Hye Thyme Cafe: December 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! :)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Brown Rice

Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe


I ended up being on my own for Christmas this year but didn't want to completely bail on the day, so I made myself a little roast beef dinner with lots of veggies and saved a pumpkin bar for dessert from the batch I brought to the office pot-luck. After eating roast beef sandwiches for the next few days, I decided to use the rest of the roast in this soup. I don't think I've ever made a soup with beef in it before, and thinking about that reminded me that I've used pasta, but never rice in a soup, so I decided to try that as well. It's a keeper!

INGREDIENTS :
1 T olive oil
1 lg onion, diced
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
2 pickled hot cherry peppers, diced *
3-4 stalks celery, diced
2 lg carrots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c corn - fresh, canned, or frozen are fine
1 c brown rice
2 c cooked beef, diced
1 T Worcestershire
8 c + beef broth (or veg broth, water, combo, etc.)
2 c chopped tomatoes (I used a medley of different cherry tomatoes)
2 t dried thyme, or a sprig or two of fresh
4 c chopped kale, packed
small crown of broccoli florets
salt and pepper
Optional - grated Parmesan for topping

* The cherry peppers add flavor, heat, and a bit of acid. If you're not a fan of cherry peppers (they go great in greens and other dishes), you could squeeze in a little lemon juice instead, or maybe drizzle in a bit of white wine or a flavored vinegar.


  1. Start by dicing your beef and letting that sit out while you prep your veggies so it's not going into the pot super cold. Any leftover beef will do - steak, roast, tips, etc. Then chop all of your veggies.
  2. In the 1T of olive oil, saute the onion, pepper(s), celery, carrot, and garlic until the onions are translucent. Stir frequently to prevent the garlic from burning; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the corn, rice, and beef, then add the Worcestershire, broth (I used all beef broth), tomatoes, and thyme. Let simmer until the rice is almost cooked through.
  4. Add the chopped kale and continue simmering until the rice is done, then add the broccoli during the last minute or two.
  5. Ladle up a bowl and top with grated Parmesan.

Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe
Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe 
Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme CafeBeef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe 








Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme CafeBeef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe



Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe

Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe
  
Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe


Beef Vegetable Soup with Kale and Wild Rice: Hye Thyme Cafe



I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and came up with some great uses for your leftovers.  Happy New Year!!  :)


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Can you be Christopher's hero for Christmas??



Growing up in Hingham, Massachusetts, one of my schoolmates was Chuck Furtado. I recently learned through our class alumni page that Chuck's 13-year-old son, Christopher, is currently undergoing treatment for the diffuse sclerosing variant of pappilary thyroid carcinoma, a rare form of thyroid cancer making up less than 2% of all pippilary thyroid carcinomas.

An initial surgery lasting 11 hours and involving 4 tumors, 33 lymph nodes, and the removal of 7 nodes will be followed by radiation treatments to begin in February.

In the face of mounting medical costs, and with three children to support, this family would greatly appreciate any assistance you could offer to offset those surgical costs and to fund any further treatments Christopher will require.

I am hoping that at least some of you will be able to squeeze a few dollars out of your holiday budget to help this very handsome young man. That goes for Yankee fans too. ;)

Donations are being handled through gofund me. Christopher's page can be found here.

Thank you so much. Wishing you and yours a wonderful - and healthy - holiday season.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coconut Scones

Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones


I have always used sweetened, flaked coconut for baking but often come across recipes calling for unsweetened. When I popped into a Big Lots recently to look for stocking stuffers, I found a big bag of Bob's Red Mill Unsweetened Shredded Coconut staring at me, so I couldn't resist.

I didn't have a particular use in mind for it at the time, but whenever I opened the cabinet, the aroma was so overwhelming, I wanted to crawl inside. I knew I had to use it for something right away, so I made scones. I still have a small carton of heavy cream in the fridge that I didn't end up using on Thanksgiving, so I would normally have used that, but I also had a container of Chobani Coconut Yogurt. I opted to use the yogurt.

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 c flour
5 T baking powder
4 t sugar
1/8 t salt
2 eggs
3/4 stick butter
3/4 c heavy cream or 5.3 oz container plain, vanilla, or coconut yogurt
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
Coarse sanding sugar for tops
1 egg, milk, or cream for brushing on top

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or mixing bowl), whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the cream or yogurt until just blended.
  3. Stir or mix in the coconut.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, pat out your dough to 1/2-3/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes (I used a 2" round cutter).
  5. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. For a nice sheen and color (and to give the sanding sugar something to stick to), brush the tops with either milk, cream, beaten egg, or an egg beaten together with a bit of milk, water, cream ... any combination will be fine. This time, I used an egg with a bit of milk.
  7. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and bake at 350 for approximately 20" until golden and fragrant.
  8. Let cool for a minute or two right on the baking sheet, then serve with jam, lemon curd, clotted cream, etc.
Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones

Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones
Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones

Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones

Hye Thyme Cafe: Coconut Scones
Enjoyed with a cup of Teavivre Oolong tea.
 


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies




It's that time of year again ... time for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. The swap is coordinated by Lindsay Landis of Love & Olive Oil, and Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen. I would imagine that there is a whole boatload of work involved with something like this, so I would first like to thank the ladies for all their efforts, especially since the cookie swap serves as a fund raiser. Once again, the proceeds from the swap are being donated to Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

If you don't recall my post from last year's swap, how it works is that each participating blogger bakes and mails a dozen cookies to three different bloggers, in turn receiving a dozen cookies from three other bloggers.


Brand partners for this year's swap, each of which are matching donations (up to $3,000 each), are:


Providing a little inspiration for this year's event, Oxo kindly provided us with their 8 Piece Baker's Silicon Decorating Bottle Kit, and Dixie Crystals provided us with a cookie tin. Sadly, I was working with too much marshmallow to fit into the bottles, but I'm sure they'll be getting quite a workout in short order.

The bloggers I received cookies from this year were Linda, from Brunch with Joy, who sent me her Toffee Choc Cookies; Debbi from Debbi Does Dinner Healthy & Low Calorie, who not only sent me a dozen Almond Joy Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies but also a few bonus Kaleidoscope Cookies; and last, but certainly not least, Sara, of Sweet Dash of Sass, who sent me a dozen Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. Thanks ladies!





As for me, the bloggers I was paired with to send my cookies to were Greta of Pickles Travel Blog, Megan of Nutrition Awareness (oops, maybe I should have made a healthier cookie), and Krystal of Home Made Austin.  

What I decided to make for this year's swap was Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies - chocolate cookies filled with peppermint marshmallow, dipped in chocolate, and dressed with crushed candy cane. They take a while to make, but they're worth it.


CHOCOLATE COVERED PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOW SANDWICH COOKIES

COOKIES:
¾ c (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temp
1 c sugar 
1 egg
2 t vanilla 
1 t instant espresso (optional)
1 ½ c flour
¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ t salt

MARSHMALLOW:
3 pkgs unflavored gelatin – less about ½ t 
1 ¼ c water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
¼ t salt
1 cup light corn syrup 
2 t peppermint extract
Pink food coloring - optional

COATING:
Chocolate of choice 

Crushed candy canes
Optional - Crisco and/or Corn Syrup

COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then blend in the egg, vanilla, and espresso.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt, then add to the butter mixture, a little at a time.
  3. Divide the dough into two or three sections, and roll each between sheets of waxed paper or parchment to 1/8” thickness, then stack and chill until stiff. Most people chill dough before rolling, but I find it works easier this way. It’s easy to roll out because it’s soft, then it will be stiff when you cut it out and transfer it to your baking trays.
  4. Taking one sheet out of the fridge at a time to work with, cut into one-inch rounds and bake on parchment-lined trays at 350° for 8-10” until just set. Allow to cool on tray for about a minute, then transfer to cooling racks.
You can make the cookies ahead of time and store them in an airtight container.

MARSHMALLOW DIRECTIONS:
  1. For the marshmallow, sprinkle the gelatin into the bowl of your stand mixer, remembering to hold back about 1/2 t. I did that, and increased the water, to make the mixture softer for piping. Pour ¾ c cold water over the gelatin and leave it alone to bloom while you cook the other ingredients.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the sugar, ½ c water, salt, and corn syrup up to soft-ball stage - 240°.
  3. If the gelatin has stiffened up, let the mixer spin for a few seconds to break it up, then slowly pour in the syrup mixture. Let run on low for a minute to get going, then increase to high and let run for about 10” until thick and glossy. Add the food coloring if using, and the peppermint extract, and let run until incorporated.
  4. Transfer the marshmallow to a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip – or a zip-lock bag with the corner snipped out. Pipe marshmallow onto the bottoms of several cookies and top with additional cookies – repeat until all the cookies/marshmallow have been used up.
About ¾ of the way through, even having made a softer mallow, I did find that it started to set on me and was difficult to work with – I actually squeezed so hard, I blew the seam on my piping bag and ended up spooning the mixture onto the last of the cookies. If you have the time and patience, I would recommend doing the marshmallow in two small batches. Not a deal breaker, but they’ll be shaped better if piped rather than scooped. 

Another thought I just had was to dust a pan with powdered sugar, spread the marshmallow into the pan, let it set for a while, then cut rounds with the same cutter you used on the cookies, dipping it in powdered sugar as you go along, to prevent sticking. My only concern with this method is that it might make dipping the cookies more difficult if the powdered sugar prevents the cookies from sticking to the marshmallow - might be worth a try though. If it works, this would give the cookies a more uniform appearance.

COATING DIRECTIONS:

  1. You can melt your chocolate in the microwave if you like, but it will firm up more quickly that way, so I recommend melting it in a double boiler, or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. That way, you won’t need to keep re-heating it. Or, you could set a pot of water to simmer, nuke the chocolate to melt it, then keep it melted by setting it over the simmering water. That will shave off a few minutes in getting started.
  2. Drop a cookie into the chocolate, then tilt it on it’s side with a fork to let the excess drip off the top and sides. Then, with the cookie sitting on the fork, scrape the fork across the edge of the bowl to remove the excess from the bottom and transfer to a cooling rack or sheet of parchment or waxed paper to set. Once you have dipped a few, sprinkle crushed candy canes over the tops and repeat.
I grew up making Peanut Butter Balls every year around the holidays and had learned to melt a little paraffin with the chocolate to help it set. More recently, I read that a bit of Crisco will do the trick as well. Even more recently, I read that you can add corn syrup to the chocolate to make it set and give it a bit of a shine. Being out of wax at the time, I decided to try the Crisco. Everywhere I read that indicated a different amount, so I just added a small scoop to see what would happen. I didn’t notice it having much effect, so I then drizzled in a bit of corn syrup to see how that would go. Personally, I would steer clear of the corn syrup. The first several cookies I dipped turned out nice and smooth and set just fine. The ones I dipped after adding the corn syrup have a sort of rippled texture. Both versions set well, but visually, I prefer them smooth.  (Yield: 5 dozen)

Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies
Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies
Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies
Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Hye Thyme Cafe: Chocolate Covered Peppermint Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

Another big thanks to all those who participated in this year's swap ... especially those who sent me cookies or other presents.  ;)

If you're a blogger and interested in participating in next year's Cookie Swap, click here to sign up receive notice when it comes back around.

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful holiday season!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Repurposing your holiday leftovers

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe


I am a HUGE fan of a good Thanksgiving Sandwich. My whole crew is, to the point where we actually cook an extra turkey on Thanksgiving, just to make sure we have enough leftovers for everyone to have one or two. You know, those monster sandwiches where you stuff turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and whatever else you may have salvaged from Turkey Day between two slices of your favorite bread. If you haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing!

Anyhow, I got the idea to try this ravioli as sort of a riff on Chicken and Dumplings. After eating a full-on Thanksgiving feast, followed by a few days of Thanksgiving sandwiches, I was turkeyed out! I couldn't stand to even look at it anymore, so I wrapped the rest and threw it in the freezer. Given the choice between the Ravioli and a Thanksgiving Sandwich, I'd go with the sandwich most times, but this is a fun way of changing things up.

If I was making these right after the holiday, I would have had gravy, dressing, and homemade cranberry sauce to work with, but since those are long gone, I threw together a small amount of dressing and a pot of gravy and popped open a tiny can of cranberry sauce.

PASTA:
When I make ravioli, I like to use Tyler Florence's recipe but, of course, if you have a recipe you like, go with what you're comfortable with. I used to use a rolling pin for the dough, but I now have a pasta maker, so I can run my dough through that now. Click here for Tyler's recipe. He suggests cutting it in half and working with them one at a time, but I find that to be too much - by the time I roll it out thin enough, it's so long, I have to cut it in half, and by the time I get to the end, it has already started to dry and crack when I'm trying to seal the ravioli, so I do it in thirds.

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

FILLINGS:
Because I didn't have any dressing left, I just picked up a box of Stove Top and made a small amount per the box directions, adding some minced celery, onion, and a bit of Bell's poultry seasoning. With the turkey, I diced it into smallish chunks, then sort of rubbed it between my fingertips to shred it and mixed in a few tablespoons of gravy for moisture. Thinking about what else you might typically have as Thanksgiving leftovers, I also made squash ravioli, seasoning some butternut squash with just a bit of rubbed sage. So, for the Turkey Ravioli, I lined my pasta with small piles of turkey every two inches, topped that with a bit of cranberry sauce, and topped it off with a little dressing. I kept the squash separate.

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe
Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe
Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

GRAVY:
If it had been Thanksgiving, I would have had those nice pan drippings to work with, but I did still have a can of turkey broth. If you're making your gravy from scratch, chicken broth is fine. I whisked together 3T each of butter and flour, cooking them over medium heat to create a roux, letting it achieve a sort of cappuccino color. Then I sprinkled in a bit of Bell's poultry seasoning and slowly whisked in 2c of the turkey broth. I let that come up to a boil to thicken, and whisked in a bit of Gravy Master, salt, and pepper.

GARNISH:
I was debating what to use as a garnish for these and was first thinking to toast bits of dressing, but then it occurred to me that pecans are often a part of Thanksgiving, whether on yams or sweet potatoes, or in a pie, so I decided to chop a handful of pecans and toast them in a dry pan with just a pinch of cinnamon and brown sugar. Be sure to pour them out as soon as they are browned and fragrant so the residual pan heat doesn't burn them. I also usually have dried cranberries on hand, so I decided to throw on a few of those as well.

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe
Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thanksgiving Ravioli : Hye Thyme Cafe




Whether you decide to try these or would rather stick with the Thanksgiving Sandwich, I hope this post at least inspires you to get in the kitchen and play with your food!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Chili Stuffed Manicotti

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe


A recent discussion about fall/winter foods reminded me that I had not made Chili in quite a while. I know I made Chicken Chili last winter but don’t think I made any Beef Chili. Because I usually enjoy my chili over pasta (with lots of cheese melted on top), I decided to try something different and make a Chili Stuffed Manicotti. The chili recipe is a modification of my standard Beef Chili recipe to allow for more of a sauce to keep the pasta from drying out. I doubled the tomato paste, added some Worcestershire and increased the spices to balance with the changes. 

The only thing I might do differently in the future is to add some cheese to the chili before filling the tubes, to act as a binder. Aside from over pasta, one of the other ways I like to eat Chili is with Fritos Scoops, so I had to pick up a bag to scoop what didn’t fit in my pasta. That said, at the last minute, I decided to crush a few to sprinkle over the top of the manicotti for a bit of crunch.

NOTE:  I used one box of Prince Manicotti, which contained 14 tubes. That was plenty for a small casserole for me and one for delivery elsewhere, leaving plenty of extra chili to go along with both, so you could easily use two boxes if you wanted to. I had a second box but wanted to make sure I had chili left to go with my Fritos.  

INGREDIENTS :
2 lb ground beef
2 lg onions, chopped
1 T brown sugar
3 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans Delmonte Petite Cut Diced®Tomatoes with Zesty JalapeƱos
   (or similar)
2 cans tomato paste and equal parts water or beef broth
1/4 c Ketchup
6T + chili powder
2 heaping T cumin
Black pepper
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 cans beans of choice rinsed and drained (pinto, old northern, etc.)
Manicotti Shells 
Optional Garnish: Shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, Fritos

  1. Saute your onions and ground beef together until the onions are translucent and the beef just has a bit of pink left to it - you can start with a bit of oil if you want, but the beef will give off some fat, and the onions will give off some liquid, so it's not really necessary if you start at a moderate heat.
  2. Add the bouillon cubes and brown sugar and let those cook and break down for a minute or so before continuing. I added an additional bouillon cube here over my regular chili so the additional tomato paste wouldn't water down that beef flavor, so I have not included any salt in this recipe as the bouillon will provide plenty.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water (or broth), ketchup, chili powder, cumin, a healthy dose of black pepper, cayenne, and Worcestershire.
  4. Gently stir in your rinsed/drained beans, and let simmer for a good hour or so, adjusting your seasonings to taste and adding beef broth or water if necessary.
  5. While your chili is simmering, cook your manicotti tubes in salted water to al dente, then transfer to a sheet of parchment, waxed paper, or even a clean dish towel, to prevent them from sticking together.
  6. When the chili is done, turn it down to cool off a bit. If you won't be using it all in the manicotti and want to add some cheese before filling your tubes, use a big slotted spoon to transfer a portion of the chili to another pot or bowl, and stir the cheese into that to melt.
  7. Spoon some of the sauce into the bottom of your casserole dish to prevent your pasta from sticking.
  8. Spoon or pipe the chili into your cooked manicotti and transfer to casserole dish - I found it very easy to fill them by holding the tube in one hand with the bottom opening against a small saucer, spooning in the chili, then using the spoon to lift from the bottom so the chili didn't fall out.
  9. Spoon a bit of sauce over the manicotti, top that with a layer of cheese, then cover completely with a layer of sauce to keep your pasta from drying out in the oven.
  10. Bake at 350 for 20-30" until bubbly and the cheese has melted.
  11. To serve, top with additional cheese if desired, a dollop of sour cream, some snipped fresh cilantro (or chive, scallion, etc.), and a sprinkling of crushed Fritos.

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chili Stuffed Manicotti: Hye Thyme Cafe
   

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