Hye Thyme Cafe: 2015

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 16, 2015

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe



It's that time of year again, time for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap in support of Cookies for Kids' Cancer. This marks my third year participating and, as usual, I had lots of fun coming up with a recipe to share with three other bloggers, while anxiously awaiting cookies to come my way from yet three more bloggers.

Although the recipe has to be new to our blogs, it can be something we have made before or that came from another source (with appropriate credit of course), but I like to play around and come up with something completely new to me. This year, I settled on Lemon-Rosemary Cookies, thinking that would be kind of fun if using a Christmas Tree cookie cutter, since rosemary has a pine-like flavor. If you have a wreath cutter, that would work well too. The funny thing was that I made a test batch to bring to work and, not thinking about the shape, I went ahead with the trees and had a lot of people wondering why Christmas Trees were showing up when we had just barely gotten past Halloween! 

INGREDIENTS :
3/4 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
3 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
zest of 2 lemons
1 T lemon juice
3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

ICING:
Confectioners' Sugar
Milk
Lemon juice (or extract or emulsion)
Food Coloring
Colored sugars, etc. for decorating

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, lemon zest, juice, and rosemary, beating until incorporated.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to the wet mixture, a little at a time until incorporated, scraping down the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of flour trapped on the bottom.
  5. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes.
  6. Transfer to baking sheet (I always line mine with parchment) and bake for 12-15" until they just start to brown around the edges; allow to cool completely.
  7. For the icing, add some confectioners' sugar to a bowl and pour in a drizzle of milk, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is just slightly thick, then add a bit of lemon juice/extract/emulsion, adjusting with more milk or sugar until you achieve a spreading consistency. If you are going to make several colors, you can make one bowl of icing, then transfer smaller amounts to little bowls or glasses, then stir in your colors, leaving some of the original intact for white.
  8. Decorate as desired, one or two cookies at a time - you don't want your icing to dry before you have a chance to decorate, or your sprinkles, etc. won't adhere.

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe

Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe
Lemon-Rosemary Cookies: Hye Thyme Cafe









The three bloggers I shipped cookies to were:

Sharon of Cheesy Pennies
Julie of Julie Bakes
Anna of Green Eyed Country Girl

The three bloggers I received cookies from were:

Tanaya of Tanaya's Table (Dark Chocolate Red Wine)
Natalie of In Natalie's Shoes (Peppermint Shortbread)
Melissa of Freshly Baked Sweets (Orange Madeleines)


Be sure to check out their sites as well.


A BIG thanks to brand partners Oxo, Dixie Crystals, and Land O'Lakes for the assist in this project, not only for funding, but also for sending participating bloggers goodies to help out in the kitchen - stacking liquid measuring cups from Oxo, a silpat from Dixie Crystals, and Coupons from Land O'Lakes. All have been put to good use!












And let's not forget our hosts, Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen, without whom this fundraising event would not exist.  This year's cookie swap raised more than $7,000 from the $4.00 blogger participation fee/donation and matching funds from the event brand partners. 

Best wishes to all for a warm, healthy, and happy holiday season!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Chartreuse of Vegetables


Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe


When I was a kid, my Mom would bust out a few of these for the occasional dinner party. I'm pretty sure those were the only times she ever required an assist from me in the kitchen. Of course, that wasn't specifically because of this dish but because of all its moving parts in addition to the bazillion other things she was making - most likely including some sort of homemade bread or rolls for the occasion. She's pretty much back to basics nowadays, but I've always joked that back in the day, she could have given Martha Stewart a run for her money. Not just in the kitchen, but with holiday decorating, etc. too.

Anyhow, I'm not sure of the actual origin of the dish, but I'm fairly certain the version she made came from the Four Seasons Hotel. Sadly, of all the vegetables on the planet, it contained the three that I detest - cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. In this version, I swapped the cauliflower for broccoli, skipped the sprouts and cabbage, and instead added sweet potato and seasonings not called for in the original. Oh, and cheese! I threw in some muenster and Parmesan for good measure.

INGREDIENTS :
1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 c frozen peas
1 lb green beans
2 carrots
1 c broccoli florets
1 small summer squash
1 small zucchini
2 russet potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper
3 slices muenster cheese
1-2 cloves garlic
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh or dried rosemary, chopped
Milk (optional for mashed potatoes)
  1. I suggest you start by reading all of the instructions to decide which tasks you are comfortable doing at the same time, like boiling your potatoes while prepping the other veggies, or depending on how crisp/soft you like your veggies, you might decide to blanch some/all of them together rather than doing them separately.
  2. Generously butter a large souffle dish with butter - you need enough for the veggies to stick to.
  3. Line a ring of peas all along the bottom edge.
  4. Trim the end off of a green bean, stand it over one of the peas, and trim the other end to the height of the dish. Use that bean as a template to trim the rest to size. Briefly blanch the beans in boiling water, then run under cold water until cool and set aside.
  5. Using one of the beans as a template, trim the carrots into sticks roughly that same size. Blanch in boiling water, then run under cold water until cool and set aside.
  6. Stand a string bean over a pea, pressing into the butter, then add a carrot stick next to it and work your way around the dish alternating between the beans/carrots.
  7. Slice the summer squash and zucchini into thin rings and layer into spirals, alternating from one squash to the other. I didn't give it any thought as I was cutting mine, so I made them too thick. When I went to spiral them, I realized they were piling up too high, so I did concentric circles instead. If you want your squash very soft, blanch those as well. I did not blanch the squash, since the butter and bake time would cook them enough for my liking. I like my veggies to still have a little bite to them. Sprinkle a bit of Italian seasoning over the squash.
  8. Peel, chop, and boil your potatoes until fork tender. Drain the water, then push the potatoes to one side and drop a chunk of butter into the open spot, and a bit of milk until melted (letting the residual pan heat melt the butter with the milk will prevent gummy mashed potatoes). Mash the potatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper, some grated Parmesan, and minced or grated garlic.
  9. Peel, chop, and boil the sweet potatoes until fork tender. Drain the water, then push the potatoes to one side and drop a chunk of butter into the open spot until melted. Mash the sweet potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper and some chopped rosemary.
  10. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water, then run under cold water until cool. I find it easier to do that with the broccoli in one or two pieces, then chop up the florets.
  11. Gently spoon the sweet potatoes over the squash, then use the spoon to spread it up the sides. This will sort of "glue" your beans and carrots into place.
  12. If you still have squash left, you can add another layer of squash over the sweet potatoes, then fill in a layer with the broccoli - placing it upside down because the dish will be inverted later. Sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes over the broccoli. If you didn't use up the butter yet, you might want to dot the rest over the broccoli, then top with slices of muenster.
  13. Use kitchen shears or a small paring knife to trim any beans or carrot sticks that are too long.
  14. Top the whole thing off with the mashed potatoes.
  15. Bake at 350 for 30", then let cool for a few minutes and carefully (so you don't burn yourself), top with a serving dish and, using pot holders, flip to invert onto the serving dish. I don't remember doing this as a kid, so I hadn't anticipated all of that butter you lined the dish with running out. I rolled up one of my pot holders and propped the dish over it to drain the butter to one side so I could soak it up with paper towels. Let the dish sit for a few minutes so gravity has a chance to ensure that none of your peas, etc. are left behind, then remove the souffle dish.


Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme CafeChartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe
Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme CafeChartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe

Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe


Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe


Chartreuse of Vegetables: Hye Thyme Cafe

OK, so for a dish like this, meatloaf isn't exactly the thing to pair it with. In my defense, I was originally  planning to make the Chartreuse with a meatloaf layer in the middle, but I stopped myself in time, realizing that would turn out to be a greasy mess. So, I went ahead and made the meatloaf separately since I already had the ground beef. The Chartreuse really does lend itself to something more upscale, like a nice roast beef or lamb.

I definitely enjoyed the layering of flavors with the addition of the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, rosemary, garlic, and cheeses. Hmm, now that I'm thinking about it, a squeeze of lemon or some zest over the squash or broccoli might be nice too. I'll have to remember to try that next time.

If you do end up making a Chartreuse, I'd love it if you came back and let me know if you swapped out any veggies, etc. and how it turned out. It would be cool to make it with rainbow carrots, but I don't see those very often.  Maybe some artichokes to replace the brussels sprouts ...


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ghapama (Armenian Stuffed Pumpkin)

Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe


This is not a dish I grew up eating; I only actually came across it about two years ago. I have had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to try it but hadn't gotten around to it yet. After seeing sooooo many different posts and conversations about it over the past few months, I decided it was time to finally give it a try, but all of a sudden, I couldn't for the life of me find a pumpkin bigger than a grapefruit!

My intention was to make it and post about it before Thanksgiving for anyone who wanted to include it as part of their holiday, but I didn't find the pumpkin until Tuesday, so even if I had made it that day and posted about it, that would probably have been to late for anyone to switch their plans.

From what I understand, this is a traditional holiday or celebratory dish originally baked in a tonir, a kind of open-pit oven. You may have seen them on television where you see Armenian women slapping sheets of dough for lavash (unleavened flat bread) against the side to bake. This particular dish is apparently so popular that it has its own song - Hey Jan Ghapama.

Although I understand that there are also versions that include meat, all of the recipes that I looked at were basically the same - a pumpkin stuffed with rice, nuts, and dried fruit, with honey, cinnamon, and butter. Almost all of them used almonds and walnuts, but I decided to go with pecans, pistachios, and almonds. It wasn't until I sliced it open that I realized I had actually somehow forgotten to include the pecans. Oops! Some included an apple with the dried fruit - since apple pairs so nicely with cinnamon, that sounded like a good idea to me, so I included one as well.

If you look up the recipe, you will see that many people bake the pumpkin until it is almost blackened on the outside. I know myself well enough to know that had I done that, there is noooooooo way the pumpkin would have made it from the oven to the table in one piece! I baked mine until it was fully cooked and tender enough that I could push a toothpick all the way through it with no resistance.

It really does make a lovely presentation.  And what better to serve an Armenian dish like this on than a Tavloo (Backgammon) board platter - thanks sis!  :)


INGREDIENTS :
1 pumpkin (about 3 lbs)
1/4 c honey (see notes)
2 t cinnamon (see notes)
4 T butter
1 1/2 c rice
1/2 t salt
1/4 c each diced dried fruit (I used apricot, raisins, and prunes/plums)
1 small apple, diced (I left the skin on)
1/4 c each diced nuts (I used almonds, pistachios, and pecans)

INSTRUCTIONS :
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Carefully cut the top off the pumpkin, remove all of the seeds and strands from the inside (reserve the seeds to toasting), and dry the inside with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  3. Stir together the honey and cinnamon, then heat in the microwave for a few seconds to thin it out and make it easier to spread - spread half the mixture inside the pumpkin. Drying the inside of the pumpkin helps the mixture adhere rather than just sliding off.
  4. Bring 2c water up to a boil, reduce the heat and add the salt and rice, cooking (covered) until most of the water has been absorbed and the rice is not yet fully cooked.
  5. Stir the butter into the rice to melt, then stir in the remaining cinnamon/honey mixture.
  6. Add the rice mixture to the fruit and nuts (or vice versa if your pot is big enough to accommodate everything), tossing to combine, then spoon the mixture inside the pumpkin.
  7. Pour about 1/4 c water over the top to help the rice finish cooking, put the top back on the pumpkin, and bake at 350 for about an hour - until a toothpick can be pushed all the way through with no resistance.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove the top and slice into wedges, using the ridges on the pumpkin as a guide. Use the knife to help move the rice into place on each wedge as you slice.
NOTES:  Most people melted the butter and poured it over the rice - I didn't see the point and just stirred it in until it melted - up to you. They also didn't combine the honey and cinnamon, just brushed some of the honey on the inside of the pumpkin and tossed the cinnamon with the rice, etc. To me, because the cinnamon goes so nicely with the pumpkin, I wanted some of that flavor right up against the flesh of the pumpkin - again, up to you. Two things I will definitely do differently next time are to increase the honey and the cinnamon. I sort of split the difference between the amounts I found referenced in other recipes, but to me, they are barely discernible and definitely need to be increased. Something else I was thinking about was sprinkling pomegranate arils over the top once sliced open. Not only would that add another color, burst of flavor, and a different texture to the dish, but the pomegranate is a very prominent symbol to Armenia.


Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe
Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe

Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe










Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe

Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe
Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe








Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe

Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe

Ghapama: Hye Thyme Cafe



Friday, November 27, 2015

The Lékué Deco Pen - My New Favorite Kitchen Gadget

Outline cookies, then flood with icing and decorate as desired.

This is by no means a sponsored post. It's not even a situation where the company sent me a product to sample. I just like it so much, I had to share my thoughts!

I received a set with my birthday presents over the summer but hadn't gotten around to using it until icing some cookies last week. Now I'm wishing I had thought to use it when piping melted chocolate to make the gate for my Graveyard Cake - it would have come out a whole lot better!

For whatever reason, I have no problem using a piping bag for frosting, meringue, or  even marshmallow, but when it comes to icing, I'm a complete disaster. I either squeeze too hard and too much pours out, or I'm trying to do detail work and the bag is obstructing my view or flopping around. It got to where I was just using a tasting spoon to flood the cookies and a lobster pick to draw on any details. Once in a while, I'd pour the icing into a snack-sized zip-top bag and snip out a corner, but these deco pens are awesome! They're a great size, easy to fill, come with four different tips, and they're silicone, so they are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. 

I have tried piping squeeze bottles, pens, you name it - this is the first product that really worked with me rather than somehow working against me. At $18.00, they may be pricier than other products, but I think they're well worth it. As a matter of fact, after using it last week, I immediately went online and ordered two more. They arrived in the mail today, which is what prompted me to write this post.

They come in a few different sizes, but I stuck with the 3 oz. version for easy handling. They even have a larger one that comes in a set with a stenciled mat for piping and baking macarons. 

There's still time ... if you plan on icing holiday cookies this year, or like to smear plates (there's a tip for that) or drizzle other dishes, you should definitely consider this handy little gadget!

And ahem (clears throat), should anyone at Lékué happen to see this post and feel compelled to send me a different product of theirs to try out, I'd be more than happy to oblige!  ;)

Oh, and I would have included more pics and the recipe for the cookies I used them on, but they were my test batch of a new recipe I came up with for my annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap cookies, and I can't officially share them until December 16. Sorry, you'll just have to tune in on the 16th to check them out.

To order your own ...
Lékué
Amazon 



Monday, November 23, 2015

Mustache (Movember) Espresso Cookies with White Chocolate

Espresso Cookies with White Chocolate: Hye Thyme Cafe



Last week, I decided to test two new cookie recipes - one for the upcoming annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and the other in honor of No Shave November/Movember (men's health awareness month). I can't talk about or share my cookie swap cookies yet, but my Movember cookies are totally up for grabs. Being a half-Armenian female, I could probably pull off a semi-decent mustache if I tried, but I was guessing my co-workers would appreciate the cookies a whole lot more. 

It was my original intention to ice the mustaches, making some brunette, some redheads, some salt & pepper, etc., but my propensity for procrastination got me off to a late start. I managed to decorate my cookie swap test batch but not my mustaches in time to bring them to work with me the next day.

I'm happy to report that both were met with positive reviews. The funny thing is that I automatically made the cookie swap batch in Christmas shapes, because that's what I had in mind for the swap. When it occurred to me that it might freak people out seeing Christmas cookies so early, I posted a note with both batches explaining what they were for. When I went to seal them up at the end of the day, I noticed that someone had written on my note that the cookie swap cookies were a huge success but that they were sadly disappointed - and slightly disturbed - to realize they were eating mustaches instead of chocolate angel wings lol.    That is a great idea - I'll have to remember to use those cutters for angel wings!!  

Although I really did enjoy the mustaches, I have to admit that they are best eaten within the first few days. I took the few leftovers home with me and ate them a couple of days later, noting that they had dried out a bit. They had sat open all day at the office though, so maybe that wouldn't have been the case if they were in a closed container. Either way, since they're espresso cookies, even if dry, they're perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee or cold glass of milk.

INGREDIENTS :
3/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t espresso powder
3 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 c white chocolate chips - chopped or pulsed in food processor

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder, beating until well incorporated.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder, then add to the wet mixture, a little at a time, until incorporated. If using a stand mixer, be sure to scrape the bowl so you don't end up with a clump of flour at the bottom.
  5. Stir in the white chocolate last. I like to run a knife through chips so that some of the chocolate melts into the dough as it bakes.
  6. Roll out dough to about 1/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes.
  7. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15" until set - you will notice that the tops have lost their sheen.

Espresso Cookies with White Chocolate: Hye Thyme Cafe
Espresso Cookies with White Chocolate: Hye Thyme Cafe

Espresso Cookies with White Chocolate: Hye Thyme Cafe


Encourage the men in your life to be pro-active and take their health seriously ... with or without the mustache.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Graveyard Cake


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

I had intended to make and bring this cake to the office pot-luck we had on Monday, along with the Zombie Finger Cookies, etc. I had already baked and written on tombstone cookies, picked up a bag of ghost marshmallows at the grocery store (saving myself the trouble of making them), and hit up the Dollar Tree for some gummy worms, zombies, and bones. I had even printed out a clipart gate, covered it with waxed paper and piped melted chocolate over it to make a gate. I was all set to frost and decorate the cake Sunday night, inverted it out of the pan, and it completely fell apart on me!

I didn't want all of the decorations to go to waste, and since I'm only in the office on Mondays and Fridays, I figured I'd throw it together to bring in today. I had to chuckle when I walked into the kitchen and found people standing around it taking pictures. Hopefully someone's turned out better than mine and I can swap out. My camera has been acting up lately.

The cake is just a box mix - nothing fancy there. Before frosting it, I cut out a grave, being careful when frosting that particular area. I put a little dab of frosting on the bottom of the ghosts to make sure they stayed in place and used icing to dot little faces on them. The "dirt" is a short stack of chocolate cookies crushed and sprinkled all over. The dirt pile at the foot of the open grave with the worm creeping out is a spoonful of frosting dusted with more crumbs. I had originally gone to the Dollar Tree looking for what I had found another year when doing one of these - a candy skeleton. As much as I dislike the various Dollar stores for the lead found in so many of their kids' products (jewelry, crayons, etc.), I do love them for this type of thing.


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe
Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe





As I mentioned, I had made cookie headstones already, but then I got it into my head that rice crispie treats would be better because they would be thicker (more realistic), and the cereal would give it more of that granite look. I decided that if I added a bit of black food coloring to the marshmallow, it would turn out gray-ish, looking even more like granite, but as it turned out, once I mixed in the cereal, it pretty much just looked like I made coco-crispie treats. I did not factor in that trying to write one them would be more difficult because the icing slid into all those little crannies. The writing was originally black, but because there wasn't enough contrast when it dried, I went over them in white later.


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe
Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe






I ended up having a great idea for the bats - I had leftover marzipan from making the Zombie Finger Cookies' fingernails, so I kneaded black food coloring into a bit of the marzipan, flattened it out on a piece of waxed paper, put a bat stencil over it and pressed all around the edges of the stencil with the tip of a lobster pick to push the marzipan through. I let it dry out for a few minutes, then carefully ran a small, sharp knife under them to release them from the stencil. For the eyes, I poked little holes with the tip of the lobster pick and used a clean set of tweezers (my second favorite decorating tool) to pick up little orange nonpareils and set them in place. When I was ready to place the bats on the headstones, I dabbed a bit of frosting on the bottoms to hold them in place.


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe
Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

One thing I had meant to try but forgot about was making a flower or two out of marzipan to go on top of the dirt pile or another one of the graves. Not sure how well that would have gone for me, but I'm bummed that I forgot to try! I had also thought about piping a tree like the gate to stand up in the back corner but thought that might be overkill. Maybe next time I'll do that instead of the gate. We'll see ...


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe


Graveyard Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe




Have a safe and happy Halloween !!



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