Hye Thyme Cafe: August 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! :)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Corn Salad

Corn Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

August is the height of corn season in my area, but as much as I love corn on the cob, I decided to try something different for a change, so I threw together this salad. I have lived here for almost nine years now, and I still smile every time I see a little unmanned, self-serve roadside farm stand. I saw a kitten trying to steal an ear of corn from one the other day. I guess he forgot his wallet.  

INGREDIENTS :
6 ears of corn
1 small red bell pepper
1 small orange bell pepper
3-4 scallions
1 cucumber
cilantro
1 t sugar
1/4 t cumin
1/2 t black pepper
1 small lime
1 t oil (veg or canola)
1 t rice vinegar (or white balsamic)

  1. Shuck your corn and drop it into lightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes - you just want to take that raw, starchy crunch off it. Pour out the hot water and run under cold to cool the corn.
  2. Remove the kernels from the cob. To do this, hold the ear by the tip so it's standing on your cutting board on its "handle," and run a sharp knife down the length, close to the cob. There are a bazillion posts going around about doing this in a bundt pan to catch the kernels so they don't fly all over your kitchen, but unless you're maybe cutting raw (hard) corn, or not cutting close enough to the cob, that's not going to happen. You can see in my pics below just how far the kernels jumped.
  3. Petite dice your peppers, scallion, and cucumber so they are all roughly the same size as the corn. I know I say this all the time, but I actually prefer to buy the mini pickling cukes for better flavor without all the mushy seeds (so I used 3-4 minis). If you can find a good firm cucumber, that's great. If not, maybe an English cucumber or the minis. If all you have access to is big cucumbers with tons of seeds, I'd scoop out the seeds so you don't end up watering down your salad - unless you think it will be gone in one sitting.
  4. Wash the cilantro really well, then squeeze dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel and chop. I thought I was going to use about half a bunch but found myself sneaking in more.
  5. Toss all of your veggies and cilantro together in a big bowl and zest the lime right over the top.
  6. Squeeze the juice from the lime into a small bowl, and to that add the sugar, salt, cumin, black pepper, oil, and vinegar; stir together to dissolve the sugar, then pour over the veggies and toss.
  7. Sprinkle the chili powder over the top and toss again - I waited to the end to add the chili powder because I was afraid if I added it to the liquid, it would just turn everything reddish-brown. This way gives the liquid a chance to be distributed first.


See - if you have kernels flying everywhere, you're not cutting close
enough to the cob and are actually wasting a lot of your corn.

Corn Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

Corn Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe
Corn Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe

You can break up the strips of corn if you want,
but I like to let it break up on its own as I mix,
leaving some small strips like pictured below.

Corn Salad: Hye Thyme Cafe


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies

Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

I was torn between making a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies and making a batch of Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips, so I decided to combine the two. I wasn't sure what to call them so that someone interested might be able to find this post. Should I refer to them as half and half, mixed, black and white, something else? So I did a Google search to see what would turn up. I found a bazillion Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookie posts, so I opened a bunch of them out of curiosity. I found it funny that every single post I opened had you make a ball of one dough and a ball of the other and stick them next to each other on the tray. That never even entered my mind. I actually think my way is faster/easier and better for storing leftovers, but that's up to you.

WHITE SIDE:
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c light brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1c plus 2T flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

DARK SIDE:
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1c plus 2T flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t instant espresso granules
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
white chocolate chips
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients (minus the chips) for both mixes in separate small bowls and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars for the white side until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla.
  3. In two or three additions, blend in the dry mixture that doesn't have cocoa powder in it, then your chocolate chips.
  4. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your work space and spread the batter lengthwise down the center and set aside.
  5. If there isn't a lot of dough left in the bowl, you can use the same one for the next batch - cream together the butter and sugar for the dark side until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla.
  6. In two or three additions, blend in the dry mixture with the cocoa powder, then your white chocolate chips.
  7. Stack that dough on top of your finished dough on the plastic wrap.
  8. Roll the plastic wrap around the dough, then pick it up by each end and spin to tightly wrap it like a Tootsie Roll.
  9. Chill the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit to make it easier to cut without squishing it out of shape - just slice and bake as many as you want (at 350), re-wrap the rest, wrap it in foil or put it in a zip-lock bag and store it in the freezer for whenever you want more cookies.
NOTE:  If you happen to be an engineer - or suffer from OCD - feel free to wrap the dough batches separately, then flatten out the sides that will merge before wrapping them together, so you get a more distinct dividing line.  I happen to like the "wave" effect.  😉

Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe


Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe


Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Half and Half Chocolate Chip Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brownies Gone Bananas

Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe

When I made Rocco’s Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps last week, I only used part of the brownie batter. I was planning to bake the rest as a small batch of brownies, but then remembered that I recently acquired two packets of Banana Nut Bread mix as part of a Smucker’s prize pack. I love Banana Bread, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it form a mix – it’s usually the result of having aging bananas in the house, so I make it from scratch. Anyhow, it made me wonder what would happen if I combined the two.

I was already using my mini-muffin pan for the brownie crisps, so when those came out of the pan, I re-loaded it with a teaspoon of brownie batter, covered that with a teaspoon of the prepared Banana Bread mixture, and topped the whole thing off with another teaspoon of brownie batter. Turned out great! I was afraid the Banana Bread mix would end up sinking to the bottom, but it held it’s place in the middle.


Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe
Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe









Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe

Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe
Brownies Gone Bananas: Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, August 15, 2014

Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Chicken Couscous



Are you familiar with Wildtree? I hadn’t heard of them until recently, when my friend Michele joined their family of home-based hosts(esses). Much like Tupperware or The Pampered Chef, Wildtree is a home-based business offering home tastings, freezer meal workshops, online and direct orders. Their line of products is GMO free, all-natural, and largely organic, ranging from spice blends to baking mixes, soups, and flavored grapeseed oil. They even have gluten-free mixes and go so far as to maintain a peanut-free facility.

I received a few samples to play with, the first being their Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Blend. The package offers suggestions, such as reconstituting the mixture in a bit of water, then blending with cream cheese to create a schmear for your favorite bagels or to stuff celery. Another option is to combine the seasoning mix with grapeseed oil and toss with pasta.

I had picked up a box of coucous on my last trip to the grocery store, and I had one lonely chicken breast in the refrigerator to use up, so I decided to put them both to use when trying out my sample.

INGREDIENTS :
1 chicken breast
Assorted herbs/veggies as desired  *
Chicken broth
½ t salt
½ t black pepper
1 c couscous
3 T butter
2 T Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Blend
1 T olive oil (or grapeseed, canola …)
Fresh parsley


*   When it comes to the chicken, you could certainly skip the cooking process by using leftover cooked chicken, or even a rotisserie chicken. I poached a single breast in chicken broth with the salt and pepper, half of a large sweet onion (kept intact to dice later and add to the couscous), and a few stalks of celery.
  1. In a small pot, cover the chicken with 2-3 c chicken broth and whatever herbs/veggies you like to use (or need to clean out of the fridge).
  2. Bring up to a slow boil, season with the salt and pepper, and reduce to a gentle simmer until tender.
  3. Drain the chicken, reserving 2c of the broth and, if you like, the onion like I did (you could add some raw onion later, but I preferred to use the cooked onion in this hot dish. I would have used fresh raw onion if making a cold couscous salad.
  4. I usually shred chicken in my food processor using the plastic dough blade, but since I was already using it anyhow, I decided to toss it in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. If you don’t have or don’t want to use either, you can petite dice the chicken, or use two forks to shred it.
  5. In a small prep bowl, blend the olive oil with the Smoked Mozzarella & Tomato Blend to give it a few minutes to absorb while you attend to your couscous.
  6. I gave the pot I poached my chicken in a quick rinse and used that for the couscous – add the 1c couscous, 3T butter, and 2c reserved broth to the pot, bring it up to a boil, then turn off the stove, cover the pot, and leave it alone to absorb the broth.
  7. As you can see from the pictures, I had actually used 2¼ c broth, thinking the chicken would benefit from the extra moisture, but that didn’t turn out to be necessary. After most of the broth has been absorbed, stir in the herb blend, chicken, and onion, cover again and let sit for about 5”.
  8. Just before serving, fluff with a fork, tossing with a few tablespoons of fresh parsley if desired. I rarely use a whole bunch of parsley at a time, so I like to chop it all and store the extra in a small zip-lock bag in the freezer. Unlike what you see all over Pinterest, there is no need to freeze it in ice cubes or blocks of olive oil. Just make sure it's dry, and squeeze out as much of the air as you can when closing the bag so it doesn't develop a lot of ice crystals.  Pinch off whatever amount you need at a time and re-seal.

I love that you can see all the little flecks of tomato throughout, and the smokiness of the mozzarella did shine through, but I would definitely have increased the amount of the seasoning mix if I had more to work with.
























If you're interested in checking out the possibility of becoming a Wildtree representative or hosting a party, I'm sure Michele would be happy to help you out.  Or maybe you just want to place an order or check out their recipe section.  By the way, another product they offer is organic coconut oil, which I noticed is a lot cheaper than what I have seen in stores in my area!

Their Mission Statement :




P.S.  I microwaved some of the leftovers last night, and it was even better the second time around.  I love that smoky flavor!!




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps

Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe

I had been tossing around the idea of making brownie crisps for a while. Imagine my surprise to find out recently that you can actually buy Brownie Brittle in stores now. While discussing this with a very handsome young man I know by the name of Rocco, he clued me in on what he and his Mom did to make one of his favorite new snacks even more yummy ... they sandwiched marshmallow creme between pieces of Brownie Brittle!

I told Rocco that I had been thinking about making brownie crisps at home by spreading a thin layer of brownie mix onto a sheet pan and baking it, but I really liked his marshmallow idea. I asked what flavor he thought I should make, and his immediate response was strawberry, so strawberry it is!

You could do it the way I mentioned above and break the baked product into random pieces, but when thinking about sandwiching them with the marshmallow creme, I liked the idea of more uniform pieces. My first instinct was to bake it on the sheet tray until just set, then scoring it into squares and returning it to the oven to finish baking. Then I remembered I had a mini-muffin pan!

NOTES:  Here are two do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do tips. First off, I made the mistake of automatically grabbing my go-to brownie mix. Why was that a problem? I like fudgy brownies. Fudgy is, by definition, counter-intuitive when making something crispy. Second, because I was doing other things at the same time, and it was getting late, rather than storing the chips (yes, they were crispy at the time) in a tin like I should have, I just shoved the tray back in the oven and shut the door. When I got back to them the next day, they had softened up again.  The humid weather didn't help matters.


INGREDIENTS :
1 pkg brownie mix, plus the required eggs and oil per pkg directions
1/2 c pureed strawberries (I used a bag I had in the freezer)
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1/8 t salt
Red food coloring - optional
Coconut, chopped nuts, etc. - optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare brownie mix per package instructions.
  3. Pour 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of brownie mix into the wells of a lightly-greased or sprayed mini-muffin pan - you want just enough brownie to cover the bottom.
  4. Bake for about 10" until just set - I didn't want to bake them until crispy directly in the muffin pan, because I was afraid they would get stuck, so I baked them until set, let them rest for about 3", then flipped them out onto a sheet pan.
  5. Return to oven and bake for another 10" or so until firm - turn off oven and leave in until nice and crispy.
  6. Pour your strawberry puree into the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin over the top to bloom.
  7. While that's going on, in a small pot, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat until the sugar melts, then increase the temp and bring the mixture up to a boil until it reaches 240 degrees.
  8. Slowly pour the sugar mixture over the strawberries/gelatin and run the mixer on low for a minute or two, then increase to high and let it run for a good 10-15".
  9. If you want to bump up the color, add a little red at the end.
  10. Spoon mixture into a piping bag or a zip-lock bag with a snipped corner, and pipe onto half of your brownie crisps, topping them all with the other half.
  11. If desired, roll the edges in coconut or chopped nuts

This is definitely a creamy marshmallow mixture (awesome fresh strawberry flavor by the way). If you prefer a stiffer marshmallow, go ahead and add another half packet of gelatin at the beginning. Because of the fresh strawberries, I am storing the leftovers in the fridge. I did actually read about someone who makes large batches of marshmallow creme and freezes it, so I might try that to see how it works out ... if there's enough left. I did manage to sneak in a peanut butter and strawberry marshmallow wrap when all was said and done. I'm thinking this would also be great with some sliced bananas over your favorite ice cream.

Thanks for the idea Rocco. If you've got any others, I'd love to hear them and see what I can whip up!  Good luck in school this year. 😊

Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe


Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe
Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe








Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe
Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe







Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme CafeRocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe








Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe
Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe








Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe


Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe

Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe


Rocco's Strawberry Marshmallow Brownie Crisps: Hye Thyme Cafe


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Potato Salad Poppers

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe


I normally buy loose fresh produce, but every once in a while, my local grocery store has a deal on Simply Spuds Steamables Potatoes, so I can't resist. They are small potatoes that come in a microwavable steamer bag. The first time I bought them, I followed the instructions on the package for time and pretty much ended up with a potato puree. I now make sure to nuke them for less time than called for.

When I stopped at the store to pick up avocados for my Guacamole Pasta Salad, I saw that the Steamables were on sale again, so I grabbed a bag of red and a bag of yellow. I didn't have a dinner plan in mind and never ended up getting a protein to pair them with, so I decided to go in a different direction and made these cute little party bites.

You can, of course, use your own preferred potato salad recipe. For this batch, I used some petite diced sweet onion, celery, dill pickle, baby cucumber, fresh dill, black pepper, and mayonnaise mixed with a bit of the pickle juice, reserving additional dill to sprinkle on top.

All you do is cook the potatoes until tender and let them cool, then take a sliver off the bottoms to allow them to stand without tipping over. Make another cut across the top, a quarter to a third of the way down, depending on how tall the potato is. Then use a small spoon (iced tea or demi dessert) to core out the center.  

To core the potatoes, hold them tightly to sort of compress the inside so it doesn't break. Insert the spoon into the potato, close to the edge, and push down until it almost reaches the bottom. Remove the spoon and insert into the next spot, and continue - working your way around the whole potato. That took four turns using my little demi-dessert spoon. Once you have worked your way around the whole potato, tip the spoon to get under the bottom and give it a twist to "pull the plug." You can do some "shaving" if you need to in spots to get closer to the edge, but this way, you will have a nice chunk of potato to be able to dice and won't end up with "mashed" potato salad.

Petite dice the slice you took off the top - with or without the skin - then dice the part you pulled out of the potato. Mix the potato with your other ingredients and spoon into your potato shells, sprinkling the additional dill over the top.

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe

Potato Salad Poppers: Hye Thyme Cafe


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Peppery Jelly Glaze

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe


I think after watermelon, nectarines may be my favorite fruit. I love peaches too, but not eating them whole. Unlike people who have skin problems - meaning contact with/ingestion of certain things irritates their skin - for me, it's touch. I have a hard time holding a peach because of the fuzz. It's the same with things that have a powdery texture - like pita bread - and don't get me started on walking barefoot! Even at the beach, you'll only catch me barefoot at the water's edge. I can't stand walking in dry sand. It's awful! I often feel like that old story ... The Princess and the Pea. A single strand of hair sliding down the back of my shirt will make me cray-cray until I can fish it out. OK, why did I write all of that? TMI? Veered slightly off course - now back to the matter at hand ...


INGREDIENTS :
6 T butter
3 T brown sugar
1 c quick oats
1/2 c flour
2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
3/4 c coconut
________________
8 oz cream cheese
5.3 oz container coconut yogurt
1 egg
3 T powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
________________
2 or 3 nectarines
2 T hot pepper jelly
Berries - optional
Sanding sugar - optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor or stand mixer, pulse together the crust ingredients until the butter is distributed and starts pulling everything together.
  3. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides of your tart pan - in my case, that was an 11x7 rectangular pan.
  4. Bake for about 15" until set and just starting to brown.
  5. Give the mixing bowl a quick wipe to remove any crust remnants, then throw in the filling ingredients and give it a whirl until smooth.
  6. Pour filling into crust.
  7. Arrange fruit on top.
  8. Melt jelly and brush all over the fruit.
  9. Return to oven and bake for 30" until filling is set and top is bubbly and fragrant.
  10. If desired, once cooled, sprinkle a bit of sanding sugar over the top for a bit of crunch, or maybe sprinkle some toasted almonds or chopped pistachios.

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe
Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe
See all those little bits of hot pepper?  :)

Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme CafeNectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe









Nectarine Tart with Coconut-Oat Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze: Hye Thyme Cafe


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