Hye Thyme Cafe: September 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! :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday: "The bravest thing I've ever done..."

Dad enjoying a Lobster Boil

It has been a few weeks since I participated in Finish the Sentence Friday, and I thought it was about time I jumped back in.  Then I saw the question for this week ("The bravest thing I've ever done...") and was totally thrown off.  Brave, me?  What have I ever done that would be considered brave?  It's all so subjective.  When you think about it, bravery can mean different things at different ages and times in your life.

I mean seriously, I've never been in the position of rescuing someone from a burning building or shark attack, so what have I done that was brave?  I can confidently repeat Candyman, Bloody Mary, or Beetlejuice five times. [I know at least one of you just shivered!]

I guess as a kid, you could count standing up to bullies when I encountered them unleashing on someone, or defending someone being wrongfully accused of something, even though that meant going against a whole system because it was the right thing to do, regardless of the fact that the person in question had done countless other despicable things and wasn't someone I particularly wanted to stick my neck out for.  Or maybe it was on those occasions when I chose to go against the crowd and not do something because I knew it was wrong – on a few occasions, others followed suit and told me they had been afraid to step away on their own, but my doing it made it OK for them.

Maybe we're talking about physical bravery, like stepping up to put the person who pulled a knife on and threatened a friend in their place, even though that could have put me in danger.

Or maybe were talking about a different kind of bravery, like taking on the challenge of facing a personal fear or doing something outside your comfort zone.  How about watching six kids for a week to give their folks a break when that entailed four still in diapers (including an infant), and all were under the age of 8, knowing full well that it had always taken at least two people to manage them all.  Or how about a series of mix-ups putting you and those same six kids, along with two others in the same age bracket, in the middle of the local county fair and not losing your mind…or a kid!  I managed to keep everyone together and alive, but after their respective parents and other adults arrived, they managed to lose one!

Maybe it was listening to my gut instinct that time at a party as a kid when I knew something just wasn't right and managed to shove my way past those older guys and drag out the girl they had pinned and cowering in a corner of the bathroom.

Then it dawned on me.  The bravest thing I have ever done by far was an act of love and compassion, even though it broke my heart.  It was making the decision to terminate life support for my father and sitting with him until he passed back in 2007.  I can only hope that, should the circumstances arise, someone will be brave enough to do the same for me someday.  I love you Dad!

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Feel free to share in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #FTSF, or if you're a blogger, link up with one of the host blogs:

Next week's sentence will be:  "The hardest choice I ever made was ..."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baked Pork Flautas

Baked Pork Flautas : Hye Thyme Cafe

Although often used interchangeably, generally speaking, Flautas are made with flour tortillas, while Taquitos are made with corn tortillas. Whatever you call them, they are usually fried, and constitute a "rolled taco." I opted to bake mine, and rather than the more traditional beef or chicken filling, I re-purposed a few leftover pork chops to come up with this tasty version.

2 c shredded pork
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
1 t chili powder
2 t dried cilantro
4 T minced red onion
3 T apricot jam
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Small flour tortillas
PAM Cooking Spray

Unless you are starting with leftover pulled pork, the best way to shred the meat is in a food processor with the plastic dough blade attached - the metal blade creates a more pebbled texture. You'll also get a better shred if your meat is not completely cold from just coming out of the fridge, so let it sit out for a bit first.

You can certainly use fresh cilantro or any other herbs that you like. I just happened to have a small packet of dried cilantro that I needed for something else and didn't want it to go to waste.

Stir together the pork and seasonings with a fork until evenly distributed. Next, stir in the onions, then the jam. The fork makes it easier to distribute the jam - sort of like incorporating mayo into tuna salad, etc.

If your tortillas are dry and not easily rolled, keep a pan warm over low heat and heat each one briefly before filling and rolling. 

Spread approximately 2T of the filling on one half of a tortilla, then sprinkle with cheese and roll tightly into a tube, placing seam-side down on a foil-lined tray lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Once all of your flautas are in place on the tray, give them a shot of cooking spray and bake at 375 for 15-20" until lightly golden and crispy.

You will see that I have mine side-by-side on the tray. That was because a few of them were wanting to unroll. If that happens with yours, do the same, then when they have been in the oven for two or three minutes and start to soften and become pliable, you can separate them to give them some elbow room.

Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, or other dipper of choice. I didn't want to open a whole jar of salsa for these and didn't have any avocados on hand, so I opted to whip a little cream cheese and mix in some Sriracha for a spicy dipper.

Shred pork using the dough blade in your food processor.
Stir in herbs, onion, and jam.

Spray with cooking spray and bake at 375 until crisp and lightly golden.Sprinkle with cheese and roll into a tube.

Serve with your favorite dipper.

I used whipped cream cheese with Sriracha for a dipper.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banana-Nutella Toast

Banana-Nutella Toast : Hye Thyme Cafe

Looking for a new snack, or maybe a light lunch?  Give this sweet treat a try.

Lightly toast a few slices of bread, then slather with Nutella and top with banana slices. You could stop there, but that's no fun! Top the banana slices with a sprinkling of brown sugar mixed with cinnamon, then pop under the broiler until bubbly and lightly caramelized.

Lightly toast bread, top with Nutella and banana slices

Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the banana slices

Pop under the broiler until bubbly

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cupcake Minis

Myer Lemon Cupcake Minis : Hye Thyme Cafe

I mentioned in my Apple-Acorn Squash Soup post that I came across Meyer Lemons for the first time, so I had to pick up a bag. They were packaged four together, which turned out perfect for me since I botched my first batch. I made full-sized cupcakes, and aside from them being too dry, I over-baked them by a few minutes, so the spares came in handy. Then I stopped by my sister's house, and she passed along a mini muffin pan, so I decided to make minis for my second try. These came out perfectly tender and delicious.

As for the lemons, Meyers are said to be a cross between an orange and a lemon, so I was very surprised to cut the first one open and think it smelled a lot like thyme. Since these are the first ones I have ever encountered, I'm not sure if that's what they are always like or if this was an odd season/crop. They're even a lot more orange in color than most pictures I have seen. I happen to enjoy the combination of lemon and thyme, as evidenced by my Lemon Thyme Cake, but it was unexpected, so I'll be curious to compare when I see them again.

INGREDIENTS :  (Makes +/- 40 minis)
1/2 c butter (1 stick), room temp
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs, room temp
3/4 c vanilla yogurt
zest of one Meyer lemon
2 t Meyer lemon juice
1 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined
  3. Mix in the yogurt, zest, and lemon juice
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then add to the wet mix in two additions
  5. Line baking pan with mini muffin cups and fill to about 2/3 full
  6. Bake at 350 for approx. 12" until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top edge is just starting to brown
  7. Glaze while still warm, then cool completely before frosting

4 T sugar
2 T water
1 T Meyer lemon juice
  1. Stir together the sugar and water in a small pot
  2. Bring up to a simmer and add the lemon juice
  3. Let simmer for about a minute, then remove from heat
  4. Use a pastry brush to brush over the tops of your cupcakes for an extra boost of flavor and moisture

3 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c butter (1 stick), room temp
1 T milk
1 T Meyer lemon juice
2 c confectioners sugar
  1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until well combined
  2. Add the milk and lemon juice
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the conf. sugar, a little at a time, until light and fluffy

OK, this is a judgment-free zone, right?!? No judging my piping skills (lack thereof)! I have frosted a few cakes and batches of cupcakes over the years, but I don't actually recall ever piping anything but a bottom edge on a cake and a few cookie details.  

As for toppings, whatever you like that goes with lemon - coconut, dried blueberries, toasted almonds, sprinkles, etc. Just be careful if you're using sprinkles and won't be serving the cupcakes somewhat soon - you don't want them to start melting away and discoloring your frosting. I opted for toasted coconut, candied citrus zest, and some candy pearls.

Myer Lemon Cupcake Minis : Hye Thyme Cafe

Myer Lemon Cupcake Minis : Hye Thyme Cafe

Myer Lemon Cupcake Minis : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

I thought this was kinda funny ... I was going to the grocery store last week and had apples on the brain. I was hoping that my favorite (Macoun) would be there, but apparently it's still a little too early. Anyhow, thinking about apples in general, I decided to try an apple soup, so I picked up some Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples. I assumed it wasn't a new idea, but I have never personally seen an apple soup before. I was shopping at Hannaford, and they put out a monthly magazine, so I picked up a copy at the checkout. Later that night, I was flipping through the magazine and noticed that they had an apple soup in there. Then I noticed that the soup featured on the cover of this month's Food Network Magazine is an apple-pumpkin soup! Seems I'm suddenly surrounded by apple soups. I haven't looked at either of those recipes yet, as I did not want them to influence me in any way.

1 Acorn Squash
4 Granny Smith apples
4 Pink Lady or other apples
1 Vidalia Onion
1 Jalapeno Pepper
2 T olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt
1 lemon
1 t sugar
1/2 t black pepper
sour cream or yogurt (optional)
sunflower kernels (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, then quarter each half
  3. Cut a slice from the side of one green and one red apple, rub with lemon and wrap tightly to reserve for garnish
  4. Peel, core and chop the apples into large chunks
  5. Rough chop the onion
  6. Slice the jalapeno in half, removing the seeds and pith
  7. Toss all of the above in baking dish with 2T olive oil
  8. Sprinkle salt over the top
  9. Squeeze juice from half of the lemon over the top
  10. Roast until the squash is fork tender - approx 1'30"
  11. Puree the mixture in batches, transferring to a pot
  12. Stir in the sugar and black pepper
  13. Bring to a simmer, adding enough water to achieve the desired consistency
  14. Finely dice the reserved apple slices
  15. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of diced apple and sunflower kernels

Because the squash is hard when raw, and does not have a smooth surface like Butternut and other squashes, I did not attempt to peel it before roasting. If you feel so inclined, have at it, but I just used two spoons to gently scrape it away from the peel when soft - kinda like using two forks to pull pork, etc.

As for thinning the soup, you could use chicken stock if you like, but I did not want to muddle the flavors, so I stuck with water.

I was happy to see that second helpings were had.

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe
Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe
This is the puree before thinned

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Apple-Acorn Squash Soup : Hye Thyme Cafe

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tomato Crusted Roast Beef

Tomato Crusted Roast Beef : Hye Thyme Cafe

Since having first tried a Dijon Crusted Roast Beef, everyone loved it so much, that's what I've stuck with. However, faced with a small roast in the fridge the other day, and several cans of tomato paste in the pantry, I started to wonder ... would you be able to use the tomato paste in the same way? Heck, I'm always game to try something new, so I went with it and was very pleasantly surprised.

I was tempted to add more wine to the tomato paste but was afraid it would get too loose when hot and everything would just slide off. Next time, maybe I'll try half and half - knowing me, I'll have to stick a toothpick in one side so I don't forget which half is which ... but then I'll forget which version the toothpick signified. Sigh ... 

I'm not particularly a gravy person, partly because it's extra calories I don't need, partly because I like to taste what I'm eating rather than mask it, and partly because whether it's a roast or a chicken, I'm usually using the leftovers in sandwiches and don't need all that gravy. You could certainly use the drippings for a gravy if you want, but I like it without, having just a bit of the crust with each bite.

Mixed veggies of choice - I used 2 carrots, a lg onion and two potatoes
2 1/2 lb Angus Beef Bottom Round Roast
Salt and Pepper
4 T tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Italian Seasoning, divided
1 T red wine (I used Chianti)
1 1/2 T melted butter
1 1/2 c fresh bread crumbs

  1. Chop your veggies into segments and add to roasting pan or other vessel - I used a glass Pyrex casserole dish
  2. Generously rub the roast all around with salt and pepper after letting it sit out for a while so it's not going directly from a cold fridge to a hot oven
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, garlic, 1T Italian seasoning and red wine
  4. Rub the paste all over the top and sides of the roast
  5. Melt the butter and toss with the bread crumbs and remaining 1T Italian seasoning, then pat onto the paste mixture
  6. Transfer the roast to set atop your veggies (I like to do that instead of using a rack)
  7. Roast at 325° for 1'30" to 1'45" until the roast reaches an internal temp of 145° (mid-rare) or above
  8. If the bread crumbs start to get extra toasty, just tent with foil to prevent burning
  9. Tent with foil and let rest for 20" before carving
  10. If your veggies are not yet cooked through when the roast comes out, transfer the roast to a serving platter and return the veggies to the oven while the roast rests

This is the first time I have ever had a roast come out with the top cooked more than the rest. This is also the first time I have ever cooked a roast with a thermometer stuck in it - I'm guessing there is a connection, like when people stick a nail in a potato to bake more quickly. I have no idea what prompted me to stick the thermometer in at the beginning. I've never done that before. We often section roasts so that the well-doners can have theirs left in to cook longer, but I might be onto something here lol. Everyone's meat is done at the same time, but the well-doners get the top and the rest of us get the bottom?!?!  😉

Tomato Paste, Garlic, Red Wine, Italian Seasoning
Rub generously with salt and pepper

Lightly press crumb mixture onto paste
Rub with paste mixture

Let rest 20" before carvingBake at 325 until internal temp reaches 145 or above

Tomato Crusted Roast Beef : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was having company over and was thinking it would be nice to have something available to nibble on with coffee in the morning, so looking around, I saw that I had a few bananas on their way out and first thought about Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins. Then I thought about the awesome Chocolate Farina Bread I recently made and knew I still had a few packets of Instant Chocolate Cream of Wheat, so I decided to try a Chocolate Banana Bread. Turned out to be a great choice! I'm loving playing around with the Cream of Wheat.  😊

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T Kahlua
2 packets Instant Chocolate Cream of Wheat
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 large very ripe bananas
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated
  4. Add the Kahlua
  5. Beat in the Cream of Wheat
  6. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, then add to the butter mixture, a little at a time, scraping down the bowl once or twice
  7. Mash the bananas and stir in last
  8. Spray loaf pan with Cooking spray and fill with batter
  9. Bake for about 1' until tests done
  10. Cool completely before removing from pan

Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe
Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe
Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Chocolate Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Dressing

Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing : Hye Thyme Cafe

Having recently made a batch of Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, since I was to be attending a cookout over the weekend, I decided to try something new and use the Pesto in a Pasta Salad. Not having made this salad before, and not being one to experiment on people outside the immediate family, I decided to make a trial run earlier in the week. That left me with a little less pesto than I would have wanted for the ginormous batch I ended up making for the cookout. Soooo, I'm posting the recipe below for a "normal" amount of pasta salad with a heartier ratio of dressing to pasta.

The other thing I noted when making the trial run was that it was super salty. The grocery stores in our area all sport olive bars, so those are the olives that I use. When making the second batch, I added some of the olives to the salad, then gave the rest a quick rinse to reduce the salty brine, and included a can of Lindsay Olives because they're not salty. You could cut back on the olives or the feta to reduce the salt, but that's no fun! I want a little of everything in each bite.  ;)

1 lb rotini pasta
3 T olive oil
3 T white balsamic vinegar
2 c mixed pitted olives
2-3 oz crumbled Feta cheese
2 oz thick-sliced pepperoni, quartered

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water to al dente; drain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, blend the olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the pesto, to create a dressing.
  3. Toss the hot pasta with enough dressing to coat, then place it in the fridge to cool for a few minutes - you don't want to add your feta to hot pasta, but you want to use a little of the dressing to prevent the pasta from sticking/clumping together.
  4. When the pasta has cooled to the touch and sucked up the initial round of dressing, go ahead and stir in the remaining dressing, olives, feta, and pepperoni
  5. Chill until just before serving

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chocolate Farina Bread

Chocolate Farina Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

You regulars may have noticed that for some reason, my heart hasn't been in the kitchen lately. I keep having ideas for things I want to try, but then I'm just not in the mood to actually do it. Maybe it's just the heat. As much as I love summer, the heat really does a number on me. Anyhow, thinking I had better post something, this popped into my head last night, and am I glad it did! Oh my!  

It is a very soft bread with a lovely texture and delicious flavor, but it's really the aroma that keeps grabbing me. When I first sliced into it, my mind immediately wandered to the Panettone I love to get from Williams-Sonoma during the holidays. Even washing dishes a few minutes ago, I caught myself sniffing at the air. The rest of the loaf is bagged up and sitting on the counter, and that wonderful aroma was seeping out and drawing me in.

In keeping with the Panettone notion, I can't wait to try this again with some nuts and dried fruit. The only issue I had with this recipe was the limited rise. I'll have to try it again before I know for sure whether that's due to the recipe, something I did, or whether my yeast was on the way out. My first thought was that I had made it in a food processor, not having a stand mixer, and the dough came together so quickly, it didn't get much kneading. Maybe I should have taken it out and kneaded it by hand for a few minutes to really get those proteins going. If that was the case though, I would have expected the final product to be very heavy and dense, which it's not. 

I'm already thinking about toasting a slice and topping it with raspberry jam. Mmmmmmm...

1/2 c water
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 T butter
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 packet yeast
4 packets Chocolate instant Cream of Wheat (= just shy of 1c)
1 1/2 c flour
2 t pasilla dried chili flakes 
Oil or cooking spray

In a small pot on the stove, or a large measuring cup in the microwave, heat the water, yogurt, butter, sugar, and salt until everything is melted together. Remove from heat and cool to a point where you can comfortably hold your finger in it. Any hotter than that and you risk killing the yeast.

Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of your food processor (make sure you're using the dough blade) or stand mixer and pour the warm liquid over it. Let sit for about 5" to give the yeast a chance to bloom.

Mix in the Cream of Wheat, then the flour and chilies, a little at a time. If using a stand mixer, let knead for 5-8" until glossy and smooth. If using a food processor, pulse until it comes together in a ball. As mentioned above, you might want to knead it by hand a few times as well. If you keep running the processor, it will just be spinning above the blade.

Lightly spray or oil a bowl, turn the dough in the bowl to coat, then cover and let rise for 45" to 1'. I always tuck mine away in the oven, out of any possible breeze.

Punch down the dough, form it into a ball and transfer to a lightly sprayed pie plate, parchment-lined tray, baking stone - whatever you're comfortable with. Let rest for 20" or so.

Bake at 375° for 35-40". Cool completely before slicing.

Chocolate Farina Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Chocolate Farina Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

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