Hye Thyme Cafe: November 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! :)

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!  :)

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)

  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 ...

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.

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...