Hye Thyme Cafe: May 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! :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Watermelon-Tomato Salad

Watermelon-Tomato Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

When a friend first mentioned the combination of watermelon and tomatoes to me, I just couldn't wrap my brain around it for some reason. Since then, I have seen that combination turn up in a number of places, so when I picked up a watermelon the other night, intending to make my favorite Watermelon Salad (cucumber, fresh mint, lime juice ...), I broke down and picked up a container of tomatoes as well. Rather than a fruit salad, I decided to use them in a green salad. I figured since I was already combining watermelon with something I would never have thought of on my own, why not throw caution to the wind and pair it with romaine lettuce too??  

This is now one of my favorite summer salads. Why didn't I listen and try it sooner?!? Aside from the fact that the watermelon and tomatoes really do play nicely together, it has those winning combinations of sweet/salty, soft/crunchy, sweet/acidic.

Tomatoes (I prefer small multicolored)
Romaine Lettuce
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

  1. Cut your watermelon into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  (TIP: If you are cutting a whole watermelon and don't anticipate it all getting eaten right away, try inserting a steamer basket or colander into the bowl first. That way, the juice will run to the bottom of the bowl without the watermelon getting mushy from sitting in all that liquid.)
  2. Wash and dry your lettuce, stacking the leaves on top of one another and slicing into thin ribbons.
  3. Slice and/or dice your tomatoes and transfer to a bowl with the lettuce. I like to leave the tiny tomatoes whole, quarter the larger tomatoes and slice the small tomatoes in half, some crosswise and others lengthwise.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the lettuce and tomatoes, add several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper, and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer a pile of the lettuce and tomato mixture to a salad plate and top with diced watermelon, pistachios, and a sprinkle of salt over the watermelon.
I can't wait to make this again. I think next time, I might turn it into a chopped salad, increase the amount of lettuce and make everything roughly the same size as the pistachios.

Watermelon-Tomato Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

Watermelon-Tomato Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tahini Cookies

Tahini Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

The next time you make Hummus and are left wondering what to do with the rest of your tahini, give these cookies a try. They have sort of a peanut butter cookie texture with that distinctive sesame taste. If you prefer your cookies to be more on the crispy side, try holding back a half cup of flour and pressing them out a little thinner before baking.

1 c tahini
1/3 c (5T) butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
1 t vanlla
1 egg
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 c hot water
sesame seeds

  1. Stir the tahini well to re-incorporate the oil, then cream together with the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg until well incorporated.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then add to the tahini mixture in two or three additions until blended in; mixture will be crumbly.
  4. Mix in the water last. You will note that the mixture is crumbly, but like a pie crust, when you give it a squeeze, it comes together.
  5. Pinch off pieces of dough the size of a walnut, roll into balls, flatten slightly and press the tops into a small bowl or plate of sesame seeds.
  6. If you get to the bottom of the bowl and the dough is too dry to come together, just run your hands under the faucet to moisten and continue rolling.
  7. Bake on un-greased baking sheet at 350 for 18-20" until lightly golden. If baking two trays at once, rotate half way through baking time - front to back and top to bottom.
  8. Let cool right on trays to avoid scattering loose sesame seeds everywhere.

Stir tahini well to reincorporate the oil.
Cream together the tahini, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Beat in the egg.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, adding in three additions, then the water.

Roll into balls, flatten slightly and press tops in sesame seeds.
Bake at 350 for 18-20" until lightly golden.

Tahini Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Tahini Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Tahini Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Massaged Kale Salad

Massaged Kale Salad:  Hye Thyme Cafe

I know, it seems like I use an awful lot of Kale, but I don't usually end up using a whole bunch for just one thing, so of course I need to use up the rest. I'm not a fan of it in it's whole-raw form, but I have seen a lot of people writing about massaging the kale to soften and sweeten it, so it seemed worth a try. I have to admit, I ate this entire bowl of salad over the course of the day. Because the kale has a thicker texture than lettuce, it has a nice "meaty" weight to it. If you have some leftover chicken in the fridge, slice it up and add it to make a meal.  

I'm already anticipating other versions I might want to make. I went with the mandarin oranges and almonds this time, thinking of one of my favorite spinach salads. As much as I love spinach, I really do prefer the kale for the salad.

1 bunch kale
1 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/3 c sliced almonds
1/2 small sweet onion
black pepper
11 oz can mandarin oranges
1 t white balsamic vinegar
1/4 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t thyme leaves

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon of the mandarin orange juice (drain the rest) with the white balsamic, Dijon, and thyme leaves, and set aside. This will give the thyme a chance to infuse into the dressing. You are already massaging the kale with olive oil, so there is no need to use additional oil for the dressing. You want to just flavor the salad, not soak it. The Dijon adds a hint of flavor and holds things together. You can use fresh or dried thyme. If using dried, rub it between your fingertips as you add it, to get the oils going.

Whisk together white balsamic, dijon, mandarin juice and thyme
Looks like a VERY small amount, but it coats nicely
without watering your salad down

Wash and dry your kale well, removing any large stalks/stems and tearing into bite-sized pieces. Pour the olive oil over the kale and sprinkle with salt. Now really get in there with your hands and massage the oil into the kale, coating all those nooks and crannies. Take a few minutes with this. Set aside.

Wash and tear kale into bite-sided pieces, removing large stems/stalks
Massage kale with olive oil and salt until softened and well coated

Notice how much lower in the bowl the kale 
sits after it has been massaged.

In a small pan over medium heat, lightly toast the almond slices, stirring frequently and removing from pan immediately so they don't continue to brown/burn.

Lightly toast almonds over med heat, immediately removing from pan

Cut about half of your onion into super thin slices. When your almonds have cooled, toss the onions and most of your mandarin orange segments and almond slices with the kale. Drizzle the dressing over the top, add several grounds of fresh black pepper, and toss with tongs or salad utensils to coat well.

Toss with mix-ins, black pepper, and dressin

Plate and top with any remaining almonds and/or orange segments.

Plate - topping with any reserved almonds or orange segments

Massaged Kale Salad:  Hye Thyme Cafe
Massaged Kale Salad:  Hye Thyme Cafe

Massaged Kale Salad:  Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, May 16, 2014

Finish the Sentence Friday: "The nicest thing someone ever did for me was..."

This week's prompt was an easy one for me.  There are many nice things that people have done for me over the course of my life, but the sweetest/cutest is the one that comes immediately to mind.

When I moved away to New Orleans, I decided one year to surprise my sister and her family and fly in to spend Christmas with them.  When I moved away, my nephews were probably 2 and 5, so not seeing me very often, they didn't exactly know me very well - the youngest more so obviously.

When he realized that I would be with them on Christmas morning and that they had shipped all of my presents to New Orleans, he was very upset that I would have nothing to open.  He took it upon himself to go around the house to find anything unused/unopened - a box of pens, a pack of gum, notebook, etc., and wrapped them for me to have presents to open Christmas morning!  How sweet is that?!?  (sniffle, sniffle)

And the oldest, the little bugger!  I snuck in the house and let out a "Ho! Ho! Ho!"  While the rest of the family was startled and trying to figure out who could possibly be in their house, that one comes out with ... "I has to be Aunty Chrissy!"  Smarty pants!

How about you?  Any nice things someone did for you that you'd like to "share with the class?"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

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:

Stephanie ~ http://www.stephaniesprenger.com
Kristi - http://www.findingninee.com/

This week's co-host:
Sarah - http://leftbrainbuddha.com/

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cinnamon-Apple-Cheddar French Toast Cups

Cinnamon-Apple Cheddar French Toast Cups : Hye Thyme Cafe

I made this recipe for two, but you could certainly translate this to either make a whole casserole or fill a tray of large muffin cups. Either way, be sure to leave time for the bread to soak up the egg mixture, so you could get up early and prep the dish, setting it in the fridge to chill, or prep the night before. That's what I did.

When it comes to the apples, the firmer the apple, the thinner the slices should be. You don't want to use thick slices of a firm apple and have it still be extremely firm when it comes out. I suppose if you wanted super thick slices, you could nuke the apple for a few minutes before slicing. That would take the crunch off of it and let it finish cooking while it bakes. That might darken the apple, but that's fine - it's all about the taste!

As for the bread, if using ramekins or a muffin tin, you will be cutting out rounds. If you are concerned about wasting the scraps (and don't want to munch on them as you go along), you can chop them up and use them for the middle layer.

2 t brown sugar
8 slices raisin cinnamon bread
1 lg apple
1 t sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 c shredded cheddar
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla
salt and pepper
powdered sugar

  1. Start by cutting rounds from the bread the size of your ramekins/muffin cups, shredding your cheese (if not pre-shredded), peeling and slicing your apple, and mixing together in a small bowl the cinnamon and sugar.
  2. Generously butter the insides of the ramekins/muffin cups.
  3. Lay one bread round in the bottom of each.
  4. Top the bread round with a layer of cheddar.
  5. Top the cheddar with a bread round.
  6. Dip and apple slice (both sides) in the cinnamon and sugar and place over the bread round.
  7. Top the apple layer with another bread round.
  8. Top that layer with any remaining cheddar and another apple slice dipped in cinnamon/sugar.
  9. Cover with the last bread round.
  10. Beat together the two eggs, a splash of milk, the vanilla, and salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Evenly distribute the egg mixture between the two French Toast stacks.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the top as you do, to make sure the egg mixture soaks up into all the bread - chill.
  13. Bake at 350 for about a half hour until set and nicely browned.
  14. To serve, invert onto a plate and dust with powdered sugar.  

As it turned out, you don't actually need to invert them. I had envisioned the butter and brown sugar sort of oozing over the tops when they came out, but of course it was bread, so it really just soaked in. Use a butter knife or small spreader/icing spatula to run around the edges and pop them out.

Love all that oozy cheddar, and the apples are soft but not mushy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tabloui (Tabbouleh) traditionally contains bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and onion, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. More likely than not, if I'm making Tabouli, it's the red version - Eetch. At some point, while trying to find more uses for Quinoa, I replaced the bulgur in Eetch with Quinoa, and it went over very well. Although I noticed the difference in texture, most people didn't notice anything different at all. It's been a while since I did anything with Quinoa, and we all know by now that I love Kale, so I decided to try incorporating the two into a new version of Tabouli.

1 c quinoa
2 c water, broth, or a combination
2 c finely chopped kale
1/2 c finely chopped mint
1 c finely chopped sweet onion
12 oz mixed grape tomatoes, diced (or 2-3 lg)
2 small lemons (zest and juice)
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper
  1. Bring the liquid (I used chicken broth) to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Reduce to a simmer for about 20" until the quinoa unfurls and the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. You don't have to be fanatical about the amounts when it comes to the kale and mint, so feel free to throw them together in your food processor and run until fine. Two cups of kale for me amounted to 6 large leaves, stalks removed, and I used one whole bunch of mint, but size varies with brand/market.
  3. You can run your onion through the food processor as well, but from a visual perspective, I prefer it hand diced.
  4. For the tomatoes, again, just for visual reasons, I like to mix it up to include some slices and some diced.
  5. When the quinoa has cooled, stir in the greens, onion, and zest from the lemons, then gently fold in the tomatoes.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice with about a half teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the dressing over the top, then chill to allow the flavors to come together.
  8. Fluff with a fork before serving with crackers, lettuce leaves, pita wedges, etc.
Although not included in a traditional Tabouli, if you like, try adding some finely-diced cucumber as well.

Simmer quinoa in water or broth until opened and liquid absorbed
Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool

I like using a variety of colored grape tomatoes
Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Quinoa-Kale Tabouli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Chocolate Pineapple-Banana Bread

Chocolate Pineapple-Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

I am forever buying bananas and not eating them all, so I have to either make/bake something with the rest or freeze them for future use. I apparently need to learn to buy smaller bunches. Then again, if not for all those aging bananas, I wouldn't have come up with this awesome Banana Bread!

I thought for sure this was going to be a fail. I significantly reduced the amounts of sugar and oil called for in other quick breads and replaced some of the flour with quick oats, so I was keeping my fingers crossed but half expecting a dry end result screaming for something sweet. You honestly will not miss that extra oil and sugar, even with all the added cocoa, and the oatmeal complements the texture nicely and lets you pretend it's healthy. I can't wait for an excuse to make this one again!

1 c flour
1/2 c quick oats
1/2 c light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 med ripened bananas
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 c canola oil
2 t vanilla
2 eggs

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in the pineapple, canola oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then stir together until just combined.

Stir the two mixtures together until just incorporated - like with a brownie mix.

Pour into a greased/sprayed loaf pan and bake at 350 for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Transfer to greased/sprayed loaf pan and bake at 350 for about an hour until toothpick tests clean.
Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pan to rack to cool completely.

Let cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely ... if you can resist waiting that long ... 

Chocolate Pineapple-Banana Bread : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BLT Cups / Spears

BLT Lettuce Cups / Wraps : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was going to refer to these as BLT Wraps but didn't want people to think it was a sandwich wrap. I was in the mood for lettuce wraps but couldn't decide what I wanted to fill them with until, wandering in the produce department, I saw a container of mixed small tomatoes, and BLTs immediately came to mind.

I won't bother including amounts with the ingredients because it's really up to you - how much mayo you like in your salads, how many servings you're preparing, etc. I will say that I decided to add a little black pepper and dried cilantro to my mayo. Basil might be nice as well.

As far as the bacon goes, you can prepare it however you like - fried, baked, nuked. I like to bake mine - sometimes on a rack, sometimes right on a foil-lined pan. The temperature can vary; higher if you're in a rush, lower if not. Letting it sit out for a few minutes and baking it at a lower temp keeps it from curling. That's not really a concern here since you'll be crumbling or dicing it anyhow.

When it comes to the lettuce, I used both iceberg and romaine, so I had cups and spears. Boston bibb is prettier, but it costs more and doesn't stretch as far.

Also, although these are lettuce wraps, you don't have to skip the toast altogether.  Toast up some crumbs - fresh, dry, or panko (I used chipotle panko) to sprinkle on top!

Lettuce - any variety
Tomatoes - a variety of colors is nice
Cooked bacon - chopped or crumbled
Bread Crumbs - fresh, dried, or panko
Optional - herbs to blend into the mayo

If you are baking your bacon, you will want to start with that so everything else is done when it comes out. Otherwise, start with the lettuce, so that can sit out to dry while you work on your other ingredients. If using a head of iceberg, either before or after opening the package, bang the lettuce on the counter, stem-side down. That will push the stem in, breaking it away from the leaves, and you can easily pull it out like a cork.

Bang stem of lettuce on counter to separate from leaves.
Stem pops out like a cork.

Now roll the lettuce onto one side and take a slice off the bottom so it will open up easier. To separate the leaves, run the lettuce under water. That way, the water will open up the space between each layer so you don't tear the lettuce while trying to pull them apart. Transfer to paper towels or a clean dish towel to dry.

Take a slice off the bottom to gain better access to the leaves.
Separate the leaves under running water to prevent tearing.

Dice and/or slice your tomatoes and set on a paper towel to soak up the excess liquid, blotting the top with another towel.

Any tomatoes are fine, but I like a variety of colors.
Slice or dice the tomatoes and let paper towels soak up the liquid.

If seasoning your mayonnaise with any herbs or spices, go ahead and do that, then stir in the tomatoes and set aside.

Stir the tomatoes into the mayo mixture.If desired, season your mayo with herbs/spices.  I used black pepper and cilantro.

For the topping, just melt a pat of butter in a small pan over medium heat and throw in a handful of breadcrumbs, stirring often until toasted. Immediately pour out onto your cutting board or a paper plate so the residual pan heat doesn't burn them.

I toasted some chipotle panko crumbs in a small pat of butter - remove immediately from pan to avoid burning.Toast some bread crumbs to replace the toast for a bit of crunch.

When your bacon is done, transfer to paper towels if necessary to soak up any grease, then let cool for a few minutes and crumble or chop into pieces. Stir the bacon into the tomato mixture. If you want, reserve some of the crumbled bacon to sprinkle over the top with the bread crumbs.

Crumble or chop bacon and stir into tomato mixture.Prepare bacon as desired: fried, baked, nuked...

Arrange your lettuce cups on a platter and spoon in the tomato mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs and any remaining bacon crumbles over the top for garnish.

Spoon tomato mixture into lettuce and sprinkle with toasted crumbs.

BLT Lettuce Cups / Wraps : Hye Thyme Cafe

BLT Lettuce Cups / Wraps : Hye Thyme Cafe

BLT Lettuce Cups / Wraps : Hye Thyme Cafe

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