At the conclusion of our October Women’s Guild meeting at St. David Armenian Church (Boca Raton, FL), the guest presenter was long-time member Deegeen (Mrs.) Makrouhi.
The lesson on this day was a demonstration on the preparation of Simit, those tasty baked twists that go so well with a cup of coffee. Marge, another of our talented guild members, and phenomenal cook, assisted in this demonstration.
Deegeen Makrouhi is from the old-school of cookery in that she does not – I repeat – does not use measuring tools. Instead she relies on basic kitchenware, such as coffee mugs and a variety of spoons. While watching the simit being made, I was reminded of my grandmother who used her hands as a measuring cups, and a watchful eye as she added ingredients to the mixing bowl. This type of food preparation, in an Armenian kitchen, is known as 'achkee chop’ – where a recipe’s success is determined simply by eye and feel - a method which, by the way, takes years to master!
Deegeen Makrouhi cooks in that same manner. We watched her scoop sugar, and baking powder using what looked like a serving spoon, while assistant Marge poured flour right from the bag into the bowl until she was instructed to stop.
When the simit dough was completed, Deegeen Makrouhi pinched off a piece and passed it around so we could feel its proper consistency. All that was left to do, was pinch, roll, shape, glaze, sprinkle, and bake the final product. She and Marge made it look so simple.
NOTE: This recipe was explained ‘Achkee Chop’ – Good Luck!
Pour 2 sticks melted margarine into a coffee mug. Add olive oil to top of mug.
Add: ½ coffee mug of whole milk
1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
Enough flour to make a pliable dough (this is truly the ‘achkee chop’ part!)
For glaze - 1 beaten egg
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Mix until a soft dough is formed.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Then shape (into twists), coat with beaten egg, sprinkle top with sesame seeds.
Bake on a lightly greased baking (or parchment paper-lined) sheet in a preheated 350 °F oven until golden brown.
If ‘achee chop’ cooking isn’t your thing, here’s another, slightly different, but measured version – of Deegeen Makrouhi’s simit recipe which appears in the ‘St. David Church Women’s Guild Cookbook’ , published in 2005 – OR – click here for The Armenian Kitchen’s simit recipe.
Simit, by Makrouhi
1 cup corn oil (Mazola)
1 cup milk
1 stick margarine, melted
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup sugar
6 cups flour
For glazing: 1 egg, beaten
Mix all ingredients together to form dough. Pinch off a piece and roll out by hand into a long rope shape. Twist and brush top with egg. Bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes or until brown.