Hye Thyme Cafe: A Chartreuse of Vegetables

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 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 ...


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