Hye Thyme Cafe: February 2017

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! :)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

I recently received a box of Honeybell Oranges from my office and wasn't sure what to do with them. Last year, when I first received a box, I wasn't a big fan. They were extremely seedy, with tough membranes, were drippy/messy juicy, and weren't all that flavorful. Must be a weather thing since this year's are much nicer! Still super juicy and somewhat seedy, but the membranes aren't as tough, and they are very flavorful. The problem is that they're so sweet, they send my blood sugar through the roof! Not wanting to waste them, I had to figure something out that would sort of water the sugar level down a bit. I had just tried a Salted Caramel Kahlua Panna Cotta that came out too rubbery, so I decided to stick with the Panna Cotta idea and try a Honeybell version, adjusting for texture. Turned out super light and jiggly (I skipped the heavy cream altogether), with a nice, subtle orange flavor.

Those are cocoa nibs on the top with the zest. I apparently went shopping at Trader Joe's and didn't have my reading glass on - thought it was a little bag of candied espresso beans I was picking up. I would have preferred to candy some of the Honeybell peels and make little spirals out of them, but the peels weren't pretty enough, so I stuck with a bit of zest.

1 pt light cream
1 pt half and half (less 1/4 c)
1 envelope plain gelatine
1/2 c Honeybell juice (about 1.5 oranges)
1/2 t vanilla
2 T sugar
Pinch of salt
Oil or spray for dishes if inverting
Garnish as desired

  1. Pour the half and half into a pot (save the extra 1/4 c for your coffee) and sprinkle the gelatine over the top, letting it sit for about 5" to bloom.
  2. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until the gelatine is dissolved.
  3. Add the light cream, sugar, and salt and continue cooking until it just barely starts to simmer.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in the juice and vanilla.
  5. If you plan to invert your panna cotta, rather than serving it in glasses or something else (looks pretty in bird bath champagne glasses), you will want to spray or oil the holders first. I used little prep bowls and staged them on a small tray for easy transfer to the fridge.
  6. Evenly distribute the mixture between your bowls/ramekins/glasses, cover and chill for at least 4 hours to set.
  7. If you have any trouble getting them to release from the bowls when you invert them, run a thin knife or spreader around the edge (like pudding, it can sometimes for a bit of a skin on top).
  8. Garnish as desired.

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Root Beer Pulled Pork (For New Yorkers Only)

Although I have been wanting to try a Root Beer Pulled Pork since I first ran across it, I wasn't really planning on posting it.  It's one of those things like Cake Pops, Macarons, etc. that seem to be everywhere you turn, so why would anyone want to see it again?  That's why this is for New Yorkers only - not to thumb my nose at the rest of you, but my recipe involves a sauce that I'm pretty sure is only available in New York right now - Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

If you live in NY or are visiting and haven't been yet, definitely add Dinosaur to your To Do List!  Be prepared for a wait, but it's well worth it!  We frequent the one in Syracuse, but there are now three other locations as well: Rochester, Harlem, and Troy.  My sister and her family have lived in this area for years, but it wasn't until my brother-in-law was on a job site on the other side of the country that he heard about Dinosaur.  Not being a big BBQ fan, it wouldn't have been on his radar, but for the fact that people from all over the country were having a conversation about how fantastic it is and telling him that he HAD to check it out.  He did, not expecting to enjoy it, but now it's one of his favorite restaurants.  It seems funny that I was living down South at the time and they had better BBQ here in NY.

The other thing that is a little different about my recipe is that I made it with a tenderloin, rather than the usual Pork Butt or Shoulder.  I looked at some roasts, but they were very fatty.  Although that would add flavor, knowing I would be slow cooking it on low, I was thinking it might not melt away and really didn't want to be eating blobs of fat or having to be picking them out as we ate.  The tenderloin is plenty flavorful and much more lean.  I also decided to include some sweet onion, thinking they would impart their own flavor to the mix and really be sweet after soaking in all that root beer.  

The sides are some Mac and Cheese my sister had made, a can of B&M Baked Beans I doctored up with just a little ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar, and some homemade pickles and broccoli slaw.  I'll be posting the pickles and slaw over the next few days if you're interested.  The pickles were a HUGE hit.  The slaw needs a little work on the dressing.

1 pkg Pork Tenderloin
+/- 24 oz root beer
2 lg sweet onions, sliced into thick rings
1 bottle Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Wango Tango Habanero Hot BBQ Sauce to taste
Ooh, I just realized you can buy the sauces online now!

Talk about an easy recipe!  Just toss the pork in a crock pot, top with the onion slices and enough root beer just to cover, set it to low and walk away.

[That's apparently only an expression ... pop it in the crock pot and walk away ... I made that mistake. I came back about an hour and a half later to see how things were going and figured out that I had managed to pop a circuit, so it wasn't on at all!! That would have screwed up our time-range for dinner on that particular evening, but my sister had made a Baked Macaroni and Cheese that I was going to portion out as a side, so we ended up eating that with a salad for dinner instead of the pork and coming back to this the next night. For those of you who haven't popped a circuit ... ]

After 5-6 hours, when the pork is fall-apart tender, pour out the root beer and use two forks to shred the meat. When nobody is looking, sneak a bite to see how it tastes with just the root beer. Pretty good already, right?? And those onions, mmm! Now stir in as much of the Sensuous Slathering Sauce as you like. As much as I love the sauce, I can't stand eating a drippy sandwich, so I tend to be conservative, leaving more sauce on the side for anyone who wants it.

Pile the pork onto your roll of choice (I used Bulkie Rolls), and top with the Wango Tango Sauce. That's what really makes the dish, that kick of sweet heat. OMG, I'm drooling as I write this, just thinking about it. I loved it as it was, but I may or may not add a drop or two of liquid smoke next time. That might really put it over the top.  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pesto Chicken Cavatappi with Pickled Peppadews

Ever have an idea in mind that, when you go to execute it, turns into something else? That's what happened with this. My problem is that it was so well received, if I get a chance to make it the way I had envisioned, I'll probably hear "Why did you change it? We liked it the way it was." Sigh...

Everyone was running around doing whatever yesterday, and it occurred to me that nobody had ever mentioned dinner - who would be cooking, what we were having, etc. Because it was getting to be late afternoon, and I had the feeling I would be home first, I figured I would make dinner. We haven't had pasta in a while, so that sounded like a good idea.  

I decided to make something with a Pesto (haven't made my own in a million years), and wanted to pick up a Rotisserie Chicken to cut down on prep time. As I was driving to the market, it occurred to me that, instead of the usual Walnut or Pine Nut version, maybe I should try an Almond Pesto. Then I thought hmmm, what about Kale instead of Basil? We all love Kale...and I'll use Yellow Cherry Tomatoes...and Roasted Red Pepper. Ya, that sounds good. OK, that's what I'll do.

Of course, I got to the store and they had no Kale! I don't know why I bother going to that particular market! Actually, I do - it's the closest, but I should know better. I thought about using Swiss Chard, which was where the Kale was supposed to be, but I have never eaten/used Swiss Chard before. I took a little nibble [shhh, don't tell], but it really didn't have a strong enough flavor, so I punted back to Basil. Then they didn't have any kind of Yellow Tomatoes. Bummer! I grabbed a pint of Red Grape Tomatoes instead. As I was heading for the  Rotisserie Chickens, I passed the Olive Bar. Since we first tried them back in November when I made Antipasto Sticks for a party, we have become addicted to the Peppadew Peppers you find there. I decided to switch from using Roasted Red Peppers to using those. Since I was at the olive bar already, I decided to pick up some Kalamatas to go in the String Bean Salad I was making. I have always made that using the large black canned Lindsay  Olives, but I love Kalamatas, so I couldn't resist. 

When I got home, I realized what a dingbat I can be ... I got red peppers AND red tomatoes. Duh! I was considering skipping the tomatoes and using some of the Kalamatas instead for contrast, but I thought that might be too much with the Pesto and Peppadews, so I just lost the tomatoes. Sooooo, see what I mean? Started off one way and ended up as something else. Everyone liked this so much, if I make it with yellow tomatoes and roasted red peppers now, I'll end up getting grief for it.  :(

1 cooked rotisserie chicken
12 oz box of cavatappi pasta
10-12 peppadews, chopped

1/3 c whole almonds
2 c basil leaves
handful of arugala (or parsley, etc.)
3 T lemon juice
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt
pinch of crushed red pepper (I used New Mexico chilies)
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c olive oil (or more to taste)

Although I think Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, I'll stick with a food processor... unless I need it to be exceptionally smooth for some reason. I used to have a great recipe and made it all the time back in the mid 80s, but I lost it at some point and have pretty much zero retention, so I don't remember it. I gave the almonds a head start in the spin cycle before adding the other ingredients, stopping now and again to scrape the sides of the bowl, and ending with the olive oil. Drizzle the olive oil in a little at a time until the mixture gets to a texture you like. I kept it on the thick side to just coat the pasta, but if you want more of a "sauce," you can use more oil, or maybe reserve a little of your pasta water and toss it with that before adding it to your dish. Set the pesto aside for now.

Put on a pot of water for your pasta, and while you're waiting for that to boil, you can chop your peppers. You should probably get extras, because you will definitely be sneaking some when nobody is looking. They're sweet, they're hot, they're the best of both worlds. They're like little hats just crying out to be filled with a little mozzarella ball or olive. Argh, my mouth is watering just thinking about these little gems. Wish I had tried them sooner!

Dismember your chicken and cut or tear it into bite-sized pieces. We all stick to white meat chicken in our house, so when we roast chickens, we usually send the legs to a friend's house for her kids to munch on, but for some reason, I actually like the legs on most of these rotisserie chickens, so I'm just setting them aside for now. Maybe I'll be nice and share with the dog for lunch tomorrow.  :)

It's as easy as that! When your pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the water (reserving some to mix with the pesto if you want), add the chicken and peppers, then stir in the pesto. By the way, I liked the pesto, but I'll increase the garlic next time.

Now that I'm looking at this, I'm thinking it's probably good cold, too. Maybe I'll have a little of this with my chicken leg tomorrow ... but the dog can't have the pasta!! Garlic is one of those things that you hear is lethal to dogs, then you hear it's good for them. That makes me crazy, but I'm not taking any chances. She's very weird (and cute), but we want to keep Coco the CuKoo Chihuaha happy and healthy for many years to come.  :)

Loves the view from my rear-view window.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs (Phyllo Triangles)

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe

I love the combination of spinach and artichoke. I'm surprised it didn't occur to me to do this sooner. One of my favorite appetizers is a hot spinach and artichoke dip with nice, thin, crispy tortilla chips. This is sort of a portable, self-contained spinach dip.

If making phyllo triangles is new to you - cheese bouregs, spanikopita, etc., you can refer to my original post here for pictures.

16 oz Muenster cheese, shredded or grated
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c grated Romano (or Parmesan)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
10 oz box frozen chopped spinach
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 eegs
1 lb phyllo
3 sticks butter

  1. Start by clarifying your butter. Slowly bring it up to a boil to let it separate, then cool and skim the solids off the top. You can either pour off the middle layer into another vessel to use, or just be careful not to dip your brush into the solids on the bottom.
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, combine the cheeses and crushed red pepper flakes until evenly distributed.
  3. Drain the artichoke hearts well, chop so there are no big chunks, and add to the cheese mixture.
  4. Squeeze the spinach as dry as possible so it doesn't make the dough gummy - I like to microwave it for about 3" right out of the freezer, then let the residual heat thaw it the rest of the way. Cooking it for a few minutes really draws out the liquid, making it much easier to squeeze dry than if you had just let it thaw and tried to squeeze it. Add to cheese mixture.
  5. Add the eggs to the cheese mixture.
  6. Cut the dough into strips lengthwise, and using two layers at a time, brush the top layer with clarified butter, add a spoonful of cheese mixture at the end closest to you, and fold into a triangle.
  7. Brush all the way around with butter (whether you're baking them all now or not), and bake what you'll be using now at 350 until golden.
  8. For any that you won't be baking right away, layer with waxed paper between them and store in the freezer in a zip-top bag or wrapped in foil.

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe
Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe
Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe

Spinach-Artichoke Cheese Bouregs : Hye Thyme Cafe

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