Hye Thyme Cafe: July 2016

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! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips

Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe

Dips are fun to start with, but this is an especially good option for anyone looking to satisfy that pizza craving without all the carbs. If you like the idea of the dip but don't care about the carbs, try slicing a baguette into thin slices on a diagonal, brush with a bit of olive oil and bake until crispy. Then you can use the baguette chips for dippers. If you still want the pepperoni, add it to the dip instead.

I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day and kept seeing posts for pizza using a cauliflower crust. I was thinking that was a great low-carb option but personally, I loathe cauliflower! My favorite pizza toppings are either green bell peppers and onions, or pepperoni, which made me think of my sister, who turned me on to pepperoni chips a couple of years ago. They're awesome for a quick snack, or to use as a crumble in other dishes. It was the pepperoni chips that got me thinking about a pizza dip.

I figured you would need some cream cheese to start with, to make it dip-able, then you'd need mozzarella for that gooey string factor, pizza sauce, and any additional cheeses or add-ins you like. My favorite pizza uses a five-cheese blend, so instead of buying all of those different cheeses, I picked up a bag of shredded pizza blend.

Like I often do before trying a new recipe, I Googled pizza dip to look at other versions and see if there were any tips or anything that might not have occurred to me. I wasn't sure of the reason, but every recipe I looked at used the cream cheese as part of a bottom layer, then the other cheeses on top. That's the one thing I'll do differently in the future. I realized that at first, I was scooping across the top, so I wasn't getting down to that layer, and as it started to cool, the top started to tighten up a bit, so you had to work harder to scoop. I really don't see the reason for layering that way, so I'm going to mix all of the cheeses together from now on (maybe reserve some of the mozzarella to go on top), which will also be quicker, but still spread it in two layers so you can have the sauce in the middle. That's another thing - the other recipes called for more sauce, but I think that's too much.

Because this is a dip rather than a thin layer on top of a pizza being baked in a super-hot pizza oven, it occurred to me that I should saute the peppers and onions first so they wouldn't be raw. That also gave me an opportunity to add some garlic and crushed red pepper flakes - I love sprinkling my pizza with crushed red pepper. If you're making a plain version, you might want to go ahead and include some garlic salt or powder to your cheese blend. Also, since I had just opened a can of olives to use in a salad, I went ahead and diced up some of the extras to go into my dip. If you prefer a white pizza, increase the garlic, skip the sauce, and maybe include some ricotta.

When it comes to the pepperoni chips, because there will be a lot of shrinkage, be sure to go with the largest available at your market. You can use thin or thick slices; you'll just need to adjust the cook time. I used the regular thin slices, and they held up fine, but if you have a particularly aggressive dipper in your crew, you might want to go with the thick slices so they don't break. You can see in the picture below how much space there is between the cooked pepperoni slices - when they went into the microwave, most of them were touching.

1 t olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c chopped onion
1/3 c chopped green bell pepper
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 c chopped black olives
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 c grated Parmesan
2 c shredded mozzarella, divided
Pizza sauce
1 c shredded pizza blend cheese
Pepperoni slices

I'm listing the directions for what I did, but see my note above re: not using the cream cheese as a separate layer going forward. 
  1. Saute the garlic, onion, and pepper in the olive oil until the onion starts to turn translucent, then remove from heat and stir in the crushed red pepper flakes and olives.
  2. To the softened cream cheese, stir in the Italian seasoning, grated Parmesan, 1c of the shredded mozzarella, and half of the veggie mixture, then transfer to a large ramekin or other oven-safe baking dish.
  3. Spread a layer of pizza sauce over the cream cheese mixture - I started with 1/2 c but didn't get full coverage, so I increased it a bit. 
  4. Mix the remaining veggies together with the second cup of mozzarella and the pizza blend of cheeses. If you want to throw in some additional Parmesan, go for it!
  5. Spread the mozzarella mixture over the sauce layer, dot the top with a little more sauce, and bake at 350 until bubbly and starting to brown - about 30".
  6. While the dip is baking, cover a microwave-safe dish with paper towels, and top with a layer of pepperoni slices. It's OK if they're touching, but you don't want them overlapping. Cover with another layer of paper towels, and microwave for a minute and a half - check for doneness, then repeat in 15 or 30 second bursts until crispy.

Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe
Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe
Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe

Pizza Dip with Pepperoni Chips: Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Coconut Granola Custard

Coconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme Cafe

When I received word from Gold Girl Granola about their Second Annual Recipe Challenge, I was excited - I'm always looking for a good excuse to play in the kitchen. It also seems like a great company to me, and having had a chance to sample their product last year, I already knew how much I liked it. 

This year's challenge was to come up with a dessert recipe using our choice of their various granola offerings. I had no idea what I wanted to make yet, so I selected The Original, which is a combination of coconut, honey, and almonds.  My first thought was that people would be likely to use the granola in either a cheesecake or tart crust, cookies, or maybe as the topping for a fruit crisp. Those are all great options, but I wanted to try something different. That's when my mind wandered to one of my favorite desserts, the Grape Nut Custard at Scargo Cafe on Cape Cod.

It's nearly impossible to have an original thought when it comes to food. No  matter what your imagination comes up with, if you Google it, you'll probably find a bazillion existing recipes, so I was very pleasantly surprised to Google "granola custard" and only receive hits on custard recipes that were sprinkled with granola.

This recipe is so easy, it's silly. If you can whisk eggs, you're up to the challenge! The only potentially difficult part is fishing your finished product out of its water bath. I've found that if my pans are sized such that I can't grab the inside pan without my potholders getting wet and burning my fingers, a turkey baster works great to remove some of the hot water first.

Because the Grape Nut Custard recipe I use makes such a big batch, to adapt it, I halved the recipe, then I reduced the sugar, lightened things up a bit more by using half and half with the light cream, increased the granola (grape nuts replacement), added coconut to complement the coconut in the granola, omitted the nutmeg, and added coconut flavoring in place of the vanilla.

Because you're using a quart of liquid in addition to the granola, coconut, and sugar, you will want to use a 2 1/2 quart baking dish to accommodate it. Because mine are more oddly shaped, I went with a standard rectangular cake pan, and that worked perfectly.

I was happy that everyone who tried it really enjoyed it and was interested to note that they all specifically commented on how much they appreciated the variety of textures - between the granola/coconut base, the creamy custard itself, and the addition of granola and toasted coconut on top for a bit of crunch. When it comes to the whipped cream, if you're making your own, be sure not to over-whip it until it starts to stiffen - then you're heading into butter territory and get that sort of greasy feeling on your lips.

1 pint light cream
1 pint half and half
5 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 T coconut flavoring
1 1/2 c Golden Girl "The Original" Granola
1/2 c sweetened, flaked coconut
1 t cinnamon

Whipped cream (a little cream whipped with a bit of sugar and 
   a few drops of coconut flavoring)
Toasted Coconut (toast in a dry pan over medium heat until 
  golden, stirring frequently)
Golden Girl "The Original" Granola

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix together the granola, coconut, and cinnamon, and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs until broken down, then beat in the light cream, half and half, sugar, and coconut flavoring.
  4. Pour the custard into your baking dish, then sprinkle the granola mixture over the top. As it's baking, the granola and coconut will settle to the bottom to form the crust, and most of the cinnamon will float to the top.
  5. Place the baking dish inside of a larger pan and fill with hot water at least half way up to the level of the custard. If you're afraid it will be too heavy/awkward to get into the oven when full, you can put the pans in the oven first and then add the liquid - that will just increase your baking time by a few minutes.
  6. Bake for 30-45" until just slightly wiggly in the center. The time will vary based on your pan - how deep it is, whether it's glass or metal, etc.
  7. Carefully remove the pan from it's water bath and serve warm, garnished with whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted coconut and additional granola (also great cold).
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Thanks to the folks at Golden Girl Granola for reaching out and for providing the granola.

Coconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme CafeCoconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut Granola Custard: Hye Thyme Cafe

Friday, July 15, 2016

Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

You may have noticed that I'm a big fan of spaghetti squash. I've made it with pesto, mozzarella, chicken meatballs and a light tomato sauce, etc. A few weeks back, I picked one up but hadn't decided yet how I wanted to use it. I also needed grated Parmesan at the time, but when I was in the cheese section by the deli, there was only shredded Parmesan for some reason. I usually buy either grated or a wedge and grate it myself. For whatever reason, I went ahead and bought the shredded, and I'm now very glad that I did, because I liked this so much, I've already made it again twice.

One word of warning - the third time I made it, I was having company for dinner, and since I would be making appetizers and dessert, it occurred to me to roast the squash the night before so I could free up the oven sooner the next day for dessert so it could be served while still warm. Bad idea - the squash released a crazy amount of liquid overnight that I ended up having to pour off, so the end product was a more dense/compressed version rather than nice and light and fluffy. It just had to be when I was making it for company. Oh well, still tasted great.

The reason the grated Parmesan worked so nicely was that rather than a topping like on a mac and cheese where you would mix breadcrumbs with grated Parmesan for a bubbly crispy topping, the shredded Parmesan created a different sort of crispy texture that I really enjoyed, and I found the flavor to be more pronounced.

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
1 can Delmonte Petite Cut Diced® Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapenos
  (or with green chiles - ooh, I just saw that they have chioptle now too!)
Shredded Parmesan
  1. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  2. Brush the inside of the squash with a little olive oil, then roast at 375⁰ until fork tender.  I like to start off with it cut-side down so the steam can work on it for a bit, then flip it over so it starts to caramelize. 
  3. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then use a fork to shred the strands and transfer to a baking dish.
  4. Open the tomatoes and drain off some of the liquid, then toss the tomatoes with the squash.
  5. Top with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan, dot with butter, and bake at 350⁰-375⁰ until golden (time/temp will vary depending on what you're making to go with it, your baking dish, etc.)

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe
Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe


Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme CafeTwice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Parmesan: Hye Thyme Cafe

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