Hye Thyme Cafe: October 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! :)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin and Sausage Penne

Pumpkin and Sausage Penne : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was wandering around on the Real Women of Philadelphia site the other day and saw a recipe that included orzo, pumpkin, and cream cheese. I really enjoy pumpkin or squash ravioli, so I already knew I liked pumpkin with pasta, and I liked the idea of the cream cheese for a super creamy texture. What threw me was the thought of that with orzo. It seems too tiny to hold up to such a thick sauce. Then I remembered that I had some spicy Italian Sausage links in the freezer and decided to incorporate those into a dish.

INGREDIENTS :
6-8 oz penne pasta
chicken broth (and/or water for pasta)
2-3 oz bulk hot Italian sausage *
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t oregano
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 c white wine
1 c pumpkin
2 T cream cheese

Cook the pasta in chicken broth and/or water, reserving the liquid.

* When it came to the sausage, I estimate 2-3 oz of bulk, because I was using up some links I had in the freezer. I removed the casings from the four I had, intending to use half in this dish and set aside half to go in an egg dish the next morning, but of course I combined everything before I remembered to remove half, so there is a lot more than required here.

Cook the sausage over medium heat until just about cooked through, then add the garlic and onion.

When the onion is translucent, season with the oregano and black pepper, then slowly pour in the white wine, deglazing the pan to scrape up all those tasty bits on the bottom.

Allow that to simmer until the wine is well reduced. You will see that if you run your spatula or a spoon along the bottom of the pan, that path won't immediately fill in.

Stir in the pumpkin and cream cheese until well incorporated.  

At this time, your pasta should be cooked, so you can transfer it directly from the pasta pot to the pan using a slotted spoon or a spider. 

Gently fold in the pasta, then stir in enough of the cooking broth as required to reach a texture that you like for your sauce.


Cook Sausage
Add onion and garlic


Add wine and reduce
Season with oregano and pepper









Stir until well incorporated
Add pumpkin and cream cheese











Pumpkin and Sausage Penne : Hye Thyme Cafe
Garnish as desired
Add pasta and broth









Pumpkin and Sausage Penne : Hye Thyme Cafe


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lentil Soup with Ham

Lentil Soup with Ham : Hye Thyme Cafe

I think Lentil Soup is probably my favorite, which is kind of strange since I detested lentils growing up. My mother and grandmother would always boil up a batch, toss them with onions and lots of parsley, and eat it in Pita wedges. I could never warm up to that one. I always loved the soup though, and over the years have come to appreciate lentils in other ways as well, but you'll still never catch me eating them cold with parsley and onions!

This soup is even better if you have some nice smoked ham to go in it. I've been known to bake a ham just so I could use the leftovers to make soup!  If I bake a whole bone-in ham, I'll throw the bone in the pot too. If I'm freezing leftover diced ham to make soup down the road, I'll keep the bone in the freezer until then as well. If you haven't baked a ham recently but still want to include it in your soup, you can sometimes find smoked pieces at the grocery store, or you could make do with a ham steak and just throw that in a pan for a few minutes to cook through, then dice and add it to the pot.

INGREDIENTS :
2-3 T Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
Salt and pepper
8-10 oz lentils
32 oz beef broth
3T dill weed
1 can Del Monte Petite Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapeno
Diced ham


In a large stock pot, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until it just starts to take on a little color, then add the onion and celery, seasoning with about a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stirring frequently until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the lentils, and add just enough water to cover, then add the beef broth. Bring the pot up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it cook for 45".

Add the dill, tomatoes, and ham and continue to cook until the lentils are tender.

Serve up a mug (or bowl) with an additional sprinkling of dill.




Lentil Soup with Ham : Hye Thyme Cafe

Lentil Soup with Ham : Hye Thyme Cafe
Lentil Soup with Ham : Hye Thyme Cafe
Lentil Soup with Ham : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chipotle and Parmesan Potato Stacks

Chipotle and Parmesan Potato Stacks : Hye Thyme Cafe

For some reason, I almost always automatically pair baked ham with mashed potatoes and either corn or string beans. Thinking about mashed potatoes reminded me that my potato masher is one of the many kitchen items that mysteriously disappeared during one of my moves post-Hurricane Katrina. I realize you can make mashed potatoes without a masher, but that's what prompted me to try something different for a change. I recently picked up a container of Chipotle Seasoned Panko Crumbs that had yet to be opened, so I decided to take those for a spin to come up with these simple stacks.



INGREDIENTS :
1 Russet Potato (filled 3 ramekins)
Butter
Chipotle Seasond Panko Crumbs
Grated Parmesan





I have made stacks before, but was cooking for a crowd at the time, so I used a large muffin pan. Since I was just making this for myself, I opted to use a ramekin. I was surprised that the one potato actually filled three.



For good measure, I gave each ramekin a quick spray of PAM, then sprinkled Panko Crumbs in the bottom.




Slice the potato into very thin slices on a mandoline if you have one, dip them in butter, letting the excess drip off, and layer them in the ramekins, alternating between one layer with a sprinkle of Parmesan and the next layer with a sprinkle of Panko, finishing with Panko on the top layer.  


I did not bother peeling my potatoes, but you certainly can if you want. Knowing the stacks would shrink down some, I piled them above the rim of the ramekin. Also, because the potato slices were oblong, rather than stacking them evenly, I chose to turn them in different directions. If you wanted to get really picky/fancy about it, you could always cut out perfect rounds with a cookie cutter.



Chipotle and Parmesan Potato Stacks : Hye Thyme Cafe



My ham baked for one hour at 350°, so that's exactly how I cooked the potatoes. If you use a muffin pan, they may cook more quickly. It was very easy to just slip a fork underneath the stacks to remove them from the ramekins. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much heat the Panko Crumbs packed. They had a really great flavor, and the Parmesan added a slight saltiness and held the stacks together.



Chipotle and Parmesan Potato Stacks : Hye Thyme Cafe


Chipotle and Parmesan Potato Stacks : Hye Thyme Cafe

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baked Ham with Apricot and Ginger Brandy Glaze


I have mentioned before that my all time favorite ham is far and away a John Morrell EZ Cut Bone-In. It has a great smoky flavor and is always juicy and delicious. The problem is the price - at least where I live now. When I was living in New Orleans, I never had a problem finding them and could often get them at a great price. Where I live in Central NY, not only do I have a hard time finding them, but the prices are out of this world. When I stopped at the butcher to pick up some ribs the other day, I came across a baby boneless version. It cost me $17 and change, which is more than I used to pay for the whole ham in NOLA, but that was a heck of a lot easier to justify than $60 for a half bone-in. I had to take that little cutie (just shy of 4 lb) home with me.

I usually do the traditional version of scoring the ham and poking it with cloves, topping with pineapple, maybe some brown sugar and/or Dijon  I didn't feel like doing that today, and don't have any pineapple in the house at the moment anyhow, so I looked around to see what else I could use. I recently participated in a cocktail challenge with Marx Foods and had some Ginger Brandy left, so I decided to use that in conjunction with Apricot Preserves which, although I have yet to make any myself, can almost always be found in my fridge.

INGREDIENTS :
Ham - mine was a fully cooked 3.8 lb boneless
1/4 c apricot preserves
1/4 c Ginger brandy *
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground clove












Since the ham is already fully cooked, the directions called for baking it at 350° for 15" per pound. For this little guy, that translated to about an hour.

Score the ham all around, about 1/4" deep, then bake, cut-side down and covered with foil, until you are 30-45" out from it being done.


For the glaze, combine the ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring up to a boil, letting it bubble for about 3", then brush all over the ham and return it to the oven uncovered. Baste every 15" until done.



To use the remaining glaze as a sauce, I mixed a little cornstarch in a prep bowl with enough water to create a slurry, then added it back to the pot, bringing it up to a boil to re-heat and thicken. As I was doing that, I was wondering whether using less of the brandy would have made this step unnecessary or whether that would have left me without the ginger taste I was hoping for. Now having tried it, I can safely suggest cutting back some on the brandy so you'll have a thicker sauce/glaze.* You could also add a little ground ginger along with the cinnamon and clove.




I found that the glaze went along nicely with the ham, but I do have to admit that, if you happen across one of these little Morrell hams, do not feel compelled to buy this one over whatever ham you usually purchase. Although it's still a good ham, it doesn't come close to it's smoky cousin. With the full smoked version, I'm usually left groaning because it's so good, I can't stop picking at it.


As for this little guy, I plan to slice a few slabs to go in the freezer for future use, maybe make a sandwich or two and some breakfast egg cups, then dice the rest to go in Lentil Soup. That's another reason I love the big one - that smoky flavor is an awesome addition to the soup.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kahlua Beef Short Ribs

Kahlua Beef Short Ribs : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was having company over for dinner last night before heading out to see Argo (very good) and wanted to try something new, so I started flipping through my "to try" recipes and stopped when I saw the Kahlua Short Ribs by Fer's Bite. I love Kahlua, especially when combined with DiSaronno Amaretto, but I had never used it in a savory dish. I did make sure to go to one of my favored butchers this time, unlike the recent disappointment with the ribs I bought for Beef Short Ribs with Barley and Kale.

At some point in the process, I found the aroma to be slightly offensive, but when my company arrived, I was assured that was just me and that it smelled great. Maybe it's because Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liqueur, and I only drink Dunkin Donuts coffee. ;)  

The flavor was even better than I had anticipated. As a matter of fact, leftovers were taken home, and as I was uploading my pictures, I was eating my own leftovers and contemplating going back in the kitchen to lick the pot! I think they're even better today, so next time I make them, I might do it ahead of time to let the flavors really develop. I'm seriously upset with myself now for portioning out the leftovers and disposing of the remaining sauce.  :(

I had to change it up a little to make it "my own," but if you would like to see the original recipe and photos, follow this link.


INGREDIENTS :
2 lb boneless beef short ribs
Salt
Pepper
1 c Kahlua
1/2 c beef broth
1 T vanilla
1 T whole peppercorns
1 T granulated pasilla chile peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg onion, sliced


Preheat the oven to 350° and arrange the ribs in a baking pan large enough to give them a little elbow room.

Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the chile peppers. Pasilla peppers are a mild chile, included here more for flavor than for heat. They have a nice almost smoky/fruity flavor.

Add the garlic and peppercorns, then top with the onion slices.

Stir together the Kahlua, vanilla, and beef broth, gently pouring over the top to coat the onions.


Kahlua Beef Short Ribs : Hye Thyme Cafe

Cover the pan with foil and bake for one hour, then flip the ribs, swishing them around in the liquid to get them nicely coated. Continue baking, covered, for another hour.

Kahlua Beef Short Ribs : Hye Thyme Cafe


Flip the ribs again, removing the foil and kicking the heat up to 400°. Allow to cook for another 30" to allow the sauce to reduce and the ribs to caramelize.


Kahlua Beef Short Ribs : Hye Thyme Cafe


Kahlua Beef Short Ribs : Hye Thyme Cafe

For a side, I just cooked some brown rice in beef broth, adding some frozen corn and peas, along with a diced carrot toward the end of the cooking process, then seasoning with a little Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chili Sauce.


Thanks to Fer's Bite for the great recipe idea and to Marx Foods for my seemingly never ending supply of chile pepper samples from participating in various challenges, etc.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do as I Say, Not as I Do Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

The reason I titled this Do as I Say, Not as I Do is only because of the coloring. While standing at my spice drawer wondering what I wanted to include in this soup, I felt a twinge in my back. Having been mangled in a car accident back in 87', I should have stopped right there and popped some Advil or something. Yup, just standing at an odd angle is enough to do me in some days! And, of course, the only available stock pot at the time was a 600 lb Le Creuset. So, rather than spending the few extra minutes to add things in stages, I threw all the veggies in at once. I would have preferred to at least hold back on the broccoli and asparagus. As you can see from the color, they are "well done." I prefer a bright green crisp-tender.




INGREDIENTS :
1 T olive oil
1 lb beef, diced *
Salt
Pepper
3 bay leaves
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 med red onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced (include the leafy tops)
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 lg carrot, diced
1/2 c fresh chopped parsley
1 broccoli stalk, florets removed - stem diced
1/4 lb thin asparagus stalks, chopped
32 oz beef broth
1 c pearled barley


* I wasn't sure what I wanted to use for the beef when I headed to the market. I was thinking I would probably pick up some cubed stew meat and quarter the pieces so you could get a little in every spoonful. While perusing the selection of available beef products, I saw a package of "stir fry" beef strips. That cinched it for me. I decided to buy that and use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the strips into smaller pieces. When it comes to browning the beef, as I mentioned, the pot I was using was a Le Creuset - a VERY heavy enameled pot that does not lend itself well to browning. I'm sure your soup will turn out equally delicious and a lot prettier that this batch.  :)






Over med-high heat, brown the beef in the olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper along the way, adding the bay leaves to the pot when the beef starts to render down any fat and release some liquid.





Add the cayenne pepper, paprika, and bouillon cube (or powder/paste), stirring well to coat the beef and let the bouillon melt down.

Next add the garlic and onion. Here's where the aroma will start to get to you, so inhale deeply and smile.

Once that aroma hits home, you can start adding in your other veggies. As I mentioned above, if not for my back, I would have stuck around to do this in stages - first the onion and celery, a few minutes later the bell pepper and carrots, then the barley - followed later by the asparagus, broccoli and parsley. As it was, I added all of the veggies here, stirring to coat with the beef drippings and garlic.


Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Then stirred in the barley and broth, letting the pot come to a boil, then reducing to a simmer until the barley was tender.

Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe


Beef and Barley Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe


Friday, October 12, 2012

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Quinoa, Apple, Currants, and Almonds



Not wanting to either go to the grocery store or defrost a protein last night, I scanned the kitchen to see what I could make use of and settled my gaze on a White Acorn Squash. Acorn Squash is relatively new to me. I have seasoned and baked a few and tried a recipe I came across for an apple filling that I found to be overly sweet and oddly textured. I like the idea of the apple, but the previous recipe I followed included a lot of brown sugar, cinnamon, etc., and was on the cloying side.  

Having somehow ended up with a mountain of Quinoa, I decided to use that for a protein to replace some form of meat. When a recently purchased container of curry powder came to mind, the apples and currants weren't far behind. Although the colors ended up being too similar - not enough visual contrast between the curry and the squash - the flavor was great. Maybe the next time I'm cooking for a crowd, I'll split lengthwise and roast a large butternut squash and fill it with this mix to be served family style.

INGREDIENTS :
1 Acorn Squash
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c Quinoa
1 1/4 c Chicken Broth (or water)
1 t Curry Powder
1 t Better than Bouillon Stock Base (or a chicken bouillon cube)
1 small apple, diced (peel on or off is up to you)
1/2 c dried currants
1/3 c chopped almonds


Preheat oven to 375°.

Split your squash in half from stem to bottom (you might need to slam it on the counter to get all the way through) and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.




Brush the inside of the squash with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.




Place the squash cut-side-down in a baking dish or roasting pan, etc. (cooking time will be determined by what weight-gauge vessel you are using).  Bake for 20" until it just starts to soften, then flip it cut-side up to finish, allowing the edges to brown.  For me, this took another 30".



While your squash is cooking, bring the Quinoa, Chicken Broth, Curry Powder, and Better than Bouillon just to a boil, then reduce and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed and the Quinoa has "sprouted."


While waiting on the squash and Quinoa, toss the almonds in a small dry pan over medium heat to toast. Stir or shake frequently to prevent burning, and once they are as browned as you like, remove them from the pan to stop them from cooking further.  I used whole, skin-on almonds, but whatever you have handy is fine!

Dice your apple into small pieces, and when the Quinoa is just about cooked through, stir in the currants and apples and turn the heat down to low.  This will allow the currants to plump up from the remaining moisture and the apples to cook a bit while the squash finishes cooking. Don't add your almonds yet - you don't want them to get soft; they're there for texture (and flavor of course). 










When your squash is fork tender, use that fork to fluff it a bit.  That way, once you fill it, when you scoop through the filling, you'll be able to get squash with each bite and not have to dig for it.


Stir half of your toasted almonds into the Quinoa mixture, fill your squash and sprinkle with additional almonds.







Hmmm, now that I'm looking at it, I wonder how cranberries would be curried??  Maybe I'll do half and half with the currants next time to add another color/flavor to the party.


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