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

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, 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 ... 


  1. I camp all the time and feel very unworthy by what I have been serving my family all these years!!!

    1. My only issue with the whole idea is how you keep stuff fresh. I wouldn't want to be working out of a cooler for very long! Guess it depends on what kind of camping you're doing. She does have some really good recipes in there thought! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...