Hye Thyme Cafe: October 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, October 31, 2014

Salt and Vinegar Microwaved Beet Chips

Salt and Vinegar Microwaved Beet Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe

I was gifted some beets the other day and hadn't had Beet Chips in quite a while, so I decided to use a few of the beets to whip up a batch. Actually, I was first thinking about pickled beets, but that would have entailed dragging my lazy butt to the grocery store for onions and fresh garlic. I reverted back to chips, but still thinking about the whole pickle thing got me thinking about salt and vinegar potato chips ... you see how this goes.

SHORT STORY:
Slice beets thin
Dip in vinegar
Sprinkle with salt (sea salt is nice)
Microwave in short bursts of time, flipping between each
Keep careful watch once they start to dry out/crisp


LONG STORY:
Because it has been a while, I was trying to remember the amount of time in the microwave called for and decided to refer back to my blog. To my surprise, it seems that I never actually posted Beet Chips. That's probably because there really isn't a recipe to speak of. Even so, I love them so much, they're definitely at least worth a mention!

I know for sure that I burned my original batch. To be more accurate, I set them on fire. Yup, on fire! Once you get past a certain point in drying them out, you need to keep a close eye on them because of their sugar content. The sugar will start to burn - not particularly tasty - and then they'll burst into flames, so don't leave the room.

That was why I wanted to refer back to my apparently non-existent notes. I think I had made them (the subsequent successful batches that is) on a paper plate and gave them 30 seconds, flipped them, then gave them another 30 seconds on that side.  

For these, I would be starting with them wet, since I was dipping them in vinegar first. That meant a longer time in the microwave. I also didn't have any plain paper plates and didn't like the idea of nuking something wet on dyed paper plates, so I was using a dinner plate lined with paper towels, and I hand-sliced the beets, as opposed to using the mandoline. All of these factors, in addition to your own microwave's power settings, will have an effect on how long they take.

No matter how thick/thin you slice them, what you cook them on, etc., the one thing you need to pay attention to is the sound ... once they start to sound like Rice Krispies, making those little snap, crackle, and pop noises, that's when you really need to start paying attention, because they're drying out. You will also notice by then that they have started to fade in color - just like anything else. Imagine getting splashed with water; where the water hit, your clothes are darker, but as that water dries, the color fades back. As the beets dry, they go from that nice dark purple to sort of a dried rose petal pink.

So it's really a matter of trial and error. Because you can only fit so many slices on a plate at one time, I sliced one beet into thin rounds, dipped each into vinegar and transferred the slices to the paper-towel lined plate, sprinkling the tops with a bit of sea salt. Knowing they would take longer than the "naked" beets, I started off with 45 seconds on one side, flipped them and gave them another 45 seconds on that side, but realized they were still pretty steamy, so I had to repeat that a few more times. For the next beet, I started at a minute and a half, flipped, repeated, then decreased the time to 45 seconds for another round.

It may sound annoying to keep taking them out and flipping them, but to me, spending a few minutes that way is infinitely better than waiting for them to come out of the oven nice and crisp. I've made them in the oven as well but prefer them this way. I find that they cook more evenly and have a better crisp.

So let's see, that's apple and butternut squash chips in the oven and beet and pepperoni chips in the microwave. Have you tried that before? If you have pepperoni in the house from making pizza, try zapping a few slices to turn them into chips. Great for snacking, or for crumbling and using in place of bacon. (I'll probably get hate mail now for suggesting something other than bacon!)  ;')

Whether in your oven, microwave, deep-frier, or dehydrator, go forth and chip something ... except maybe beef. Chipped beef may be awesome to eat (I have never encountered it myself), but it sure sounds gross, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe


After making a batch of Sweet Italian Sausage Cheese Bouregs recently, I was left with an extra sleeve of phyllo dough. I decided to play around with a new Paklava. It would need to be a small one though, since I only had a half pound of dough left. I wasn't crazy about that first version. I used chocolate chips, and even though I ran them through the food processor with the peanuts to break them down some, they still didn't really melt well, and I used altogether too much chocolate anyhow.

Annoyed by that first result, I had to try it again. I used the same size pan - 8x8", but I used a full pound of phyllo and less chocolate. At first I was thinking I just wasn't crazy about it, but after it had a day or so to "dry out," I was hooked! It wasn't until after I made the second batch that it occurred to me that I could have used peanut butter chips rather than actual peanut butter, which would have yielded a drier result, but I prefer real peanut butter, so I'll probably stick with that in the future, just maybe use a slightly larger pan so the filling ingredients are spread more thinly.


INGREDIENTS :
1 box (1 lb) phyllo dough
2 sticks butter
1 heaping T Crisco shortening (optional)
1/2 c peanut butter
1 c peanuts (I used dry roasted)
Chocolate (chips or otherwise - I used a 4.25 oz Symphony bar)
1 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 lemon


  1. Melt together the butter and Crisco - technically, it's better if you actually clarify the butter, but that's not mandatory. As for the Crisco, it helps keep the dough crispy.
  2. Brush your pan with melted butter.
  3. Lay two sheets of dough in the pan, trimming or folding as necessary to fit. If folding, be sure to switch directions so you don't end up with one end higher than the other. Butter the top layer and repeat. Continue in this manner until you have 10-12 sheets of dough in the pan, but do not butter the last layer.
  4. Melt your peanut butter, stirring until smooth. I nuked mine in the microwave for 30 seconds, gave it a stir and put it back in for another 30 seconds. Layer half of the peanut butter over that non-buttered top sheet of dough (there is oil in the peanut butter, so the butter isn't necessary there). You could use a pastry brush, but I found that pouring the peanut butter and spreading it with the back of a spoon worked better.
  5. Lay two sheets of dough over the peanut butter layer, brush with butter and repeat with a few more layers - yes, buttering the top this time.
  6. Pulse together the chocolate and peanuts in your food processor to break down a bit and sprinkle half over that top layer of dough.
  7. Now repeat the whole thing - add a few layers, then peanut butter - add a few layers, butter, then chocolate/nuts, until you reach the top of your pan or run out of dough.
  8. I usually make huge trays of Paklava and cut them into diamonds, but since I was using a small square pan this time, I took the easy route and went with triangles. Slice corner to corner, rotate and slice from the opposite corner to corner, then side to side.
  9. Bake at 350 until golden. The time will vary with your pan, etc., but one way to check if it's done is to use a fork or the tip of a knife to lift a few layers of dough. If the top is dark, but the layers beneath are still on the raw side, top with foil and let bake a little longer.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely - because you used chocolate, you will want to re-cut your lines before proceeding with the syrup, since chocolate will have melted and filled in the cuts. You want to make sure the syrup can flow throughout.
  11. In a small pot, stir together the sugar and water and let come up to a boil. Squeeze in a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and continue to boil for a minute or two, then pour or spoon evenly over the cooled Paklava.
  12. I don't like my Paklava cloyingly syrupy sweet, so I like to sort of flood it with syrup, then remove one corner piece and tilt the tray toward that corner. That way, I can scoop up the syrup that drains into the corner and spoon it over any missed spots, then drain away the excess.
  13. Optional - decorate the top with chopped peanuts, shaved chocolate, drizzled chocolate ...

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe









Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe









Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe


This shot was two days later and just the way I like it - everything 
had dried out some, so it was still sweet, but not all drippy gooey.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Paklava: Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash

Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe


I absolutely love spaghetti squash ... and pesto. So what could be better than combining the two? Adding some nice gooey cheesey smokiness to the mix! I usually bake my spaghetti squash, but since it was going to be baked again anyhow, I shaved off a little time and microwaved it first. I used up the last of my freezer stash of Kale-Almond Pesto, but any pesto will do nicely.

INGREDIENTS
1 spaghetti squash
pesto to taste (I used about 1/2 c for a small squash)
1 tomato
sliced or shredded smoked provolone (or other smoked cheese)
dry seasoned bread crumbs
butter

  1. If you have the time and want to bake the squash, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then brush the inside with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut-side down to start. Most people keep it cut-side down, but I like to flip it after about 20" or so to let the sugars start to caramelize a little. Bake at 375 for 40" or so until tender. If microwaving, add about 1/4" of water to a microwave-safe dish and place the squash in, cut-side down. Nuke for 12-15" until tender.
  2. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to shred the strands and transfer to casserole dish. I nuked mine in a small Pyrex, then just poured out the water and shredded the squash into the same dish.
  3. Toss the squash with pesto to taste. Don't be alarmed if it looks different than mine - shades of pesto vary quite a bit, depending on their ingredients.
  4. Add sliced tomato to the top, and cover with the smoked cheese.
  5. Sprinkle a handful of seasoned bread crumbs over the top and dot with butter.
  6. Bake at 350 until golden and melted - time will vary with vessel used, size, etc., but should be in the neighborhood of 20-30".
I paired my squash with some rotisserie chicken and leftover green beans from a night of Chinese take-out. The beans may not be pretty in these pics after already being reheated once, but they sure were delicious! I wish I knew their secret. They're always perfectly crisp-tender, with just the right amount of garlic. I either end up with more crunch or they're too soft. I'm great with asparagus but need to work on my green beans. ;)


Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe
Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe


Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe
Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe
Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe

Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe

Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe

Smokey Pesto Baked Spaghetti Squash: Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, October 17, 2014

Slow Cooker London Broil

Slow Cooker London Broil : Hye Thyme Cafe


London Broil / Flank Steak is known for being a flavorful, but not the most tender cut of beef, which is why it's usually sliced super thin. That's not an issue when you put your slow cooker to work for you. Most slow cooker recipes call for a full eight hours of cook time. You do have some wiggle room here. If you're looking for a tender steak that slices with minimal resistance, six hours will do you just fine. If you're looking for more of a fork-tender pot roast type end result, go for the full eight.

Having gotten a late start, I pulled the plug at six hours this time. I wanted to make sure I had the kitchen cleaned up, everything put away, and time to digest dinner so I could pop a bowl of popcorn and park my butt in front of the TV for The Walking Dead premier. Maybe I should have gone vegan that night - forgot about the cannibals at Terminus! They used a grill rather than a slow cooker.   *:( sad *:puke! puke


INGREDIENTS
1 London Broil / Flank Steak
Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
Flour
1 can Delmonte Petite Diced Tomatoes 
   (zesty jalapeno or with green chilies)
2 cans beef broth (or 2 cans water and 2 beef bouillon cubes)
2 T Worcestershire
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lg onion
Olive oil
(Optional: Baby Carrots, Diced Potatoes, Corn Starch for gravy)


  1. Trim most, if not all, of the fat from your steak, then season well with Montreal Steak Seasoning and a light dusting of flour.
  2. Sear the steak in a bit of olive oil for about 4" on each side.
  3. While the steak is searing, empty the tomatoes into your slow cooker, and if you are using water with bouillon cubes, use the can to measure out your water, adding that to the tomatoes.
  4. Add the Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic, and onion - sliced into rings or wedges.
  5. If you like your carrots (and potatoes if using) soft, go ahead and add them with the rest. If you prefer them a little firmer, hold back and add them at about 2 hours in.
  6. Once your steak is seared, nestle it in among the liquid and veggies and, to quote Idina Menzel in Frozen ... "Let it go" and just walk away.
  7. When the steak is done to your likeness, transfer the steak, onions, and carrots (and potatoes if included) to a platter and loosely tent with foil to rest.
  8. You have options when it comes to a sauce. You can use the juice as it is, or you can use a blender or wand mixer to puree the juice, using some of the carrots to act as a thickener. A third option is to scoop out a bit of the liquid, stir in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch to create a slurry and pour it back into the pot. Turn the heat up to high and let it come to a boil to thicken and reduce while your meat rests.
Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil
Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil









Much like you would toss cubed beef with flour when making a beef stew, the flour here helps create that nice crust/seal when searing to hold in all that flavor and helps later with thickening the liquid. I like to keep a shaker full of flour handy for things like this and when dusting a work surface for kneading dough, etc. I would have normally thrown in some diced potato, but I was in the mood for Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that night instead, so I just included the carrots and onion.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil

Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil

 No need for slicing super thin with meat this tender.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil


Hye Thyme Cafe: Slow Cooker London Broil


Monday, October 13, 2014

Crumb Topped Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie

Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe


I was trying to think of what to make to use up the extra White Cheedar Cheez-It crumbs I had on hand after making Fried Pickles last week. My first thought was to use it to top a Baked Macaroni and Cheese, but I haven't been in the mood for that lately - imagine that! Then I thought about Apple Pie, since lots of people eat theirs with cheddar cheese. I don't think I've ever actually done that; I'm more of an a la mode kinda gal. Then I remembered seeing an "apple slab pie" on Pinterest a while back, so I decided to go that route, using a crumb topping, so it's sort of a combination of an Apple Crisp and an Apple Pie, using the crumbs in both the crust an the topping, with some additional shredded cheddar in the topping.


FILLING:
Apples - I used 2 each Cortland/McIntosh/Granny/Delicious
1/4 c sugar
1 T cinnamon

CRUST:
1 c White Cheddar Cheez-It crumbs
2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 T baking powder
1 t sugar
3/4 c Crisco shortening
2 T melted butter
6 T cold water

TOPPING :
1/2 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c flour
1/2 c White Cheddar Cheez-It crumbs
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter
1/4 to 1/2 t cayenne pepper

  1. Start by throwing your crust together. Just toss everything but the water into your food processor with the dough blade in place and give it a whirl, then slowly add the water until it all comes together into a ball. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to roll it out.
  2. If there is a lot of debris in the mixer, give it a quick rinse, then shred your cheddar (if using the mixer for that), and pulse together all of the topping ingredients; set aside.
  3. Peel, core, and slice your apples. I usually cut them into chunks for pie, but went with wedges here for better layering. Gently toss with the cinnamon and sugar and set aside to allow time for some of the liquid to come out. You want a juicy end product - not soggy. I always like to use a mixture of apples for their different textures and flavors.
  4. Roll out your dough into a rectangle a little larger than your pan - the dough is very soft. The waxed paper not only makes rolling easier, it allows you to transfer the dough to the pan more easily. Just lift an edge, hang it over the pan (lightly greased), and peel back the paper. You can create a decorative edge if you like, but since I was going with a crumb topping, I didn't bother. I just sort of pinched the edge all the way around to smooth it out and give it a little "lift."
  5. Layer in the apples, leaving any excess liquid in the bowl. To make sure every bit had apple, I started with a curved edge in each corner, straight cuts all around the outside, then worked my way in from there, creating two layers.
  6. Sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top and bake at 375 for 50-60" until browned and the apples are tender.
As I think you can see from the scale in the picture below with the dessert plate next to the tray, I used a small sheet tray. That would be my Spinach Pie tray, which is funny because I usually roll triangles rather than making it in a pan, so I really use this one more for Pumpkin Bars. Do you do that - refer to your kitchenware by its use? I have my Pilaf pot, my Yelanchi pan, Grammy's Dolma pot ...

Turned out well. The crackers made for a super flaky/crispy crust.  I was curious about how it would be without the juicy filling, so I rolled out the scraps and baked it separately just to try it. It's good cold out of the fridge too. On those rare occasions when there are leftovers, I usually let apple pie sit out for a day or two before refrigerating, but for some reason, I put this in right away.


Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe









Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe


Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Cheddar-Apple Slab Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Butternut Squash Cakes

Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe


I had more leftover butternut squash after baking bread with some the other day and then making chips with some of it, so I decided to try something else. I didn't realize how much mileage you could get out of one squash! Because rosemary pairs nicely with butternut squash, I was originally thinking to include rosemary in the bread but went with cinnamon instead, so I decided to go with the rosemary here - good choice.

Squash cakes tend to be pan-fried, but since I just made fried pickles the other day, I decided to bake them instead. I could have shaped them free-form or used a ring mold, but I decided to use a muffin pan instead. The one I used is shallow, with rounded cups. If you're using a regular shaped muffin pan, you might want to only fill the cups half way since you're not making cupcakes here.


INGREDIENTS:
4 c shredded butternut squash
3 c cubed herb stuffing mix (less if not cubed)
4 slices cooked bacon
1 clove garlic
14 c grated Parmesan (or Romano)
1/2 t black pepper
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
3 T mayonnaise

  1. Shred the squash and transfer to mixing bowl.
  2. In your food processor, pulse together the dry stuffing mix, bacon, garlic, Parmesan, black pepper, and rosemary until well blended.
  3. Pour over the squash and mix to combine, making sure to separate any "clumps" of squash.
  4. Mix in the mayonnaise to act as a binder.
  5. Transfer to lightly greased muffin tins or shape onto pan.
  6. Bake at 375 for about 25" until golden (time will vary with size, type of pan, etc.).
If you want something to dip them in or dollop on top, you can stick with the same flavors and when you first get started, blend a little extra rosemary into some additional mayonnaise and refrigerate to let the flavors blend.

As far as texture goes, these turned out light and fluffy - closer in scale to hash browns than to crab cakes. If you like this type of thing to be more compact/dense, you have a few options. You could go ahead and increase the mayonnaise, but that might start to affect the flavor, especially if you plan to dip/dollop some rosemary mayo on them later. You could omit the mayo completely and use an egg instead. A third option would be puree maybe 1/3 of the squash to then mix into the shredded squash with the stuffing mixture. That should bake the pureed squash into a sort of mashed potato texture that would hold everything together.


Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe
Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe


Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe
Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe









Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme CafeButternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe

Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe



Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe
Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe 
Butternut Squash Cakes: Hye Thyme Cafe


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