Sunday, March 29, 2015
Today, Palm Sunday, marks The Armenian Kitchen’s 6th anniversary, and the beginning of Holy Week. It also means that we are preparing for Easter Sunday, and the all-important Easter meal.
We’ve shared recipes for chorag, roasted lamb, paklava, explained how to dye eggs naturally and the tradition of cracking Easter eggs to see who the ‘winner’ will be. We also included recipes showing how to use leftover Easter eggs and lamb, and still keep meals interesting.
A few years back our friend Ara sent a link from ArmeniaNow, an online magazine, depicting a very traditional Easter meal. The story was written by reporter Gayane Mkrtchyan.
It is this story that I would like to present to you. Please click here to read this most-interesting account of a traditional Easter meal as done in Armenia.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, is fast approaching. In most Armenian churches in the U.S., the youth organizations host a luncheon – or - bake sale – or - both.
|St. David Armenian Church|
Years ago, I co-advised the ACYOA with my long-time friend Arlys Koushakjian. Our then teen-aged children grew up together, so it seemed natural that the two moms would advise and nurture the small group of young Armenians in the area. Each year we sponsored a luncheon with the help of the Women’s Guild and Men’s Club.
We are proud to say that St. David ACYOA youth membership has grown, and continues this long-standing Palm Sunday tradition.
If you are in the area on Palm Sunday, please join the St. David family for this special event!
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Bulgur recipes can be served hot, cold or at room temperature making it a truly versatile ingredient and a MUST-HAVE in any Armenian pantry.
NOTE: I buy currants when they are readily available in the supermarket, and keep open packages, well-wrapped, in the freezer to help them last a long time.
Here’s my rendition of a bulgur salad that, I believe, even my grandparents would have enjoyed.
Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Currants
Note: This is best if made several hours or up to one day before serving.
1 cup #2 (medium) bulgur
¼ cup currants
¼ cup pistachios, shelled and toasted (* See steps #3 and 6)
½ to 1 tsp. allspice
2 Tbsp. dried mint, crushed
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon, optional
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place bulgur in a large bowl and cover it with cold water; soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until it becomes soft but not mushy. Drain any remaining liquid in a fine sieve, squeezing out any excess moisture. Return bulgur to the bowl.
2. To reconstitute the currants, place them in a separate bowl and cover with a little warm water for about 5 minutes. Drain well.
*3. To toast the pistachios, place them in a dry skillet and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pan often, until nuts become fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place nuts on a plate to cool. Coarsely chop nuts and set aside until ready to use.
4. Add the drained currants, spices, dried mint, and parsley to the bulgur. Toss gently.
5. Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*6. Pour dressing over bulgur mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving the salad, add the toasted, chopped pistachios. This prevents the nuts from getting soggy before serving time.
The salad may be served at room temperature.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Meat was a luxury menu item when my mother was growing up, so legumes and grains were commonplace fare in their household. You might say that my mom and her family ate vegetarian-style meals more often than not.
NOTE: My grandmother used dried beans which she soaked overnight and made her own red pepper paste for this, and many other dishes. What a gal!
Serves 4 to 6 servings
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
dash cayenne pepper, or Aleppo red pepper
dash cayenne pepper, or Aleppo red pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. red pepperpaste (tomato paste may be substituted)
2 (15-ounce) cans Northern beans (or any other white beans), rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth, homemade or commercially prepared
1 cup diced tomatoes (diced canned tomatoes may be used; save the liquid for another use)
Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley; extra-virgin olive oil; lemon wedges
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onions; season with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne or Aleppo red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add roasted red peppers, oregano, minced garlic and red pepper paste, (or tomato paste if using) and cook, stirring often, until paste begins to turn deep red, about 3 minutes.
|Step 1, continued|
2. Add beans to the saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, until liquid is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and remaining 1 cup broth; simmer for another 5 minutes or until the consistency is somewhat thick, not soupy. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
3. Place plaki in a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.
Serve with lemon wedges.
Serve with lemon wedges.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
This coming Wednesday, March 11th marks the half-way point of our Lenten season - the 24th day of Lent, occurring on the Wednesday of the fourth week to be precise.
Here’s a re-cap of the meaning or significance of Mid Lent, also known as Michink:
- Michink falls on a Wednesday.
- It is not a feast day.
- The same Wednesday Lenten services are performed on this day.
- Michink is celebrated during the middle of lent to encourage people to persevere until the end of lent.
- During this celebration, women would insert a coin into a pastry (gata or pagharch) and whoever receives the slice (of pastry) with the coin in it would receive good luck.
- A special sandwich, Michink Koutap, is also prepared on this day.
According to the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles, “a variety of special foods are prepared in Armenian homes for Michink – such as unleavened breads, called “Bagharj,” and a kind of sandwich called “Koutap” that is filled with a mixture of boiled green beans, broad beans, and other vegetables. It is the custom to hide a metal coin or special object in both the Bagharj bread and the Koutap.”
Another source concurs that, Michink Koutap is a kind of sandwich filled with boiled green beans, broad beans, and other vegetables, but adds that the dough is prepared with olive oil, and small lumps of egg-sized dough may be flattened, enclosed around the filling, then baked. Before sealing the dough, a colorful bead or a coin would be hidden in one of the sandwiches, thus identifying the year's lucky person.
Here are a few additional Mid-Lent recipes you might like to prepare: