Hye Thyme Cafe: October 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! :)


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Winter Cocktails - by Maria Del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano



Whether you're looking to ward off a winter chill or bump up your holiday menu, this offering by María del Mar Sarcasa and Tara Striano of Cookin' and Shootin' (María does the cookin' and Tara does the shootin') is sure to please.  In addition to cocktails, they provide recipes for a variety of noshing options for every occasion.

The book opens with a section on Pantry and Fridge Basics that can be used in cocktails; everything from apple cider and tonic water to dried edible flowers and bacon.  It then moves on to The Well-Stocked Bar to provide information about various liquors; how they're made, what they're used for, etc.  This section is followed by A Guide to Tools and Serverware, Know Your Glassware, Ice Molds, Muddling, Flavored Rims, Caramel, Opening Champagne, Citrus Garnishes, and Granita - all in anticipation of the goodies to come.

The chapters are broken out as follows:

  • Hot Toddies and Mulled Drinks
  • Eggnog, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea
  • Punches and Pitchers
  • Chilled Winter Cocktails
  • Underpinnings, Infused Liquors, Simple Syrups, etc.
  • Small Bites

My sister started the tradition of adding a cocktail to our holiday menu, whether it be mulled cider, something cranberry, or last year's Prosecco pear cocktail.  I think I found this year's addition in Winter Cocktails ... the Nutella Melt!  Doesn't that sound warm and inviting?  And my nephews are nuts for Nutella (no pun intended).

                                                  

Nutella Melt (As written in Winter Cocktails)
4 cups whole milk
1/4 ccup Nutella
Pinch salt
6 ounces hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped, for garnish
Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Bring milk, Nutella, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until Nutella is completely dissolved.  Stir in liqueur.  Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the stove while you whip the cream.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and espresso powder on medium speed in a large, chilled bowl until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.  (Alternatively, beat by hand using a large wire whisk.) Ladle drink into warm cups and top with whipped cream.  Sprinkle with hazelnuts and coconut.

                                                  

You'll have to pick up your own copy of the book to read the tips about toasting the coconut flakes and skinning the hazelnuts. ;)

The recipes are beautifully photographed, many with step-by-step instructions.  Between the covers of this 160 page book, you'll find such tasty treats as:

  • Burnt-Sugar Hot Buttered Rum
  • Eve's Addiction
  • Pumpkin-Bourbon Eggnog
  • 1,001 Nights
  • Bloody Good Punch
  • Affogato Speciale

On the munchies side of things, your options include goodies like:

  • Homemade Marshmallows
  • Candied Bacon
  • Orange, Cardamom, and Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes
  • Cheese Crusted Olives
  • Roasted Marrow Bones

OK, I could do without the Marrow Bones, but everything else is pretty droolworthy, including the Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches.


This is definitely party season, so it's time to pick up a copy and get your cocktail on!  While you're at it, pick up a few as Christmas gifts too!



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As always, a big thanks for Quirk Books for the review copy.  To pick up a copy for yourself - or  for your favorite mixologist - check out ... 





Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cheesy Open-Faced Pesto Sandwiches (Deconstructed Spanakopita)

Hye Thyme Cafe: Cheesy Open-Faced Pesto Sandwiches


I was putting something in the freezer yesterday and noticed the silicon muffin tray - I had recently made a batch of pesto and had meant to freeze it, then pop out the discs and transfer them to a zip-top bag, but I forgot about it.  As I was popping them out, I decided to hold one back and do something with it for dinner.  Come time for dinner, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it.  I had a big salad the night before, so I didn't want to use it in a dressing, and I wasn't in the mood for pasta or anything heavy.  Hmmm ... When I opened the fridge and saw the package of Meunster cheese slices, the decision was made for me.

What surprised me was how much this ended up reminding me of spinach pie / Spanakopita, thus the reference in the title.  Please note that this was NOT a basil pesto, it was one that I had made with kale, so if you're looking for it to taste like Spanakopita, basil pesto might not be the best bet.  I suppose you could saute some chopped spinach with a little garlic and achieve that effect in place of pesto.

INGREDIENTS :
Sandwich bread
Butter, softened
Sliced Meunster Cheese
Pesto
Shredded Mozzarella
(Optional - grated Parmesan, thin sliced tomato, etc.)


  • Arrange bread slices on tray and broil in the oven to lightly toast on one side
  • Flip bread slices over and spread a thin layer of softened butter
  • Arrange one slice of Meunster on each piece of bread
  • Spread with Pesto
  • Sprinkle shredded Mozzarella over the top (optional - Parmesan, tomato, etc.)
  • Pop back under the broiler until bubbly and golden


Broil until bubbly and golden.

Broil until bubbly and golden.

Broil until bubbly and golden.

Broil until bubbly and golden.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Asian Inspired Veggies with Noodles

Hye Thyme Cafe: Asian Inspired Veggies with Noodles


I was going to call this an Udon Noodle Bowl, but since I decided that Udon was the wrong choice of noodle, and I didn't use a bowl, I had to scrap that lol.  The flavor was great, but the noodles are a bit too starchy to go with this kind of sauce, so I'll probably be using a linguine or fettuccine noodle in the future - although it would also be really good with rice.

I had a package of Udon noodles for a while, so when I came home with a ton of fresh veggies the other day, I decided to put them to use.  I looked online for ideas and saw that most were soups, but I don't like long noodles in my soup (too slurpy), so I decided to wing it.  Since I don't normally rinse my pasta when I drain it, I should have picked up on the fact that the package directions specifically say to rinse the Udon.  It wasn't bad, just a little gummy in spots, but again, the flavors work great together.

INGREDIENTS :
12 oz pkg Udon Noodles (replace with another)
1 T sesame seeds
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 t canola or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T packed fresh grated ginger
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 carrots, sliced on a diagonal into 1/4" thick slices
1 c halved sugar snap peas
1 lg sweet onion, quartered or cut into chunks
1 small red bell pepper, cut into lg pieces
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into lg pieces
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c Lime Ponzu
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c water
3 T corn starch
1 small crown of broccoli florets
fresh scallion for garnish - optional

  • In a small dry pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat, then immediately remove from the pan to stop them from cooking further - set aside
  • Cook and drain your pasta per the package instructions
  • Heat the sesame and canola oil over med to med-high heat
  • Saute the garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, sugar snaps, onion, and bell pepper until the onions just start to turn translucent
  • Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes
  • In a 2c measuring cup, measure out your Lime Ponzu and chicken broth, using a splash to deglaze any bits that have begun to stick on the bottom of the pan, then pouring in the rest
  • Use the same measuring cup to measure your water, then stir in the corn starch to dissolve and pour into the pan, mixing well
  • The sauce will immediately begin to thicken - add the broccoli, mixing well while allowing everything come up to a simmer to fully thicken before removing from the heat
  • Add the pasta to the pan, tossing well to coat - tongs work well for this
  • Serve up plates/bowls topped with the reserved toasted sesame seeds and some fresh snipped scallion


You will see from the pictures that the ratio of sauce to veggies and pasta is such that everything gets a perfect coating of flavor without being soupy.  I especially liked the way it seemed that the ginger gravitated to the pasta and how the flavors and heat were well layered.

I tend to go light on salt to begin with, but in this case, I did not feel the need to add salt since the base for Ponzu is a soy sauce, which is salty on its own.  You may want to adjust for your own personal taste for salt.



Saute veggies until onion start to become translucent
Stir in crushed red pepper flakes


Stir in chicken broth and ponzu, deglazing the pan
Add water/corn starch slurry and broccoli, simmering to thicken sauce


Toss in the pasta


Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and snipped scallion


Hye Thyme Cafe: Asian Inspired Veggies with Noodles

Hye Thyme Cafe: Asian Inspired Veggies with Noodles



Friday, October 25, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday: "One Halloween, I ... "



One Halloween I ... 

made a clown out of myself!  [Sorry, I didn't have a pic of me dressed as an ass, so I went with clown.]

I loved Halloween when I was little.  Usually, Mom would make our costumes, and Dad would do our make-up, carve pumpkins with us, and build a scarecrow.  The one Halloween that stands out, however, actually had very little to do with Halloween.

I ran up the street to a convenience store for something, and as I was walking out, I breezed past an older gentleman and thought huh, that's funny, he's got a jacket like Uncle Jay.  [A silver jacket with a fox on the back.  Uncle Jay was my Mom's brother-in-law, and The Silver Fox was what everyone called him.]  This guy even kinda looks like Uncle Dave [Jay's brother who looks more like Bing Crosby]. I thought that was funny since I was in Massachusetts and they all lived in Louisiana...and home I went.

So, of course, I walk in the house and my Mom is on the phone - yup, with Dave, who happened to be in town and wanted to pop in to see us but needed directions.  He knew he was in the right area but didn't know how to get to the house.

Uh, yeah, I know where he is, I'll go get him ...

The funny thing is that when I got home again and took off my jacket, I realized that I had been shaving creamed at some point, but I never saw anyone else.  You don't think it was Uncle Dave, do you???  

Clowning around at 4 yrs old

Probably not where you want to pose your 5-year old - standing on one foot leaning over into the opening of the stairwell ...  














If I ever go back to being a hobo, I understand there's a great new train system in town.
Lots of train cars to hop.



OK, a few things are odd here.  First, there are pics of me getting made up, but none when completed.  Second, from the head-on shot, I'm guessing my father recently caught up to me with his barber kit ... and no, he was not a barber.  Thanks a lot Dad!  Third, I'm just noticing that in the shot on the left, for the one and only time, I can actually see a resemblance between my sister and I!  













I must have been shooting for "good witch" this year.   Dad had made a big crooked plaster nose with warts on it, but since my nose is green here, I'm guessing that was another year.  See, a spooky black dog is just as good as any old black cat.  Gotta love the Dr. Sholl's and  socks. They really round out the costume, don't you think?  



So, what was your most memorable Halloween???


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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:








Thursday, October 24, 2013

Overnight Tropical French Toast Casserole

Hye Thyme Cafe: Overnight Tropical French Toast Casserole


I had picked up a baguette at the grocery store the other day but didn't end up using it that night.  I wasn't home the next day, and the day after that, it was pretty well dried out.  Since I already have a substantial stockpile of breadcrumbs in the freezer and I didn't want it to go to waste, I decided to make an Overnight Banana French Toast.  Then I remembered that I had just been to the Amish store and picked up a bag of tropical dried fruit, so I switched gears to come up with this tropical version.

I had never used coconut milk in something like this before, but since I had a can, I figured why not?  Just make sure to shake the can well before you open it, to loosen things up.  It didn't provide quite enough liquid, so I added milk as well.  Play around to see what you like.  A little cream cheese if you have it adds a richness to the mix, and the dried fruit turned out perfectly - between soaking overnight in the custard mixture and then being heated, it plumped up nicely and added great flavor and texture.


INGREDIENTS :
1 baguette
2 T cream cheese
1/2 c chopped tropical dried fruit
1/2 c sweetened flaked coconut
2 bananas
4 eggs
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract
13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 c milk
cooking spray


  • Lightly spray casserole dish with cooking spray
  • Slice the bread into approximately 1/2" thick rounds
  • Spread half the bread rounds into the casserole dish
  • Dot with cream cheese here and there
  • Sprinkle dried fruit and coconut over the top
  • Slice the bananas and layer on top
  • Cover with remaining bread rounds
  • Whisk together the eggs, salt, vanilla, almond extract, coconut milk, and milk
  • Pour egg mixture over the top, pressing down on the bread to make sure everything is well soaked
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight
  • Remove from oven 10-20" before ready to bake so you're casserole dish is not going directly from the fridge to a hot oven
  • Bake at 375 for about an hour until puffed and nicely browned
  • Top with a complementary syrup (such as almond), or sprinkle with powdered sugar

Hye Thyme Cafe: Overnight Tropical French Toast Casserole
Line pan with bread and dot with cream cheese.

Sprinkle dried tropical fruit
Sprinkle coconut

Layer in bananas
Top with remaining bread

Pour egg mixture over the top
Bake at 375 until puffed and golden, about an hour.


Serve topped with a complementary syrup or powdered sugar.

 
Serve topped with a complementary syrup or powdered sugar.





Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jalapeno Baked Bean Cornbread Cups

Hye Thyme Cafe:  Jalapeno Baked Bean Cornbread Cups


I was walking down the international aisle in the grocery store one day and noticed a can of Goya Jalapeno Baked Beans.  I think I may have seen a bacon version of baked beans somewhere along the line, but other than that, as far as I knew, they were pretty much plain or vegetarian.  I had never noticed any other flavors before.  Baked beans are one of those things that I enjoy when I eat them, but I never really think of.  I'll have them every once in a blue moon with a ham or hot dogs, and that usually means either B&M or Bush's.  

I was thinking that if I liked them, I would try a homemade version.  You know me, if it's got jalapeño in the title, I have to try it!  As for homemade baked beans, the only version I ever had was when I was a kid and a friend's Mom would make them.  Sorry Mrs. G, but I thought they were gross!  That may have just been my kid's palate though ... I'd totally try them again now, I swear!

Since I didn't think to pick up the aforementioned ham or hot dogs to go along with the beans, I looked around the kitchen to see if there was anything to try them with or whether I would have to hold off until I went shopping again.  That's when I spied the box of "Jiffy" Corn Muffin Mix in the pantry.  By the way, that's also about the time I noticed that they are actually black beans and that the mixture has sweet corn and red bell peppers in it - very tasty.

I don't know about you, but I've seen about a bazillion posts on Pinterest and elsewhere of people baking cookies, etc. on the backs of muffin tins to create fill-able cups.  I made the mistake of trying that once - with what I thought was a stiff enough cookie dough to hold up to the test, but it just made a big mess.  With that in mind, I decided to try a different approach and came up with this recipe.

I have to confess that I did this twice.  I threw in a tray of the "cups" with a second tray of regular muffins, and the cups rose and spread all over the top of the pan, so I did a second batch and tweaked the method, again with a tray of regular muffins.  That worked out much better, but I did notice that they rose slightly higher on one side, so you might want to make a note to rotate the pans half-way through baking.


INGREDIENTS :
1 egg
1/3 c milk (I was out of milk and used yogurt instead)
Optional: Fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, etc. for garnish

  • Per the pkg instructions, mix together the corn muffin mix, egg, and milk (or yogurt) and set aside for 5" to let crown
  • Spray the inside of one mini muffin pan with cooking spray
  • Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet or over foil to avoid a mess in the event of spillover
  • Fill each of the wells with batter, just slightly LESS than half-way full
  • Scrunch up pieces of aluminum foil into logs just a bit shorter than the height of your pan
  • Generously spray the underside of a second mini muffin pan
  • Place one foil log on each side of the filled pan (doesn't matter whether sides or ends), then place the second pan over the first, resting on the foil to allow the batter to rise while also leaving indents/wells
  • Bake at 400° per pkg instructions
  • As noted above, rotate the pan half-way through the baking time
  • When you can start to smell them, and they should be just about done (about 12-15" in), very carefully remove the top tray and return to the oven for 3" more
  • Heat the beans on the stove top
  • Spoon the beans into the cornbread cups, topping with fresh herbs or other garnish

One package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and one can Goya Jalapeno Baked Beans


Oops!  You can see from my first attempt that the foil wasn't high enough, so when the batter rose, it had no option but to ooze over the top of the pan.

Oops - the foil wasn't high enough here
Major spillage as a result of close quarters









Ahhh, that's MUCH better!

Suspend the top tray just above the lower tray with foil
The bottoms of the top tray created the wells in the muffins.









Hye Thyme Cafe:  Jalapeno Baked Bean Cornbread Cups

Hye Thyme Cafe:  Jalapeno Baked Bean Cornbread Cups


OK, so let's figure this out ... I made one batch (1 dozen) and a dozen regular mini muffins the first time, but that turned out to be too much batter in the pan.  I did the same thing the second time - one batch of each, but less batter in the pan for the cups.  I'm thinking if you were making a batch that was meant to be ALL cups, you'd probably get 3 dozen out of it.

This would be a great idea for chili as well.  Fill the cups with chili, then top with shredded cheese and pop them under the broiler for a few seconds to melt.  Yummmmm!

And yes, I will most definitely be attempting a homemade version of the baked beans, but in the meantime, give the Goya version a try.  I think you'll like it!





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