brush your pan with melted butter.
  3. Lay two sheets of dough in the pan, trimming or folding as necessary to fit.  If folding, be sure to switch directions so you don't end up with one end higher than the other.  Butter the top layer and repeat.  Continue in this manner until you have 10-12 sheets of dough in the pan, but do not butter the last layer.
  4. Melt your peanut butter, stirring until smooth.  I nuked mine in the microwave for 30 seconds, gave it a stir and put it back in for another 30 seconds.  Layer half of the peanut butter over that non-buttered top sheet of dough (there is oil in the peanut butter, so the butter isn't necessary there).  You could use a pastry brush, but I found that pouring the peanut butter and spreading it with the back of a spoon worked better.
  5. Lay two sheets of dough over the peanut butter layer, brush with butter and repeat with a few more layers - yes, buttering the top this time.
  6. Pulse together the chocolate and peanuts in your food processor to break down a bit and sprinkle half over that top layer of dough.
  7. Now repeat the whole thing - add a few layers, then peanut butter - add a few layers, butter, then chocolate/nuts, until you reach the top of your pan or run out of dough.
  8. I usually make huge trays of Paklava and cut them into diamonds, but since I was using a small square pan this time, I took the easy route and went with triangles.  Slice corner to corner, rotate and slice from the opposite corner to corner, then side to side ...
  9. Bake at 350 until golden.  The time will vary with your pan, etc., but one way to check if it's done is to use a fork or the tip of a knife to lift a few layers of dough.  If the top is dark, but the layers beneath are still on the raw side, top with foil and let bake a little longer.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely - because you used chocolate, you will want to re-cut your lines before proceeding with the syrup, since chocolate will have melted and filled in the cuts.  You want to make sure the syrup can flow throughout.
  11. In a small pot, stir together the sugar and water and let come up to a boil.  Squeeze in a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and continue to boil for a minute or two, then pour or spoon evenly over the cooled Paklava.
  12. I don't like my Paklava cloyingly syrupy sweet, so I like to sort of flood it with syrup, then remove one corner piece and tilt the tray toward that corner.  That way, I can scoop up the syrup that drains into the corner and spoon it over any missed spots, then drain away the excess.
  13. Optional - decorate the top with chopped peanuts, shaved chocolate, drizzled chocolate ...



This shot was two days later and just the way I like it - everything 
had dried out some, so it was still sweet, but not all drippy gooey.