Hye Thyme Cafe: October 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! :)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Zombie Eyes ... And a Lesson Learned

Zombie Eyes: Hye THyme Cafe

I threw these together at the last minute for an office pot-luck today. Strangely, the last time I made a version of these pretzel/kiss treats (Salty Kisses), I also had a lesson learned. That time, it was not to use the caramel-filled kisses. This time, it was not to use the Pumpkin Spice kisses. I don't know what they're made of, but it's apparently not chocolate! No matter what heat setting I tried, I couldn't get those buggers to melt. Makes you wonder.

Small Pretzels (preferably round waffle or wagon-wheel)
White chocolate Kisses (I could only find the Cookies n' Creme)
M&Ms or other small candies (I had some "eyes," so I used both)
Red and black icing 

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, then with a single layer of prezels
  2. Top each pretzel with a Kiss
  3. Bake at 250 for about 8" until melty
  4. Press an M&M into each for the iris - they're zombie eyes, so it's OK to use the yellow, orange, and red even though they're not regular eye colors
  5. To make them bloodshot, pipe on a bit of red icing - I had a small tube I hadn't opened from Christmas, so I used that, but to create the pupils, I mixed a bit of powdered sugar into a spoonful of milk until smooth, then blended in black food coloring and used a small paintbrush to paint them on. You could do the same with red food coloring to give them that bloodshot look.
At the time I bought the Kisses, I was bummed I couldn't find the white/dark Hugs, thinking the built-in stripes would work for the bloodshot look when they were smushed by the M&M, but I actually think the Cookies n' Creme makes them even creepier, so that worked out fine. You can see in the photos that I did manage to use a few of the Pumpkin Spice Kisses - those look pretty creepy too, partially because instead of melting, the outside coating got flaky.

Zombie Eyes: Hye THyme Cafe

Zombie Eyes: Hye THyme Cafe

Have a spoooooky Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Concord Grape Pie

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

I had never heard of Grape Pie until one of the guys I work with mentioned it, but apparently, it's a big thing in this part of NY. It is actually his favorite pie, so when I happened to come across some concord grapes at a local orchard, I couldn't help but try it. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised - it turns out that a grape pie isn't all that different from a blueberry pie. I was afraid it would be like eating a slab of grape jelly between pie crusts instead of a few slices of bread and some peanut butter!

Even though I'm glad that I made it, I have to admit that I probably won't do it again - it's not that I didn't enjoy it (and yes, it did get my co-worker's seal of approval), but there are other pies that I prefer, and this one is somewhat labor intensive in that you have to squeeze all of the grapes out of their skins and press the filling through a sieve to sort out all of the seeds (I get bored quickly). At least now I won't be afraid to order it if I come across it on a menu.  

2 c flour
3/4 c Crisco shortening
2 T butter
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t sugar
6 T cold water

Roughly 8 c Concord grapes
2-3 t lemon juice
2 heaping T corn starch

1 egg
food coloring - optional

  1. For the crust, throw all of the dry ingredients into a stand mixer, or food processor with the dough blade in place, and run until they start to pull together, then add the water, a little at a time, until a dough forms. You could also opt to melt the butter, put everything in a covered bowl and shake the heck out of it until it comes together.
  2. Divide the dough into two portions - one slightly larger than the other if making a standard double crust, or in a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio if decorating with a cluster of grapes, etc. Shape each into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill while working on your filling.
  3. Rinse and drain the grapes well, then squeeze the pulp into one pot, reserving the skins in another.
  4. Over medium heat, cook the grapes until very soft, approximately 10". When they first start to release their liquid, scoop out about 3/4 c to use with the corn starch to create a slurry - that way, you aren't watering down your filling.
  5. When the grapes are soft, stir in the lemon juice, then press through a fine sieve directly over the skins, to remove/discard the seeds.
  6. Stir the corn starch into the reserved juice to create a slurry, then stir that into the still warm grape mixture. If the mixture doesn't immediately thicken because your filling has cooled too much, you might want to put it back on the heat for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 and spray or lightly butter a 9" pie plate.
  8. Roll out the larger piece of dough and insert it into the pie plate, trimming all but about 1/2" all the way around. If you will be decorating the top rather than using a full top crust, fold the edge under and then pinch all the way around to flute, or press a serving fork all the way around to crimp it.
  9. Fill the pie with your filling and, if using a top crust, trim the crust and fold over the bottom crust, edging as noted above.  Beat the egg with a splash of water and brush over the top, cutting a few slits to allow steam to escape.
  10. If decorating with leaves and grapes, trace a circle onto a sheet of parchment paper to make sure you aren't making your grape cluster bigger than the space on top of your pie. Use a leaf cookie cutter to create leaves, drawing on some veins with the tip of a knife. To make the grapes, I used both ends of a melon baller for different sizes, and just free-handed a stem. Slightly overlap the circles, forming a cluster pattern, and top with the stem and a few leaves, making a few more leaves to scatter on the pie's empty space. Because I have a lot of food colors, I separated the remaining egg wash after brushing the edge of the bottom crust and mixed in some purple, brown, and green to tint my shapes. Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and bake along with your pie - be sure to keep an eye on it, as the shapes will bake faster.
  11. Bake the pie at 400 for about 15", then lower to 350 for 45-50".
  12. Allow the pie to cool, then transfer the cluster of grapes and leaves to the top.

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe
Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

Concord Grape Pie: Hye Thyme Cafe

You may have noticed that the top is dotted with butter in the photo above, but I didn't mention butter in the recipe - part of that was automatic from making other pies, but it also included the butter in most of the grape pie recipes I looked at before starting. I should have realized it didn't make sense as I was doing it - the filling has been thickened, so it's not like the butter is going to melt in between the grapes and make it's way through the filling. All it did was leave odd looking spots on the top of my pie, so skip it!

Hmm, now that I've got PB&J on the brain, would it be too weird if you swapped out some of the Crisco in the crust for peanut butter?    

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