Hye Thyme Cafe: April 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! :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Granola French Toast

Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe

Whenever I visit a friend in Watertown, MA, we end up going to Uncommon Grounds on Mt. Auburn Street for breakfast at some point, and I almost always order the Granola French Toast. I've made Cap'n Crunch French Toast on occasion, but I hadn't made Granola French Toast until now. The folks at Golden Girl Granola sent me some product to sample for a review, so that gave me a chance to play. I haven't tried them all yet, so my review is still to come. For now, how about breakfast???

If your granola has clusters in it, you might want to give it a quick pulse in the food processor or pour it into a zip-lock bag and run a rolling pin over it to break them up before you start.

4 eggs
1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 c Golden Girl Forest Maple Granola (w/Maple Syrup and Almonds)
6 slices bread of choice

  1. In a bowl wide enough to accommodate the diameter of your bread, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, salt, and pepper.
  2. In a second, shallow dish or plate, pour the granola (adding a pinch or two of cinnamon if you like).
  3. Dip the bread into the egg mixture, flipping to coat both sides, and let the excess drip off.
  4. Press into the granola mixture to adhere, then flip to coat the other side.
  5. Starting with about 1T of butter over med heat, fry in batches until golden on both sides.
  6. If, between batches, you find that you have any extra crispy bits in the pan, brush out with a bunched up paper towel and re-butter the pan before proceeding.
  7. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar and serve with syrup of choice - I'd go with either maple or almond syrup.

The granola adds a great textural contrast, and in the case of Golden Girl Granola, there are no clusters involved, so no need to pre-crush. A lot of people add sugar and/or syrup to their egg mixture, but to me, that's just extra sugar and an increased likelihood of burning. I'll pass on both counts, although I'll admit that I do sometimes add syrup to what will be a baked French Toast.

Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe
Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe

Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe
Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe

Granola French Toast - Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe

Having made plain yogurt several times now, it seemed as though making Coconut Yogurt would be a no-brainer, but that was not the case. It took a number of attempts to get to this version, and from my perspective, as much as I like this one, it's still a work in progress - I'd like to get it to where it's thicker, without having to use powdered milk or strain it, much less resort to a commercial yogurt maker.

The first batch was a complete disaster. I thought that adding sweetened-flaked coconut to the milk while it heated would allow the sugar to melt and the flavor to infuse into the milk. What I ended up with was something that pretty much looked like a cheese sauce - very thick and almost gluey. I kept going and added 1T of coconut extract like I would with vanilla in my regular version, but you could barely taste any coconut at the end.

For the second batch, instead of adding the coconut up front, I waited until stirring the fresh batch into the starter. I also increased the extract. I basically had the same end result. There is something about the sugar in the coconut that seems to react poorly with the hot liquid and makes it gummy.

For the third attempt, I had read about several versions that incorporate coconut oil. I have a jar in the pantry, so I decided to give it a try, but that was an even bigger disaster! The coconut oil separated while it set and formed a hard shell on top. No thanks!

I do have one more idea up my sleeve before resorting back to milk powder or straining.  In the meantime ...

1/2 gallon whole milk
single-serving container of yogurt (w/live active cultures)
1 T agave nectar
1 T coconut extract
1 c sweetened-flaked coconut

  1. Whisking frequently to prevent scorching, heat the milk to between 185-200°, maintaining that temperature for a few minutes to allow some of the water in the milk to evaporate.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool to 110°.
  3. In a large bowl with a cover, whisk together the starter yogurt (sing-serve container), agave nectar if using for a bit of sweetness, and extract.
  4. Temper the mixture by whisking in a cup or so of the hot milk, then slowly add the rest.
  5. Put the cover on the bowl and wrap the whole thing in a large towel.
  6. Stow it away somewhere warm for 5-8 hours or so (it's flexible, so don't stress over it). I like to make my yogurt before I go to bed, stick it in the oven (with the light on if I have one) and then retrieve it when I get up in the morning. If you're oven doesn't have a light, that's fine - it will work without any additional heat. If you want, another option would be to pre-heat the oven to it's lowest setting and turn it off when you put the bowl in.
  7. Run a knife through the coconut to break it up into smaller pieces if desired, then stir into the yogurt before transferring to the refrigerator to chill for several hours. Adding the coconut at this point avoided that gumminess I spoke of in my earlier attempts.
Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe
Stir in rest of warm milk
Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe
Carefully heat to 185-200°, then
reduce to 110

Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe
Whisk together starter, sweetener,
and extract

Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe 
Temper with 1c warm milk


Stir in chopped coconut and chill
As you can see from the last picture, the yogurt came out thick enough to stand up to that pile of coconut. However, if you compare the pics below with the granola and crushed pineapple to my original yogurt post, you will see that this one is a lot thinner. See how the original yogurt with the honey and almonds forms more of a mound? That's why this version is still a work in progress.

Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe
Crushed Pineapple / Pina Colada
Homemade Coconut Yogurt : Hye Thyme Cafe
Golden Girl Granola with cranberries,
coconut, and almonds

Homemade Madzoon (Yogurt)
Granola is one of my favorite yogurt toppers. I just happened to luck out and receive some review samples from Golden Girl Granola after making this batch. I guess I do have good luck every now and then. ;)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme : Hye Thyme Cafe

These potatoes are reallllllly good. Truth be told, I'm a very poor planner. I had no idea I would be making these until I did it. I was actually thinking about making french fries, so I did not have any fresh thyme on hand. If you have some, by all means use it. I relied on my herb/spice drawer this "thyme" around.

When it comes to the cheese, you can use whatever you like - again, because I tend to just wing it and didn't plan ahead, I raided my cheese drawer and found a bag of shredded cheddar/jack, a bag of mozzarella, and a block of Parmesan, so that's what I used. There were a few other options hiding in there, but I liked the idea of the cheddar flavor, smooth melt of the jack, and stringy mozzarella boosted by the nice sharp flavor and browning quality of the Parmesan.

You can certainly make these separately from your entree - I just happened to have received a sample shipment of Golden Girl Granola to play with and was making Granola-Crusted Pork Chops (recipe to come) with it, so that's what you're seeing next to the potatoes.

Potatoes of choice (figure on 1 per person if lg, one extra if med)
1 Med onion
Shredded cheese (figure on 1/4 c per potato)
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder
Fresh or dried thyme
Mik or cream (anything below whole milk is probably too watery)

  1. Spray or butter casserole dish.
  2. Peel and slice potatoes into thin slices and arrange one layer in casserole dish.
  3. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme.
  4. Mix your cheeses together and sprinkle half over the top.
  5. Layer your onions over that and repeat the above - potatoes, seasoning, cheese (dotting with butter over or under the cheese).
  6. Pour in enough milk or cream to come about half way up - you do not want it to flood over the top or it will be too watery.
  7. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 for 1', removing the foil after the first 30". That will give the potatoes a chance to soften with the heat and steam while covered, letting the cheese melt but not brown yet - then uncovering will allow some of the water content in the milk to evaporate.
  8. To test for doneness, stick a fork or tip of a knife into a potato - if it slides in with no resistance, they're done. Otherwise, give them a few minutes more.

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Scalloped Potatoes with Thyme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter 2015 - A Day of Firsts

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

I hope you all had a warm, healthy, and wonderful Easter holiday. I managed two out of three - it's still on the chilly side in my neck of the woods, although I did manage to have a window open for at least a few minutes to let in some fresh air.

I thought I was going to be on my own for Easter this year, but as it turned out, my brother-in-law had to be in town on business, so I decided to make my sister's semi-new traditional Easter dinner, which is one of his favorites - Brachiole. I know, I know - some of you Italians are wanting to beat me over the head with your rolling pin for saying that, so you can call it a rolled Stuffed Flank Steak. To many, the term Braciole is reserved for a smaller bite but hey, if Giada can call a rolled Stuffed Flank Steak Braciole, so can I!  ;)

This was truly a day of firsts for me; not only had I never made the Braciole before, but if you can believe this one ... I had never boiled an egg before! I've certainly colored my share of eggs over the years, but I'm not a big egg eater (unless it's a scramble or omelette with lots of veggies and cheese), so it wasn't until this year that I even fried my first egg, never mind boil one. I also opted to play around with a few "natural" dye options, so that was yet another first. Oh, and tying a roast - that was a first too. A while back, I found some food-grade silicon bands that are just like elastics you wrap around the roast, but when I tried it, they left such thick blank bands around the roast, it looked really strange. Even using those rings as a guide for slicing, it just turned me off for some reason.

Because it was just the two of us, I kept it pretty simple. For apps, I threw together a small cheese platter and a cheese dip with crackers and bagel chips, then I translated my recent Antipasto Salsa with Pita Chips/Scoops into an even finer diced version stuffed into small tomatoes. I drizzled a splash of Balsamic vinegar over the top, but you could also do that with some, then add a dollop of Tzatziki as a topper for others, with a sprig of fresh dill.

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

For the main dish, I had the Braciole - one with a mushroom filling and another with a spinach/artichoke filling; some baby carrots I had cooked along with the Braciole; steamed baby green beans dressed simply with a bit of butter, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice; and mashed potatoes.

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

At the end of dinner comes the traditional egg challenge - you hold your egg and someone else holds theirs and you smack the ends together. Whoever ends up with the last egg uncracked is said to have good luck for the year. That almost always turns out to be one particular nephew, but he wasn't here this year, so that left the door open. I'm happy to say that not only did I win this year, but my brother-in-law tried five different eggs against my one! Hopefully I'll have the promised good luck for the year.  ;)

Because it was just the two of us, and I didn't want to waste a whole dozen eggs, I decided to be funny and fill the rest of the slots in the the egg platter with Cadbury eggs.

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

I mentioned I had tried some new coloring techniques. The light yellow and greenish-blue speckled eggs at the top of the photo were colored using the rice technique. You squirt color into a plastic container holding some dry rice and then shake to transfer the color from the rice onto the egg. If you don't mind wasting some rice, this is definitely quicker and easier than the traditional method.  The two bright yellow eggs were colored with saffron, where the blue Earth looking egg was colored with blueberries. That leaves the one that I think is the ugliest, that turned out to be my brother-in-law's favorite - the middle left. If you can believe it, that (to me) dirty looking egg was actually colored in a combination of raspberry and beet juice.  

I had also read about people coloring eggs with Espresso, so I was getting ready to try that when it occurred to me that it was crazy to specifically buy white eggs (I always buy brown) to color them for Easter only to turn them into the color of the eggs I usually buy! If I color eggs next year, I'll definitely have to try the traditional onion-skin method.

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe
Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

I suppose if you have berry bushes growing out in your yard, it would be something cool to experiment with. I used some partial bags of frozen berries I had in the freezer. To me, it's really just more expensive - especially the saffron.

Now that the annual egg challenge was out of the way, it was time for dessert.  Again, since it was just two of us this year, I didn't want to go overboard. I know that one of his favorite desserts is the Pavlovas I made a few years back for the first time, so I went with that. The funny thing is that I swear, I completely forgot that I had the meringues in the oven for almost an hour beyond when I should have turned it off, but they were still perfect! Good thing they bake at a low temp I guess! Pink almond-flavored meringues filled with fresh whipped cream and topped with berries.

Easter 2015: Hye Thyme Cafe

I'm STILL stuffed!  How about you?  What did you do for Easter this year?  Add anything new to your menu??

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