Hye Thyme Cafe: March 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! :)


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe


This is a super simple recipe borne out of poor shopping habits. I usually don't shop with a plan in mind - I might need a few things, then decide to wing it on the rest. In this case, I ended up with a bunch of Chard I forgot about, one lonely potato, and a pint of tomatoes that I had intended to use for one thing but ended up pirating a few of the other ingredients for another purpose, so they were left to themselves. I couldn't even use them in a salad, because the day before, I noticed my lettuce and baby cukes getting wilty, so I chopped them up and used them as a bed to polish off the chicken salad I still had tucked away in the fridge.

Proportionally, this would have been better with one more potato to provide a better ratio of potato to tomato, so I'm sneaking an extra into the list of ingredients.

A great option as a side dish, but you could also throw a sunny-side up egg over the top and serve it up for breakfast.

I started off with a bit of water in the bottom and covering the dish to let the veggies start to steam and break down, then took the cover off for the rest of the time. The end result gave me a layer of crispy greens at the top with nicely wilted greens and tender veggies underneath. If you don't like the idea of the crispy greens (think Kale Chips), you could hold off on sprinkling the crumbs and Parmesan over the top until after taking the cover off. That will afford you an opportunity to give everything a stir so the greens on the top will now be on the bottom, and those that were in the water are at the top. Then you can sprinkle the topping and continue to bake.

If you want to invest the extra time and clean up, you could certainly saute the garlic and onion first, then throw in the potatoes to give them a head start. I like a one-dish/pot item when I can get away with it.

INGREDIENTS:
1 bunch Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe1 pint small tomatoes
2 large potatoes
1 large onion
1 clove garlic or 1t jarred minced garlic
2-3 T olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c grated Parmesan


  1. Start by washing and drying your chard. You want to remove any grit, and drying it assures that the olive oil won't just roll off.
  2. Chop the large stalks off the ends of the chard, then stack a bunch of leaves and slice down the middle, along the stem, then crosswise into pieces; repeat with the rest.
  3. Because everything is going into one pot in the oven, you want to make sure your potatoes will cook through at the same rate, so slice them into thin rings and then into quarters so you are left with sort of pie-slice wedges.
  4. Dice the onion and mince the garlic (I used jarred minced garlic with red peppers).
  5. Throw the chard, potatoes, onion, garlic, and tomatoes into a large bowl, toss together with just enough olive oil to lightly coat, then season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  6. Pour 1/2 c water into baking dish, then pour in your veggies.
  7. Mix together the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the top.
  8. Cover and bake at 375 for about 20", then uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender and the topping golden - about 45" total baking time.  See note above re: crispy greens.


Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe


Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe
Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe








Swiss Chard with Tomatoes and Potatoes: Hye Thyme Cafe


WARNING:  Be sure to let this cool for a minute or two before digging in.  I love when a roasted tomato pops when you bite into it, but straight out of the oven, all that liquid in the middle will be super hot!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Beet Salad with Mint Dressing

Beets Salad with Mint Dressing: Hye Thyme Cafe



I was excited to finally come across some golden beets at a local grocery store, so I couldn't wait to try them. I love beets any way I can get them - roasted, pickled, raw, turned into chips, you name it! I really wanted to see how the golden beets stacked up against purple beets raw, so I decided to use both in a salad.

I had initially envisioned crumbling some sort of cheese on top, like maybe a cotija, but I could't find any. I am definitely NOT a bleu cheese person, and the thought of an earthy, pungent feta paired with the earthy flavor of the purple beets would be too much Earth going on for my taste. It turns out the golden beets have a milder, sweeter flavor.

When I first walked into the market, the pineapple display caught my eye. I thought that would be a great addition, since pineapple pairs so well with both beets and cucumber. Unfortunately, none of them were ripe. That made me think of pineapple cottage cheese instead. That would cover both the cheese and the pineapple. If you don't like the idea of wet cheese on your salad, you could easily strain the cottage cheese to have the benefit of those sweet curds without all the whey.

I used dried mint, rice vinegar, and a spring mix of greens, but you could easily substitute fresh mint, a different vinegar (white balsamic, champagne, etc.), and incorporate any greens you like - perhaps even some of your beet greens.

INGREDIENTS :
2 T olive oil
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 t crushed dried mint
1/8 t each salt and pepper
Spring Mix of Greens
2 purple beets
2 golden beets
1 cucumber

  1. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mint, salt, and pepper.
  2. If using a package of greens, be sure to check the label to see if they were pre-washed. I used a container of pre-washed Spring Mix. Otherwise, wash and dry your greens well and place in a large bowl.
  3. Toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to give them a light coating, then transfer to a serving platter.
  4. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the golden beets into very thin rounds and arrange in a spiral around the outside edge of your greens, leaving some of the greens visible.
  5. Repeat with the purple beets, arranging inside the golden beets.
  6. Thin slice the cucumber into rounds, piling in the center.
  7. Drizzle additional dressing over the beets and cucumber.
  8. If including the pineapple cottage cheese, scoop into the very center and sprinkle with additional mint. Pineapple and mint are another winning flavor combination.


Beets Salad with Mint Dressing: Hye Thyme Cafe


Beets Salad with Mint Dressing: Hye Thyme Cafe


Beets Salad with Mint Dressing: Hye Thyme Cafe


Friday, March 20, 2015

Banana Bread

Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread

When faced with a few seemingly very ripe (skins were dark, but they were still pretty firm) bananas, I was thinking about what I might want to make with them and realized that I have never posted a recipe for Banana Bread. I've posted a Chocolate Banana Bread (playing with Chocolate Cream of Wheat) a Chocolate-Pineapple Banana Bread, and even a Coconut-Banana-Oatmeal Bread, but never a plain ol' regular Banana Bread. I had a fabulous recipe years ago but sadly lost it somewhere along the line. That was more of a traditional super-moist quick-bread recipe. 

This recipe is a little different. I use about half the oil and sugar most recipes call for, brown sugar instead of white, and included a bit of cinnamon, which accounts for the color. When mixing everything together, you may first think it's going to be dry, but trust me - once the bananas are added and the bread is baked, it turns out with a very light texture and not dry at all


INGREDIENTS :
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 c canola oil (or veg)
1 t vanilla
1/2 c brown sugar
Single-serve carton of plain or vanilla yogurt
   (roughly 1/2 c if portioning from large container)
2 ripe bananas

  1. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla, brown sugar, and yogurt.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, until just combined.
  4. Mash and stir in the bananas. I like to use a fork to mash them on a sheet of waxed paper so I can easily slide them into the bowl and not have additional clean up to do.
  5. Spray, grease, or line a loaf pan with parchment - I like to use PAM Baking for spraying my pans, but I happened to be out, so I went with parchment.
  6. Bake at 350 for about an hour until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean - time will vary depending on your oven, the size of your pan, etc.
  7. Let rest in pan for about 10" before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread
Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread








Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread

Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread

Hye Thyme Cafe: Banana Bread

It's funny, I almost always spread a little cream cheese on a slice of zucchini or date-nut bread, but not on banana or cranberry bread. I decided at the last minute to throw on a little schmear - good, but not necessary.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Pet Peeve #6287 ... I went to Price Chopper Grocery Store the other day, and right inside the door, there was a big display advertising Buy 1 / Get 2 for a particular brand of bread, Thomas's English Muffins and Entenmann's Chocolate Chip Cookies. As much as I enjoy a good English Muffin, I really don't think to buy them that often, so this gave me a good excuse to stock my freezer. I grabbed three loaves of bread and three packages of English Muffins. When it comes to cookies, I'll stick with homemade thanks. So I was going through a stockpile of receipts earlier to see what I could throw away and it caught my eye that instead of Buy 1 / Get 2 on the English Muffins, they charged me for two and gave me one. Makes me wonder how many other people that happened to and whether I should bother schlepping back to the store to have it corrected. So annoying!

Wondering what any of that has to do with pork chops? During the same shopping trip, I noticed a large package of pork chops with a 30% off per pound sticker on it, so I grabbed that too. In thinking back on it and looking at the price, I realize I need to start paying closer attention. Seems like one of those cases where the price was hiked up before applying the discount, so it pretty much came out the way it normally would have. That one was my fault for not doing the math. I pulled out two chops for dinner and portioned out the rest into packets of two to freeze together for future use.

I was in the mood for more of a pan sauce, so I kept it on the thinner side. If you want a thicker sauce, more along the lines of Chinese food, all you need to do is increase the corn starch to 2t and boil the sauce until it thickens to more of a syrupy state before pouring it over your chops. Also, I know this annoys a lot of people, but I tend to trim all the fat off my meats before cooking. This time, however, there was such a thin band of fat around the chops that I didn't bother.

Although I was only making two chops, there is plenty of liquid involved for more. You might just need to increase the ingredients for the flour mixture, but if making three or four, you can probably still get away with this amount.


INGREDIENTS :
2 pork chops
1/4 c flour
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
olive oil
8 oz can of pineapple rings
White wine, broth, or water
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 T ketchup
1 T soy sauce
1 t cornstarch (more for a thicker sauce)


  1. Start by letting your chops sit out for a while so they're not too cold, then patting them dry with a paper towel and preheating your oven to 350.
  2. In a plastic bag (closed please), toss together the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add one chop to the bag, tossing to coat, then add the other. The reason I don't throw them in together right away is so they don't stick together and stop the flour from getting between them.
  4. Leaving the pineapple rings in the can for now, pour the juice into a measuring cup, adding enough white wine, broth, or water to equal 1c of liquid. I would normally use chicken broth, but I had an open bottle of wine in the fridge, so I used that instead.
  5. Pour the juice mixture into a small pot, and whisk in the brown sugar, cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and cornstarch.
  6. Bring the sauce mixture up to a slow boil, letting it bubble for a few minutes to thicken.
  7. In the meantime, coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil and sear the chops (knocking off the excess flour) on each side for about 3-4" until golden.
  8. Transfer the chops to a baking dish and top with the pineapple rings.
  9. Once the sauce has thickened, pour over the chops and pineapple and bake for 40" to 1' until cooked through - time will depend on how thick your chops are, etc.
  10. If serving with rice, mashed potatoes, or even broccoli, be sure to share the love and pour some sauce over the top of those too!
Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops
Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops





Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops








Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops


Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops
Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops











Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops


You can tell from how the meat is glistening how juicy and tender it is.



I kept it simple, serving it with some steamed edamame and buttery rice topped with lemon zest and some cucumber slices on the side.

Hye Thyme Cafe: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wonton Cheese Bouregs

Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg


I opened my freezer one day and realized that I had somehow accumulated multiple packages of wonton wrappers. Next to the wonton wrappers were boxes of phyllo and kadayif dough. In thinking about what I might feel like making and debating the uses for each, it occurred to me to try combining a few. That led me to making these Wonton Cheese Bouregs. Cheese Bouregs are wrapped in phyllo, but there is a similar version that uses the kadayif dough. I have only ever used that dough for making trays of Cream-Filled Kadayif.

My regular Cheese Boureg recipe also includes cottage cheese, but I left that out here because of the additional moisture. I did leave in the egg, but if you're worried about it not being cooked properly, you can certainly omit that. It does make the filling easier to mix and gives it a lighter texture, but it's not mandatory. You could also opt to fry them until they're a light golden brown, then transfer them to a tray, cover with foil and bake for an additional 10" or so. That's also a good way to keep them hot if making a huge batch - only I'd keep the oven at a low temp for that.

The one thing that I should have anticipated but didn't was that the moisture from the filling didn't allow for these to stay very crisp. The tails/edges are as crispy as you would expect, but the portion covering the filling softened. Maybe using less filling would help that, although I didn't actually find it to be particularly objectionable - just something to note. Another option might be to cut the cream cheese back to 6 oz.

Another difference between a wonton - as with an egg roll or rangoon - and a boureg is the use of a dipping sauce. Whenever I make any kind of egg rolls, there is a sauce involved, but that's not the case with a Cheese Boureg. Because this was a hybrid, I thought about what kind of sauce might go with the cheese and decided to heat together some hot pepper jelly and apple sauce. You often see cracker and cheese platters that include a hot pepper jelly, and the apple sauce cools it down while giving it more of a traditional Duck Sauce texture.


INGREDIENTS :
2 pkgs wonton wrappers
8 oz block of Muenster cheese - shredded
8 oz cream cheese - softened
1/2 c fresh chopped parsley
1 egg
Oil for frying - I used canola
Hot Pepper Jelly
Apple Sauce

  1. Wash and dry your parsley well, then chop either by hand or in a food processor.
  2. If using a food processor, you can take out some of the parsley so you're left with roughly a half cup, then pop in the shredder attachment and shred your Muenster right into the parsley - no need to clean it out first.
  3. Transfer the parsley and Muenster into a large bowl and add the cream cheese and egg (if using the egg), mixing until well incorporated.
  4. Open your first package of wrappers and, if they are particularly large, trim the edges so you are left with a more manageable-sized square. You can wrap and freeze the edges for another time - trim into strips and fry to sprinkle on Asian-inspired salads, etc.
  5. Place one wrapper on your work surface and add a line of filling diagonally across the middle.
  6. Dip a finger into a little bowl of water and run around the edge of the wrapper, then fold wrapper over the filling, pressing out as much air as you can and pinching to seal. I started out doing them flat on the counter, then realized it's actually easier if you fold it over tip to tip, then pick it up and hold it in one hand pressing out the air while pinching with the other to seal. You could also fold them into a triangle, then wet the corners and fold those in envelope style if you like.
  7. When you're about half way through wrapping, you can start heating your oil - about an inch deep or so over medium heat to get it started.
  8. When all of your wontons are wrapped, check on the heat of your oil by throwing in a drop of water and seeing if it immediately crackles and pops. If not, turn up the heat a bit - may need to adjust as you go along.
  9. Fry in small batches (on both sides) to make sure you don't over-crowd the pan. Presumably because of the fat content, I had a hard time getting the first few to flip, then realized if I dropped them in the oil and flipped them as soon as they popped to the surface, I would then be able to flip them again as needed. 
  10. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  11. For the sauce, I just heated together a few tablespoons of hot pepper jelly with one of those little single-serve packets of apple sauce. I ended up really enjoying that and can't wait to try it with something else. :)

Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg
Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg

Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg

Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg
Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg










Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg


Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg


Hye Thyme Cafe: Wonton Cheese Boureg


Monday, March 2, 2015

Antipasto Salsa with Pita Chips / Scoops


Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

This is really more of a serving suggestion than it is a recipe. I don't recall what made me think to do this, but I'm glad I did. Every once in a while, our family would get together for a movie night at home, and on some of those occasions, my sister and I would serve up platters of antipasto for everyone including olives, meats, cheeses, vegetables, pita bread, etc. Sometimes we would serve it with hummus, other times with tzatziki, tabouli, or a combination. I decided to try combining all (almost) of those great flavors into one bite.

Petite dice all of your ingredients into roughly the same size, then toss with whatever kind of binder or dressing you want. I went with a simple drizzle of white balsamic vinegar and some Italian seasoning at the end. If you plan to make this ahead of time for something (would have been great for Superbowl Sunday), you might want to keep the cheese separate until just before serving so it doesn't get mushy.


SUGGESTED INGREDIENTS:
Olives - A variety is nice; I used kalamatas and garlic stuffed green olives.
Peppers - Peppadew, pepperoncini, roasted red bell, and banana peppers all work well but not necessarily in one bite. I went with Peppadews for their sweet heat and a roasted red bell pepper for its more earthy sweetness.
Carrots - If you don't want the raw texture, blanch them by dropping briefly into boiling water, then plunging into cold water to stop the cooking.
Tomatoes - A colorful medley would be nice, but I just used a few plum tomatoes this time.
Cucumber - I always prefer the baby pickling cukes - more flavor, less seedy.
Meat - Pepperoni, salami, or prosciutto are good options; I went with the pepperoni.
Cheese - Feta, kasseri, provolone, or a combination; I contemplated a combination but went with the kasseri.
Artichokes - I had intended to dice up some artichokes but completely forgot about that until I was already stuffing my face. Next time!
Sauce - Italian dressing, tzatziki, hummus, balsamic vinegar, olive oil ...


I make bagel and/or pita chips fairly often. When I make pita chips, I generally cut the loaves into wedges. In thinking about a salsa and how I like to use "scoops" rather than flat chips, I decided to try making pita scoops. Although this was super easy and worked just like you would have hoped, you do end up with some scraps, so you might want to weigh that into your decision. Not a huge loss, but some. When making chips (flat) out of the pitas, if using small round loaves, you can usually get away with cutting the stack in half, stacking them again, and cutting into wedges. If you're using large rounds, the wedges end up too long and narrow, so I'll cut the stack in half, stack them again and cut a strip from the cut edge. Then I can cut the strip into three or four square chips and cut the rest into wedges.


To make the chips, line a baking sheet with your wedges, or stuff rounds into mini muffin cups, spritz with olive oil or cooking spray, and bake to desired doneness. You can add some Italian seasoning or other herb/spice mix, but with so many flavors in this particular filling, that's not really necessary for this. I gave mine a very light sprinkle of Italian seasoning in case I ended up eating a few plain or with just a piece of cheese.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

If you want to make your own roasted red pepper, just split the pepper in half and place on a baking sheet, cut-side-down. Bake at 450 for about 20" or so until the skin bubbles up and starts to pull away from the flesh (that always sounds gross lol). Turn the broiler on for another minute or so until it starts to blister and crack, then toss the pepper into a brown paper lunch bag or covered bowl for about five minutes. That will give it a chance to steam and then cool to the touch, so when you take it out of the bag or bowl, the skin should slide right off for you.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe
Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

If you decide to use pepperoni, consider how much you will need and if you might be making pizza sometime in the not-so-distant future. I was originally going to pick up a little pouch of thick-sliced pepperoni, but when I saw how much cheaper a stick was, I got that instead. I diced about a 2" length, sealed up the rest and put it in the fridge. If I don't make pizza in the next week or so, I'll go ahead and freeze it.

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe


Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe

Antipasto Salsa: Hye Thyme Cafe


What do you put into your Antipasto?  Am I missing anything exciting??


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