Hye Thyme Cafe: Marx Foods - East Meets Delicious Recipe Challenge

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, February 16, 2012

Marx Foods - East Meets Delicious Recipe Challenge

The crazy nice folks over at Marx Foods had us at it again!  This time around, the challenge was to come up with not just one dish, but two.  Participating bloggers were sent six ingredients and were required to use at least four of those ingredients to come up with both an appetizer and a main dish.  The ingredients we received were:
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Maitake Mushrooms
  • Mochi Rice
  • Dried Star Fruit
  • Organic Millet Seeds
  • Hijiki
Aside from enjoying the challenge of playing with their ingredients, what made me decide to sign on for this challenge initially was the Mochi Rice.  I love Mochi (mostly the ice cream version), so the prospect of making it from scratch really appealed to me.  If you're not familiar with Mochi, it's a kind of glutinous rice that is pounded into a paste and turned into a marshmallowy confection.  I first had the ice cream version, but have also had a traditional bean paste filling, sesame fillings, peanut butter, all sorts of things.

When I received the ingredients, it occurred to me that not everyone participating would necessarily be familiar with Mochi, so when researching what to do with the rice, they might lean toward trying that, or maybe a Mochi Cake or Rice Balls, so I decided to switch gears, but to what????  While starting at the ingredients, it occurred to me that rice and dried fruit also appear in one of my traditional Armenian appetizers - Stuffed Grape Leaves.  I could substitute the long-grain rice for the Mochi Rice, the currants for Dried Star Fruit, and the dill for Hijiki (a form of seaweed).  That was a start, now what to do about the entree??

The remaining ingredients were the mushrooms, beans, and millet.  My first instinct was to make some sort of stew, but I didn't see that pairing well with the grape leaves.  In thinking about textures, I realized that I could transition the beans and millet in place of the lentils and bulgar in a Lentil Kufte ("Vospov Kufte").

As for those pesky mushrooms, as much as I detest them, my brother-in-law is the consumer of the most stuffed grape leaves in my foodie circle, so in deference to him, I added them into the rice mixture so that I could use all six of the ingredients.  [Don't tell anyone I said this, but I actually liked the mix, despite the shrooms.]

1 med onion, diced
1/4 c canola oil
2 T Hijiki, boiled and rinsed
2 T minced Maitaki Mushrooms
4 slices Dried Star Fruit
1/2 c Mochi Rice
1 T tamari (or soy sauce)
1/2 t black pepper
2 T rice vinegar
pinch of sugar
1 jar grape leaves

The reason for pre-boiling and rinsing the Hijiki is an apparent concern over arsenic content.  It seems a little silly for this amount given that people have been eating it pretty much forever, but better to err on the side of caution.  After trying it, I'm wondering if that's what you are served pickled at a lot of Japanese restaurants.  Anyone know what I'm talking about??  I might have to try playing around with what I have left.

Saute the onion in the canola oil until it starts to sweat, then add the mushroom pieces and continue to cook until the onions are translucent.
[I didn't bother to re-hydrate the mushrooms since they were going into a liquid.]

Add the Hijiki and Tamari, followed by the Mochi Rice and 1 1/4 c water.

When the rice starts to absorb the water, go ahead and add the rice vinegar, pepper, Star Fruit, and pinch of sugar. 

Continue cooking until the liquid is mostly incorporated and the rice is cooked.  Remove from heat.

Pop open your jar of grape leaves and give them a quick rinse to remove some of the brine.

You can refer to my traditional Stuffed Grape Leaves post for a step-by-step on how to roll and cook them.

Although I actually liked the filling and, as suspected, my brother-in-law loved this, I wasn't necessarily crazy about it in the grape leaves.  It was a texture thing for me, but I've been eating the traditional version for 40+ years, so I guess that should have been expected.  I can definitely see making it again like a risotto type of side and skipping the leaves.  Just cut back a little on the water, or maybe use a wine (or combo) instead.

LOPEE KUFTE (Bean Kufte)
1 c Adzuki Beans (soaked overnight and rinsed)
3/4 c Organic Millet Seeds
32 oz beef broth
1 can Great Northern Beans 
1" piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 t jarred minced garlic with red peppers
1/2 c fresh chopped parsley
1/4 t Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 T fresh chopped cilantro
chopped fresh scallions
toasted sesame seeds

Start by soaking your beans overnight.  When you are ready to start cooking, pour out the stale water and cover them with fresh.  Cook the beans in beef broth (or water) until very soft.  I started with water, but when I realized I needed to add more, I decided to use the broth - same for the millet.

In a separate dry pan, toast the millet seeds over medium heat until fragrant and lightly golden.

Cover with water or beef broth and cook until soft, adding more liquid as needed.  (If you haven't worked with millet before, it ended up having kind of a Corn Chex taste to it.)

When I saw how much the millet was expanding compared to  the beans, I realized I wouldn't have the right ratio.  To make up the difference, I rinsed/drained a can of Great Northern Beans and tossed them in with the Adzuki during the last few minutes of cooking, then mashed them together - not completely, you want a little texture.


While everything else is browning and/or boiling away, you can go ahead and dice your onion, grate your ginger, and chop up your greens. 

Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, until the onions are translucent.


Add the ginger, parsley, and Sriracha to the onions and remove from heat.

When the millet is very soft, and the liquid has been absorbed, stir the onion mixture into it, then fold in the bean mixture once mashed, saving the cilantro until the end.


As soon as the mixture is cool enough to work with, shape into kuftes with your hands.  To serve, sprinkle with the chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

These can be eaten warm or cold and provide for a very healthy meal, served with a simple side salad.


I must say, I was surprised to see forks dipping into the pot before I could even shape the kuftes.  This was a BIG hit!

I can easily see increasing the cilantro and Sriracha and serving this hot (and a tiny bit looser) as a side with Mexican food instead of re-fried beans.  You could stick to just water to make it a vegan dish.  The one catch is the time factor.  Both the beans and the millet took a lot longer to cook than what I was reading in various places, so I'll probably toast the millet and throw everything but the cilantro in a crock pot on low for the day, then give it a mash and stir in the cilantro at the end.

A big thanks to the folks at Marx Foods for allowing me to participate in another one of their challenges and for providing me with the samples.  I had fun as always!


  1. Wow--this all looks amazing! I wouldn't have had the first clue on what to do with those ingredients. Well done!

    1. Thanks! :) I know! My brain automatically went to desserts because of the mochi rice. I'm used to Daifuki - the stuffed mochi that are kinda like candies, or the ice cream mochi - LOVE LOVE LOVE the ice cream ones!!

  2. Really great use of the ingredients! This was really a challenge, wasn't it? Good luck!

    1. Thanks, and it was ... my brain kept going to desserts. I love that you used the millet in a bread! :)

      I'll have to get more mochi rice sometime and still try the ice cream mochi. I've only made it from glutinous rice flour, not from the rice itself. I loooooove that stuff!

  3. These are some creative recipes. I especially love your appetizer. :) Great to have have you joining the contest.

    1. Thank you Amy. Yours is certainly the most beautiful entry! I wish I liked seafood so I could eat things like that. Beautiful AND good for you!!

  4. the mochi stuffed grape leaves look so amazing. I normally buy the canned stuffed grape leaves as a quick meal but now I gotta to make from scratch seeing this. And your bean kufte is well presented as too! Good luck with the contest!

  5. Thank you. I love traditional stuffed grape leaves. I have to admit that I once went to a deli for lunch and was impressed when it came with a stuffed grape leave that tasted almost like my homemade. They were canned, but I forget what brand they were. I don't like mushrooms, but I would do this version again for my brother-in-law. Good luck to you as well!!

    1. Your dishes are so original and look really delicious. Kudos!

    2. Thanks Winnie! Was browsing around on your site late last night and already have a few things flagged to try ... Chocolate Mint Sugar Scrub; Smoky Minestrone with Presto; Spicy Cucumber Salad; Indian Inspired Guacamole. I'm especially curious to try the Guacamole! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...