Hye Thyme Cafe: January 2011

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, January 31, 2011

Toasted Chickpeas

In case you didn't figure this out from the Butternut Squash Chips, Beet Chips, etc., I've been looking for some healthier snacking options lately. More specifically, crunchy stuff! I don't know why, but this family seems to get a case of the nighttime crunchies. As much as I love popcorn, snow peas, baby carrots, certain dry cereals, etc., it all gets old after a while. I figured it was time to try adding Toasted Chickpeas to the rotation.  

By the way, I've given up the great veggie chip adventure for now. I was playing around with beets again yesterday ... and carrots ... and plantains ... but I couldn't quite get them where I wanted them. Or I did, but five minutes later, they were soft again?!? I'll come back to them down the road. The thing is, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that our new oven has a built-in dehydrator feature, but since everyone (hopefully anyhow) has an oven, but not everyone has a dehydrator, I figured I'd try them the old-fashioned way first. Now that I've confirmed the dehydrator function, I can't wait til summer so I can try some pineapple chunks, papaya, etc. Yummmm!

2 cans chick peas (a/k/a Garbanzo Beans)
1 T olive oil
1 T of your favorite seasoning (I used buffalo rub)

Rinse, drain, and pat dry the chickpeas.

Toss with olive oil and seasoning.
Spread on baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Roast at 300 to desired doneness.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Butternut Squash Chips

Butternut Squash Chips : Hye Thyme Cafe

Anyone who has been following along with me knows that I was playing around with Beet Chips the other day but couldn't get them to turn out the way I wanted. There was some Butternut Squash kicking around, so I sliced that up and threw it on the tray with the last of the beets. My thinking was that baking the beets at a high temp would burn the sugar, so they should go in at a low temp. That didn't work so well for the beets, but the squash was great!  

Today I tried both again - still can't get the beets the way I wanted them. Rather than 250, I tried them at 300 degrees today. Instead of tiny beet chews like last time, I got average-sized chips, but they didn't look like some of the pretty ones I've seen online. Maybe I'm just being fussy, or maybe it's the difference in soil content depending on where you get them from. What do I know? I'll keep working on it. The funny thing was that my sister recently read or heard that you could nuke pepperoni slices to make them into chips. We tried it, and it made them kinda like bacon, so I joked that we should zap some of the beet chips that weren't as crisp. All kidding aside, she went ahead and did that - threw them in for 30 seconds, waited a minute and we tried them. Not only were they perfectly crisp, but that actually brought out the seasoning for some reason. I had whisked some olive oil, vinegar, salt, and garlic pepper and tossed them with that. When they came out of the oven, you didn't notice the garlic pepper so much, but you definitely did when they came out of the microwave!

Because the squash had come out so nicely last time at 250 over 2 hours, I was hoping to up the temp a bit and shorten the time, so I did the first batch at 275. They started to brown and develop bubbles before they actually got crisp, so I dropped the temp back down for the rest. They definitely like to take it slow!

Two squash "necks" sliced thin with a mandoline.

Tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. 
We also sprinkled smoked paprika on some.

 Baked (on parchment) at 275 for 45" then flipped and baked for another 45".
See the bubbles starting?  
Bummer since they're still not crisp enough.

Butternut Squash Chips : Hye Thyme Cafe
Finished batch baked at 275.

I took a few parting shots of the last tray - the ones cooked at a lower temp that came out nicer - but when I pulled the pics up on the computer, I saw that they had come out blurry. Sorry! Imagine them like above, only brighter and less crinkled.  :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Veggies over Quinoa (Olives, Asparagus...)

Veggies Over Qinoa ; Hye Thyme Cafe

It was a very sad night here in my kitchen I'm afraid. I had not one, not two, but THREE disasters! Fortunately, this dish that I served last night alongside my "Karate" Chops was fantabulous!

My first failure of the day was a batch of Beet Chips. In looking at various recipes, the temps varied pretty widely. Some of the pics looked "extra crispy," so I was thinking the higher temps were not a good mix with the natural sugar in the beets. I decided to let them cook for a longer time at a lower temp. Well, two hours later at 250, they had practically evaporated! They were about 1/3 the size they went in at and still weren't crisp! I ended up with a batch of "Beet Chews" that tasted great but weren't what I was looking for. The silver lining was that my sister had a piece of Butternut Squash on the counter, so I sliced up the rest of it and added it to the Beets. The Butternut Squash was awesome! So for future reference - beets cook quickly at a high temp, but Butternut Squash likes to luxuriate in a warm oven. 

My next fail was string cheese. I made a Dill String Cheese a while back and it came out great. I was trying to think of something different and settled one Buffalo and one traditional Armenian version. I later realized that was kinda funny - "Buffalo" Mozzarella String Cheese. I tried that one first, and when it didn't come together, I figured either I shouldn't try adding a liquid to the curd or the buffalo sauce was too cold and had shocked it. OK, I'll do the traditional ... that one didn't turn out either?!?!  😧

I was planning to make Yogurt for the first time today too, but after all that, I was afraid to go back in the kitchen. I'll stick to posting my new side from last night ...

1 c quinoa
2 c chicken broth
1 lg asparagus
1 red onion, sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 container mixed olives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil, then set to low and let it sit while you prep and cook your veggies. Give it a peek in a while, and if all of the broth has been absorbed, just keep it on warm until you're ready for it. I did NOT salt the quinoa for this particular dish because the olives will provide enough once poured over.

For the veggies, start by chopping the ends off the asparagus and dropping them in a pan of boiling water for 3-4". Plunge them in cold water to stop them from cooking anymore, drain, and set them aside for now.

Saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. I forgot this pan has a high spot that doesn't work well on a flat-top stove, so I saw a little scorching start. If this happens, don't panic - just give it a splash of broth or white wine to deglaze it, and avoid anything staying on that spot for too long. I used a little chicken broth.

Once the onions cook down, add the scallions and olives. I opted for a mix of colossal green olives marinated in garlic, kalamatas, and Peppadew peppers from the olive bar. I just LOVE Peppadews! They are sweet and hot at the same time. While those guys are getting settled, go ahead and cut your asparagus into 1-2" pieces.

Because you blanched the asparagus, you're just looking to heat them through now, so gently toss them in when you're a  minute or two away from how cooked you want everything. We like our asparagus a little on the al dente side rather than very soft. 

To serve, scoop some quinoa onto the plate and spoon the veggies over the top. Enjoy!  :)

Veggies Over Qinoa ; Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Karate Chops

Karate Chops : Hye Thyme Cafe

I had to do that ... I don't normally like "kitschy" names for recipes. If I'm scrolling through Reader or flipping through Recipe Cards, I don't want to have to read everything to decide what I want to make. I want to know by the title without having to actually open the recipes. That said, these Pork Chops being on the spicy side made me think that Emeril would refer to them as "kicked up." My brain automatically jumped from kicked up - to karate kicks - to karate chops - pork chops - back to ... Karate Chops.  :)

The base of this recipe is Tyler Florence's Smothered Pork Chops. He uses bone-in chops.  I use boneless and also changed a few other things to make it my own. If you like pork chops and a little heat, these are a must try.

4 pork chops
1 c flour
2 T dried chopped onion
2 T garlic powder
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t smokey paprika
1/2 t dried mustard powder
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c buttermilk
parsley for garnish

In a shallow bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, dried onion, and spices for dredging the chops.  

If the chops are very fatty, you can trim them before you get started. Some people like to keep it on to preserve moisture and add to the flavor, but others are totally skeeved at the thought of any fat on their meat. If that's the case, you might want to trim it off but add it to the pan at the beginning to enjoy at least one of the benefits (flavor). You can remove it later.

Pat the chops dry of any moisture, then dredge them in the seasoned flour - shaking off any excess - and brown them in the olive oil. It should take about 3" on each side. If you had removed the fat from the chops and added it to the pan, remove it at this point, and set the chops aside on a plate for the moment.

In the same pan, whisk in 1-2 T of the remaining seasoned flour to make a roux with the olive oil and drippings left from the chops. Once it is blended in and smooth, pour in the buttermilk and broth and let cook for about 5" to reduce and thicken somewhat.

Add the chops back to the pan, lower to a simmer and let cook for another 5" or so until cooked through. To serve, spoon over with gravy and sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley.

Karate Chops : Hye Thyme Cafe

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Turkey Meatloaf

I was at the grocery store the other day and, for some reason, got it in my head that I wanted to try some form of Turkey Meatloaf, so I came home with two pounds of ground turkey and no idea what to do with it. I resisted the temptation to include any form of tomato - most of my meatloaf recipes contain either tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, or some combination of the three. Thinking about how much we like my sister's version of Giada D's Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayonnaise, I decided to include mayo rather than whole eggs. I also figured I'd include some artichoke for moisture since I usually hear about turkey recipes coming out dry. Aside from that, it was pretty much whatever I happened to pull out of the fridge. It worked out very well.  Color aside, we all agreed you wouldn't even realize it was turkey!

2 lb ground turkey
1 med onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T dry oregano
3 T fresh chopped parsley
4 artichokes (canned) minced
1/2 c herb stuffing (crumb, not cube)
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/3 c grated Parmesan
1 T spicy or Dijon mustard  (I'll increase next time)
Salt and pepper

Although lots of pepper is always good in my book, don't get too heavy handed with the salt since the Parm is salty as well. Just mix everything together, form into a loaf, and bake at 350 for about an hour. Most recipes call for an hour, but when I tested mine, it still needed a few minutes, so be sure to check the temperature, as ovens vary. May also have been because I baked it in a casserole dish rather than on a metal pan. 

Look how juicy it turned out ...  :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kale Chips

I was first introduced to Kale about two years ago in a Portuguese soup. I have since been using it a lot in a recipe loosely based on that, but it seems like everywhere I turn lately, I've been seeing posts about Kale Chips. I saw a huge bag of Kale in the fridge earlier, so I could no longer resist the urge to try it and stole some. If you have ever been to a Japanese restaurant that uses parsley in their Tempura, it was kinda like that. Very delicate, and when you pop it in your mouth, it just sort of explodes. This is definitely a keeper for us!!

Some of the recipes I saw used just olive oil and salt, while others included apple cider vinegar as well. I decided to use the white balsamic I picked up over the holidays and throw in some garlic powder for the heck of it. At the last minute, when it was already on the tray, I decided to pepper it as well.  

6 oz Kale
1 T olive oil
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1 t sea salt
1/2 t garlic powder
black pepper

Preheat oven to 250 and line baking sheet with parchment.

Wash, and tear your Kale, being sure to remove any big stems.  Either give it a whirl in your salad spinner or dry it off with paper towels or a clean dish towel. I lucked out - that bag we had in the fridge was already triple washed and chopped, so I didn't have to deal with any of that. Off to a good start.

Put the Kale in a bowl, drizzle/sprinkle your other ingredients over it, and really get in there with your hands to rub it in, making sure it's all well-coated.

Spread on prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 30" until crisp. Just be sure when you test a piece, you take one that has a piece of stem attached, because those take longer. I have to remember to rotate my tray next time - one corner seemed to get less heat for some reason.

These chips are very delicate, so carefully transfer them to a serving bowl and make sure nobody reaches in for a big handful or they'll end up with powdered Kale. The brand that we had was curly and small, but if you're using a flat large-leaf Kale, it may be "sturdier." I took pics of them in a lovely crystal bowl, but when I opened them on the computer, none of them had come out well - just the one close-up. Oh well, you get the gist...I hope, cuz they're really good!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Creamy Artichoke Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

It has been so cold this week, soup sounded like a really good idea for dinner. I usually make lentil or vegetable soup, but I had artichokes on the brain, so I decided to go with that. I opted to attempt a somewhat healthier version and skipped the cream, potatoes, or cream cheese in favor of  Northern Beans as my thickener. I like them for their creamy texture and slightly buttery taste.

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 heaping t jarred minced garlic with hot peppers
2 shallots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cans artichokes, drained and rough chopped 
   (reserve some for garnish)
1 can Northern beans, rinsed and drained
32 oz chicken broth
2 T grated Parmesan
2 t lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 scallion, sliced thin - for garnish

Sauté the garlic, celery, and shallots in the olive oil and butter until soft and the shallots just begin to brown. You don't need to be precise in chopping the veggies since everything will be pureed anyhow. 

Add the artichokes and beans to the pot, stirring in enough chicken broth  to cover. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until tender, about 20" or so.  

I did not use all of the broth at this point because it's easier to thin something later than to thicken it if you used too much, but as it turned out, I did end up using the rest. Another factor affecting how much liquid is needed is your brand of artichokes. I noticed that the Cento seemed to have a lot more packed into it than the brand I usually buy, so depending on what store I'm shopping in, I may need to adjust.

Once everything is nice and tender, go ahead and puree, either using an immersion blender, or doing it in batches in your blender or food processor. Just be sure that if you use the blender or food processor, you leave the vent open for steam.  

You can test whether the veggies are ready by eating an outer piece of one of the artichoke leaves. If it still feels a little stringy/fibrous, give it a few more minutes. While you are pureeing is a good time to add more broth. Here is where I also added in the Parmesan and lemon juice.

Return the soup to the pot, stir in a sprinkling of cayenne, and bring back up to temperature. To serve, ladle into bowl and top with some reserved chopped artichoke and a sprinkling of scallion.

Creamy Artichoke Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Harissa (Armenian Chicken Porridge?)

Harissa : Hye Thyme Cafe

As a kid, the mere mention of this dish was enough to send me running. It wasn't until about six months ago, when I decided to make my annual attempt at choking down a bowl of oatmeal, that I gave this dish another look. I love oatmeal bread, oatmeal cookies, etc., but trying to eat a bowl of oatmeal has always reminded me of the kid in elementary school who used to eat the jars of paste. I just can't do it! I read somewhere about athletes incorporating chicken into their oatmeal for extra protein and thought hmmmm, I'm no athlete, but that might help. I tried it, threw in a few other ingredients, and now I eat oatmeal all the time. Having crossed that hurdle, I decided to give Harissa a shot. According to Wikipedia, it's the National Dish of Armenia, so I kinda felt obligated to at least try it again.

The first problem I had was that one of the ingredients was Dzedzads. No, that's not a typo. Well, maybe it is, but it's phonetically correct anyhow. What the heck is Dzedzads? My grandmother passed away years ago, so I asked my Mom, and her sister, and was met with identical blank stares, shoulder shrugs and  the response "Dzedzuds." Apparently, growing up in Watertown, MA, known as "Little Armenian," gave them the benefit of not having to translate things to English at the markets. They both only knew it by its Armenian name. That didn't help me any. It took a little online research to figure out it was a form of wheat - which form is apparently up for debate.

My next problem was the process itself. That's one of the things that would send me running as a kid. It required cooking down whole chickens until they disintegrated, then beating the crap out of them with a wooden spoon, skimming the fat, removing the skin, and searching for every little bone, piece of cartilage, gristle, etc.  Uhh yah, no thanks! OK, so forget about doing this "old school," time to bust out the slow cooker and come up with a cheat.  

Because I'm not using whole chickens, I did add some stock base, but if you want, I suppose you could throw in a few legs - those bones should be easy enough to fish out, or if you cooked a whole chicken recently and saved the carcass for stock, you could tie it up in cheesecloth so you could easily pull it out later.

2 lb boneless/skinless white meat chicken
1 c hulless barley
1/2 c soft wheat (wheatberries)
32 oz. + chicken broth
1 t chicken stock base
salt and pepper

When I went in search of my ingredients the first time around, I had read that the Dzedzads were wheatberries, which I remembered as a grain used in the bread at a local lunch spot I used to order from when living in New Orleans. That made sense to me, but what do I know? I use Bulghar Wheat a lot for Tabouli, etc., and knew that wasn't the right kind. When I got to the store, there were a variety of wheat options, but none were labeled as wheatberries. I played Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo and went with the Soft Wheat.

My grandmother's recipe just called for "raw" barley. It didn't give me any specifics, so I opted for the hulless. Between then and now, I have used Pearled Barley a few times in another recipe, and it seems to cook a lot faster, so I'm thinking I might try that next time.

Take your chicken out of the fridge to warm up at bit so it doesn't seize up when it goes for a swim. In a crock pot or ovenproof covered pan, pour in 32 oz chicken broth, then add the barley, wheat, and chicken stock base. Let that boil for about 15 minutes or so, giving it a stir now and again, then turn the temp to low if using the crock pot OR preheat your oven to 250. You will see that the grains have puffed up some as they started to cook and soak up the chicken broth. 

Now that the grains have gotten a head start in softening up, go ahead and nestle the chicken in on top of it, pop the top on and let it cook for several hours until soft. I forgot someone borrowed our crock pot, so I threw mine in the oven tonight.

Some people like it mushier than others. We like a little chew to it, so just taste test a few of the grains of wheat/barley to decide when it's done. By then, the chicken will already be shreddable. You can either use the two-fork method like if you were making pulled pork, or you might have one of these handy dandy Mix 'N Chop tools we picked up at a Pampered Chef party a while back. It comes in really handy for breaking up ground beef and that sort of thing, and since it's nylon, it won't hurt your pans! Or ... if you've got an immersion blender and are using a pan it won't mangle, go ahead and give that a whirl around the block. Whatever it easier for you and will achieve a texture you like. If you want it thinner, just add some more broth, or a little water.

Be sure to taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. I usually use TONS of pepper on everything, but since I started off with some soup base, I didn't add any salt up front. You might not need it at all.

To serve, scoop into a bowl, top with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of paprika (I've read a lot of blogs talking about using cumin as well), and dig in! It's the perfect weather right now for a bowl of this good-for-you,  stick-to-your-ribs dish!

Harissa : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eggnog Cordial Cups

I can't seem to resist "cute." That's why I never go into pet stores!! If I see things that are miniature versions of things (like keychain toys), or over-sized versions of things (ginormous clothespin on my desk), I often succumb to the impulse to buy it, so when I saw these cute little cordial cups one day while shopping for Christmas Stocking Suffers, they went directly into my cart. I had no idea what I would do with them, but that was beside the point - they were cute!  :)

I was originally planning to make some sort of cheesecake filling, but running short on time - and cream cheese, at the last minute, I whipped up a box of Fat Free/Sugar Free White Chocolate Instant Jello Pudding using Eggnog instead of milk. I wasn't trying to cancel out the Eggnog with the fat/sugar free, that just happened to be what I found in the pantry. I let it set for a while, then scooped it into a plastic bag I had snipped a corner out of and fitted with a piping tip, then piped the pudding into the cordial cups.  

I put them back in the fridge until I was ready to serve them and topped them with various items. A few had cocoa beans, others had a slice of banana, mint leaves, nutmeg, etc.  They were very well received for a quick and easy treat.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mini Caprese Salad and Focaccia

Two additional side items that I made with Christmas dinner this year were a Mini Caprese Salad and a Focaccia with herb dipping oils. We make variations on a Caprese Salad fairly often, but this was my first time using a white balsamic vinegar. I use a lot of aged balsamic, but I'll definitely be making sure the pantry is stocked with the white from now on as well. It has great flavor, and the color doesn't tint your salad or give it a heavy look as the regular red balsamics sometimes do. As for the Focaccia, that was a first for me too. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20 - it probably wasn't the best idea for my first holiday dinner to consist of ALL new items. Thankfully, everything turned out OK.

The dressing for this particular Caprese was something I came across on http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/mini-caprese-salad. The Focaccia recipe is from Fleischmann's Yeast.

1 c olive oil
6 T white balsamic
2 t red pepper flakes
2 t garlic salt
1 t dried oregano

The dressing ended up being way more than I needed to dress 2 containers of bocconcini (mozzarella balls) and two pints of cherry tomatoes. Whisk the dressing ingredients, then chiffonade some fresh basil and gently toss everything together.

3 1/4 c flour
1 packet Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
1 T sugar
4 T olive oil, divided
1 2/3 c very warm water
2 T shredded Parmesan 
1 T Italian Seasoning

Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the water and 2T of the olive oil, stirring well to combine. Spread into a greased 13x9" baking dish and cover. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30".

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes over the top, drizzle the remaining 2T of olive oil, and sprinkle the cheese and seasoning. I used Romano rather than Parm - easier to dig out of the fridge that day. They are interchangeable in most recipes. Let rise for another 15" or so while the oven preheats to 375.

Bake 30-35" until lightly browned. Cool slightly and cut into slices; serve warm. If desired, serve with additional olive oil for dipping. Although I generally end up using them more for pita/bagel chips, I do pick up those divided shaker-top containers with multiple herb blends in them to mix with olive oil for dipping. Because I knew ahead of time that I would be making the Focaccia, I gave the dipping oil a head start. I put a LOT of one of the herb mixes into a small prep bowl and poured over just enough olive oil to thoroughly coat it. Because I would be splitting it into several small dipping bowls, I did not want there to be so much olive oil that I had a hard time scooping out the herbs. This way, some of the olive oil was getting infused with that seasoning ahead of time, and I could just add to it when plating.

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