Hye Thyme Cafe: April 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! :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries

Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries : Hye Thyme Cafe

This is really more of a suggestion than a recipe. It turns out that I bought way more berries and whipping cream than I needed for Easter. We used berries in Sangria, Pavlovas, and on a Coconut Yogurt Pie, but I still ended up coming home with a carton of whipping cream and a bunch of strawberries and blackberries.

Sitting at the kitchen table later, I noticed the container of Blueberry Oolong Iced Tea mix I had picked up at the local Amish store. I'm not a big iced tea drinker, so it wouldn't have even caught my attention had it not been at eye-level at the end of an aisle. Oolong is my favorite tea, and given that it has peach notes, it pairs nicely with blueberry. (Blueberry-Peach is my favorite pie.)

Because the iced tea mix is pre-sweetened, I thought about adding that to whipping cream instead of sugar to go with the leftover berries. It worked out great!

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then add a tablespoon or so of your add-in and continue whipping until nice and fluffy.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries

Look in your cabinets to see what else you might use in whipped cream - chocolate milk powder, Kool Aid, Espresso Powder, Pixie Stix, etc. Just makes sure you select something with a flavor that goes well with whatever you intend to use it with. I'm guessing grape Kool Aid whipped cream would be pretty gross on chocolate pudding.  ;)

Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries : Hye Thyme Cafe

Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries : Hye Thyme Cafe

Blueberry Oolong Whipped Cream and Berries : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pumped Up Peanut Butter Cookies

Pumped Up Peanut Butter Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

I don't know about you, but I like to order spices from Penzeys Spices on occasion, so their catalog comes to me in the mail and usually contains at least a few recipes. A while back, a recipe for Izzy's Peanut Butter Cookies caught my attention. First off, they looked like they had a bit of "chew" to them, rather than being a crispy cookie, or a soft cookie. That made me read the recipe, and I noticed that it contained cocoa powder. That got my gears turning, so I had to make a batch, switching things up a bit as I went along.

Although the cookies turned out great in the end, I did mangle the first tray. Izzy's recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls, then rolling the balls in sugar and pressing with a fork for that familiar criss-cross peanut butter cookie pattern. Because I was making these as a last minute addition to the Easter dessert table, knowing the dough was too soft to roll out and cut into shapes, I decided to press the dough into an egg-shaped cutter to form the cookies and bake them that way. Seemed like a good idea to me - until I took a peak and saw I pretty much had a tray of peanut butter cookie bars - they had all grown together! No problem - the rest were rolled per the original recipe.

Don't do this!  Dough spreads too much for using cutters - stick to balls
!!  Don't do this !!
1/2 c butter, soft
1/2 c Crisco shortening
1 c sugar (plus more for rolling)
1 c light brown sugar
2 t vanilla
1 c peanut butter (I use Jif)
3 eggs
1 T cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 c flour
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 t instant espresso powder

  1. Cream together the butter, Crisco, and sugars
  2. Add the vanilla and peanut butter
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined
  4. Use a fork to whisk together the coco powder, salt, baking soda, flour, cayenne, and espresso powder - add to wet mixture, a little at a time
  5. The dough will be very soft, so you might find it easier to chill for 20" or so to firm up a bit
  6. Roll into balls, then roll in sugar and place on parchment lined baking sheet
  7. Press gently with a fork or potato masher to create a grid pattern if desired
  8. Bake at 350 8-12"

Cream together butter, shortening and sugars
Beat in peanut butter, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time

Whisk together dry ingredients
Add dry ingredients to wet, a little at a time, then chill to firm up a bit

Roll into balls, then roll in sugar and bake on parchment-lined trays at 350 for 8-12"

Pumped Up Peanut Butter Cookies : Hye Thyme Cafe

Although you do get a slight kick at the end from the cayenne, you can't really discern the cocoa and espresso powder; they just serve to elevate the flavor without being "in your face." This is a keeper!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

I have been on a Chobani Coconut Greek Yogurt kick lately. I just can't get enough of it! When thinking about what to make for desserts for Easter this year, I thought back to how big a hit the Pomegranate-Lemon Verrines I made a few years back were. That got me thinking about applying the same principal to a pie, but I know that not all of our diners like pie crusts, so granola came to mind. I don't buy granola all that often, but when I do, I definitely like to sprinkle some of it in my yogurt.

I had actually intended to decorate it differently but when one diner needed to leave earlier than I thought, in an effort to throw dessert together quickly, I forgot that I had intended to tint whipped cream a few different Easter colors to pipe into stars on the top around the edge and top those with fresh mandarin oranges, sprinkling toasted coconut over the whole thing. Whoops!  

The berries were actually intended for some egg-shaped Pavlovas I had made, so of course I goofed those up as well - not goofed in the sense that I ruined them, but when I was making the whipped cream for the Pavlovas, I was thinking about the pie, so when I noticed a little bottle of coconut extract, I automatically added some to the whipped cream for the Pavlovas. So instead of whipped cream on my coconut pie, I ended up with coconut whipped cream in my Pavlovas and berries on my pie. Of course, that worked out fine for everyone else, but I was mad at myself for losing track of what I was doing.

1 1/2 c granola - divided *
2 c sweetened flaked coconut - divided
5 T butter - room temp
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
PAM Cooking Spray
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 oz cream cheese - room temp
2 T sugar
5 single-serve Chobani coconut yogurt **
Fresh fruit, etc. for garnish

* I used a plain granola, but an almond version might be nice with this. I'd just steer clear of a fruity granola, since the fruit (usually raisins) tend to be dry, and the crust will be blind baked.

** I used a 10" pie plate, so it actually had room for more filling, but it was plenty thick as it was. I just wouldn't have pressed the crust so far up the sides if I had realized that at the start. No biggie. I was actually surprised that the "overhang" held together when slicing.


Preheat oven to 350. In your food process or blender, blend together 1c of the granola with 1c of the coconut, the butter, vanilla, and salt, until it reaches a sort of pasty texture. Then add the remaining granola and coconut and give it a quick spin just to combine. That way, the finer grind will help hold the crust together, and the coarser grind will add texture.

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe
Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

PAM your pie plate, then press the crust into the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 10-12" until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.

I have never seen large containers of the coconut Chobani, so I went with the single-serve containers. Open and stir one container to loosen it up and sprinkle the gelatin over the top to bloom for a minute or two. In the meantime, beat the remaining yogurt into the cream cheese mixture. Once the gelatin has bloomed, add that container to the rest, beating until well combined. Unless you are working from a huge bag of coconut, if there is any left in the bag, go right ahead and add it to your filling ... unless you plan to toast it to sprinkle on top for garnish.

Spread the filling into the cooled crust, then chill to set.

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Decorate with fresh fruit, toasted coconut, candied citrus peel, whatever you like, and enjoy!

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut Yogurt Pie with Granola Crust : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taco Meatballs and Spaghetti with a Light Cilantro Tomato Sauce

Taco Meatballs and Spaghetti with a light Cilantro Tomato Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

I came across a deal on ground beef at the grocery store that I couldn't pass up, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't want to freeze it, and I had just made a big pot of sauce and meatballs with my sister up at her place and taken some home with me. Where I had pan-fried my meatballs previously for her hubby, who likes them super caramelized on the outside, we rolled that last batch, then she pan-fried some and broiled the rest. The broiling worked great and was much faster, but I'm not one for broiling anything that's likely to make me have to clean the oven. So, with meatballs still on the brain, I decided to go with it, but in a different flavor direction ... and try baking them.

One of the things that had turned us off of meatballs in the past was that sort of gristly texture ground beef can get. Between taking a page from Mama Dispirito's book by making a puree of the mix-ins and then simmering the meatballs in sauce after pan-frying, we hit on a texture everyone was happy with. I was afraid that if I tried baking them, I'd be back in that same boat as before - either they'd bake low and slow and be mushy, or at high heat and be gristly. I needed to strike a happy medium, and I did just that! How? Yogurt!  Aside from being slightly acidic, yogurt activates some enzymes in the meat that help break down protein, so I was able to bake the meatballs at a high temp and still achieve that nice tender center.

2 lb+ ground beef 
  (I had around 2.23 lb and wasn't going to quibble over the difference)
6 oz plain Greek (or strained regular) yogurt
2 oz taco seasoning (I used 2 packets - one regular, one low-sodium)
1/3 c cilantro
1/2 red onion
2 lg corn muffins
2 eggs
2 oz Monterey Jack cheese
Olive oil

12 plum tomatoes
1 T olive oil
1/2 red onion
1/3 - 1/2 c fresh chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

  1. Empty the ground beef into a large bowl to let come up to room temp while preparing your other ingredients
  2. Line a large tray with foil and drizzle or brush with olive oil
  3. Slice/dice the cheese into small blocks (size depends on how big your meatballs will be)
  4. Puree the yogurt, taco seasoning, cilantro, red onion (rough chopped first), and corn muffins (broken up) in a blender or food processor
  5. Preheat oven to 400 and set two large pots of water on the stove to boil - one for your pasta and the other for your sauce
  6. Crack the eggs into the bowl with the ground beef, then pour in the puree and mix until thoroughly combined (sometimes I wear gloves, but not always)
  7. I made my meatballs about 2" in size so they would still be a good sized post-shrinking - that said, I didn't measure, just pulled out a handful at a time - pressed a well with my thumb into each, stuffed with a piece of cheese and pinched to seal, rolling well
  8. Periodically rub your hands on the greased tray so when you are rolling your meatballs, you are oiling the outside of them to help with browning
  9. Arrange the meatballs on your greased, foil-lined tray as you go along
  10. Pop the meatballs in the oven to bake for about 20-25"
  11. Slice an X in the tip of each of your tomatoes and drop into what should now be a boiling pot of water
  12. Let them boil for 30-45 seconds, then pour out the water and run cold water over them until cool - the skins should peel right off for you
  13. Swish your blender or food processor out with water to remove at least most of your earlier puree, then toss in the peeled tomatoes (might want to reserve one or two for garnish) and puree with a good pinch of salt and pepper
  14. Dice the remaining half of your red onion and saute in olive oil until soft
  15. Add the tomato puree to the onions and let cook for about five minutes, then add the cilantro and continue for a few minutes more ... or until your meatballs are done
  16. Serve up the pasta topped with meatballs and sauce with some fresh chopped cilantro and/or the diced reserved tomato

Puree onion, cilantro, corn muffins, and yogurt
Monterey Jack - cubed

Make a well in the center of your meatball, fill with a piece of cheese, then wrap the cheese and roll until smooth

Stage meatballs on oiled foil-lined tray

Score ends of tomatoes to help in peeling

Drop tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds
Empty hot water and run cold water until tomatoes are cooled and skins peel off easily

Puree tomatoes with a bit of salt and pepper

Saute remaining onion until soft, then add tomato puree 5", then cilantro
Cook until slightly heated through and slightly reduced/thickened
Fully baked meatballs - overstuffed ones leaked :(
Confession - I sneaked 2 pieces of cheese into some, but those leaked.

Taco Meatballs and Spaghetti with a light Cilantro Tomato Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

Taco Meatballs and Spaghetti with a light Cilantro Tomato Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

Taco Meatballs and Spaghetti with a light Cilantro Tomato Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe
See, super tender inside.

Jasmine Meringues

Jasmine Meringues : Hye Thyme Cafe
Yes, I know that flower is not jasmine. ;)

I recently posted about some tea samples I received from Teavivre, one of them being a lovely jasmine tea (Superfine Jasmine Downy Dragon Pearls Green Tea). Being a food blogger, I thought OK, I can try the samples and post a review of what I think of each, but I need to also incorporate tea into a recipe.

My first thought was scones, but then I realized that would be silly. I associate tea with scones - as in High Tea. What do you do when your scones contain tea? Drink coffee instead so you're drinking coffee and eating tea? Drink the same tea that you used IN the scones? That would be redundant. Nah. Then I thought about biscotti, but again, that's something I dunk in my coffee. I wouldn't want to dunk tea in my coffee. Then it hit me - meringues!  :)

That turned out to be a great choice!  A delicate flavor for a delicate treat.

3 lg egg whites
1/4 t cream of tartar
3/4 c suuperfine sugar *
1 packet (1T) Superfine Jasmine Downy Dragon Pearls Green Tea
1/4 t vanilla
Violet food coloring and/or sugar crystals - optional

* I did not have any superfine sugar left, so I made my own by running sugar through the spice grinder until very fine. If you do likewise, just be sure to measure out the sugar after it has been ground.  

Whether you are starting with superfine or regular granulated sugar, use some of it to grind with your tea. You want the tea as fine as you can get it. If you know a day or two ahead that you will be making these, you might want to grind the tea/sugar then to let that flavor really infuse into the sugar (like when you stick a vanilla bean into sugar to make vanilla sugar), then sift it through a very fine sifter to catch any larger bits of tea leaves.

Superfine Jasmine Downy Dragon Pearls Green Tea

  1. Preheat oven to 225
  2. Beat the egg whites on low to medium speed until nice and frothy
  3. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form
  4. Increasing the speed, add the sugar (including the tea you mixed with sugar) a little at a time until stiff peaks form
  5. Add the vanilla and food coloring if using, and continue beating for another 30 seconds or so - should be smooth, thick, and glossy
  6. Pipe or spoon the meringue onto parchment-lined trays (I played around with a large star tip)
  7. Sprinkle with colored sugar crystals if desired - I only sprinkled some, as I was afraid the sugar might sink or start to dissolve - needn't have worried
  8. Bake for 40-45" - pay attention to your nose; you should start to smell the jasmine
  9. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside for at least a half hour to cool and finish cooking through

Optional - sprinkle with colored sugar prior to baking

Jasmine Meringues : Hye Thyme Cafe

Jasmine Meringues : Hye Thyme Cafe

Jasmine Meringues : Hye Thyme Cafe

Jasmine Meringues : Hye Thyme Cafe

Ha!  After all that talk of what to make with the jasmine - not wanting to drink tea with scones flavored with tea, etc., what did I do ... went to my sister's house for dinner and brought these with me. No big deal, right? What did I do on my way up to my sister's house? Yup, drive through Dunkin Donuts to get us both a coffee, so I still ended up drinking coffee with my tea lol. That didn't occur to me until just now. Sigh ...

Well, coffee or no coffee, we did enjoy the meringues, although I had an issue with the random bits of tea - thus my suggestion to pre-grind/infuse and sift. If you don't have time to do that, I would still recommend sifting, or maybe use a mortar and pestle to powder the tea rather than the spice grinder. I was especially happy when I got home later and realized I could still smell the jasmine in my apartment. I got a treat and an air freshener all rolled into one! ;)

Thanks again to the folks at Teavivre for the samples.  I never would have thought to do this otherwise!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese on Pumpernickel

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Since today is National Grilled Cheese day, I decided to try out something that has been on my list for a while now - the French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese. It's not a new or novel idea, just something I've been wanting to try. Now that I have, I have to admit that for spending all that time caramelizing onions, I think I'll save it for a big pot of soup next time, or at least both. That was a lot of time to invest in a sandwich; a very tasty sandwich, but still ...

2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
1 sm clove garlic, crushed
1 lg sweet onion, sliced
1 lg white onion, sliced
1/2 beef bouillon cube
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 t Worcestershire
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 t sugar
1 T butter
2 slices pumpernickel
1/3 c shredded Gruyere
fresh thyme leaves - toss with the Gruyere

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat
  2. Saute the garlic until softened and fragrant but not yet browning
  3. Add the onions, bouillon, balsamic, and Worcestershire, stirring well to coat onions
  4. Add the bay leaves and thyme, then cover and let cook for about 10" until the onions are soft
  5. Remove the cover, the bay leaves, and the thyme, reducing heat to low and stirring in the sugar
  6. Keep cooking over low heat, stirring every so often, until a deep golden color - about 40"
  7. Warm a skillet over medium heat, adding the 1T of butter
  8. Sear the 2 slices of pumpernickel on one side
  9. Flip one slice of toast, top with half the grated cheese/thyme, then onions, and cheese again
  10. Top with the seared side of the second slice of pumpernickel, then flip to toast the other side

Saute garlic in butter/olive oil, then add thyme and bay leaves
Add onions, balsamic, and worcestershire - cover and cook until soft

Remove herbs, stir in sugar and cook, uncovered, until a deep golden brown

Toss some fresh thyme leaves with the shredded Gruyere

Sear bread on one side
Flip one slide - top with cheese/onions/cheese - cover with other slice
French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Flip sandwich and cook until toasted and melty

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese : Hye Thyme Cafe

Don't know why it looks like my toast is burnt in all the pictures. It really wasn't. I was torn between using Swiss or Gruyere. I'm glad I went with the Gruyere - it melts much more nicely. You might see in the picture where I added it to the pan that it was already melting around the edges before I even added the onions. The heat from the toast was enough to get it going right away. That's why it's so funny that the toast looks burnt - if I was using a harder cheese, I would have to have kept the sandwich in the pan longer to melt, which might have meant burnt toast, but that wasn't the case here.  

I appreciated the depth of flavor the beef bouillon provided. The bouillon was the reason for the unsalted butter in the onions. If you happen to have some beef broth/stock in the fridge and want to use that instead of the bouillon, just add a little salt (or use salted butter) to make up the difference. You will also need to cook the onions longer in the first step because the broth/stock will mean additional liquid.


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