Hye Thyme Cafe: September 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! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Herb Bread

Herb Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

This turned out so good, I had a heck of a time leaving it alone long enough to cool. That's the problem with a lot of breads; you want to dive right in, but you need to let them rest to get that nice texture you're looking for. Cutting into a loaf of fresh bread before it has had a chance to cool may prevent it from fully cooking and can often cause it to turn out dense or gummy.  

1 packet rapid-rise yeast
1 T butter
1 t jarred minced garlic with red
   peppers or 1 clove garlic and
   a pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped
1/2 t each Salt and Pepper
1/4 c fresh dill, chopped 
1/2 c water
1/2 c light sour cream
1 T butter
1 T sugar
1 t salt
2 1/2 c flour

Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of your stand mixer or food processor. If using a food processor, make sure you have the dough blade in place.

In 1T of the butter, sauté the garlic, scallions, and parsley, seasoning with the salt and pepper, until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside. Once that mixture has cooled, you can stir the dill into it, but you do not want to cook the dill.

Combine the water, sour cream, remaining 1T of butter, sugar, and salt, heating until the butter has melted and the sour cream has been incorporated. If the mixture is too hot for you to comfortably stick your finger in it, set it aside for a minute.

While the sour cream mixture is still warm, pour it over the yeast and walk away for 5" to give the yeast a chance to activate and foam up. If your liquid is too hot, it can kill the yeast, and you won't get a nice rise.

Add a half cup of flour to the yeast mixture and give it a quick spin to incorporate, then start alternating between adding flour and adding your herbs in 3 or 4 stages.

Allow the mixer/processor to run for 5-8", kneading the dough until it comes together in a ball. (In my case, using the food processor on bread for the first time - run it until the jumping scares you into thinking the machine is going to take flight.)

Lightly spray or oil a large bowl, turning the dough in the oil to coat. Cover and set inside your oven, away from any drafts, and let rise for about 45".

Take the bowl out of the oven and preheat to 375.

Punch down the dough, kneading it several times, and set in a lightly-sprayed pie plate or cake round to rest while the oven heats up.

Bake for 35-40" until golden and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Herb Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Herb Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Herb Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

First stop - toast. I couldn't resist. After smelling it for so long, I had to have toast last night to try it.  

It was delicious and had a very delicate texture.

Herb Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe
Today's lunch was grilled cheese. A few slices of muenster with a spinkle of a  shredded mozzarella/cheeddar blend. Soooo good!

If I don't end up eating the whole loaf, I'l cut what's left and slow toast it into croutons.

Friday, September 28, 2012

One-Pot Beef Short Ribs with Barley and Kale

One-Pot Beef Short Ribs with Barley and Kale : Hye Thyme Cafe

This is going to be one of my new favorites, at least if I buy my ribs at my usual butcher counter. I made the mistake of picking up a package of pre-packaged ribs in the beef section at a market I'm not particularly fond of (aside from the convenience of being the closest). I should have known better. Rather than the nice lean ribs I usually get, once I opened these, I found they were all fat on the bottom and not nearly as good. It was the flavor of the completed dish that did it for me, and seriously, I wouldn't hesitate to just make the barley mixture some night and go meatless. It was that good!

After having the Chianti Braised Short Ribs at Olive Garden several years ago, I found that they have the recipe posted on their website, so that's how I usually make them. I decided to switch things up a bit this time around, and as much as I love their recipe, I'm glad I did.

INGREDIENTS:  (Serves Two)
6 beef short ribs
Salt and Pepper
2 t olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1t
  jarred minced garlic with red peppers
Pinch of crushed red pepper 
  (If using clove garlic)
2 c red wine
1 can beef broth
1 can Del Monte Petite Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapenos
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 c pearled barley
1 lg carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
6 kale stems, rough chopped

Pat the ribs dry and season with a little salt and pepper. In a large covered pan over medium-high, brown the ribs in the olive oil on both sides, then remove them from the pan and set aside. (If you don't have a large covered pan, you can either use a pot or cover your largest pan with a cookie sheet.)

To the same pan, add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion begins to soften and the garlic becomes fragrant. You can see how the onion is picking up the color and flavor left behind by the ribs. It already smells good.  :)

Slowly add the wine to the onions and garlic, allowing it to deglaze the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it reduce for 3-5".

Next add the tomatoes, beef broth, thyme and rosemary, again giving the liquid a few minutes to simmer and reduce before introducing the ribs back to the pan (along with any juices that accumulated while they were waiting).

Turn the heat down to where it is just barely simmering, pop the cover on and walk away for an hour and a half to two hours. At that point, stir in the barley and carrots, put the cover back on and continue to cook for another half hour.

Next add the chopped kale to the pan, giving it a stir if you have room. Don't panic if it seems like you don't have room or you can't stir without spilling. Just pop the cover back on and let it steam for a few minutes. The kale will wilt down quickly and you can give it a stir then. You can see how high mine is sitting in the pan.

After another 15" or so, the barley should be cooked and have absorbed a lot of the liquid, the kale should be just about right, and the ribs fork tender.

To serve, scoop a serving of the barley mixture onto a bowl/plate, top with a few ribs and sprinkle with some  fresh chopped parsley or some reserved rosemary/thyme.

One-Pot Beef Short Ribs with Barley and Kale : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Baked Spaghetti Squash : Hye Thyme Cafe

In addition to stopping at the local Amish Market yesterday to load up on spices for my new apartment, I made sure to stop at the orchard to pick up some Macoun Apples. While I was there, I spotted a small spaghetti squash and decided it would be perfect for dinner.

The first time I ever had spaghetti squash was at a luncheon for the Kidney Foundation. My boss's mother was involved with the event, and my boss had invited me as a tag-along. I actually had to ask what it was (embarrassing). I wasn't a big fan of most squash back then, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I can't for the life of me remember anything else that was served that day.

This would make a great side dish, but considering that I haven't either found the one I had or bought a new microwave yet, I'm trying to avoid certain kinds of leftovers at the moment and decided to make this my dinner.

Baked Spaghetti Squash : Hye Thyme Cafe
1 Spaghetti Squash
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Grated Parmesan
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Fresh Chopped Parsley

Slice the squash in half lengthwise, using a spoon to scoop out the seeds like you would with a melon.

On a baking tray, brush the cut side with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Flip the squash cut-side down and bake at 375 for 20". Most people seem to cook it that way until it's done, but I like to flip them over at this point to give the cut surface and chance to caramelize a little. Cook for another 20" or so until fork tender. To test for doneness, run a fork down one side of the squash to see if the strands separate from the skin easily. If you meet resistance, pop it back in for a few minutes more.

When the squash is fully cooked, allow to cool for a few minutes so you don't burn yourself, add a sliver of butter to each half and commence shredding.  

Transfer the squash to a serving bowl and gently toss with fresh chopped parsley, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and about 2t of grated Parmesan. The butter will add a note of richness and help your add-ins cling to the squash nicely.

Just before serving, hit the top with an additional sprinkle of Parmesan.

Baked Spaghetti Squash : Hye Thyme Cafe

Baked Spaghetti Squash : Hye Thyme Cafe

Baked Spaghetti Squash : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Arizona Dreaming Grilled Round Tip Steaks

I wanted to pick up some boneless beef short ribs the other day and happened to notice an extremely cheap Angus Round Tip Steak next to them. I couldn't pass up such a deal, but at the same time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.

While I was driving home, I recalled that I had scored a four-pack of spice blends a while back through Penzey's and hadn't tried them out yet. One of the blends was their Arizona Dreaming, an amalgam of ancho chili pepper, black pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, citric acid, Mexican oregano, cilantro, lemon peel, chipotle pepper, red pepper, jalapeño, cocoa, natural smoke flavoring, etc. I decided to marinate the steak in the seasoning mixture, along with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Because tip steaks are known for flavor but not for tenderness, I decided to try something else I keep reading about – sprinkling the meat with baking soda as a tenderizer. The trick is not using too much or letting it marinate for too long. I once had chicken that had been marinated this way, and if you had your eyes closed, you would never have guessed it was chicken. It was a very strange texture!

2 Angus Round Tip Steaks
1/2 t Baking Soda
Salt and Pepper
1 T Arizona Dreaming
1/4 c Olive Oil
3 T Red Wine Vinegar
1 T butter

Lightly sprinkle the steaks all over with the baking soda, a little salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 1T of the Arizona Dreaming blend, massaging it into the beef.  

Transfer the steaks to a zip-top bag or glass bowl and add the oil and vinegar. Don't be alarmed by the fizz that will be created by the vinegar reacting with the baking soda (not that you want to think about this while making dinner, but that also works for clogged drains in larger amounts).

Give the steaks another quick massage and let them marinate for 45" to 1'. If you are going to do a shorter marinating time, just leave them out because you don't want to add them to the pan cold anyhow. If marinating longer, allow time for them to come to room temp at the end.

Heat your grill (or grill pan) to med-high. If using a grill pan, pat the steaks dry to prevent them from steaming in the oil/vinegar. Grill for about 3" on one side, flip, top with a thin pat of butter and grill for an additional 3" for medium. Remove from heat and sprinkle with additional Arizona Dreaming. That's all there is to it!


Again, this was my first time using the baking soda, so I don't know for sure how far you can push the time, but this window seemed to have served its purpose without creating a noticeable textural change in the beef. It was more tender than I would otherwise have expected, but didn't have that strange spongy feel to it like my chicken encounter.

As for the Arizona Dreaming, I really enjoyed the blend and can't wait to try it in pork and pasta dishes as well.

I even sprinkled my Peppadews and Bocconcini.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NEW - Progresso Recipe Starters Cooking Sauce (with coupons)

OK, I've mentioned before that I usually prefer to make my own soups because I think fresh is best (when possible), and the sodium contents in a lot of the store-bought stuff is crazy high!  That being the case, I tend to stay away from recipes calling for canned soup as a base.  However ... I received an e-mail from MyBlogSpark introducing a line of Progresso Recipe Starters Cooking Sauces.  This has piqued my curiosity.  If you follow the link to their website, you will see that they are offering:

  • Creamy Parmesan Basil
  • Creamy Portabella Mushroom
  • Creamy Roasted Garlic
  • Creamy Three Cheese
  • Fire Roasted Tomato

They have also set up a page dedicated to recipes using these new sauces.  Has anyone tried them yet (the sauces, not the recipes)?  If so, how did you use them, and what did you think of them??  

Get $0.65 savings off the purchase of 1 can of Progresso® Recipe Starters Cooking Sauce with this coupon.
Visit here to download a printable coupon for $1.25 off the purchase of 4 cans of Progresso® Light soup. Creamy Progresso Light soups are a satisfying and delicious way to help maintain your weight. Varieties such as the Creamy Potato with Bacon & Cheese or the Chicken Pot Pie Style pack a flavorful punch in 100 calories!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leftover Pork Chops Re-purposed Into Pork Fried Rice

Pork-Fried Rice : Hye Thyme Cafe

I think I shed a little tear while making this. You see, I had used the last of my prized stash of fennel pollen in the coating for my pork chops, and here I was scraping it off to make fried rice!  So sad.  L

I got over it quickly though once I had a chance to eat this tasty dish.

I have one confession to make before we get started. I had intended to cook the egg pancake style so I could dice it into the finished dish, but I saw quickly that my missing pan (recent move, stuff vanished) situation meant I wasn't using the right pan for this and saw that wasn't gonna happen! I ended up scrambling, which worked out just fine, but if you want that restaurant "look," you might want to use a non-stick pan so you can do the pancake thing.

3T canola oil, divided
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
2 lg cloves of garlic, minced (or 2t
  jarred minced garlic with hot peppers)
2T freshly grated ginger
2 c cooked rice, cooled
1 lg carrot, diced
1 med onion, diced
black pepper
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes (if using cloves of garlic)
3T low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 pork chops, cooked and diced
Crown from one stem of broccoli, florets separated

Over medium heat, cook the eggs in 1T of the canola oil until just barely set. As I mentioned above, you can either scramble the eggs, or pour them in and let them cook slowly into a flat round, carefully lifting the edge as it starts to set to let the oil slide underneath.

When the egg is just about cooked through, remove it from the pan and return the same pan to the heat, adding the additional oil, along with the garlic and ginger.

When the garlic starts to get some color on it and the ginger becomes fragrant, add the rice, stirring frequently to prevent sticking/scorching. Once the rice has a chance to soak in some of that garlic and ginger flavor and starts to dry out, go ahead and add the carrot and onion and several grinds of black pepper. If you are using clove garlic rather than the garlic with red peppers, you might want to add a little crushed red pepper here for heat.  

Stir frequently to prevent sticking, and let cook until the onions and carrots start to soften, about 5".

Add 2T of the soy sauce, along with the diced pork and broccoli to the pan, stirring well to coat.

Pork-Fried Rice : Hye Thyme Cafe

Because I like my broccoli on the crisp side, rather than continuing to cook the dish at this point, I turned off the heat and popped a cover on the pan to let the broccoli steam.

Pork-Fried Rice : Hye Thyme CafeWhen the broccoli is cooked to your liking, take a taste and add more of the soy sauce if needed, then stir the reserved eggs into the mixture and serve immediately.

Pork-Fried Rice : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chrissy Casserole

Chrissy Casserole : Hye Thyme Cafe

When I was a kid, my Mom had back surgery, and a neighbor brought this over for dinner (Thanks Mrs. B.). Because it was a simple dish, it was something I took to making regularly back then. I still make it on occasion, but I was very surprised when I first moved to New York to learn that my sister's family had been making it all these years and, thinking it came from me, had dubbed it Chrissy Casserole. J  The only difference was that she thought the recipe called for Mozzarella rather than Muenster cheese, so she has always made it with Mozzarella. It sounds like an odd combination of ingredients, but it really is a great comfort dish.

1 lb medium shell pasta
1.5 - 2 lb. ground beef
1 lg green bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 lg can corn, drained
Spaghetti sauce
Muenster Cheese, sliced
Grated Parmesan

Cook the shells to al dente.

While your shells are cooking, preheat the oven to 350, and spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, like you would for lasagna.

Cook the ground beef until just a little pink is showing, then add the corn and pepper and continue until the beef is cooked through. The veggies will cook more in the oven; you just want to take the crunch off the pepper (my pepper didn't make it home from the store somehow--either that or it rolled under a car seat--so I substituted a red this time, but the flavor of a green bell really adds to the dish).

Drain your pasta (and your beef if it rendered off a lot of fat), then add the pasta and enough sauce to the meat mixture to coat. You want to reserve some sauce for the top.

Spoon half of the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, top with a layer of cheese, and repeat.

Add more sauce to the top of the second layer, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake until the Muenster is melted, the Parmesan is golden, and the sauce is bubbly, about 20".

Chrissy Casserole : Hye Thyme Cafe

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