Everything about Armenian food!

Celebrating a heritage of Armenian recipes

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Halva with Toasted Pine Nuts

I realize it’s only October, but, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays.

Before you know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here, so I’m taking the opportunity to practice making some recipes I plan to serve when the jingle bells start ringing.
Halva with Toasted Pine Nuts

I’m starting with an old-time favorite, halva. It takes very little time to prepare and is easy enough for a beginning cook to master. If you like this recipe, check out my version of Baneerov Halva (Halva with Cheese).

Serves 4

NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled for a larger crowd, but use a 12-inch skillet instead.

Simple Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Prepare simple syrup:
Bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat, add lemon juice, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Keep syrup warm until ready to use.

Halva Ingredients:
1 cup farina (Cream of Wheat may be used)
½ stick unsalted butter (4 Tbsp.)
½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts or chopped pecans or chopped walnuts

  • Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet, over medium heat. Allow butter to brown a little – do not   let it burn!
  • Add the farina (or Cream of Wheat), stirring so it absorbs the butter and starts to turn a light brown. Slowly ladle-in the warm syrup, stirring until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  • Add nuts; continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring so nuts are evenly distributed. Remove skillet from heat; cover the pan and allow rest to for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with cinnamon sprinkled on top, if desired. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Can’t Get Enough Lahmajoun!

Doug felt like having homemade pizza for dinner, but I didn’t feel like messing around making dough from scratch because it’s still really hot here in the south.

Doug’s solution was to purchase commercially prepared, ready-to-bake crust. So, we bought two 3-packs of Mama Mary’s 7-inch, thin and crispy crusts.

Lahmajoun made on a small pizza crust
What Doug didn’t know was that I had other plans for the crusts. He wanted pizza, but I was in the mood for lahmajoun – guess who won!

I had a need to experiment making lahmajoun with this crust. 
When I use flour tortillas as a lahmajoun shortcut, the tortillas can become soggy resulting in a disappointing product. 

I wanted to see how these crusts would hold up as the base.

Here’s what I did:

Mama Mary's small pizza crusts

Crusts covered with lahmajoun topping
I made my traditional lahmajoun topping (see below) using ground turkey. I spread a generous amount of the topping on the six crusts and placed 3 crusts on two baking sheets. 
Each tray was baked at 425°F for 7 minutes on the bottom rack and then another 7 minutes on the top rack until the topping was cooked through.

There was enough topping left to cover another 2 or 3 crusts which I didn't have.  I made 2 'burgers' for another meal instead.

The lahmajoun was served with a tossed salad – a hearty, simple meal!

I’m happy to report that Doug was very pleased with the recipe swap; I was happy with the simpler preparation. 

Although the crusts held up well for a lahmajoun base, they were just too thick. One apiece was more than enough to satisfy us.
Regardless, we enjoyed every bite.

Lahmajoun Topping Recipe

Yield: Enough topping for 8 or 9 small pizza crusts 

1 lb. ground lamb or beef (or a combination of the two) Note: Ground turkey may be substituted
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1/2 small green pepper, chopped
½ bunch parsley, washed well, stems removed, chopped
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or red pepper paste
1 to 2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. dried mint
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. sweet paprika
dash cayenne pepper

1. To save time, process the onion, peppers, and parsley in a food processor, using the metal “S” blade. Squeeze out any excess liquid - this is VERY important! Be careful not to over-process. Vegetables should still be a bit chunky, not pureed. Note: If chopping by hand, be sure to finely chop the vegetables.

2. In a large bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients, mixing well.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rock Candy - Can it Heal One's Soul?

After posting a special request asking about a type of candy that was handed out at funerals, I received suggestions from two readers:

#1: JH suggested it could possibly be locum, which, after dusting it with powdered sugar is white.
#2. My cousin Craig Simonian wrote, “You're talking about Nabat Shakar, which simply means Sweet Candy.”  In other words, rock candy. 
Rock Candy

According to the link Craig included, rock candy is described thusly: ‘Persian Rock Candy is used for various purposes and is believed to have a variety of healing properties. It is available in a long crystal form or in smaller pieces.’

I mentioned the rock candy suggestion to JH who replied, “I thought of rock candy too but the milky description threw me. My Grandmother did make that but I thought it was more clear than white - unless they added something so that the color clouded a bit.”

Because I can clearly recall being given rock candy as a child in my grandparents’ home, I'm leaning toward that suggestion. Mind you, I don’t recall it being served in times of sadness, it just gave us sweet pleasure.