Monday, October 21, 2019

Dried Fruit Compote - a Quick and Easy Dessert!

Looking for a dessert that can be prepared in a jiffy? Try this quick and easy Dried Fruit Compote.
The culinary definition of compote states that it is "served as a chilled dish made up of fresh or dried fruit that’s been slowly cooked in a sugar syrup - and - could contain liquor or liqueur and sometimes spices."

You might be wondering why I'm sharing this recipe in October if a compote is to be served chilled. Answer: because there are no fixed rules. The good news is that a compote can also be served hot or at room temperature during cooler months to ward-off the chill and warm your heart!

This simple version uses dried fruit, is cooked in a microwave oven, and is sweetened with a bit of local honey rather than sugar syrup. There is no alcohol, but the flavor is enhanced with cinnamon bark, whole cloves and lemon peel.

Dried Fruit Compote topped with plain Greek yogurt, ground cinnamon, and chopped pistachios.
Quick and Easy Dried Fruit Compote
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 cup pitted dried prunes (cut in half)
1 cup dried apricots, cut into bite-sized pieces 
1 cup raisins
1 to 2 Tbsp. good quality local honey
¼ stick cinnamon
4-5 strips lemon peel
2 whole cloves
Enough cold water to cover the ingredients
Garnishes: ½ cup to 1 cup chopped nuts of your choice (pistachio nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans work well) – and/or – plain or vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon

Directions:
Spices & Cheesecloth
Place the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth (cut into about a 6-inch square) and tie shut with kitchen twine. 
(*Note: If cooking this on the stovetop, the spices can be placed in a tea strainer with a screw-on lid. See directions below.)
Left - tea strainer; Right - spices wrapped in cheesecloth and tied
In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix the dried fruit along with the honey and tied spices/lemon peel. Add enough water to cover the ingredients.

Cook on high power for 4 to 5 minutes until the ingredients reach a boil. Remove and discard the spices. Stir compote.

Compote - cooked and ready to serve - or -refrigerate until serving time.
Serve hot or at room temperature - or - cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, place compote in individual bowls. Garnish with a dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and chopped nuts.

**Stovetop Directions:
Using a large enough pot to hold the ingredients, combine dried fruit, honey or 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar, and spices that are in a tea strainer or wrapped in cheesecloth. Add enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fruit is tender. Remove and discard spices. Serve hot or at room temperature -or- cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish as mentioned above, if desired.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Pumpkin-Yogurt Fluff - and - other Pumpkin recipes re-visited!

It’s October and pumpkin decorations are everywhere. I love a good Jack-o'-Lantern, but, personally, I’d rather eat pumpkin than decorate with it.
That’s why this post will revisit some of The Armenian Kitchen’s pumpkin recipes as well as share a new favorite dessert, Pumpkin-Yogurt Fluff. It's easy to prepare, tasty and is sure to please. Think of this as a lighter, fluffier version of pumpkin pie without the crust!  

Pumpkin-Yogurt Fluff topped with chopped pistachios and Maple Guild Syrup

Pumpkin - Yogurt Fluff
Serves 4 -5

Main Ingredients:
1 (15-oz.) can pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
4 Tbsp. low-fat cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. good quality maple syrup (such as Maple Guild brand) plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
****
GARNISHES: Chopped nuts (pecans or pistachios work well) -or- top with crumbled graham crackers for a modified Pumpkin Pie! 

Directions:
Ingredients used for the recipe
Place the canned pumpkin, Greek yogurt and the rest of the main ingredients, in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, vigorously whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Pumpkin mixture whipped and ready to chill.
Taste the mixture and adjust flavorings/sweetness, if needed. Mix again to combine.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight - until ready to serve.

To serve: Place desired amount of pumpkin mixture in individual bowls. Drizzle with a bit more syrup, if you wish.
Garnish with chopped nuts or crushed graham crackers.

****
Here’s a list of previously-posted pumpkin recipes on The Armenian Kitchen(Click on the name to view the recipe.)

Ghapama 
GHAPAMA - Photo credit: Pam Aghababian, http://cavecibum.blogspot.com/









Friday, September 27, 2019

Chicken Shawarma with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce or Toum

I love a good shawarma. I also love fenugreek, a pleasantly bitter, slightly sweet seed which – in ground form – is used in curry powders, spice blends, and teas. After searching for a chicken shawarma recipe using fenugreek in the spice mixture, I finally found one on Veronica's Cornucopia.
This version is for a sandwich, but I felt it would work just as well as a dinner entrée.

 
Chicken Shawarma with rice pilaf, salad and lavash.
Chicken Shawarma with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce or Toum
Ingredients:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded until thin
Ingredients used in the seasoning blend
Seasoning Blend Ingredients:
2 tsp. fenugreek                                       1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice                                           1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon                                       1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger                                             1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves                             1/2 tsp. salt
Marinade:
3 Tbsp. lemon juice                                 
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt                        1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice                         2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
Directions:
The night before serving, combine the seasoning blend spices in a gallon-size plastic bag and shake to combine. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic, and massage the bag to combine, creating a thick-ish paste. Add chicken pieces, seal tightly, and massage the marinade into the chicken until all the pieces are coated.

Refrigerate overnight.

Note: Prepare the tahini-yogurt sauce the night before by whisking all the ingredients together and storing in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

Grill (outside) or pan-grill (stovetop) the chicken breasts on both sides until no longer pink in the center. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut chicken into thin strips.

Can be served as an entrée with rice, salad, and a vegetable of your choice, or as a sandwich: fill pita bread with lettuce, chicken strips, tomato, cucumber, and onion, and top with tahini sauce or toum.

Recipe for Toum is from Liz Della Croce, the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl®, a healthy food, travel and lifestyle blog.

Toum
Ingredients:
1 cup garlic cloves peeled (roughly 3 heads of garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups canola oil you may not need all of this
1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon)
Instructions:
Place the garlic cloves and salt in a large food processor and puree until smooth. It's a good idea to scrape down the sides two or three times to ensure that all of the garlic is finely processed.

Turn the machine back on and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid starting with 1/2 cup. After the first 1/2 cup has been added, pour in a teaspoon of the lemon juice.

Continue alternating between 1/2 cup of the canola oil and a teaspoon of the lemon juice until you've added all of the oil and lemon juice. Alternating between the two is the key to proper emulsification which creates the light and fluffy garlic sauce.

You know it's done when the sauce is white and thick with a similar consistency of mayonnaise. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes.

Recipe Notes:
Do not replace canola oil with olive oil, it will ruin the end result.
You can use vegetable or corn oil.
If the mixture breaks while processing, stop adding additional oil and lemon juice and continue pulsing until it comes together again.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka) and Armenian Meatball Soup: Two More Treasured Recipes from the cookbook, ’Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes’

In a previous post on The Armenian Kitchen, I introduced the cookbook, ’Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes’ published in 1970 by the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (Fresno) Ladies Guild, and the information in which to order a personal copy.

Today I am sharing, with permission, two more of the cookbook’s recipes, Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka) and Armenian Meatball Soup. Both recipes recently appeared in The Armenian Mirror Spectator’s Recipe Corner by Christine Vartanian Datian.

Christine and I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Patligan - Armenian-style Eggplant Moussaka

Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka)
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant, peeled
1 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Pinch of sweet basil (rahan)
1- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. Shortening (butter or oil may be substituted)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Slice the peeled eggplant in ¼-inch slices and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand 15 minutes.
Wash the salt off the eggplant with water. Squeeze lightly and pat dry. Set aside.
Lightly brown meat in a tablespoon of shortening. Add the bell pepper, onion, basil, tomatoes and tomato sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper, and stir. Cook for 5-10 minutes, tossing. Arrange eggplant in a prepared baking dish alternating with meat mixture, and top with meat mixture.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden, and eggplant is tender.
Armenian Meatball Soup
Armenian Meatball Soup
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground lamb or ground chuck
3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white rice
2 1/2 quarts water
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
Flour
Garnishes: paprika and lemon slices, optional

Preparation:
Mix the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl and knead for a few minutes. Shape into balls the size of walnuts and roll in flour. Set aside until ready to cook.

Prepare broth by combining the water, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring broth to a full boil. Add the meat balls a few at a time. Reduce heat to low and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve meat balls in hot broth. Garnish with paprika and sliced lemon, if desired. 
A side of rice or bulgur pilaf, and Armenian madzoon (yogurt) will complete the meal nicely.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam from Fresno, CA

The following recipe was posted in The Armenian Mirror Spectator, August 14, 2019 by Christine Vartanian Datian. It is with her permission that I am posting it here.
The caption reads: "Auntie Zee" (Zarhoui Baxter) - 100 years young and one of the BEST Armenian cooks there was. Her famous "Apricot Jam"!
(Recipe and photo are courtesy of the late Dr. Harold H. “Buzz” Baxter from the Gutsy Gourmet, his popular international food website.)

Dr. Baxter stated:
“Here’s my late Auntie Zee’s (Zarhoui Baxter) private recipe for the most delicious apricot jam on earth,” said Dr. Baxter. “This delicious jam recipe takes time to make and is a major labor of love. My Auntie Zee in Fresno knew how to cook and always went the extra mile to make special Armenian dishes that had her signature. Auntie Zee protected this recipe for many years and had a twinkle in her eye when she would give it up to those few relatives and friends who asked how to make it. I think I am the only person she shared the recipe with in all those years. And I think that was because I once caught her climbing up a fruit tree to pick her own apricots on a hot summer day when she was in her late 90’s. She knew I was thinking of her that day, and she reluctantly shared this recipe with her oldest nephew.”

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam

Ingredients:
3 quarts washed and cut apricots*
8 cups sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
**15 apricot pits — remove seeds and boil until skin peels off
2 tablespoons light Karo syrup or corn syrup

Preparation:
In a large pot, bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until apricots are soft and begin to lose their shape. Let cool completely.

Pour into shallow baking pans to about 3/4 inch deep. Cover with cheese cloth netting and put in the hot sun for 3-4 days to further “sun-cook.”  (Dr. Baxter explained: “Of course you have to live in an area where the temperature will remain in the 90’s to 100’s during the day. Bring pans in at night because you do not want insects to eat your jam.”)

When ready (after 3-4 days), put the jam back into a large pot and bring to a boil for 10-12 minutes, stirring. Pour into sterilized jars and seal (and follow normal canning instructions).

Dr. Baxter added: “Cut apricots in half unless they are very large, then you should cut them in quarters. We are making jam here, not jelly. Tree-ripened apricots are not easy to find these days. It is important that these apricots are ripened in the sun. That is where all the flavor comes from. If you can find a farm that grows apricots or have your own tree, you are going to love this recipe.

**The apricot pits are the hard, woody center of the apricot. Within that hard, woody center is the seed. You will have to use a hammer or vise to break the hard pit and remove the seed. Boiling the seed will remove the bitter skin that covers it. This seed gives a unique flavor to this jam.”

Makes about 4 quarts.

For this recipe, go to: http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/zeesjam.html

Monday, September 9, 2019

Simit: A recipe from Fresno's Holy Trinity Armenian Church Guild Cookbook: ‘Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes'

In 1970, Fresno, CA's Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Ladies’ Guild members and their friends decided to come together to publish the first 'Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook. 
‘Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook.  

This comprehensive, easy to follow recipe collection is available for sale, and is a must for anyone who is interested in making traditional and authentic Armenian dishes (as well as many American specialties) including kufta, keyma, shish kebab, harissah, pilaf, lamb shanks, dolma, basterma, yalanchi, sarma, lahmajoon, monti, chorag, gata, cheese berag, paklava, bourma, lavash, shakarishee, and roejig, to list a few.  

Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, Fresno, CA
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church is the oldest Armenian church in the Western United States, and the oldest standing Armenian church in the country.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 31, 1986.  
Christine Vartanian Datian’s parents and family have belonged to the church since about 1907 when her grandfather and his family emigrated to Fresno from Bitlis, Turkey.  

Armenian culinary traditions are over 2000 years old.  Armenian cuisine is as ancient as its history, and the land it is standing on. 

According to the cookbook’s introduction, Plutarch said that Ancient Armenia was “a land that abounded in all sorts of plenty.” 


Christine adds, “Many of the cookbook’s celebrated and beloved Armenian recipes have survived years of war, genocide, forced migration and assimilation, yet still exist today. That millions of families from around the world continue to make and enjoy these recipes feels like a miracle.”

Simit: One of the treasured recipes from 'Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook.  
Holy Trinity Church Armenian Bread Sticks (Simit)
Yield: About 45 pieces

Ingredients:
4 cups flour
1 cube butter at room temperature (Note: 1 cube is equivalent to 1 stick or 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dry yeast cake, dissolved in warm water (Note: 1 dry yeast cake is equivalent to one (1/4-ounce) packet of dry yeast - or - 2- 1/4 teaspoons of active dry or instant active dry yeast.)
2 tablespoons madzoon (plain yogurt) or sour cream
1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy, optional
1-2 large eggs, beaten
Sesame seeds as garnish

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, butter, shortening, and salt together until well combined.

Add the yeast, sour cream or madzoon (plain yogurt), and brandy (if using).

Mix and knead well.  Let dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Take small amount of dough each time, roll pencil thin (about 6 inches long), and twist into a braid.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. 
Lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, do not burn.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks.


If you are interested in ordering a copy of the cookbook, please call or email:
Ms. Nazik Arisian
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church
2226 Ventura St.
Fresno, CA 93721
Church Office: (559) 486-1141

The cost to purchase a copy of the cookbook is $20.00 plus $5.00 for shipping.
Make check payable to: Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church.

Thank You!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

How to make an Adult’s-Only Milkshake

If asked what milkshakes are made from, you'd undoubtedly answer milk, ice cream and syrup – and that would be correct.

But, I turned an ordinary milkshake into an adult’s-only version using milk along with some upgraded ingredients which include plain Greek yogurt, a very special syrup, and an ice cream that carries a powerful PUNCH!
Adult's-only Milkshakes (Sorry kids!)
Our local **Harris Teeter grocery store in SC carries a lot of interesting products including a couple of new unique items: Maple Guild brand (deeeelicious) syrups in assorted, tantalizing flavors, and ice cream for adults only. I kid you not! 
The ice cream is called Hardscoop, made with ’neutral distilled spirits’. The lid clearly states it’s for those 21 years and older, so kids, don’t even think about eating this stuff!!
**(NC Harris Teeter stores don't seem to carry this product.)
Freezer display at our grocer's

Hardscoops comes in 3 flavors – chocolate, vanilla, and coffee with limited edition and seasonal flavors available. (We bought chocolate.)
This ice cream is creamy, rich, and flavorful in more ways than one! The alcohol flavor really shines through.

One small spoonful is more than enough for me. But, when combined with the other ingredients, it makes an amazing milkshake.

I must warn you: Sip it very slowly to savor the flavor - and - drink responsibly!


Yogurt Milkshake
Yields 2 servings
Maple Guild's salted caramel syrup, Hardscoop chocolate ice cream, milk and plain Greek yogurt
Ingredients:
3 to 4 Tbsp. syrup of your choice (I used Maple Guild’s Salted Caramel syrup)
1 scoop ice cream, select one to complement the flavor of the syrup (Used Hardscoop Chocolate)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender and thoroughly blend together.
Pour mixture into 2 glasses.
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Gorgod Abour KHOURE TANOU / ԽՈՒՐԸ ԹԱՆՈՒ - A dish with Bulgur and Vegetables from Sonia Tashjian

The following recipe is one of Sonia Tashjian’s go-to dishes. It’s easy to prepare, and most Armenians will have all of the ingredients on hand. (FYI, bulgur is sold in Middle Eastern stores. Many large grocery store chains now carry bulgur, too!)

My maternal grandmother and Sonia’s family came from the same region of the world (Musa Ler), so needless to say, I’ve chowed-down on similar bulgur dishes for my entire life.
Luckily for us, Sonia also provides a bit of background to the food she prepares.
My version of Sonia Tashjian's Gorgod Abour

Gorgod Apour KHOURE TANOU / ԽՈՒՐԸ ԹԱՆՈՒ

According to Sonia:
“Gorgod means cracked wheat which comes in several sizes. For example, fine gorgod (size #1) is best used for kololak; medium (size #2) for eech; coarse (size #3) for pilaf.

The word ‘apour’ has two meanings: 1. Soup – and - 2. Pilaf. In the Musaler dialect, apour means pilaf. There are a lot of regions, that use APOUR for pilaf, & SHOURBA for soup.”

This pilaf recipe is very tasty and so simple to make.

Gorgod Abour KHOURE TANOU / ԽՈՒՐԸ ԹԱՆՈՒ
(A dish with Bulgur and Vegetables)
Serves about 4

Ingredients:
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, any color, seeds removed and chopped
2 small to medium tomatoes, chopped (I used a handful of grape tomatoes)
1 cup coarse (#3) bulgur (I used a smaller size - #2- bulgur as it’s what I had on hand)
1 cup water (vegetable or chicken broth may be substituted)
red & black pepper, cumin, mint, salt to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
Vegetables I had on hand for the recipe - grape tomatoes, orange and yellow bell peppers, and onion.
Heat oil in a medium sized pot. Sauté the onions in olive oil for a few minutes. Next add the peppers and cook a few more minutes, stirring now and then. Add the tomatoes and cook about 2 more minutes.
Vegetables and seasonings sauteeing in olive oil
Season with red & black pepper, cumin, mint, salt to taste, and stir.
Bulgur and vegetables cooking together for a minute before adding liquid.
Add the bulgur to the vegetables; stir to coat.
Liquid added to bulgur and vegetables
Finally add 1 cup of water (or broth). Stir. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for about 10-12  minutes (without lifting the lid to peak!) or until the liquid is absorbed.

Once done, use a fork to fluff the bulgur. Arrange in a serving bowl. Garnish with parsley, if desired.