Monday, April 22, 2019

Gluten-free Chickpea-Cardamom-Tahini ‘Pie’: An Accidental Recipe

Aram, our recent house guest, is on a gluten-free diet. While he and his wife Tricia were here, Aram and I experimented making a gluten-free crust for lahmajoun and gluten free simit. (Coming soon in a separate post.)


After Aram and Tricia left for home, I purchased the Sadaf brand of chickpea flour with the idea of making the gluten-free cookie recipe on the back of the product’s bag and sharing the recipe with Aram.

The company’s recipe is as follows:
Chickpea Cookies
Yield: 36 pieces
Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. ground cardamom
3 ½ cups sifted fine chick-pea flour
Directions:
  1. Melt butter over low heat. 
  2. Combine powdered sugar and cardamom in a large bowl. Mix melted butter into the sugar-spice mixture until creamy. 
  3. Add chickpea flour, stirring constantly, to produce dough. 
    Chickpea dough
    Knead well for 10 minutes. Cover and set aside for 2 hours; do not refrigerate.
  4. Preheat oven to 300°F. Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness on a large plate. Cut out cookies with tiny cookie cutters.
  5. Place the cookies 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden.
  6. Remove from oven, cool and carefully put on a serving plate.

I followed the recipe to a “T” through step #3. Once the two hours were up, I tried to lift the ball of dough out of the bowl, but it crumbled into a heap! 
Crumbled chickpea dough

There was NO way I would be able to roll the dough as suggested in step #4.

What to do? I scooped up the crumbles and put them into a mixing bowl. Put about 1+ Tbsp. water and 2 Tbsp. of well-stirred tahini into the dry, crumbly mass. I gently mixed it together with my hands, making sure all was combined. The consistency was similar to a thick brownie batter.


Using an 8-inch glass pie pan which I lightly greased, I pressed the mixture into the pan. I used the back of a fork to create a pattern on the surface and added a few pistachio nuts as a garnish.
Chickpea 'pie' - before baking
The dessert baked for about 25 minutes at 350°F. 
Baked Chickpea-Cardamom-Tahini 'Pie'
The dessert had to cool completely before serving. Note: The longer it sat, the easier it was to slice and serve.
Candy-coated chickpeas
How did it taste? If you’ve ever eaten candy-coated chick peas, that should give you an idea. It was sweet, without being too sweet, with a hint of cardamom and tahini. 
It was actually pretty good, especially with a cup of coffee!


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Easter!

We, at The Armenian Kitchen, wish you and your families a very Happy Easter!


Monday, April 15, 2019

Wondering what to prepare for Easter? Look no further!

I don’t know about you, but we’re all about tradition when it comes to Easter. Here’s a recap of some our Easter favorites.
Dying Easter eggs with onion skins
If you haven’t already gathered onion skins to color eggs for Easter, you’ll have to scurry to do so. If that isn’t an option, there are other ways to color hard-cooked eggs naturally. Click here to learn how.
Chorag (choreg) - perfect for Easter or Anytime!
Zadigi Kahke - Easter Cookies

As far as baking goes, chorag takes center-stage at Easter, as do Easter Cookies (Zadigi Kahke).
Easter egg salad with chorag
Just a suggestion: We sometimes have Easter Egg Salad to go with the chorag. It's a nice way to jazz-up otherwise boring hard-cooked eggs.
Roasted Leg of Lamb
Shish Kebab
The main meal? Lamb, of course! Roasted Leg of Lamb  or Lamb shish kebab.
For side dishes, just scroll through our two recipe lists and select what strikes you. (Our go-to side dishes include rice or bulgur pilaf, and fassoulia without the meat.)
Bulgur Pilaf
Another side dish option, Easter Spinach Salad, comes from Rose Baboian's "Armenian- American" cookbook.
Mini Paklava!
There’s absolutely NO question what dessert will be … Paklava (or mini Paklava), of course!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Chickpea-Tahini and Brown Rice Pie

If you’re looking for a hearty, nourishing meal that satisfies a Lenten, vegetarian, and/or vegan diet, this just might be the one!
The hearty crust and creamy, slightly crunchy chickpea-tahini-nut filling provides a variety of textures to please your palate.


Chickpea-Tahini and Brown Rice Pie (Photo credit: Diana Herrington. Photos below are from TheArmenianKitchen.com)

Chickpea-Tahini and Brown Rice Pie
Serves 4 to 6
 (Recipe adapted from Diana Herrington, http://realfoodforlife.com)
Filling Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 -15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
1/4 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts or pecans work well)           
Salt and pepper to taste

Filling Directions:
Chickpea-tahini-nut filling
1. Sautė onion in a little olive oil until onions begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, parsley, cumin and coriander, and cook 1 more minute.

2. Add chickpeas and tahini.  Mix together, adding a little water, if necessary, to achieve a creamy, sauce-like consistency. Stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Add chopped nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Set aside.

Pie Shell Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice** (prepared according to package directions)
2 Tbsp. fine chickpea flour                                
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

(** I used Uncle Ben's parboiled long-grain brown rice, and it worked well.)

Shell Directions:
Sesame seeds coat the bottom of the pie pan
1. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the bottom of a pie pan that has been lightly coated with vegetable cooking spray.  Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, place cooked brown rice and chickpea flour. Add water, a little at a time. Gently mash with a fork to create a sticky dough-like mixture. (NOTE: Do not add water all at once!)
Brown rice crust
3. Place rice mixture in pie pan. With wet fingers, press rice mixture to create a ‘crust’.
Ready to bake!

4. Spoon chickpea filling into the crust spreading evenly.

5. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 450°F oven for 25 - 35 minutes. Allow pie to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serve with a tossed salad.









Saturday, March 30, 2019

Peanut Butter Kufteh - a Unique Lenten Recipe

During Lent many take it upon themselves to take a step back and review their lives. Some choose to follow a strict  diet forgoing meat, dairy, eggs, alcohol, sweets, and the like.

If you’re one who prefers to follow a strict Lenten diet, you might want to try this recipe which offers a unique blend of flavors.
Some of St. Sarkis Women's Guild Members (L- R: Robyn, Joanne, Donna, Maro, Betty, Diane, and Noelle)
The Women’s Guild of St. Sarkis Armenian Church inCharlotte, NC reserved one day to gather in the church’s kitchen and prepare a Lenten recipe not known to many – Peanut Butter Kufteh.  Since I’d posted this recipe a while back, I was asked to ‘lead’ the project, meaning I would gather the ingredients, and share the recipe. Easily done.

Once the ladies arrived, sleeves were rolled up and work was begun. We had lots of fun while learning from each other in the process!
Peanut Butter Kufteh
Peanut Butter Kufteh (Peanut Butter filled Patties)
Yields about 24-30 kuftehs (depending on size)
Filling Ingredients:
21 oz. chunky (or smooth) peanut butter (3/4 of a 24-oz. jar)
3 cups chopped onion
1 tsp. dried mint
¼ tsp. dried basil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp. salt
Outer Shell Ingredients:
2 ½ cups fine bulgur (#1 size)
1½ cups oatmeal
1½ cups farina (Cream of Wheat)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried mint
¼ tsp. dried basil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 ½ to 3 cups hot water

Peanut Butter Filling
Filling Directions:
Mix all of the filling ingredients in the order listed until well-blended. Set aside.
Shell ingredients
Outer Shell Directions:
1. Mix together the bulgur, oatmeal, farina, flour, salt, mint, basil, cayenne, and black pepper; add most of the hot water, stirring to create a dough. Knead. If mixture is too dry, add a little more hot water. If mixture becomes too wet, add a bit more flour or farina. The dough should not be too sticky.

2. Take a ball of the dough the size of a golf ball. Make an indentation in the center with your thumb and keep opening and shaping with your index and middle finger. Press down in center and sides, rotating until you get a thin shell.

3. Fill the shell with one tablespoon or more of the filling. Seal the top and smooth with wet hands. (Keep a bowl of water handy to dip your hands to ease this process.) Shape the kufteh so that it’s flat on the bottom and slightly rounded on the top. If that’s too hard to master, keep the shape round.
Shaped kuftehs before boiling
ROBYN'S NOTE ON SHAPING:
To make the shell as thin as possible, we lined a small plate with plastic wrap, took a golf ball sized piece of the 'dough', flattened it into a circle by hand, then gently lifted it off the plastic - while trying not to break it. You really do have to keep a small bowl of water to dip your hands into for this process. The water helps 'glue' the outer shell together. After placing a spoonful of filling in the center,  gently encase the filling with the outer shell. Finally, smooth the surface with wet fingers, making sure the kufteh is flat on the bottom and slightly rounded on the top.

4. Place shaped kutfehs on a waxed paper-lined tray or plate, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

5. While the kuftehs chill, boil water in a large pot with some salt.

6. Remove kuftehs from the refrigerator, and boil, in small batches, for about 10 minutes until all are cooked. Serve immediately.

If you prefer, after the kuftehs are boiled, place them on a paper towel-lined tray and pat dry. Lightly oil the tops of each kufteh. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for a few minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.

Serve with tahini sauce, if desired. (See recipe below)


To freeze the kufteh: After kufteh is boiled, cool completely. Wrap individually in plastic wrap to prevent them from sticking together, and store them in a freezer storage bag.


To defrost and reheat: Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Boil some lightly salted water; reduce to a gentle boil. Add kufteh without crowding, and heat for about 5 minutes. Or, follow the instructions above for heating in the oven. 


Tahini Sauce

Ingredients:
1–2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup tahini paste, well-stirred
¼ to ½  cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup cold water, more if needed

Optional Garnish: 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, thick stems removed

Directions:

Using a garlic press, crush the garlic cloves. Place on a plate and mash with salt create a paste.

Add the mashed garlic, tahini paste and ¼ cup of lime juice to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little bit of water and blend again. Taste to see if you need to add more lime juice. If the consistency is thicker than you’d like, add more water until you reach the desired consistency. 

NOTE: Tahini sauce will thicken as it emulsifies.

Transfer the tahini to a serving bowl, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if you wish. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Rubina Sevadjian's One-Pot Vegan Lenten Dish

Rubina Sevadjian
For those of you who don’t know Rubina Sevadjian, allow me to introduce her. Rubina is an author, world-traveler, gardener, cook, and a dear, albeit, long-distance friend. 

At the start of Lent Rubina sent me a message asking for vegan recipe ideas because her intention was to follow a strict Lenten diet. I was happy to oblige.


I'm not sure if Rubina made any of my suggested recipes, but she sent me one she created herself. It doesn’t have a formal name, there are no specific amounts, but it sounds great – especially if you like pasta, veggies, chili flakes and a LOT of garlic.
Read on and give it a try!



Rubina’s One-Pot Vegan Lenten Dish

Ingredients:

NOTERubina says: “Any ratio of each ingredient would work depending on how hungry one is. But lots of garlic is a must!” 

Edamame beans
broccoli florets
Maltagliatti pasta (any pasta would work)
olive oil
garlic, minced (lots)
two types of chili flakes—chipotle and Bird’s eye (to taste)
salt

Directions:
In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add edamame & pasta first; cook for a few minutes; add broccoli and continue to cook until edamame, pasta and broccoli are tender, but not mushy. Drain in a colander.
Using the same pot lightly fry the garlic & 2 types of chili flakes in olive oil. Return all to the pot and mix well, sprinkle with sea salt! 

Voila!


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Happy 10th Birthday (or is it Anniversary?) to TheArmenianKitchen.com!

TheArmenianKitchen.com


For the past ten years The Armenian Kitchen has spanned the globe as we've shared and gathered Armenian recipes while making new friends and re-connecting with family.

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for helping to make this continuing journey possible!
💙🧡

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes

My grandmother, Yeranuhe Genjian-Vartanesian, - as well as all of my grandparents - came from humble beginnings. Yeranuhe Nanny came from the mountains of Musa Dagh, Syria. She was one of the fortunate Armenians who found her way to America in 1921 where, upon arrival to Ellis Island, she married my grandfather, Oskan Vartanesian. (Sadly, how and when he arrived in America is not exactly known.)

Nanny could take ordinary ingredients, put them together in such a way that would make you beg for more. When she cooked, everything was made from scratch, down to making her own red pepper paste. Luckily, today we can take some shortcuts with results that are just as pleasing.
Yeranuhe Nanny's Stovetop Green Beans and Potatoes
Here is a modern take on one of Nanny’s humble dishes -Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes:

Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes 
Serves 4 to 5
Ingredients for Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes
Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-sized sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. ground sumac
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried mint, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes with its liquid
3 Tbsp. red pepper paste mixed into 1 cup of water (Note: tomato paste with a tsp. of paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste)
1 to 1 ½ lbs. fresh French (thin) green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half (FYI: Frozen green beans are a good substitute!)
4 to 6 small red skinned potatoes, washed, unpeeled, cut into quarters (If larger potatoes are used, cut them into smaller chunks.)
lemon juice, optional
Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (thick stems removed); lemon wedges or slices – pits removed

Directions:
In a large pot, heat 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a dash of salt; cook, stirring now and then, until onions begin to soften (about 5 mins). Add the garlic, allspice, cumin, sumac, oregano and mint. Cook - and - stir a few more minutes.
Green beans and potatoes simmering away!
Add tomatoes with liquid, pepper paste diluted in water, green beans, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine ingredients.
Increase the heat until mixture starts to boil gently.  

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook about 20 minutes, or until green beans and potatoes are fork-tender; stir occasionally.

Important tip: About 10 minutes into the cooking process, check to see if more water needs to be added. Add a small amount at a time, if necessary, and stir.
Before serving, adjust seasonings, if desired.

Transfer green beans and potatoes to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges or slices.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Click here to read about Hatz Baboog (literal translation: Bread Grandfather) who delivered our favorite bread right to our home!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lentil - Olive - Mushroom Patties

One of my go-to Lenten recipes is Lentil - Olive - Mushroom Patties. It’s easy, tasty and satisfying. If you prefer a heartier version, a variation of this is listed below. 
    
Lentil-Olive-Mushroom Patties
Lentil - Olive - Mushroom Patties   
Yield: 5 patties

Ingredients:
        1 Tbsp. olive oil
        1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
        1/2 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        Freshly ground black pepper
        1/2 tsp. dried oregano
        ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
        1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives (Note: If olives are too salty, rinse before adding.)
        1-1/4 cups cooked lentils, (canned or dried, cooked lentils can be used)
        1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, plus more for coating
        1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
        Additional olive oil for pan-frying

Directions: 
1. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sautė the onions for about 3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add mushrooms, garlic, black pepper, oregano, and parsley; sautė for 7 to 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Place cooled onion-mushroom mixture into the food processor along with the olives, lentils, ½ cup breadcrumbs, and lemon juice. Pulse until almost smooth, leaving some of the ingredients chunky for added texture. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and thoroughly combine. 

NOTES
  • No additional salt is added to this recipe since the olives are rather salty.
  • VARIATION: For a heartier final product, add about 1/2 cup of pre-cooked brown rice, bulgur, or quinoa to the mixture in this step.
3 Using a ½ cup measure, divide the mixture into 5 equal patties.  Slightly flatten them and coat each side in a little more of the bread crumbs. (This will create a nice crust on the surface when cooked.)

4. Place the shaped, coated patties on a plate lined with plastic wrap; cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, or until ready to cook.

5. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly golden brown and heated through.

NOTE:  The patties can also be baked in a preheated 350°F oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Spray a little cooking spray on the top of each patty to keep them for getting too dry; bake for 15 minutes. Turn them over and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.





Friday, March 8, 2019

Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole: Perfect for Lent!

Preparing meals during Lent shouldn't be a challenge, if you know the guidelines.


According to information from the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, “The oldest Armenian Lenten traditions hardly allowed for the consumption of any food at all. Indeed, the Armenian Church sometimes refers to Lent as Aghouhatzk, meaning “salt and bread,” because at one time these elements were the only permitted foods. Over time, Lenten rules have changed to allow any food – except for those which derive from animals (meat and milk, e.g.). Alcoholic beverages were also forbidden. These rules were based on the Biblical principle that many human vices proceed from eating and drinking.”

Some choose to follow a completely vegan diet during Lent, which means they will only consume vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes and will avoid animal products, such as meat, dairy, and even honey.
How strictly one follows a Lenten diet is entirely up to the individual.

To get you started, here is a Lenten-appropriate recipe for Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole.
Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole

Eggplant-Chickpea Casserole
Serves 4 as a main dish**; serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, (approx. 1 to 1 ½ lbs.) cut into cubes
Salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 carrot, pared and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. ground sumac
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Salt, to taste
2 medium zucchinis, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 -15-oz can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 to 2 - 15-oz can(s) chickpeas (with liquid) **NOTE: If serving this as a main dish, add 2 cans of chick peas for a heartier meal.
Garnish: Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place a colander in the sink; place cubed eggplant in colander; sprinkle with salt. Allow eggplant to release any bitterness for about 20 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry on paper towels.
Sauteed Vegetables

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil on a medium-high temperature until oil shimmers. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, bay leaves, dried herbs and spices, and salt to taste. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.
Add eggplant, zucchini, diced tomatoes with liquid, chickpeas with liquid. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Remove skillet from stove top. Transfer ingredients to a lightly greased, oven-safe casserole dish or baking pan with 2-inch sides.
Ready to Bake

Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until eggplant and zucchini are tender. (About half-way through baking, check to see if more liquid is needed. If so, carefully remove casserole from oven and stir in enough water to moisten without making it soupy.)

When vegetables are tender, remove casserole from oven and drizzle top with a little olive oil; garnish with fresh parsley.

This dish can be served hot or at room temperature. For a main dish, serve with a side salad and lavash.