Hye Thyme Cafe: 2012

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, December 31, 2012

A Look Back at 2012 - Your Favorites and Mine - Do They Match Up??

Is it just me, or are the rest of you going to be dating everything 2012 for at least the next month??  I can't believe we're at 2013 already.  It seems like just yesterday was 1993 and I was moving to New Orleans from Cape Cod, so moving to New York after Hurricane Katrina feels like just last night, and starting this blog was surely only this morning.  Where does the time go?!?

In taking a look at my Top 10 recipes from 2012 that were most viewed, commented on, pinned, etc., I had to smile at a few, laugh at one or two and even raise my eyebrows in wonder at another (the gross looking yet very tasty Tomato-Basil Cornbread Pudding).  In looking at my own favorites from this year, I found that we did have some in common, but I was sad to see there were others that may not have made the cut for you ... or maybe you were off the grid those days or are more recent followers and just didn't see them??  

Let's see where we diverged.  Far and away your favorite recipe posted in 2012 is also one of mine ...

Spinach Bouregs (Spanakopita)

Followed VERY closely by ...

Sesame Orange Chicken

Then on to ...

Herb Bread
Olive Tapenade Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Quinoa...
Tomato-Basil Cornbread Pudding

SW Inspired Chicken Salad w/Avocado Dressing
Chrissy Casserole

Kahlua Beef Short Ribs
Dijon Crusted Fairy Dusted Pork Chops

The favorites for me that did NOT make your Top 10 List are ... in alphabetical order because I love all my "children" equally ...  

Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Beef Short Ribs with Barley and Kale

Dijon Crusted Roast Beef
Lentil Soup with Ham

Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust

And last but certainly not least ...

Swedish Oatmeal Cookies

Sooooo, having any second thoughts now that you've seen my faves??

Wishing you all a wonderful, warm, happy, and above all SAFE New Year!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Agrodolce Pearl Onions

Agrodolce Pearl Onions : Hye Thyme Cafe

You will have to excuse the terrible photos. It wasn't until I uploaded all of my Christmas pics from this year that I realized how much steam was floating around the kitchen. Most of my "in-progress" shots of everything were obstructed. I'll have to remember to swap out the pics for new ones when I make this again ... which should be soon, given how good they were! It worked out perfectly for me - I'm not a big gravy person, but my brother-in-law likes a gravy of some sort on just about everything. Half the time, gravy doesn't even cross my mind, so at the last minute, I'll think to mention it to my sister in case she wants to throw something together. With these onions, neither of us had to make gravy - it was built right in!! Kind of a cross between a Beef Jus and a French Onion Soup.

It was two or three years ago when I first heard of cipollini onions. On an episode of Giada's Weekend Getaways, one of the items featured was Vanilla Potatoes with Cipollini Onions. It sounded great, but not one of us liked it! Since then, I have noticed the cipollinis at the grocery store off and on and have wanted to try them in a different application. That brings us to Pinterest! I came across a pin of a recipe for Cipollini in Agrodolce ... Sweet and Sour Onions by Lindaraxa. You should definitely make a point of spending some time wandering around her blog.

In any event, having just seen cipollinis at one of the local markets, I added the recipe to my Christmas menu, but of course when I made my big Christmas grocery shopping trip, they didn't have them anymore! I had to make do with pearl onions, and as much as I liked this dish with the pearls, I'm looking forward to making it again with the cipollini.

Because of my brother-in-law's love of gravy, I tweaked the recipe just a bit to make it a little richer for him. I added the cornstarch, additional butter, and the bouillon cube.

2 lb cipollini or pearl onions
2 c beef stock
6 T butter
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 T sugar
1 beef bouillon cube
Black pepper
1 T cornstarch

Blanch the onions in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

Slice off the root ends and the skins should easily slip off.

Over medium heat, cover and cook the onions with the beef broth and butter for 20-30".

Add the vinegar, sugar, bouillon cube, and several cranks of fresh cracked pepper.

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and a bit of water to create a slurry, then pour into the pot and bring up to a boil to slightly thicken.

After it boils for a minute or two, pop the top back on, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking until tender.

Agrodolce Pearl Onions : Hye Thyme CafeAgrodolce Pearl Onions : Hye Thyme CafeAgrodolce Pearl Onions : Hye Thyme Cafe

I served the onions over a Dijon-Crusted Roast Beef - that odd looking thing on the right would be some of that crust. The rest of our Christmas dinner this year consisted of Pilaf with Spinach and Onions; Kale with Caramelized Shallots, Cranberries and Almonds; Roasted Beets with Orange-Honey Butter and Chives; and my sister's rendition of a Green Bean Casserole (MUCH better than the original!).

No need to wait for Roast Beef night for these babies. Make up a batch the next time you have steaks or even a roasted chicken. You won't regret it!

So, what did you all have for Christmas dinner this year? Any particular family traditions you adhere to? I started tackling Christmas dinner a few years back, and we all kind of settled on a beef dish of some sort. Aside from that and Pilaf, everything else is up for grabs. It's when it comes time for dessert that everyone has their favorites or what they consider traditional for Christmas.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Orange-Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

Orange-Ginger Oatmeal Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

I had a container of candied ginger in the cabinet that I figured had been sitting around long enough, so I decided to use it in a new cookie experiment to go along with our Christmas cookie platter. I chose orange to go with the ginger, because the two flavors pair so well. I chose oatmeal because none of the other cookies we had made so far were oatmeal. 

These cookies turned out to be soft and very fragrant, but not at all overpowered by the ginger. That was my initial concern, so I incorporated more juice from the orange than I otherwise would have – thus contributing to the soft texture. If you want the ginger to be more prominent, and your cookies a little crisper, just cut back on the juice. 

2 c old fashioned oats 
1 ½ c flour 
1 t baking soda 
½ t salt 
½ c brown sugar 
½ c sugar 
¾ c unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
2 eggs 
1 t vanilla 
1 ½ t orange zest 
¾ c candied ginger, chopped 
4 T orange juice 

In one bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the two sugars, then pour in the cooled butter and stir until well incorporated. 

Add the eggs, zest, and orange juice to the sugar/butter mixture, then slowly incorporate the flour mixture, in three or four additions, followed by the chopped candied ginger.

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment-lined trays and bake at 350° for 15-20” until golden. 


Allow the cookies to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. 

Orange-Ginger Oatmeal Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

Orange-Ginger Oatmeal Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, December 28, 2012

White Trash Cookies with Almonds and Fresh Cranberries

White Trash Cookies with Almonds and Fresh Cranberries : Hye Thyme Cafe

When I was living in New Orleans, a representative from Charles Chips would come by the office to take orders and make deliveries. On one of his visits, he introduced me to White Trash. The version they sold was clusters of white chocolate with pretzel pieces, but I have since seen other versions of White Trash that include nuts, candies, and even cereal.

On the holidays, everyone requests their favorite cookie - Christmas Sugar Cookies, Andes Candies Cookies, Chocolate Biscotti, Gingerbread, etc. It's also a time for trying out new cookies though, since we don't bake a lot of random sweets during the year. When we do, it's usually for some occasion or event where you wouldn't want to "experiment." On a holiday, at least if one item is a bust, there are plenty of other goodies to pick up the slack.

I have had a few bags of cranberries in the freezer for a while now, having anticipated using them at Thanksgiving. I had also been munching on a big bag of pretzel squares, so that got my gears turning about what I wanted to try for a new cookie this year.

2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c light brown sugar
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c chopped whole roasted almonds
Two 3.5 oz bars Godiva White Chocolate Vanilla Bean, chopped
2 c crushed pretzels
1 c fresh cranberries, chopped 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and eggs until well blended.

In two or three additions, stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, then add your almonds, chocolate, pretzels, and berries last.

White Trash Cookies with Almonds and Fresh Cranberries : Hye Thyme Cafe

Drop spoonfuls onto parchment-lined tray and bake at 350° until golden, 8-10".

I have to confess that when I first tried one of these, I wasn't crazy about them. They had very little flavor to me. I ended up setting aside some for Christmas and took some to the office, along with other goodies, for a holiday luncheon. There were only a few leftover from the luncheon, and because nobody would be around the office to eat them over the holiday, I brought them home with me.  

I didn't think of the cookies again until the day after Christmas, when I noticed the container with the few I had brought home from the office. For some reason, I ate one and thought hmm, that's not how I remember them?! [I ended up eating 3 - shhhh!] Where they were crisp and blah to me initially, they were now slightly chewy and sweet, and I could definitely discern the different ingredients. Maybe my taste buds were shot on the day I made them from making/tasting spaghetti sauce, meatballs, etc. at the same time. I might have to sneak over to my sister's house to see if there are any left there from Christmas.  ;)

White Trash Cookies with Almonds and Fresh Cranberries : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

One of my nephews loves Raspberry Pie, but I had never made one until now. A friend of the family made one for him at some point, but neither his Mom nor I had taken one on. Frankly, most pictures I see of Raspberry Pie look gross to me - usually a soupy soggy mess. That's probably what kept me from trying it before. After looking at dozens of recipes, I finally pulled together the characteristics I liked, threw in some chilies to play against the sweet of the sugar and berries, and opted for a coconut macaroon crust, because most of us love coconut, his Dad doesn't like pie crust, and I figured if it ended up soupy at all, I'd rather have juicy coconut than soggy pie crust!  

CRUST:                                                FILLING:
½ c super fine sugar                             ¾ c sugar
¼ t cream of tartar                                1 t granulated Pasilla chilies
¼ t salt                                                  ¼ t salt
4 lg egg whites                                      3 T cornstarch
½ t almond extract                                3 c frozen raspberries
14 oz sweetened flaked coconut          ⅔ c water

zest of 1 small lemon
GARNISH: 3 T butter
Fresh Berries 1 t vanilla
White Chocolate Chips 6 oz container fresh raspberries

For the crust ...

Whisk together the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, whites, and extract until foamy, then fold in the coconut until nicely coated in the egg mixture.

Transfer to lightly sprayed 9.5” pie plate, lightly pressing into the bottom and up the sides.

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Bake at 350° until golden (40-50”). If the edges start to brown quickly, just tear a few strips of foil and lay them across to prevent burning. Note the light circle around mine - I cut the strips wider than necessary, so it shielded more of the crust than I had intended. Not a biggie, but something to keep in mind if you want yours extra toasty.

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Allow to cool completely before filling.

NOTE:  I set the bag of coconut inside my pie plate to determine how much I needed. It looked like it wouldn’t be quite enough for the deep dish I was using, so I added a few ounces. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary. Stick with the 14 oz. If you use less than that, you might end up with a crunchy crust.

For the filling …

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, chilies, salt, and cornstarch. Add the frozen raspberries and water. Use your whisk to stir frequently, while bringing the mixture up to a boil. Add the lemon zest and continue stirring for about a minute to thicken. The whisk will crush the raspberries as you stir.

Once thickened, remove from heat and set aside to cool. You want to be able to fold in the fresh berries without the heat breaking them down. You also want it to cool so that it’s thick enough not to run through your crust when you fill it.
NOTE:  If the seeds are a problem for you, when you first take the pot off the stove, strain the mixture through a fine meshed sieve.  
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Now that your filling has cooled, gently fold in the fresh raspberries and pour into your cooled crust.

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Refrigerate to set. When you take your pie out of the fridge depends on whether you want it cold or at room temp. I wanted mine at room temp, so I took it out at the start of dinner to make sure that by the time we ate, digested, and were ready for dessert, it wouldn't be cold. A cold raspberry pie sounds great for summer, but not so much for Christmas night!  
Top with fresh berries. For the drizzle, just melt a small handful of white chocolate chips with a bit of cream and use a fork or spoon to scatter it over the berries.  
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Raspberry Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

The pie was a big hit, with the only criticism being as I said ... a crust a little on the thick side. I was actually nervous about this one because I have no idea where my nephew originally had raspberry pie to know what his expectation would be. I was on pins and needles until he dove into it. And he went home with what was left in the plate - no thought of asking if anyone else wanted a slice. That's a sign of a good pie!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe

In our family, the guys always want meatballs on a holiday. My sister usually makes one of those slow cooker recipes with the jelly, etc., but this time, I volunteered to make the meatballs, because I wanted to try making them from scratch and serving them differently. Because we love making antipasto skewers for an easy appetizer, I had it in mind to skewer a meatball with a tortelloni and a piece of basil, maybe a grape tomato, etc. Then I found out that one of my nephews was requesting that I make fried ravioli for him. He must have had them out somewhere and liked them. I'll sometimes make him deep-fried farfalle with a marinara or spinach-artichoke dip, but I don't think I've made the ravioli before. Sooooo, slight change in plan, but no problem - I'd combine the two ideas by making the meatballs and deep frying the tortelloni.

I have only made meatballs a few times, and that was a pretty generic version simmered in spaghetti sauce when I was making a big batch. I was a little anxious to see the reaction to these because everyone has an opinion on meatballs - some like them fried so they're crusty on the outside, while others like them soft all the way through, etc. I was very relieved that these baked meatballs were such a hit!

1 egg, lightly beaten 
¼ c milk 
½ t crushed red pepper  
2 t sweet basil flakes 
1 c fresh bread crumbs
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 ½ lb 80% lean ground chuck
½ lb 80% lean ground pork
1 heaping T mayo
¼ c finely chopped parsley
½ c grated Parm
1/4 t black pepper 

Cheese Tortelloni
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Seasoned dry bread crumbs
Grated Parmesan
Canola oil for frying (about 1" deep in a small pot)
Fresh basil for garnish

Whisk together the egg, milk crushed red pepper, and basil, then stir in the bread crumbs and let sit for 5" or so to give the bread a chance to soak up the liquid and the liquid a chance to hydrate the basil and peppers. The softer everything is, the less likely your meatballs will crack or break apart.

While you're waiting for that to happen, you can mince the onion and garlic, very fine - almost to mush. For the same reason as above - ever notice if you make a meatloaf, when you go to cut it, pieces break off where you come to a large piece of onion? Same principle with meatballs, only the chances are greater here because of their size and shrinkage while cooking. You don't want them to break when you try to skewer them.

Place the beef and pork into a large mixing bowl, add the bread crumb mixture and remaining ingredients and quickly knead together to incorporate. You want to make sure everything is well blended, but don't want to over-work it so much that they turn into lead balls.

Roll the meatballs slightly larger than you want them, to allow for shrinkage, and place on a foil-lined pan sprayed with cooking spray or lightly brushed with olive oil. Once the tray is full, hit the tops with more spray/oil and bake at 350° for 20-30" until nicely browned and cooked through. You can split open the largest meatball to test for doneness.

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe
Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe
Made +/- 60 

When the tray comes out of the oven, prop a potholder or dish towel under one corner so the fat/oil will run to the bottom. If you won't be using the meatballs right away, allow them to cool and transfer to a storage container. Then you can wrap up the fat/oil in the foil and throw it away. Your pipes will appreciate that!

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme CafeBaked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe

Because I knew I was going to be re-heating the meatballs the next night to be served on Christmas Eve with the tortelloni, I wasn't looking for them to be very browned on the outside. I didn't want them to end up tough by the time I served them, so I covered them in a little sauce to keep them moist in the meantime.

For the tortelloni, boil them in lightly salted water to al dente, then rinse them in cold water to cool them down, and pat dry. Toss the tortelloni in the beaten egg, then dredge in the crumbs/Parmesan (mixed together) and fry until golden.

This didn't exactly turn out as I had envisioned, but I forgot to pick up the bread while I was at the grocery store and had one of my nephews pick up a loaf. It was shorter/flatter than I had anticipated, so I couldn't sink the sauce into it unnoticed or fit as many skewers as I wanted, but that's OK. It's the taste that really counts. I tossed the remaining meatballs and tortelloni in bowls on the side.

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe

Baked Cocktail Meatballs Skewered with Deep Fried Cheese Tortelloni : Hye Thyme Cafe

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