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Celebrating a heritage of Armenian recipes


Sunday, April 26, 2015

My parents are currently in Yerevan, Armenia so I am guest blogging to share a segment that Doug was the subject of on Huffington Post Live's World Brief. It aired, live, Friday, April 24th, 2015 – the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

In the roughly nine minute segment – featuring archival family photos, historic genocide photos, and video from this week's historic events in Armenia – Doug is interviewed, live, from Yerevan via Skype. He explains his father's narrow escape from the Genocide as a small boy, his grandmother's murder, and his memories growing up as a second-generation Armenian American in the silent shadow of the Genocide. He also discussed Turkey's continued denial that the massacres of 1915 were just that: genocide. He describes the more-than three decade process that resulted in his memoir Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me, which is available on Amazon. This, his latest work, is the result of recollections and, mostly, years of research to fill in the painful voids in our family's oral history.



In addition to the visibility on Huffington Post Live, he has received critical praise from Kirkus, which had this to say: "His polished, sometimes even poetic prose evokes a sense of curiosity and lament. In response to his family’s silence—and to the silence of a whole people still shellshocked by their grim treatment—Kalajian has become a professional storyteller and an excellent one at that.Kirkus Reviews

This is a great literary work by a talented Armenian-American author at a critical time in our history. I hope you’ll buy it today!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Armenia, here we come!



That's right, The Armenian Kitchen is traveling to … Yerevan!

By the time you read this, Doug and I will be on the first leg of a 3-country journey.

Our first stop takes us to England, where we will attend the London Book Fair.  Doug has been invited to serve as the American-Armenian Writer’s Guild representative at the Armenian Pavilion. The highlight of this 3-day event will be Doug’s presentation of his book, “Stories My Father Never Finished Telling Me”. Truly a great honor!

From there we visit relatives in France. Ah, springtime in Paris!  Then on to Yerevan, in time to participate in the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide! We’re meeting long-time friends, hope meet a cousin I’ve only heard about, and at long-last will meet Sonia Tashjian, one of my Armenian Kitchen contributors! 

We’ll do as much exploring as our creaky bones will allow before heading home.

I’m sure we’ll have plenty of food-stories to share, so please stay tuned!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad

Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad


I'm a Jersey girl –  born and raised in The Garden State.

As a child, I remember going to the Paterson Farmers' Market with my mother and grandmother. Our end-of-the-summer visits meant that Mom and Nanny were on the hunt for ripe, ready to use Jersey tomatoes. Their sweet, juiciness couldn’t be beat.

Mom and Nan would scrutinize the vendors’ wares, making their selection based on quality and price. The trunk of our car sagged with bushels of tomatoes and red peppers – two important ingredients for Nanny’s recipes. The red peppers were ear-marked for Nan’s red pepper paste. The tomatoes served numerous purposes – some for tomato paste, some for specific recipes such as dolma, and the firm, ripe, sweet tomatoes were assigned to any dish that Nan would conjure up.

Having lived in Florida for over 35 years, I can safely say I'm a Floridian (with Jersey overtones).
We Floridians don’t have to wait until summer’s end to feast on delicious tomatoes, ours are in season when most of the country’s landscape is still covered in snow.
Here’s a recipe that features red and yellow tomatoes (or heirloom tomatoes when available) that would even have met Nanny’s approval!



Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Tomato Salad 
Yield: 4 servings  

Tomato Salad Ingredients:

6 medium red vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
6 medium yellow vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
NOTE: 1- 12 oz. pkg. of red grape or cherry tomatoes, and 1-12 oz. pkg. of yellow grape or cherry tomatoes may be substituted. If using the smaller tomatoes, cut each in half.
2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Grilled Halloumi Ingredients:

8 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick (8 slices total)
NOTE: Halloumi cheese, sold in most Middle Eastern and Whole Foods markets, is made from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Since it’s not a melting cheese, it holds up well on the grill. Be warned: Halloumi cheese is rather salty!
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. zaatar, or to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnish: Slivered basil leaves, or toasted pine nuts or pistachio nuts,    optional

Directions for Tomato Salad:
1. Place all tomato wedges (or halves, if using smaller tomatoes) in a mixing bowl. Add basil strips. 
2. Combine olive oil with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; toss gently with tomatoes and basil.
3. Evenly divide tomato salad among 4 serving plates; set aside.

Directions for Grilled Halloumi Cheese:
1. Pat cheese slices dry between sheets of paper towel.
2. Season both sides of cheese slices with zaatar and black pepper.
3. Heat oil in a large grill pan set over medium-high heat. Cook cheese for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. (NOTE: If you don’t have a grill pan, a large non-stick skillet will do the trick. You just won’t get grill marks.)
 4. Top each salad with two slices of grilled cheese. Garnish with toasted pine nuts or pistachio nuts if desired. Serve immediately.