Hye Thyme Cafe: March 2014

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, March 28, 2014

Finish the Sentence Friday: "I went to a concert ..."

Truth be told, I've never been much of a concertgoer.  I suppose that started because I wasn't allowed to go to concerts when I was young.  I still remember the one time I was allowed to go to a concert - it was The Go Go's, and the show was opened by A Flock of Seagulls.  Not sure how that all came about.

A little while down the road, in spending so much time (and then living) on Cape Cod, I started going to a lot of concerts at The Melody Tent. The great thing about that place is, not only is it a small venue, but it's a theatre-in-the-round.  It's literally a huge tent with a stage in the center that turns, so no matter where you are, you still have a great view.  I went to a bazillion concerts there, and nearly as many comedy shows.

I guess that spoiled me, because by the time I was old enough to not worry about being allowed to go to a concert, I didn't get the point.  In a big stadium, you are often so far away you can barely see what's going on, and because the crowds are so huge and noisy, you can't even hear.  I'd rather watch a video of the tour.

The one concert I did intentionally go to, and am still glad I did, was the Elton John / Billy Joel Face-to-Face tour.  That was awesome!

All that said, what came to mind for me when faced with this week's prompt of "I went to a concert ..." was the time when I had first moved to New Orleans, and a friend's hubby had to go out of town for work.  She called and asked if I wanted to use his ticket and go to the Rolling Stones Voo Doo concert with her at the Superdome.  As I said, I wasn't particularly interested in going to any concert at such an enormous venue, but I had never been inside the Superdome before, and she didn't have anyone else to go with at the time, so I said sure.  All I remember thinking was that Mick Jagger had to be on speed or something, because he was zooming all over the place, making me exhausted just watching the show!  They did a great job though.

Anyhow, before the show started, or maybe during intermission, I was chatting with my friend and heard a voice behind me.  I just sort of chuckled to myself and shook my head.  My friend looked at me quizzically, so I smiled, turned my head and asked the gentleman behind us ... "Are you from Quincy by any chance??"  His eyes widened and jaw dropped.

As anyone from Massachusetts can attest, contrary to what you hear on television and on the big screen, we don't all have the same crazy accent. There are actually a number of  crazy Massachusetts accents, Quincy's being one of them.  That's where I was born, and I lived there until I was four, so lucky for me it didn't stick.  It's a doozie!  Talk about finding a needle in a haystack ... out of all the people in that massive building and with all that noise going on, I managed to sit right in front of and pick out of the crowd that hometown accent. 

What makes it even funnier is that it somehow turned into a trend.  I don't know if something happened in Quincy between 1993-1994 that sent people running to New Orleans or what, but I must have encountered five or six other folks from Quincy that year.  To make it even stranger, there was an attorney for a local school board that my boss and I worked closely with, so I got to know his assistant pretty well. By then, I was beyond ready to get my a$$ back east.  One day, Harry's secretary called me and started asking me questions about Massachusetts.  Turned out, her hubby got a transfer, and she would be moving there...of all places, to Quincy!  We tried to work something out so she could stay and I'd go with her hubby, but he wouldn't go for it for some reason. ;)  I didn't want to live in Quincy again, but at least it's close to the Cape. 

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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 prompt will be:  "I never understood what the big deal was about ..."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Ravioli

Chicken Cordon Bleu Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

This turned out to be a filling success, but somewhat of a pasta fail. I recently made pasta that turned out great and was very easy to work with, but that was made using all-purpose flour. My sister and I decided to get together today and play with our new pasta makers, and because the reference materials we initially referred to recommended semolina flour, we decided to give that a try. As it turned out, neither of us was completely satisfied. I was using a hand-crank pasta maker and a stand mixer, with a 1:1 ration of AP flour to semolina flour. She was using an electric pasta maker, a food processor, and for one of her batches, a ratio of 1c flour to 1/2 c semolina flour. We both had the same problem with needing to increase the liquid repeatedly, and both had a difficult time passing the dough through our machines. Even at the finest setting, it still somehow turned out too thick.

Having said all that, the basic recipe we followed, and the same recipe we have successfully used before with AP flour, is Tyler Florence's Pasta Dough for Ravioli. The only differences were that we did not use a fourth egg to seal the ravioli (just brushed the pasta with water), and did not dust them with cornmeal - we just staged them on waxed or parchment paper until ready to boil.

I did not use up all of my filling, so I may whip up another batch of pasta tomorrow. I'm thinking rather than bothering with the ravioli, I'll cut out squares, boil them, then top with filling and roll into tubes, as we previously did with this dish ...

I think this was a squash filling with a browned butter/sage sauce

The filling contains chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese like a traditional Cordon Bleu. In place of breading and frying, I opted to brown some bread crumbs to sprinkle over the top as a garnish. That worked out very nicely. You can certainly start with either a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or any leftover chicken you may have, but because I didn't have any, I opted to poach my chicken for this dish.

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (abt 3 c cooked/shredded)
veggies/herbs for poaching (I used garlic, celery, shallot, carrot, scallion, and thyme)
32 oz chicken broth
8 oz Black Forest ham
1 shallot (additional if using in poaching liquid)
6 T butter
6 T flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 c chicken broth (reserved poaching liquid)
7 oz Swiss cheese (I used sliced baby Swiss)
1 T fresh thyme leaves
2 t Dijon mustard

Start by tossing whatever veggies/herbs you want to poach your chicken with into a stock pot.  Add the chicken and cover with the broth.  You may need to add some additional broth or water to cover.  When it comes to the chicken, if I'm baking a recipe, which usually involves some sort or filling or coating, I'll clean it beforehand.  For poaching, since it's coming out "naked" like it went in, I find it easier to trim once it comes out.

Add veggies/herbs to pot for poaching with chicken
Add the chicken and cover with broth - simmer until cooked through 

Bring the pot just to a boil, then reduce to barely a simmer. Season with a little salt and pepper and let cook for about a half hour. Turn off the heat and let stay in the pot until cooked through. You'll be shredding it anyhow, so if you question whether it's done, feel free to cut into it to check.

Remove the chicken from the pot and cut it into large chunks (trimming if necessary), then transfer to a mixer or food processor to shred. What I find works best is the plastic blade in a food processor. Strain the broth, saving the carrots for your pooch if you have one and discarding the other veggies/herbs. You will be using some of your broth in the filling. The rest can be stored in the fridge for a few days or frozen for another occasion.

Strain broth and set asideShred chicken in food processor with plastic dough blade

I opted to use Black Forest Ham in my filling rather than another ham or even prosciutto or pancetta. The package I purchased was of slices, and I was afraid that might not work well for shredding like the chicken, so I diced it separately, then threw it in the food processor with the chicken, minced shallot, and thyme and gave it another whirl.

Small dice the ham

Add the ham and thyme to the shredded chicken
Mix together or return to the food processor and pulse to incorporate 

Set that aside for the moment to work on your cheese sauce. Finely dice or shred the cheese to make it easier to melt; set aside. Whisk together the butter and flour over medium heat for several minutes to create a roux. When you can drag the whisk along the bottom of the pot and the trail doesn't immediately fill back in, slowly whisk in the 1c reserved broth and the milk.

Whisk together the butter and flour over medium heat
Continue whisking until thickened and gaps don't immediately fill in 

Whisk frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the Dijon, then the Swiss cheese, a little at a time, until melted and smooth.

Slowly add the broth and milk until starting to thicken
Add the Swiss a little at a time until melted and smooth 

At this point, it should be roughly the consistency of a hot pudding. Remove from heat, and incorporate a cup to a cup and a half into the chicken mixture. That will provide additional flavor for your filling, as well as acting as a binder.

Remove sauce from heat
Incorporated 1c to 1 1/2 c cheese sauce to chicken mixture 

Since I anticipated also making Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs when I got together with my sister, I prepped this filling the night before, stopping at this point.  

After I made the pasta, I filled and staged all of my Raviolis on waxed paper until ready to boil and turned my attention back to the remaining cheese sauce. I re-heated the mixture, thinning it with a little milk. After taste-testing, I opted to increase the Dijon and throw in a little grated Parmesan, adjusting the salt and pepper to account for the additional milk.

Ball of pasta dough
Shaping the ravioli 

Edges crimped with pastry wheel

For the garnish, between the Spaghetti Sauce, Meatballs, three different pastas, three different fillings, and three different sauces going on in the kitchen, rather than pull out yet another pan, I sprinkled a handful of fresh breadcrumbs (I always keep a stash of odds and ends ground up in the freezer) and a pinch of dry seasoned breadcrumbs on a piece of foil, sprayed it with butter-flavored PAM and threw it in the oven since the oven was still hot from just having broiled some of the meatballs. I had intended to toss the crumbs in a little pan with some butter to toast them - whatever is easiest for you is fine.

Garnish cooked ravioli with cheese sauce and toasted bread crumbs

Chicken Cordon Bleu Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe
Chicken Cordon Bleu Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Chicken Cordon Bleu Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

NOTE:  If, for some reason, you decide to prep your filling the day before like I did, just be sure to re-heat the cheese sauce before you thin it with milk (or broth). It will loosen up again when re-heated, so you don't want to add liquid too soon and end up with it being very thin. If that does happen, you can add more Parmesan to thicken it up some. I used a little for kick but didn't want to veer to far from the traditional Cordon Bleu flavors by adding too much Parm or Dijon.

Enjoy! And if you've got any tips for making pasta with semolina flour, please let us know. I'm not giving up on it, but I'll probably try something else next time, or stick with the AP flour. The other batch my sister made was a whole wheat roasted red pepper pasta. I'm not normally a fan of whole wheat pasta, but it worked out great with the filling and sauce she made from some leftover ribs.

Oops!  I forgot to take a picture of her other dish for her.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Five-Spice Chicken Salad

Five-Spice Chicken Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

After realizing how good Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken is, I started pondering how the leftovers would translate into chicken salad. I knew the flavors would be there, but I was afraid the dark color of the five-spice would turn it too dark and be a turn-off visually. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. It is a little on the dark side, but that just makes it look more like tuna salad than chicken salad, not enough to be disturbing. Hmm, I wonder how it would be with tuna??

Rather than the traditional celery and onion, I opted to stick with the Asian theme and replace the celery with diced water chestnuts for crunch and flavor, then swapped out the onion for scallion. I started by dicing my leftover chicken, which gave me about two cups. It will be easy enough to adjust up or down to accommodate however much chicken you are working with. I made a sandwich first on some whole-grain sandwich thins, then used the rest the next day over a bed of shredded romaine, water chestnuts, cucumber, scallion, and shredded carrot.

2 c diced cooked chicken
1 scallion, sliced
2 oz water chestnuts, diced
1/3 c mayonnaise (I always use Hellmann's)
2 t fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 t five-spice powder
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Stir together the mayonnaise, orange juice, and five-spice powder
  2. Toss the dressing with the chicken to coat the chicken
  3. Stir in the water chestnuts and scallion
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Five-Spice Chicken Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

Five-Spice Chicken Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

Five-Spice Chicken Salad : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes : Hye Thyme Cafe

Rosemary is one of those things that people tend to either love or hate. Some people complain that it tastes like they're eating a pine tree. Personally, I love rosemary!  Add some citrus, and it's even better. These simple potatoes make a great side dish.  I made a pound and a half because that's the size bag of potatoes I found, but it's something that can easily be adjusted to however much you're working with.  Also, because I was roasting an Orange Five-Spice Chicken along with these, they were roasted at the same temperature (325°), but that can be adjusted as well, to go along with whatever you're making for dinner. The only difference would be whether you put them in at the same time or hold back on the potatoes for a while.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Fingerling PotatoesINGREDIENTS :
1.5 lb bag fingerling potatoes
1 T olive oil
1 lemon
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 
   rough chopped *
salt and pepper

* If you use dried rosemary, increase the amount and rub it in the palm of your hand first to release the oils and bring out that flavor.
  1. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise
  2. Pour the olive oil over the potatoes
  3. Zest the lemon over the potatoes
  4. Add the chopped rosemary
  5. Season with a little salt and pepper
  6. Toss together with your hands to make sure the potatoes are evenly coated
  7. Place on baking sheet, cut-side down so the bottoms get nice and golden/crispy (If roasting along with something else and the trays don't fit side-by-side, make sure to stagger them for air flow - one on the left, the other on the right.)
  8. Roast until cooked through and golden (mine went in with my chicken when I reduced the temp to 325 and stayed in for the duration, about an hour)
  9. Transfer to serving platter, then cut an end off of your lemon, squeezing a bit of fresh juice over the potatoes and adjusting salt and pepper to taste

Toss with olive oil, lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Place cut-side down on baking sheet.

Roast until golden and crispy.

Squeeze over a bit of additional lemon juice.

Lemon-Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

Because it's right around the corner from my apartment, I often shop at Hannaford. They put out a monthly magazine that used to be free with a $25 purchase, but I think they pretty much just give it to you for the asking nowadays. Anyhow, I try to remember to pick up a copy each month to check for coupons, etc., and in last month's, there was a page talking about different spices. One was Chinese Five Spice, and this is what they said ...
"CHINESE FIVE-SPICE POWDER: A distinctive blend familiar to fans of Chinese roast pork (where it's the dominant flavor), the five refers to licorice-like star anise and fennel, cinnamon-like cassia, floral Szechuan peppercorns, and fragrant cloves.  You know how roasted chicken tastes like ... chicken?  Roasted chicken with Chinese five-spice powder rubbed under and outside the skin tastes like an Asian gastronomic feast."
Seriously, don't you want to run out right now to get some five-spice? Lucky for me, the reason that blurb caught my eye in the first place is that a cousin visiting with my sister a while back left her with not one, but two different containers of five-spice for me. I was thinking that was a little odd (nice, but odd) and that it was more than I would use in a lifetime, but now I'm rethinking that!

This chicken was super juicy and delicious, and now I'm left wondering how the leftovers might translate to a chicken salad.  

1 roasting chicken
4 T butter, softened
1 lg orange
1 T Chinese Five-Spice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Wash your orange well to remove any pesticides and/or wax, then dry well and zest over the butter
  3. Squeeze 1T of juice from the orange over the butter as well
  4. Stir together the butter/orange mixture, adding to it the five-spice, garlic, salt and pepper to create a sort of compound butter
  5. Loosen the skin from the chicken and rub the butter mixture all over the chicken underneath the skin, rubbing any residual butter over the outside of the chicken to coat
  6. Cut up the orange, squeezing the juice into the cavity of the chicken and stuffing the orange inside
  7. Roast for about 20" at 450' to crisp the skin, then reduce to 325 and continue for another hour or so until cooked through (If a chicken comes with a thermometer, I usually cook it for another 15"-20" beyond the pop.)
  8. Remove chicken to serving platter, loosely tent with foil and let rest for about 15" before carving
  9. To the pan drippings, whisk in a few tablespoons of butter and flour, bringing up to a boil to thicken into a gravy (optional - pour through strainer)
  10. To carve, first remove the legs and wings, then cut straight down along one side of the breast bone and make another cut from the bottom in toward the bottom of your first cut so you can pull off the entire breast
  11. Transfer chicken breast to your cutting board or platter and slice it so that everyone gets a piece of skin with their chicken.
  12. Drizzle with gravy

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe
Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe
I like to roast my chicken over veggies instead of a rack.

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe
Breast removed as indicated above.
Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

Orange Five-Spice Roasted Chicken : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

I've never been one to cook/bake with Evaporated Milk or Sweetened Condensed Milk, but I picked up a can of each over the holidays for some reason, and they have been sitting in my pantry ever since. Not having any yogurt or sour cream at the time, I was contemplating whether you could replace them with the Evaporated Milk in a Coffee Cake and, if so, how much should I use?

Knowing that I already love my Apricot Prune Sour Cream Coffee Cake, that's where I started. That recipe calls for one cup of sour cream, so I used the whole can of Evaporated Milk and reduced the amount of butter to account for the difference. This cake turned out great.

You will have a better (thicker) layer of streusel in your cake than what is pictured here. I was playing around with a new (smaller) pan, so I ended up needing to bake a separate smaller cake, and some of my streusel went into that one. Also, I'm not a huge nut fan when it comes to baked goods, so feel free to increase the amount of pecans, or try walnuts or some other nut. If you do, you might want to make the nuts their own separate layer - batter/nuts/batter/streusel/repeat.

3 c flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T vanilla
4 eggs
12 oz can evaporated milk

3/4 c brown sugar
3 T butter
3 T flour
1 T cinnamon
1 c pecan halves, chopped 

  1. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla to the butter mixture, then the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated
  4. Mix in the evaporated milk
  5. To the wet mixture, add the flour, a little at a time, just until blended
  6. For the streusel, use a fork to mash the ingredients together until you achieve a pebbly texture
  7. Lightly grease or spray a bundt or tube pan and fill with a layer of batter
  8. Top with a layer of pecans, then streusel, and repeat
  9. Bake at 325 until tester comes out clean, +/- 1 hour

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe
Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe
Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Evaporated Milk Coffee Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

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