Hye Thyme Cafe: April 2013

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, April 30, 2013

Armenian Burritos

Armenian Burritos

This post was inspired by Robin Donovan, author of CAMPFIRE CUISINE: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors. You may recall that I had an opportunity to review Robin's cookbook last week and that one of her recipes was for an Aram Sandwich. I had mentioned that "Aram Sandwich" made me think of a lamb sandwich but that it really referred to the bread she used - lavash. I started thinking about burritos while wrapping my Smoked Turkey Aram Sandwich and came up with this post. Also, in keeping with Robin's cookbook, Shish Kebab is a great option for campfire cuisine, so you could use the leftovers for burritos the next day. 

Roasting lamb or cubing a leg of lamb to grill Shish Kebab is pretty standard in an Armenian household. Throw in some Syrian bread, Pilaf and a veggie with some salad or a plate of tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes fresh out of the garden, and you've got your Sunday dinner. I usually have a hard time finding American lamb, but I got lucky the other day and found a package of boneless butterflied leg of lamb at one of the local markets.

Grammy cubing lamb for Shish Kebab

To be honest, I have never actually cooked lamb myself, aside from using ground lamb in Losh Kebab, Manti, etc. That torch passed from my grandfather to my grandmother, then from my Mom to my sister, so I have always happily parked myself at one of their tables for roasted lamb or shish kebab. This was the first time left to my own devices, and having no idea how to go about cooking a boneless/butterflied leg of lamb, I decided to just marinate it overnight like for shish kebab (onions, salt and pepper, parsley, oregano, and olive oil) and then roast it and keep my fingers crossed. ;)

Lamb marinade - onions, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil

Lavash, garlic yogurt, lentils, lamb, pilaf, string cheeseINGREDIENTS :
Plain yogurt
Boiled lentils
Cooked lamb
String Cheese

For the lamb, you can slice it, dice it, pull it, etc. Being used to shredding chicken in the food processor for croquettes, I decided to do the same with the lamb, so while it was still warm, I threw some into the food processor and shredded it using the plastic dough blade.

If you are making your burritos on the spur of the moment, you might want to try mixing just a bit of garlic powder into the yogurt. If you know at least a few hours ahead of time that you'll be making them, grate some fresh garlic into the yogurt and let it chill, giving it a chance to infuse.

Your traditional burrito has meat and rice. Some have cheese, lettuce, sour cream, etc. If you are someone who likes mint jelly with your lamb, you could chiffonade some fresh mint leaves to finish off your burrito. You can easily see the substitutions that I made:

Flour Tortilla - Lavash
Ground Beef - Lamb
Rice - Pilaf
Refried Beans - Lentils (lightly mashed)
Shredded Cheese - String Cheese
Sour Cream - Yogurt with Garlic

  • Lay the lavash (or flour tortilla) on your work surface and spread with the yogurt mixture, not quite to the edges.
  • From one side across the center to within about an inch of the opposite side, layer your mashed lentils, lamb, pilaf, and string cheese (mint optional).
  • Top with some freshly ground black pepper.
  • Roll into a burrito as pictured below.

Armeinan String Cheese

Armenian Burritos : Hye Thyme CafeThis is real string cheese by the way. You can usually find it with the good Parmesan and other "gourmet" cheeses rather than with the cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc. If you have to buy regular string cheese (for this or in general), I highly recommend the Weight Watchers brand. I find that one to have the best flavor and string. Most others are just sticks of rubbery mozzarella.  

Wrapping - Step 1
Wrapping - Step 2
Wrapping - Step 3
Wrapping - Step 4

Wrapping - Step 5

Thanks to Robin for sparking this idea!  :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

Because I haven't made them in so long, I've had Chocolate Chip Cookies on the brain lately. I have been putting off making them because I didn't want to eat them all! I finally broke down. I figured I would make one tray and freeze the rest for another time. Then I started thinking about how there are different camps when it comes to Chocolate Chip Cookies. Some like them thin and crispy, others like them thick and chewy, and still others like them big and soft. Personally, I have always used the Nestle Toll House recipe, which leans more toward the thin and crispy.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe
See the difference ??
I decided to switch things up this time and go for a chewier batch, which is said to be achieved by using butter that has been melted rather than room temp butter being creamed together with the sugar. Thinking about how when I make Congo Bars, the sugars are stirred into the hot melted butter and allowed to cool together, that's what I did here. I just looked up Alton Brown's recipe and see that he melts and cools the butter then beats it with the sugars.

Another thing I kept in mind from having recently reviewed Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever is that she commented about how it's the fat that carries the flavor, so rather than creaming together the butter and sugars, then adding the eggs and vanilla, I added the vanilla to the butter right away.

2/3 c (10T) butter, melted
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
Mix-ins (chocolate chips, nuts, candies...)

Heat the butter until it just begins to bubble, then turn off the heat and stir in the brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Set aside to cool for 10-15".

In the meantime, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

When the butter/sugar mixture has cooled enough to not cook the eggs, go ahead and add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until well incorporated.

Next, stir in the flour mixture, in three batches, until evenly distributed.

Finish by stirring in your mix-ins. I usually prefer milk chocolate chips over semi-sweet. If I have them in the house, I'll use some milk and some white chocolate. Better still, if I have any Heath Bar chocolate-covered toffee bits, I'll throw some of those in as well. I never measure the mix-ins. I just add until it looks like a good ratio. Sometimes I like more, sometimes less. I almost never add nuts to my cookies, but when I do, I prefer pecans to walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment.  

To be honest, I never measure my cookies either. I just use a spoon to scoop out a blob and drop it onto my prepared pan. Whether they're big or small, I just make sure they're roughly the same size per tray so they bake evenly. I think that might go back to my failed attempts at using a cookie scoop. After breaking a few over the years - two unintentionally then one by throwing it  - I was using one at my sister's house one day, and it finally hit me ... I'm a lefty!! The scoops are made for right-handed folks. I could squeeze the handle, then scoop the dough, then release, but even having realized that, I still can't be bothered.

Bake 15-18" until golden, then allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to racks.

Stir sugars and vanilla into melted butter
Stir flour into sugar/butter mixture, then add mix-ins

Drop onto parchment-lined sheets and bake at 350 until golden

Cool 2-3" on tray before transferring to racks.

The verdict?  I did enjoy them fresh out of the oven, and they were chewy, but the next day, I found them to be almost hard on the outside (not the same as crispy). Also, with the melting and cooling of the butter and finding that they take longer to bake, I'd rather skip the extra time and stick with the regular Nestle Toll House version. As for the vanilla, I really didn't notice a difference, having added it to the butter. I will try that in other things though, because it does sound logical to me.

Fortunately, I did not bake the whole batch. I made one tray of cookies and froze the rest, which brings me to another issue ... why do people scoop cookies, freeze them separately on trays, then throw them together in a zip-top bag or container to keep in the freezer?? To me, that takes up too much time AND space. Personally, I roll the dough into a log, wrap it in waxed paper (rounding it out as you roll) and, if it's a lot, foil. If it's just a small batch, I'll wrap it in waxed paper and then stick it in a zip-top bag. I then slip it right in the freezer, and when I want cookies, I just unroll it and slice off as many as I want to bake.

Place extra in center of a sheet of waxed paper.
Shape into a log on the waxed paper.

Roll into a tube in waxed paper.
Wrap in foil and freeze.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CAMPFIRE CUISINE: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors by Robin Donovan

by Robin Donovan

When first offered the opportunity to review Robin Donovan's Campfire Cuisine, what caught my attention was was the mention of one of the items - Aram Sandwiches.  Why did that catch my attention?  Because Aram is a very common Armenian name.  I was thinking it might be some sort of lamb sandwich, but in this case, the name is in reference to the type of bread used - lavash.  Lavash is basically the Middle/Near Eastern version of a ginormous flour tortilla.  Thinking back, I grew up eating sandwiches in Syrian/pita bread or on traditional white bread.  The only time I recall eating lavash was occasionally slathering it with butter and jelly and rolling it into a tube.  

The other type of bread we frequently used was parag hatz, which is a large round cracker bread.  Some people refer to it as "wet bread" because you run it under hot water to soften it.  How long you hold it under the water determines how soft it will be.  I usually just quickly run it under the faucet then blot it with a paper towel and break it into pieces. I'll then use it to scoop up hummus or tabouli, or eat it with cheese. Some people wet it a little more and use it like sandwich bread, while still others let it get soft enough to roll like a wrap.  The other thing I like to use cracker bread for is crunching up some of it over my yogurt with a drizzle of honey.  OK, back to Aram and his sandwich!

You can, of course, use anything you like in your Aram Sandwich, but the suggestions Robin offers up are Roast Beef and Horseradish; Smoked Salmon with Wasabi; Smoked Turkey; Roasted Vegetable; and Pesto and Vegetable.  I love Smoked Turkey, so I decided to make one for lunch today.  

12 oz herbed cream cheese
4 (10") flour tortillas (or lavash)
8 oz thinly sliced smoked turkey
2 med tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 med cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

OK, she messed up!  If you are going to make an Aram Sandwich that has cucumber in it, you need to use Armenian Cucumbers (if you can find them)!  ;)

To prepare the sandwiches, Robin suggests that you:
...spread the cheese  over the tortillas, dividing evenly among them.  Layer the other ingredients on top.  Tightly roll each tortilla into a cylinder around the filling.  Slice each cylinder in half to serve.  
If you use lavash for these sandwiches, to make 4 servings, use one full 24-by-9-inch sheet and half of a second sheet, cut in half so that it is 12 by 9 inches.  Prepare sandwiches with the long side of the bread facing you.  Then roll up so that you have a 24-inch cylinder and 12-inch cylinder.  Slice each into 4-inch lengths to serve.
I couldn't find herbed cream cheese, so I settled on a garlic and herb boursin.

Aram Sandwich - Smoked Turkey

Aram Sandwich - Smoked Turkey

Aside from the obvious - providing great recipes for campers to prepare without having to settle for franks n' beans, etc., some things I really appreciate about this book are:
  • It is perfectly travel sized
  • Includes a rundown of kitchen gear/supplies that will come in handy
  • Offers suggestions about what type of camp stove is best for what type of camping trip you're planning
  • Safety tips for storing and handling your food camp-side
  • Fire safety tips
  • Sample 3-day meal plan (even a vegetarian version)
  • Tips to keep in mind for preparing the items at home rather than camp-side
  • The ever important cook time / conversion tables

So what's missing?  Pictures!  I have a hard time even flipping through a cookbook that doesn't include pictures, but in this case, it makes sense. Including pics would definitely add to the heft of this little gem, which would take away from it's pint-sized travel buddy charm.

Ready to hear some of the great recipes included?  How about these:

  • Bananas Foster French Toast
  • Scones
  • Red Wine Reduction Sauce
  • Flank Steak with Olive Relish
  • Jambalaya
  • Orange-Herb Salmon
  • Bourbon-Glazed Chicken
  • Creole Shrimp
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Portobello Burgers
  • Thai-Style Veggie Curry
  • Beets with Citrus Dressing

Admittedly, I haven't done much camping over the years, but I can say with absolute certainty that we didn't eat anything remotely resembling the above!!  I was in the hot dogs and s'mores generation of campers - not that there isn't a certain appeal to those things while camping, but a nice Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich would have been good too! 

Aside from learning that there is such a thing as an Aram Sandwich, I also learned that my local market carries lavash in the deli area.  This strikes me as particularly odd since there are so many "normal" items they fail to carry (such as herbed cream cheese), but I was very excited about this!  I never would have looked for it in a supermarket, preferring to buy it fresh from the Armenian Bakery when I can, but given that we have started making the "cheater" version of Lahmejune using flour tortillas, the next time I make a batch, I'll try it on the lavash instead! They're bigger and might be slightly closer to the traditional Lahmejune crust than the tortillas.  We'll see...

*     *     *     *     *     *     *
Switching gears for a moment, since I haven't posted anything since the events of last weekend, I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone who contacted me expressing concern about what was going on in Watertown (Little Armenia), Massachusetts.  Many of you know that I grew up in the Boston area and went to college there, so the marathon route was my old stomping grounds, but most of you are probably not aware that I have  friends and family in Watertown and that my mother grew up there.  It was very strange for me to turn on the TV and see reporters out in front of the Armenian Bakery I'm always talking about here or to look online and end up reading about the shoot-out in front of the bar I go to with friends when I'm in town, or to see photos on Facebook of a SWAT team going through friends' yards or houses.  I am very relieved that it is over and that everyone is safe and sound.

Wednesday, April 24, is Armenian Martyrs' Day, the day that we remember those who were lost in the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  My grandparents were survivors, so I definitely had them in mind on Wednesday, but thinking of those who have passed extended to others this year as well - those lost as a result of the events during and after the Boston Marathon:

Martin Richard (ironically from Dorchester, where my Dad was from)
Krystel Campbell
Lingzi Lu
Sean Collier

Let us never forget them, the hundreds who were injured in the blast, or those (professionals and civilians) who put themselves in harm's way to help those in need and bring these events to a close.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

As always, a big thanks for Quirk Books for the review copy.  To pick up a copy of your own, or one for your favorite camper, check out ... 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thai Chicken Pizza

Thai Chicken Pizza : Hye Thyme Cafe

I give up ... on store-bought pizza dough anyhow. I had a heck of a time with my last attempt - first rolling it out, then having a power outage, but I figured that was a one-time deal since I've used the dough for bubble breads, breadsticks, poppers, calzones, etc. with no problem. Apparently, I just can't roll it out into it's intended purpose ... a pizza crust! Next time, I'll either throw together my own and see how that works out, or pick up a Boboli. I like Boboli, but growing up eating pizza at Papa Gino's in Massachusetts, I lean more toward a thinner-crust pizza. 

3 T Peanut Butter
2 T low-sodium Soy Sauce
2 t Sesame Oil
2 T Mayonnaise (Hellmann's for me)
1 T freshly grated Ginger
1/2 t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Cooked chicken 
1 pizza crust (prepared or dough)
Cornmeal (optional)
Sweet Chili Sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot)
Shredded cheese (Mozzarella, Provolone, or a Pizza Blend)
2 scallions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced into thin rings
1 carrot, shredded or julienned
10-12 snow peas, chopped
Handful of mung bean sprouts
Peanuts (I used dry roasted, but any are fine)
Fresh chopped cilantro
1 fresh Lime

Preheat oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 375.

Whisk together the first six ingredients, then cut or tear your chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir it into the peanut sauce; set aside. (I don't usually use mayo in a peanut sauce but decided it would work well here to carry the flavors and keep the chicken moist while baking.)

Peanut Sauce
Stir chicken into peanut sauce 

If using pizza dough, stretch/roll out crust on a lightly floured surface. If using a pizza stone, you might want to use some cornmeal to make it easier to transfer to the stone and prevent sticking.

Spread crust with a thin layer of chili sauce.Pour about 2T of the chili sauce into the center of the pizza and use the back of a spoon to spread it out to
the edges, creating a thin layer.

Next add a layer of shredded cheese - I used a pizza blend here.

Sprinkle a thin layer of cheese over the chili sauce. I used a pizza blend for my first layer and mozzarella for my top layer.

Top with chicken and any remaining sauce.Next add your chicken, and any peanut sauce remaining in the bowl.

Top with your veggies and another layer of cheese, finishing off with a handful of peanuts. I rough chopped mine.

Thin sliced jalapeno, snow peas, and julienned carrot.
Top with mung bean sprouts. 

Finish off with more cheese and chopped peanuts.

Bake until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is golden and bubbly. Time will vary depending on the thickness of your crust, whether you are using a pizza stone, etc.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing, then top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

Bake until golden and bubbly.

Top with fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of lime.

I really liked this combination of ingredients, but the final product did not turn out as spicy as I was expecting with the crushed red pepper AND jalapeno, so you might want to increase one or both if you like it hot. Or maybe add a shot or Sriracha.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sharing the Love

Liebster Blog Award Logo

I have been nominated for another Liebster Blog award, this time by the lovely Stephanie over at Life, Unexpectedly.  If you have been following me here for a while now, you know I nearly drove myself crazy the first time, in trying to find the actual origin of the award, because the requirements seem to keep morphing from one thing to another.  In an effort to maintain what little sanity I still possess, I'm going to suppress the impulse to try again, go with the flow, and skip to the fun stuff.

In this version, the rules are simple ...
  1. Answer 11 questions posed by the blogger bestowing the honor - in my case, Stephanie
  2. Post 11 random facts about yourself
  3. Pass the award along to 11 additional fellow bloggers
  4. Pose a set of 11 questions to those bloggers
... so here goes:

Stephanie's 11 Questions to Me:
  1. What's your favorite fruit?  Watermelon
  2. Do you get your "5 a day" on a regular basis?  Usually
  3. Sweet or savory?  50/50
  4. Do you have a lucky number?  Yes - 7 or 32
  5. What do you order at Starbucks?  Trick Question - I'm a Dunkin Junkie!
  6. Share your comfort food?  LOL - will I share, or what is it?  Baked Mac n' Cheese
  7. Have you filed for your taxes already?  Just under the wire - I'm usually pretty early
  8. What was the last thing you bought (except groceries)?  A flash drive - exciting, huh
  9. What is your favorite animal, and why?  Dogs - they're such good company - and funny
  10. What is a color you would never wear?  N/A, although I would stay away from neon
  11. Are you happy with your name?  Nope!  Chrissy sounds childish, Christine sounds prissy, and if I write Chris, most people assume I'm a guy.
11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. I collect key chains - of Games, Tupperware, Tools, etc.
  2. I collect antique/vintage hair combs, although I don't really wear them anymore.
  3. I hate to fly - would rather drive most places, partly because you can pack whatever you want, but mostly because flying is a pain in the butt.
  4. I miss LOST ... especially Sawyer!
  5. If I could live in water, I probably would - doesn't matter if it's the ocean, a pool, or a bathtub, I love to be in water.
  6. I have a dark patch of skin/birthmark that is apparently very common in Armenians, but mine is by my jaw bone, so if I don't have a tan or am not wearing foundation, every once in a while, someone tries to wipe it off for me.
  7. As a kid, I would get mad when people would say I had black hair - not that I have a problem with black hair, but mine was clearly brown (with a fair amount of auburn).  Now I'd settle for anything that didn't come out of a bottle!  ;) 
  8. I am ridiculously ticklish!  Can't even begin to imagine getting a pedicure!!
  9. For as much cooking, baking, and eating as I do, I'm a big wuss when it comes to food.  I cried in a restaurant at lunch once with someone at the table eating rabbit because you could clearly see that it was a rabbit!
  10. I am a lefty ... but no, I do not write upside down!
  11. I am stuck on a level of Mahjong: The Secret Garden on Facebook that I just can't get through in time, and it's making me CRAZY!!!  I must have done it 300 times.  There are "helps" you can use, but I'm determined to do it without.   

The Bloggers to Whom I am Passing the Liebster:  Please check them out when you get a chance.  I selected them all for different reasons, but I think they're pretty great in their own way. Some of them probably don't even realize I follow them.  :)
  1. Joy at I can Say Mamma 
  2. Kerri at Undiagnosed, but okay with that 
  3. Kenya at Here's the thing ... 
  4. Joan at The Chicken Mama 
  5. Melissa at Being a Bear 
  6. Aimee at The Apron Archives 
  7. Toby at Plate Fodder 
  8. Jess at Inquiring Chef 
  9. Megan at Delicious Dishings 
  10. Paula at A Simple Home Cook 
  11. Rachel at Rambling Amazon 

My 11 Questions for Those Bloggers to Answer:
  1.  Do you have any food allergies?  If yes, to what?
  2.  Who has been the most influential person in your life, and how?
  3.  Have you ever had a supernatural experience of some sort?  If yes, explain.
  4.  What first inspired you to start your blog?
  5.  What is your favorite time of day, and why?
  6.  What is your favorite holiday, and why?
  7.  Have you ever researched your genealogy?  If so, find anything interesting?
  8.  Can you connect yourself to Kevin Bacon by 6 Degrees of Separation??  :)
  9.  What is your favorite movie, and why?
  10.  What is your earliest memory?
  11.  Who is your favorite author, and why?

A big THANK YOU to Stephanie.  It's always nice to be noticed and appreciated for what you do ... even if it is just making a mess in the kitchen.  ;)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chocolate-Almond Imrig Halva

Chocolate-Almond Imrig Halva : Hye Thyme Cafe

A while back, I received a sample packet in the mail of Chocolate Cream of Wheat. For most people, that would mean a new breakfast treat, but for me, having grown up eating Imrig Halva, my mind automatically went to dessert. So, if you're in the mood for a chocolate fix or are in need of a dessert but don't feel like baking, break out the Cream of Wheat!

2 T butter
1 packet Chocolate Cream of Wheat
2 T almonds, broken (I crushed some sliced almonds)
cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 t vanilla
1/3 c milk
1 T sugar

In the 2T of butter, sauté the Cream of Wheat and almonds until the almonds start to brown. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent the cocoa from scorching. If you like a little heat with your chocolate, add a sprinkle of cayenne.

In a separate pan (or a measuring cup in the microwave), heat the milk with the 1T of sugar, to dissolve the sugar. 

Once the almonds have browned and the milk has been warmed, remove both pans from the heat, stirring the milk into the Cream of Wheat and adding the vanilla.

Cover and set aside for 5" or so to give the milk a chance to be absorbed. 

Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

Heat 2T butter.
Saute the cream of wheat and almonds with a dash of cayenne.

Warm the milk to dissolve the sugar.
Stir into the chocolate mixture, cover and set aside.

Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

Should you decide to make a larger batch, you can refer to the original Imrig Halva for ratios. One packet of Cream of Wheat is just shy of 1/4 c. Just be sure to decrease the sugar, because the Chocolate Cream of Wheat already includes sugar.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dressed-Up Pork Chops

Dressed-Up Pork Chops : Hye Thyme Cafe

I pirated a pork chop dish that my sister makes to twist it up a bit and make my own version. I love that the apple adds a sweetness, while you get a crunch with the water chestnuts, and the brightness of the orange permeates throughout.  

6-8 pork chops
salt and pepper
4T butter
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 lg sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small crisp apples, diced
1 orange
1/2 bunch parsley
1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 T white balsamic
1 box classic stuffing
1 1/2 - 2 c chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350.

Trim the fat from the chops and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Using a bit of cooking spray, a little olive oil, or melting down a piece of the fat you trimmed from your chops, sear on both sides, then remove from heat and set aside.

To that same pan, add the butter and return to heat, loosening up all the bits on the bottom as the butter melts down. Four tablespoons of butter may seem like a lot, but you will not be adding butter to the stuffing mix later, so it actually turns out to be a lot less than you would have been using for traditional stuffing.

Add the celery, onion, and garlic, cooking until the onions are translucent and starting to soften.

Add the apple pieces and give those a minute to sweat a bit before zesting the orange over the pan and slicing the orange in half, squeezing in the juice from one of the halves. Set the other aside.

Stir in the parsley and water chestnuts and continue to cook for a few minutes until the apples start to soften.

Stir in the balsamic at the end for a bit of acid and brightness. If you don't have balsamic but do have white wine, you could use that instead.

Either butter or spray a large baking dish and pour in the stuffing mix. To the stuffing, stir in the 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, then the veggie mixture. Once that is mixed, you can see whether you want to add the additional 1/2 c of chicken broth or whether you have enough liquid already. It will depend on how far you cooked down the veggies, how much juice your apples give off, etc.

Arrange the chops over the stuffing mixture and pour over any juices that may have accumulated while the chops rested.

Squeeze the remaining orange half directly over the chops and bake at 350 until cooked through. The time will vary depending on how long you cooked them in the pan and how thick the chops are.  

If the chops are cooked through before your dressing has browned and you prefer your dressing more crusty, no problem! Remove the chops and tent them loosely with foil to stay warm while they rest, then crank up the temp and and put the dressing back in to brown. If you're using a pan that can withstand high heat, you can turn on the broiler for a minute or two.

Serve up a chop over a bed of the dressing and garnish with additional chopped parsley.

Dressed-Up Pork Chops : Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, April 12, 2013

Finish The Sentence Friday ...

If I could live anywhere ...

This week's Finish the Sentence Friday hop poses the question:  

If I could live anywhere ...

I would live on Cape Cod.  I grew up between Boston and the Cape, so I always summered on the Cape, then lived there for a few years before heading off to New Orleans.  Even though I didn't actually live there for long, the Cape has somehow always been "home" to me.  I know it's not the same anymore - everyone keeps telling me when they go that everything is shut down, for sale, has been torn down, etc.  I was there for a while when I first came back East after Hurricane Katrina and couldn't for the life of me find a job.  I kept reading stories in the newspaper about schools being consolidated and the concern over younger residents leaving in droves.  The fear was that with so many younger people leaving, there wouldn't be the support services (fire, police, etc.) in place for all of the older citizens remaining.  Now I'm reading about rampant drug problems, which I'm sure means an increase (or soon to be) in crime too.

Even so, if I had the money (rents on the Cape are crazy, which is one reason why so many people have left) and could find a decent job, I'd move there in a heartbeat.  There is nothing like being able to take a walk on the beach every night and fall asleep listening to the waves lapping on the shore or watching the sun rise/set over the ocean.  There was also the bonus of (usually) having less snow because there was so much salt in the air.  The trade-off, of course, was having to make sure you got your car washed often to avoid salt damage.  The only thing that ever drove me crazy living there was the summer traffic.  It seemed a small price to pay for the beauty and serenity.

The Cape has some fabulous restaurants and lots of antique stores to poke around in.  There is also Melody Tent, a great theatre-in-the-round. I've seen some awesome concerts there over the years, and because it's a small venue and in-the-round, you really can't have a bad seat - you're close no matter what row you're in, and the stage revolves.  Plus, the Cape is close enough to Boston to head that way when you want the city, or you can hop a ferry to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket for a weekend jaunt.  Oh, and as an added bonus, The Candy Co. on Rte. 28 in Yarmouth has the best fudge on the planet!!

Yup, whenever I need to go to my "happy place" in my mind for some reason, I automatically transport to the swing set on the beach behind The Blue Water Resort.  I used to love to end my evening walks with a little swing looking out over the water.  

I wanna go home!!!  :(

How about you?  Where would you live?  Someplace exotic perhaps?  

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