Hye Thyme Cafe: July 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! :)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pretzel Sandwich Rolls

Pretzel Sandwich Rolls: Hye Thyme Cafe


As big of a Dunkin Junkie as I am, I don't generally order food from Dunkin Donuts. I'll get a bagel with my coffee every now and again, but I'm usually just in it for the coffee. When they first introduced their French Roll sandwich line at our local spot, I did try the Ham and Cheese. It was good, but I prefer a French Roll with cheese or butter. I'm not big on crumbly sandwiches. Not long after that, they introduced a different sandwich on a Pretzel Roll, so every once in a while, I would order the Dijon Ham and Cheese on a Pretzel Roll. That was really good! Imagine my surprise to make an order one day and be told the Pretzel Rolls had been discontinued ... because they were getting too popular!  :(

It was then that I decided I would try making them at home.  I had made a batch of Ancho Chili Pretzel Bites with Lime Salt a few years back, and although they were fabulous hot out of the oven, I was a little disappointed at how soft they were after sitting for a while. I was expecting the center to be soft and chewy, but the outside to be "crustier."

I finally decided the other day to finally get around to trying a different recipe and making Pretzel Rolls and had to laugh when I pulled in the Dunkin drive-thru and noticed that they are now serving Pretzel Twists. Of course, I ordered one, but they were out!

I had the same issue with these rolls that I did with the Pretzel Bites. They have that great pretzel flavor and chew/pull to the center, but the outside is soft. I'm starting to wonder if that's the norm for homemade pretzels. In reading up, I found that many people use a food-grade lye, which affects that outer texture. I stuck with the more friendly baking soda solution for boiling the pretzels before baking. Any input on this would be appreciated.

INGREDIENTS :
4 1/2 c flour
2 t kosher salt
3 T sugar
1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 - 2 1/2 t)
1 1/2 c water
5 T butter
10 c water
1/2 c baking soda
1 yolk
1 T water
Pretzel salt
Canola or Veg Oil


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the dough hook in place, whisk together the flour and kosher salt
  • Make a well in the center and pour in the sugar and yeast
  • In a small pot, heat the water and butter until the butter is melted, then remove from heat and allow to cool to where you can comfortably hold your finger in it without being too hot
  • Slowly pour the liquid into your mixing bowl with the flour, etc.
  • Start the mixer on low to incorporate the liquid into the flour mixture, then increase to medium and let run for a good five minutes or so until everything is well combined and the dough pulls away from the bowl to form a nice ball
  • Remove the dough and give the bowl a spray of PAM or a light coating of oil, then return the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat in oil, cover and let rise for about an hour
  • In a large pot, combine the 10c water and baking soda and set to come up to a boil
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the 1T water and egg yolk; set aside
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with a light coat of oil
  • Preheat oven to 450°
  • Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured suface
  • Divide the dough into 6 relatively equal portions and shape into sub-style rolls (I know, I should have spent more time to smooth mine out and make them prettier)
  • Stage the rolls on the oiled parchment
  • When the water comes up to a boil, keeping it at a steady simmer, boil the rolls, one or two at a time, for 30 seconds, then flip and boil them for 30 seconds on the other side and return to the tray
  • Brush the rolls with the egg wash, then sprinkle with pretzel salt and add a few slashes across the top with a sharp knife or razor
  • Bake 12-15" until nicely browned and you start drooling from how good they smell


Whisk together flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer; make well and add sugar and yeast
Melt together the butter and water, then pour over the yeast









Oil bowl, roll dough to coat, then cover and let rise for about an hourStart mixing on low, then increase to med for 5" until pulls into a ball








Punch down dough, divide in 6 and form into loaves; sage on tray lined with lightly oiled parchment
Bring water and baking soda up to a boil and boil rolls 30 seconds on each side

Return boiled rolls to tray and brush with egg wash, sprinkle with pretzel salt, and make a few slashes
Bake at 450 for about 15" until nicely browned









Pretzel Sandwich Rolls: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pretzel Sandwich Rolls: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pretzel Sandwich Rolls: Hye Thyme Cafe


NOTE:  A spider (spoon strainer) comes in very handy for dropping these into the boiling water, then draining and returning them to the tray.  If you don't have one, you can usually find them at the grocery store, but if you have an Asian market in your area, your best bet is to pick one up there since it will probably be a lot cheaper. You might end up with several different sizes for what you would pay for one at the grocery store. A spiders is great for frying as well. It's like a strainer with a handle.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Pesto Chicken Burgers

Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe


Not only are these burgers super easy, they're also amazingly flavorful. If you have never had a burger made out of chicken before, it might take a few bites to wrap your brain around the difference in texture from beef. Chicken burgers generally have a softer texture than beef.

The one thing I will point out is that I was using a homemade Broccoli Walnut Pesto I had in the freezer. When I make pesto, I tend to keep it on the thick side so that I can adjust it as needed for whatever I'm using it with. Store-bought pesto tends to be a lot thinner, so if that's the way you go, you could either mix in some extra grated Parmesan or Romano to bulk it up, or maybe line a strainer with a coffee filter and drain off some of the excess oil.

Normally, I would add salt to season the chicken, but given that the pesto included salt, as well as Parmesan, which is also salty, I did not add any additional salt.


INGREDIENTS (Yield - 3 burgers):
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 c pesto
1 T mayonnaise

  • Mix together the chicken, pesto, and mayonnaise until evenly distributed
  • Form into 3 patties
  • Over medium to medium-high heat, grill for 7-8" per side
  • For extra flavor and a bit of crunch, spread a thin layer of mayo on the cut sides of your buns and when the burgers come off the grill/out of the pan, grill the buns for about 45 seconds.
  • Top burgers as desired - I used a bit of frisée lettuce


Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe
Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe
Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe










Pesto Chicken Burgers: Hye Thyme Cafe




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mocha Cappuccino Overnight French Toast Casserole



Having been gifted a 2 lb bag of leftover 4th of July hamburger buns, I was planning to grind and freeze them for future use in meatloaf, etc., but then I thought about the jar of Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread I recently won as part of a Smuckers prize pack. I had been wanting to break into that but needed an excuse since I already have an open jar of Nutella in the pantry.

Given how soft and squishy (and sometimes chewy) hamburger buns are, if you are going to try this, I would suggest letting them dry out for a few days first. For a firmer texture, a large loaf of Challah Bread is a really good option, but I've made French Toast with baguettes and all kinds of bread before.

Although I made this as a French Toast Casserole for a breakfast dish - in thinking about the "cappuccino" as that morning cup of coffee - this could easily be served as a bread pudding for dessert. Just top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, or maybe a scoop of ice cream.


INGREDIENTS :
2 lb bag of hamburger buns (or large loaf of challah, etc.)
3 c milk
4 eggs
1 c Jif Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread
1 t vanilla
Powdered sugar


  • Cube the bread and spread into a buttered or sprayed roasting pan or casserole dish
  • Whisk together the milk, eggs, hazelnut spread, and vanilla
  • Pour the liquid mixture over the bread, pressing down to make sure all the liquid is soaked up by the bread
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight
  • Remove casserole from fridge to warm up a bit while preheating the oven to 350
  • Cover lightly with foil and bake for 30"
  • Remove foil and cook for another 20" or so until set (if you're within smelling distance, your nose should tell you when it's ready)
  • Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar












 




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe


American Chop Suey is a staple in school cafeterias across New England. Outside of New England, you might know it as a Ground Beef Goulash or Macaroni Red. A group of my old classmates recently got together and then posted photos of the gathering on Facebook. That sent me on a nostalgia trip thinking about those long-ago school days, and the American Chop Suey came to mind. Of course, had I really been going for the whole school lunch vibe, I would have served it with a piece of bread and weird a stick of indeterminate orange cheese.

You can really use whatever kind of tomatoes you like. I opted for the petite diced, but you could easily substitute that with stewed or crushed tomatoes. When it comes to the sauce, don't fear the liquid! You will reduce the liquid until it starts to thicken, but it will still be pretty soupy. Once everything is combined, the pasta will soak up that juice and flavor. If you're still skeptical, use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the meat/tomato mixture into the pasta, then add the liquid a little at a time.

INGREDIENTS :
1 lb elbow pasta
2 T butter
1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lg onion, diced
1 lg green bell pepper, diced
1 T Italian seasoning
2 t Worcestershire
1/2 t each salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
3 T tomato paste


  • Set a large pot of water to boil, season with salt once boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente
  • In 2T butter, saute the garlic and onion until the onions are translucent
  • Add the bell pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, stirring well to distribute
  • Add the ground beef and cook until just slightly pink - I like to use a large serving fork to break up the beef
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the peppers are cooked
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pot, then stir in the meat mixture

If there are any leftovers, you can freeze them for another occasion. If you want to re-purpose it into another dish, try stirring in some grated Parmesan. Then layer the pasta into a casserole dish, topping with muenster or mozzarella, and another layer of pasta. Cover and freeze. When you want to bake it, top with some pasta sauce and bake until bubbly.  Now you have a cheesy noodle bake.


Saute garlic and onion until translucent
Stir in green pepper, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper








Add the ground beef, breaking up with a large serving fork
Cook until the ground beef is still slightly pink







Stir in the tomatoes and tomato pasteSimmer until sauce is reduced by about half










Drain pasta, return to pot, and stir in meat mixture


American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe

American Chop Suey: Hye Thyme Cafe



Sunday, July 6, 2014

DIY Microwave Popcorn Two Ways



I grew up eating stove top popcorn. No, not Jiffy Pop, real popcorn ... coat the bottom of a pot with oil, throw in a kernel of popcorn over med-high heat and wait for it to pop. Then pour in more kernels, cover the pot and shake (so the bottom doesn't burn) often until it's all popped. That's still my favorite popcorn, but I'll admit to caving to the convenience of the microwave stuff.

If you're looking for a healthier option - no oil, chemicals, etc., and one that's actually cheaper, you'll definitely want to give one of these methods a try.

If you ever wander on Pinterest, you've probably seen a bazillion posts about DIY microwave popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag. When I first saw that, I bought a package of lunch bags, but I figured with my luck, I'd just end up setting the microwave on fire, so the package had been sitting unopened for about a year in my pantry.

More recently, I came across a post on LifeHacker about making microwave popcorn in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a plate. Hmmm, that sounded less dangerous to me, so I gave it a shot.  I had also read that steam helps popcorn pop fluffier, so I poured 1/3 c popcorn seeds into a 2 qt covered casserole dish, swished the seeds in 1t water and set them in the microwave to pop.  I read that it would take about 2 minutes, but it took closer to 8 for me.  I'm not sure if that was because of the thickness of my bowl or something else.

That worked out fine, so the next time, I tried using vanilla instead of water, to see if it would impart a hint of vanilla flavor, but that didn't seem to have any effect at all.




Having tried the bowl method, I felt a little more empowered to give the lunch bag method a shot. I used the same amount of seeds 1/3c, poured them into the bag and made a small tight fold at the top to seal it, then set the microwave on 3 minutes. I did not set the microwave on fire, and the bag was done before the three minutes were up. 

The next time around, I wanted to try out the steam theory, so I poured a teaspoon of water into the bag with the seeds.  All that served to do was pop a hole in the bottom of the bag.  I wasn't expecting that from such a small amount of water, so I'm wondering if maybe I had a weak seam and just hadn't noticed.  I'll give that another try.





I did find that there were fewer unpopped kernels and less time involved when using the lunch bag, so that's something to consider.

Whichever method you choose to try, just BE CAREFUL!!  With the bowl method, you will want to make sure to use pot holders when removing it from the microwave, and with the lunch bag method, you don't want to leave the room in case it starts to burn - microwaves run differently, seeds vary, the quality of the paper bags can vary, etc.  I was using a tiny white seed I had purchased at the local Amish market.  Had I been using my usual Orville Redenbacher, it could have taken more or less time. 

As for seasoning, sometimes I'll melt a little butter to pour over my popcorn, but a lot of times, I'll just sprinkle a little grated Parmesan over the top.  I anticipate doing a lot more experimenting in the microwave now.

Happy Popping!!  :)


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Banana Cornbread


Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe


Once again, I found myself faced with overripe bananas.  As much as I love a good Banana Bread, something different was called for, so I decided to try a Banana Cornbread for a change.  I wasn't sure how corn and banana would pair, but it turned out to be a good choice.  I'm (almost) looking forward to more overripe bananas now so I can play around with different options for add-ins.

INGREDIENTS :
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 c cornmeal
1/2 t salt
2 t baking soda
2 med bananas, mashed

  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • In one bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and vanilla
  • In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda with a fork
  • Alternate adding the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the butter/sugar, a little at a time until incorporated
  • Peel the bananas into the bowl the cornmeal mixture came out of and mash with that same fork, then blend into the batter
  • Pour into sprayed 13x9" pan
  • Bake at 400 for about 25" until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean

Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme CafeBanana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe









Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe
Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe










Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe


Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe

Banana Cornbread: Hye Thyme Cafe




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