|Photo by Christina Schmidhofer|
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Christine Datian does a lot of cooking. Many of her creations have appeared in ‘Sunset’ and ‘Cooking Light’ online magazines. In fact, several of her recipes have already been featured on The Armenian Kitchen. Perhaps you’ll recall her ‘Spicy SouthwesternTabbouleh’, ‘Bulgur Pilaf with Onions and Tomato Juice’, ‘Red Lentil Soup’, and ‘Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta’.
The most recent recipe Christine sent me is called ‘Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches’ which appeared in Sunset Magazine in 2005. Pretty impressive!
I have been given permission to share this recipe with you.
Sunset JANUARY 2005
Eggplant always seems to have a love-it-or-hate-it audience. But, according to Christine, "even people who claim they don't like eggplant love these easy meatballs". You can use a small ice cream scoop to shape them quickly.
Christine Datian's 'Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches'
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Prep and cook time: About 1 hour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground lean lamb or beef
1 1/2 cups finely chopped eggplant (about 4 oz.)
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups purchased marinara sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
6 pocket breads (5 in. wide), cut in half
Green and red bell pepper rings (optional)
1. In a large bowl, mix the egg, lamb, eggplant, onion, parsley, pine nuts, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place them 1 inch apart in an oiled 12- by 17-inch baking pan.
2. Bake meatballs in a 425° oven until they are well browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Spoon out and discard any fat from pan. Stir in the marinara sauce and Worcestershire, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan and turning meatballs to coat. Bake until sauce is steaming, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
4. Spoon meatballs into a bowl and scrape sauce over them. Spoon meatballs and sauce into pocket breads and tuck in bell pepper rings if desired.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
I love roejig (aka 'sweet soujuk'), a traditional Armenian candy made from walnuts which are strung on long strings and thickly coated in fruit syrup. I ate a piece of roejig a few weeks ago, and with the first bite, I was taken back to my youth – specifically my maternal grandmother’s dining room where she would serve this on special occasions. It’s one of those recipes that I enjoy eating (sparingly), but don’t necessarily want to prepare.
I posted the roejig recipe once before, but since a reader requested the recipe the other day, I figured I’d mention it again. The recipe I included in the original post came from the A.G.B.U.’s ‘Treasured Armenian Cookbook’.
Here’s the reader’s request:
“An Armenian friend of mine made me taste the "sweet sujuk", the one with walnuts inside and coated with a grape (brown) syrup... and I have to say it was delicious (with a tiny spicy aroma). Unfortunately, since her mother cooked the thing, she was unable to provide me the recipe.... any hint on where to find the sweet sujuk recipe? Thanks a lot!”
Making roejig is a tedious, time-consuming process. I wondered if there could possibly be an easier way to make this sweet delight.
Alice Bezjian to the rescue! In her cookbook, ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’, I discovered a less labor-intensive version of roejig. Does it pass the taste test? I don’t honestly know; her recipe has not been tested in The Armenian Kitchen. (Sorry!)
Compare the recipe below with the original one and you’ll see the difference.
(Easier) Grape Juice Rojik (Roejig)
from Alice Bezjian’s, ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’
Cornstarch 1 1⁄2 Cups
Water 4 Cups
Sugar 5 Cups
Concentrated grape juice 1 Cup
Walnut halves, shelled 1⁄2 Pound
1. Combine the cornstarch with the 1 cup water in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve.
2. Add 1 cup more water.
3. Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the lumps. Set aside.
4. In a saucepan combine the sugar and concentrated grape juice in 2 cups of the water.
5. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.
6. Gently stir one-half of the sugar mixture into the starch mixture. Then add the remaining sugar mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
7. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, about 1 hour, or until the mixture forms threadlike pieces when dropped into cold water.
8. Pour half the mixture into an 11x7-inch pan liberally dusted with cornstarch.
9. Press walnut halves into the mixture in 3 or 4 close rows.
10. Pour the remaining mixture over the nuts.
11. Sprinkle with more cornstarch.
12. Cover with plastic wrap for at least 10 hours.
13. Using the walnut rows as your guide, cut the rojik into 3 or 4 rows.
14. Generously roll each strip into cornstarch.
15. Wrap each roll separately in wax paper and freeze until you are ready to serve.
Then unwrap, bring to room temperature, and cut into slices about a quarter inch thick.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
|Sonia's new cookbook|
In my last post, I announced the publication of Sonia Tashjian’s new Armenian cookbook, “HAYGAGAN AVANTAGAN KHOHANOTS” –“Armenian Traditional Cuisine”, the catch being that it’s written completely in Armenian.
For those of us unable to read or write in our mother language, this poses a problem.
Sonia Tashjian offered the following service in a comment at the end of that post :
“I'll be so glad if a volunteer helps me to translate some of them. I will send her/him the recipe in Armenian, then we will ask Robyn to publish it in her website of course with the picture. Thank you.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, we must not pass up this golden opportunity!
If anyone reading this can translate from Armenian into English, and is willing to work with Sonia and The Armenian Kitchen, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send your contact information to Sonia. Perhaps we, as a team, can preserve even more precious Armenian recipes.
What do you say, any volunteers??