Hye Thyme Cafe: November 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! :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mixed Berry Pavlovas

Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I sure did. With one of my nephews having recently gotten married, we celebrated with our newly extended family. Hopefully that will become an annual tradition. At some point during the day, I suddenly got an OMG look on my face when it struck me that this was the first holiday ever that I hadn't made even one thing Armenian! My sister made dinner and left dessert to me and the in-laws. I made no Paklava, no Kadayif, Simit, etc. I didn't even make Stuffed Grape Leaves for an appetizer this year. Don't know how that happened! Nobody seemed to miss it though, since there was more than plenty to go around! I pointed out to the in-laws that now that they're officially family, I can experiment on them like the rest of the crew and don't have to be nice and stick with the tried and true.  ;')

These Pavlovas were one of my new experiments. I only put out one plate of them because there were so many other goodies between us, but they tuned out to be a big hit! I'll definitely be playing around with these again. The only real problem I encountered was with my oven door not having a window, so I have to open it to check on the progress of whatever I'm cooking/baking. That's usually not a problem, but with things like meringues and souffles, they are prone to deflating. My meringues were nice and high when I peeked at them, but they sunk quite a bit from just that quick look.

4 lg egg whites
pinch of salt
1 c super fine sugar
1 t almond extract
2 t cornstarch
2 t vinegar
bit of food coloring (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Whip together your whites and salt at medium speed until firm
  3. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and increase speed to high until stiff peaks form
  4. Add the cornstarch, vinegar, and food coloring and whip just until combined
  5. If piping, transfer meringue to piping bag with one of your wider tips in place
  6. On parchment-lined trays, pipe circles for the bottoms, about 4" across, circling back around the edges 3-4 times to create the sides
  7. If you are not using a piping bag, just spoon mounds of meringue into 4" circles and either use the back of a spoon or a moistened fingertip to form a well in the center to fill later
  8. Reduce oven heat to 250 and bake for 30"
  9. Turn oven off and leave in for another 30"

I assumed that filling them ahead of time would cause them to break down, so I brought the naked meringues with me to my sister's house, along with some whipping cream and fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries) to assemble them in place. I lucked out and someone brought a Chocolate Banana Cream Pie and a huge vat o' whipped cream, so I stole some of his whipped cream instead. I had actually picked up a pomegranate to go along with the berries but left it at my place by mistake. You can fill them with whatever you like!

By the way, they sat out (assembled) on the dessert table for quite a while, and they stayed just fine - no melting/weeping.

Top the meringues with the whipped cream and pile on the berries - I only sprinkled a few on each to give people the idea and staged the bowl of berries next to it so they could add as much as they wanted.

Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe
Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe

Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe

Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe

Mixed Berry Pavlovas : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Maybe I should have said biscotti-style. Although these cookies are twice baked, as the name biscotti suggests, a traditional biscotti is really an almond cookie and contains no fat. These cookies contain no almonds but do have fat - in the form of margarine. It took me a few tries to make these. I first tried a version with yogurt, but they were very tough and I had too much white chocolate, so they didn't bake right. I next tried reducing the yogurt and white chocolate and adding a little oil to the mix, but that wasn't it either. The third time was the charm - I omitted the yogurt and oil and added margine and pecans. I wish I could bottle this scent as a winter candle!

3 c flour
1 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 c lt brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c margarine (1 stick)
3/4 c Libby's Pure Pumpkin
2 t vanilla
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c pecan pieces

  1. Fill clean spray bottle with a little water and set aside to come to room temp
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside
  3. Cream together the brown sugar and eggs until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the margarine, pumpkin, and vanilla until well combined
  5. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in two or three additions, until just barely combined
  6. Either pulse the chips and nuts together briefly in a food processor, or run a knife though them to chop (optonal) - I like when some of the chips are whole, while some of the chocolate is speckled and melted throughout
  7. Separate the dough into two portions and drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet
  8. Run hands under water and shake off excess, then pat each portion of dough into a loaf, approximately 1/2" high
  9. Bake at 350 for 30-35" until firm and lightly browned
  10. Allow to cool 15-20", then lightly spray all over with water to reduce crumbling and slice into strips with a serrated knife
  11. Return to baking sheet, reduce oven temp to 300, and bake for an additional 30-35" until nicely crisped and lightly browned (this second bake time will be determined by how crunchy you like them)

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe
Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe
Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe
!!  Biscotti are great for dunking !!

Pumpkin Biscotti with Pecans and White Chocolate : Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, November 22, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday: "Right now, I'm thankful for ..." OR "When I think of the word Pilgrim, I think..."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plymouth_Rock,_Plymouth,_MA,_jjron_03.05.2012.jpg

This week's #FTSF prompt is an either/or, but since I'm being brief for a change [imagine that], I figured I'd respond to both.

"Right now, I'm thankful for ..." my job.  It's definitely not where I saw myself this far post-Hurricane Katrina, but in looking at how many people around me are struggling or out of work altogether, I definitely consider myself lucky.  I can't do whatever I want whenever I want anymore, and I'm not worrying about keeping up with the Jones-es when it comes to the latest toys and gadgets, but I've got a roof over my head, a car on the road, and food on the table, so I'm doing just fine.

"When I think of the word Pilgrim, I think ..." of how thoroughly disappointed I was as a kid to go on a school field trip to see the Plymouth Rock, only to realize how small it is!  I should have been tipped off by the fact that it has "rock" right in the name, but I always imagined it as a huge boulder.  The problem is that I was imagining them actually stepping off the Mayflower onto Plymouth Rock, rather than accounting for the fact that you can't pull a ship right up to shore and would have to have made your way in via a smaller vessel.  This incident paled in comparison to my junior high school trip to the Smithsonian in DC, where I saw the Hope Diamond and realized it was not the ginormous stone of my imagination, but rather something  along the lines of a walnut, at 45.5 carats.  Knowing it was the biggest and most famous diamond in the world at the time, a walnut just didn't seem all that impressive somehow.

Due to Thanksgiving, there will be no #FTSF next week, but the following week's prompt is:  "One of my favorite childhood memories is..."  

In the meantime, wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving - hopefully together.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

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:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe

Whether eaten as a side dish, or as a meal on its own (which is how I ate this last night), spaghetti squash is a very healthy, flavorful, and fun vegetable. It's a great introductory squash for kids who are veggie squeamish - using it like spaghetti is more likely to pique their curiosity and get them to try it. Prepare it with flavors you know they like, and they're sure to be hooked!

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 c frozen chopped spinach
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 shallot, minced
1 lemon
1 plum tomato

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Split the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and brush the inside with a thin coating of olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place cut-side down on baking sheet
  4. Bake 20", then flip right-side-up and bake an additional 20" or so until fork-tender
  5. When cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash away from the skin, transferring the strands to a serving bowl or platter
  6. Sauté the spinach, garlic, shallot, and zest from the lemon until the garlic is fragrant and the shallot has softened
  7. Petite dice the tomato and add to the pot, along with the juice from half the lemon and let cook for another minute or so
  8. Remove from heat and toss spinach mixture with the squash, seasoning with additional salt and/or pepper to taste

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe
Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe

Garlicky Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Tomato : Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, November 15, 2013

Root Beer Float Macarons

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

OK, I broke my promise to myself. I'm so tired of seeing Cake Pops, Macarons, and anything in jars everywhere I turn that I swore I'd never make them. It's like TV commercials for an upcoming season. The networks run some of them what seems like every three minutes, so it gets to the point where I hate the show before it even comes out, and never bother to even give it a shot.

However, after going a year without a stand mixer, now that I have a new one, I have been wanting to give it a good workout, so marshmallows and meringues were at the top of the list. I made Amaretto Marshmallows recently and decided to give the Macarons a shot just so I could say I had made them. I figured if a 13 year old could make them in an hour on Master Chef Junior (weren't those kids amazing?!?), surely I could do it over the course of an afternoon! HA Ha ha hahahahahha!

I looked up a bunch of recipes and found one chef that included a video. She used Martha Stewart's recipe, which seems to be pretty much the standard, but didn't specifically use her technique. I sort of combined the two in my first attempt, which didn't come out half bad, especially for someone piping-impaired like myself! What turned out worse were my pictures, so I decided to try them again. Even though I closely followed the directions, I realized that the first batch was actually slightly underdone on the bottom, so I nixed the advice to double up the trays.

I over-beat the second batch, so they spread out too thin. Also, as soon as I took them out of the oven, they deflated and lost their "feet," that sort of bubbly bottom edge Macarons are known for. Then I got mad/determined and had to do it again! I was also annoyed that I thought the almond meal/flour wasn't ground enough, so I thought about the old carpenter adage of measure twice, cut once, and decided to grind twice and sift once – even though they insist that you sift twice. I first ground the almond flour in a spice mill, then ground it a second time with the powdered sugar. That produced a much better result!

You would think that third batch would have been the charm, but alas, that too was a bust.  [Can you hear the violins playing for me?] I opened the door to the oven at the right time, and they were absolutely beautiful. I was so proud! Remembering how the second batch had deflated when I took them out of the oven, I decided to just open the door for a minute first without taking them out, so they would cool more slowly. I had even made sure the heat was on in the kitchen. I turned around to take a sip of my coffee, and when I turned back, they were flat as pancakes. Grrrrrrrrr!

I finally figured out what works for me! Per Martha's instruction, I pre-heated the oven to 375, and turned it down to 325 when I put them in. The other chef had just preheated and baked them at 325, which was what first produced under-done Macarons for me. I baked them for about 8", then shut the oven off and left them in for 10" more. That way, they were no longer exposed to the direct heat, but the residual heat finished off the bottoms, and the slower cool-down prevented them from deflating. In addition to my grinding technique, which meant less folding of the flour into the whites was required, I also cut down on how much folding I had to do by beating the root beer extract into the whites (so they were still getting air), rather than folding it in before the flour mixture. As I mentioned, I skipped the doubling up of trays, and because of the whole deflating issue, I didn't even consider rotating the trays! Sorry Martha.

INGREDIENTS:  (Per Martha Stewart)
1 c confections' sugar
¾ c almond flour
2 lg egg whites (at room temp)
pinch cream of tartar (I used 1/8 t)
¼ c superfine sugar
½ t root beer concentrate (my addition)

  1. Separate out your two egg whites and set aside to come to room temp
  2. Grind your almond flour/meal in a spice/coffee grinder or food processor
  3. Process the almond flour/meal a second time, along with the confectioner's sugar (if using a spice grinder, about 1T each at a time)
  4. Sift the sugar/almond mixture
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whites at medium speed until frothy, then add the cream of tartar
  6. Increase the speed to high, and slowly pour in the superfine sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form
  7. Beat in the root beer concentrate (helps to spray measuring spoon with PAM so it runs right off) until incorporated
  8. Turn off mixer and remove bowl
  9. Gently fold sugar/almond mixture into the whites in two additions, until smooth
  10. Scoop mixture into piping bag* and snip off tip (or use a 1/2" piping tip, but not necessary)
  11. Pipe circles onto parchment-lined tray (may want to print a guide page of circles to slide under the parchment as a template - I did that then decided it was kind of silly since they'll spread a little, some more than others, so it was really just a "suggestion" of a specific circle size), dragging tip off to the side while releasing pressure to not form a peak on the top
  12. Bang tray on counter to knock out excess air bubbles
  13. Let rest for 15-30"
  14. Preheat oven to 375, then reduce to 325 and insert tray
  15. Bake 8-10", then turn off oven and leave alone for 10"
  16. Remove from oven and let rest for 2" or so before transferring to cooling rack
  17. Fill/garnish as desired

* I was at either a Michael's or a Hobby Lobby one day and saw a triangular bag of plastic zip-lock style "pizza bags" for packaging a single slice of pizza. I grabbed them to use for piping bags and love it, because I fill the bag, then zip the bottom closed, so I don't have to worry about the filling oozing out like when I use a regular piping bag.

3 oz cream cheese (at room temp)
1 T confectioners' sugar
1 t vanilla
¼ c whipping cream

When it came to the filling, because Buttercream is traditional, that's what I made for the first batch, but I found it to be way too sweet with the root beer. When making them again, I opted for this clotted-cream filling, which is what I usually serve with scones and jam. If going this route, just be sure to only fill what will be eaten at the time. You wouldn't want to leave it sitting out for any great length of time. I much preferred this filling, and now that I [sort of] know what I'm doing, if I ever decide to make them again, I'll be sure to use a vanilla bean rather than extract. I didn't want to waste one if this didn't go well.

Just whip it all together until smooth and creamy. I start with the cream cheese and sugar, then add the vanilla and cream, but if your cream cheese is soft enough, doing them all at the same time should be fine – I tend to be impatient if you hadn't noticed that yet, so my cream cheese needs a little extra attention at the beginning.

The recipe yielded 42 single discs, so that would be 21 macarons once filled.

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme CafeRoot Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
 See how the ones on the right are smooth on top - those
were piped first and have been resting longer.

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Batch 1 - good feet but not smooth and under-done on bottom.

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Batch 1 - Not too bad, but lousy pics and too sweet!

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Batch 2 - spread out too much and had tiny "feet."

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe
Batch 3 - Beautiful in oven but then deflated!  :(

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

Root Beer Float Macarons : Hye Thyme Cafe

They may not be the prettiest, but they sure were tasty, and you can't beat the smell of the root beer while they're baking!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Buffalo Chicken Nachos : Hye Thyme Cafe

I love buffalo chicken! I thought that I had seen a recipe for these when scrolling through my Feedly posts yesterday, but now I can't find it, and I don't recall whose post it was. Although I hadn't read it to see what they had used, I was going to throw a "thanks for the idea" to them by mentioning their post. Maybe I really saw it on Pinterest? Anyhow, since I had some cooked chicken in the fridge, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try a batch of my own.

I decided to bake these in a pie plate with the thought in mind that if you bake them on a tray, you end up transferring them to a platter or plates and usually end up making a mess, but if you bake them in a pie plate, you can put them on the table as is. That way, you don't end up with trails of melted cheese across your kitchen, and you don't have an extra platter to clean.

Personally, I like to use scoops for things like this, rather than flat chips. Aside from being easy to fill, they're less messy to eat. If you take a bite out of a big chip, you risk the rest of your goodies falling off, but a scoop is the perfect size to just pop right in your mouth. You can certainly use whatever chips you like, or even the regular corn scoops. I happen to really like the multi-grain scoops, so that's what I went with.

3 c diced or torn cooked chicken
1/2 c Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 T butter
Tostito's Multi-Grain Scoops
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 c finely shredded Colby/Jack cheese blend
1/2 c finely shredded romaine lettuce
2-3 T chopped fresh cilantro
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Over medium heat, stir together the chicken, buffalo sauce, and butter until the butter has melted and the chicken is well coated and heated through
  3. Arrange scoops in pie plate and fill with chicken mixture
  4. Top with about 1/3 of your celery slices
  5. Top with the shredded cheese
  6. Bake 5-8" until the cheese is melted and bubbly
  7. Let cool for a minute or two, then sprinkle with the shredded lettuce, remaining celery, and cilantro
  8. Drizzle with ranch dressing

Add chicken, buffalo sauce, and butter to pot
Cook at med until melted and heated through
Arrange chips on pie plate
Load chips up with chicken mixture

Top with shredded colby/jackTop with about 1/3 of the celery

Top with remaining celery, lettuce, cilantro and a drizzle of ranchBake at 350 until melted and bubbly

Buffalo Chicken Nachos : Hye Thyme Cafe

Buffalo Chicken Nachos : Hye Thyme Cafe

Buffalo Chicken Nachos : Hye Thyme Cafe

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