Hye Thyme Cafe: June 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, June 27, 2014

Armenian Almond Cookies

Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe


There is nothing about this recipe that leads me to believe that it's Armenian in some way, but I did find it in Rose Baboian's "Armenian-American Cookbook," and that's what she called them, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it! She seemed to be pretty good about noting when a recipe was one of her own creations or attributing it elsewhere, but since there was no specific indication of where this one came form, I did an online search. Although I did find a few sites with this same recipe, there was no attribution, so I'm throwing it to Rose.  

This is basically an almond shortbread cookie. I did not change the ingredients in any way, but that was all I had written down, so the instructions may vary slightly from hers. I do know for sure that she had sifted her flour, where I did not.  As big a fan as I am of vanilla, when reading the ingredients, I questioned the use of a tablespoon of vanilla to a teaspoon of almond extract in an "almond" cookie, but I went with it. Despite the inclusion of the ground almonds in the filling and the almond on top, I will opt to increase the almond extract next time. I'll probably go with equal amounts of vanilla and almond.

As far as the almonds on top go, they were specified to be blanched, but no reason was given. I'm guessing that back in the day, it wasn't as common to be able to find skinless almonds at the grocery store, so that step was probably just for removing the skins. If you do have access to skinless almonds, I say go for it. They'll be crispier and probably pack a bit more flavor.


INGREDIENTS :
24+ almonds, blanched, skins removed
1 c butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1 t almond extract
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c ground almonds
1/2 t salt
2 c flour


  • Start by blanching your almonds. The recipe yield indicated 24 cookies, but I blanched some extra almonds, which worked out well since I apparently made my cookies smaller. Drop the almonds into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain and run under cold water (or plunge into ice water) to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Pinch to pop them out of their skins - being aware that some will be full of water and might squirt at you. :)  Set aside on a paper towel or clean dish towel to dry.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Beat in the extracts until incorporated
  • Beat in the ground (or crushed depending on texture you like) almonds
  • Sprinkle the salt over the flour, then add to the mixture in two additions until incorporated
  • Roll into walnut-sized balls and transfer to ungreased baking sheets
  • Press each with a fork to flatten into a grid pattern like with peanut butter cookies (I did one tray this way and the other just pressed with my hand.)
  • Press an almond into the top of each cookie
  • Bake at 325 for 20" until a light golden brown

Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe






Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe









Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe


Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Armenian Almond Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Armenian Wedding Pilaf

 Armenian Wedding Pilaf: Hye Thyme Cafe


If this was for an actual wedding, it would obviously be made in mass quantities, and depending on the menu, it would either contain no meat at all or, more probably, would include lamb, but I opted for chicken. I'm not a big fan of dates, but many versions also include dates. If you wanted to get extra fancy, you could steep some saffron and use that liquid in place of some of the other liquid to give the rice that pretty yellow hue.

The amounts of fruit and nuts are certainly optional, or you could choose to include different fruit and/or nuts. As I mentioned, many people use dates, while others include prunes, pine nuts, walnuts, etc.


INGREDIENTS :
2 chicken breasts, diced
4 T butter, divided
1 c rice
1/3 c shireh (browned vermicelli - see Pilaf for methods)
2 c chicken broth (or water or a combination)
salt and pepper
10 dried apricots, diced
3 T currants
3 T slivered almonds
3 T pistachios


  1. Start by dicing your chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Mine were actually a little larger than necessary this time.  You could also use leftover cooked chicken.
  2. Cook the chicken in 3T of the butter, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Because the pieces are small, this should just take a few minutes.  If you would like to actually brown the chicken, reduce the amount of butter to just 1T to start, adding the other 2 as needed or at the end.  You do want to use it all though, to flavor the dish.
  3. Stir in the rice and shireh and let that cook in the butter for a minute or so, seasoning with salt and pepper (bear in mind that your pistachios may be salted).
  4. Stir in the broth (and/or water) and bring up to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. While the rice is cooking, heat the remaining 1T of butter and saute the apricot pieces and currants until plump and fragrant.
  6. Add the almonds to the fruit mixture and continue cooking until the almonds are lightly browned.  If your rice is not done yet, remove the fruit/nut mixture from the heat and transfer to a small plate to prevent the almonds from burning.
  7. When the rice is done, fluff with a fork and transfer to a serving platter.  Make an indentation in the center and fill with the fruit/nut mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top.

Cook the diced chicken in 3T butter
Stir in the rice and shireh, then the broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until tender.

Approx 3T each - diced apricots, currants, slivered almonds
Saute the fruit in the remaining 1T butter, then add the almonds to brown.


Fluff rice with a fork, transfer to a platter, make indentation in center and fill with fruit/nuts, then sprinkle with pistachios.


Armenian Wedding Pilaf: Hye Thyme Cafe

Armenian Wedding Pilaf: Hye Thyme Cafe
Armenian Wedding Pilaf: Hye Thyme Cafe



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe


I have previously mentioned that one of my favorite summer salads is watermelon with cucumber, mint, lime, and a bit of salt.  If you haven't tried it yet, you're really missing out.  Aside from being super delicious, it's extremely refreshing.

Anyhow, the last time I made a batch, I decided to play around and bit. Just in case I wouldn't like it, I only tried it on some at first, but to boost the flavor up yet another notch, I sprinkled chili powder over the top. Yup, awesome!


Watermelon Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

Watermelon Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

Watermelon Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe



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