Everything about Armenian food!

Celebrating a heritage of Armenian recipes

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jerusalem Garden Cafe, Asheville, NC - a real find for foodies

In case you've been wondering where we've been, here's the scoop. Since late July, we've been visiting family and friends in NJ, NY, CT, RI, ME, and now NC. While here in North Carolina, we've taken up residence (briefly) in a cabin overlooking lush greenery set in a resort community offering loads of recreational opportunities.

On our exploration of surrounding communities, we found comfort in the dining opportunities offered in Asheville, a hip, artsy town on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western NC.

One stand-out restaurant is Jerusalem Garden Cafe. I guess we were drawn to it because of the menu which offers some usual fare, such as stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, tabbuleh, hummus, and mutabal (baba ghanoush). Remember, this is western NC I'm talking about!

The menu also offers some culinary surprises too ...

Mujaddara (rice and lentils topped with caramelized onions).
Pistachio encrusted lamb chops, topped with pomegranate molasses.
Jerusalem burger with lamb made with local, grass-fed beef topped with shaved, slow-cooked lamb, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a choice of Tzatziki or cilantro-parsley harra sauce.
NOTE: harra sauce is described as a mixture of cilantro, garlic, walnuts, red chili pepper flakes, lemon juice, tahini, salt, water and olive oil.
Then there's thinly shaved roasted leg of lamb cooked in red wine, lamb demi, baharat seasoning - topped with feta and caramelized onions.
NOTE: baharat seasoning blend may include allspice, black pepper, cardamom, ground coriander, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, dried chili peppers, or paprika.

The Jerusalem Garden Cafe also serves brunch on weekends. Get this, their 'standard' breakfast includes 2 eggs (fried or scrambled), local Hickory Nut Gap bacon or grass-fed kafta meatballs, harra-fried potatoes or biscuits (after all, this IS the south!). The last item I'll mention, which is certainly not the least, is lamb and eggs with grilled onions, hummus, and pita.

We 're amazed that this menu is available in western North Carolina!
Can anyone explain why there isn't a restaurant like this where we live?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Faloodeh – or- Paludeh ye Shirazi: A frozen angel hair rice noodles and cream dessert

As I was organizing my pantry, I saw a partial bag of thin rice noodles that I’d used for a Thai recipe a long time ago. Apparently, these noodles can last a life-time, if stored in an air-tight container.  Since I had no intention of discarding the dried noodles, I wanted to find a use for them that would be more in keeping with Armenian cuisine. 
Faloodeh Shirazi (photo from Pinterest.com)
Since I’d never heard of an Armenian-style recipe calling for rice noodles, I was surprised to find one for a frozen dessert called ‘Faloodeh’, in an article from the ianyan online magazine written by Liana Aghajanian. 

Then it hit me… I had heard of a recipe with a similar-sounding name called ‘Paludeh ye Shirazi’, from the cookbook, “Persian Cuisine” by M.R. Ghanoonparvar.

I came up with a variation of the Persian cookbook's recipe.

Faloodeh – or- Paludeh ye Shirazi: A frozen angel hair rice noodles and cream dessert
Adapted from the cookbook, “Persian Cuisine”

About ¼ lb. thin rice noodles or rice sticks, the size of angel hair pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. lime zest, optional
2 tsp. rosewater extract, optional
For serving: 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Separate and break noodles into pieces about 1-2” long.
2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil; add noodles and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft, but not mushy. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside in a colander to drain completely.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream, powdered sugar, lime zest and rose water extract, if using. Stir in the noodles, tossing to coat.
4. Place mixture in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and loosen. Place back in the freezer for one more hour, until noodles are frozen and crisp. 

To Serve: Place in individual bowls. Drizzle one or two Tbsp. (or to taste) lime juice over each serving.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Watermelon and Peaches with Vanilla Yogurt Topping

Summer is a time when food preparation should be simple and flexible.

This warm-weather, fruity dessert can be served at a picnic or at a fancy, sit-down dinner. With the season’s bounty of melons, berries and stone fruit, this can be ready in a jiffy!

Feel free to mix-and-match your favorite combination of summer fruit. Don’t want to spend time toasting nuts, that’s OK, too. Just chop - and -sprinkle, or skip using nuts altogether. 
Watermelon and Peaches
(Photo credit: National Watermelon Promotion Board) 

Watermelon and Peaches with Vanilla Yogurt Topping
(adapted from a recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Serves 6 to 8

For Garnish: ½ to ¾ cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 ripe peaches
Juice from 1 large lemon
4 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes
For Yogurt Sauce:
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups yogurt (Note: vanilla favored yogurt may be used, but then omit the 1 tsp. of vanilla)
1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, add the pistachios. Stir until they are lightly toasted. Remove the nuts from the pan to a heat-proof plate to cool.  Coarsely chop nuts and set aside.
2. Thinly slice the peaches without removing the skin. Discard the pit. Place peach slices in a large mixing bowl and toss with lemon juice. Add the watermelon cubes to the bowl with the peaches and gently toss together.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, cinnamon, yogurt and vanilla.
4. Evenly distribute the fruit mixture into individual serving bowls. Spoon some topping over each serving.  Garnish with chopped pistachios.  

Serve immediately.