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

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

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

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
Garnishes: paprika and lemon slices, optional

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

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

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:

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

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


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
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

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

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


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.

(A dish with Bulgur and Vegetables)
Serves about 4

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

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.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Peach Sorbet

Georgia is known as the ‘Peach State’, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place to get amazing peaches. According to the SouthCarolina Dept. of Agriculture, S.C. actually ‘averages more than three times the amount (in pounds) of peaches harvested in Georgia in a typical season.’ In addition, peaches from South Carolina are mighty delicious – sweet, juicy – you get the idea.
South Carolina Freestone Peaches
This year’s crop has been abundant, so peaches have become part of our daily diet. I’ve even had to freeze a bunch for future use.
The recipe below is one perfect way to use frozen peaches – and they’re great in smoothies, too!

Peach Sorbet (Image from Bon Appetit)
Peach Sorbet
Yields 4 to 6 servings
(Original recipe is from Bon Appetit Magazine)

4 medium peaches, peeled, chopped, frozen (about 4 cups)
½ cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. vodka (Note: The vodka helps prevent ice crystals from forming, and, no, you can’t taste the vodka!)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup honey

All ingredients ready to blend
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. 
Ingredients thoroughly blended
Blend, scraping down the sides now and then with a spatula, until mixture is very smooth. 
Mixture spread evenly in metal loaf pan
Spread the mixture evenly in a metal loaf pan. (Sorbet will freeze better in a metal pan rather than a Pyrex one.) 
Parchment paper placed on sorbet before freezing
Press a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface. Place the pan in the freezer until sorbet is firm, about 6 hours.

Note: This can be made about 3 days in advance. But keep it frozen!

To serve: Thaw in refrigerator about 30 minutes before scooping.

It’s that simple.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Bijug – Bulgur Patties in Tomato Sauce - a recipe from Sonia Tashjian

Sonia Tashjian
Sonia Tashjian, Armenian food expert and enthusiast, is a never-ending source of interesting, delicious, and easy-to-prepare recipes from numerous Armenian regions.
Here is one such dish which Sonia was kind enough to share.
Sonia Tashjian's Bijug recipe - Bulgur Patties in Tomato Sauce

Bijug – Bulgur Patties in Tomato Sauce - a dish from the Sasun region

Ingredients for bulgur patties:
1 cup fine bulgur (#1)
1/2 cup flour
Measure the following to suit your taste: garlic (mashed or powder), red and black pepper, dry basil, dried thyme, and salt

Ingredients for the sauce:
3 medium onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt to taste

Combine the flour, bulgur, and seasonings to taste; knead with just enough water for the ingredients to hold together well. Pinch-off pieces and roll into balls the size of walnuts. 

Flatten the balls and cook them in gently boiling salted water. Remove from water and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Place patties in a serving bowl; cover to keep them warm.

Fry the chopped onions in the oil; add the tomato paste that's been diluted with enough water to create a sauce; add salt to taste. Bring to a boil and pour over the flattened balls; serve.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Parsley, Onions and Eggs - made in a muffin tin!

My family loves Sokhov Boghdonosov Dabag, known in English as Parsley, Onions, and Eggs. It’s is one of those regional Armenian dishes that one side of my family (the Dikranagerdsis) made, but the other side (the Musa Daghsis) didn’t.

These delicious little egg ‘pancakes’ (for lack of a better word) are cooked in olive oil, and, boy, can they soak it up! I always place the cooked ones on paper towels to absorb as much oil as possible and that helps - to a point.

Over the years I’ve mixed eggs with other ingredients, such as spinach, peppers, shredded cheese, etc. and baked them in muffins tins. If made in advance, these are great for a quick breakfast or an easy snack. Plus they freeze well, and heat-up in a flash in the microwave for a grab-and-go breakfast.

Why I never thought to make the parsley onions and eggs in a muffin tin before now, I’ll never know.
But as it’s said: Better late than never!
Parsley, Onion, and Egg 'Muffins' served with crispy strips of ... Basturma!
Baked Parsley, Onion, and Egg ‘Muffins’
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, washed, patted dry, stems removed, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp. Aleppo pepper or to taste, optional
6 to 8 large eggs


Sautéed onions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften - about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes before adding to eggs.

Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a fork until light and fluffy. Add parsley and onions, dill and Aleppo pepper – if using, salt and pepper; mix together until combined.

Using vegetable spray, lightly grease 8 to 9 sections of a 12-cup muffin tin. (Note: I used 7 large eggs which filled 9 of the cups.) 
Parsley, onions and eggs - ready to bake
Using a ladle, add equal amounts of the egg mixture into the sprayed cups, but do not fill each cup more than 3/4 full. 

Bake for about 20 minutes or until eggs are set. This can be checked by inserting a small paring knife or a wooden toothpick in the center. When done, the inserted knife or toothpick should come out clean.
Hot from the oven!
Serve immediately or at room temperature.

To make this meal really something special, serve with crispy strips of basturma (bet you thought I was going to say bacon, didn’t you?!), Armenian string cheese, and lavash or pita bread.

Note: When completely cooled, the leftover ‘egg-muffins’ can be placed in a freezer storage bag and frozen for later use.

To reheat: I'd suggest placing the number of frozen egg-muffins you plan to eat in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Next morning, place a few at a time on a microwave-safe plate, without crowding; cover with a paper towel and heat in 30 seconds increments at 50% power until heated through.
WARNING: Don’t over-do the heating or else the end result will be rubbery!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Fox Trot Farm - to - Table Recipe (and tour): American Lamb Shanks

While doing an online exploration of Lancaster County, South Carolina last month, Doug came across a place called Fox Trot Farm not far from our home. What drew him to this farm was the fact that they raise lamb for their meat. According to the website, the owners raise ‘a breed of meat sheep known as “hair sheep” due to their ability to shed their coats in the spring and summer. Their meat is lean, mild, and tender.’
Sheep and baby lambs roam at Fox Trot Farm
In addition to sheep, Fox Trot Farm has goats (their milk is used to make soap which is sold on the farm), a donkey, a pig, livestock guardian dogs, and chickens for their farm-fresh eggs. 
Freshly laid eggs! These are NOT dyed; it's their natural color.
There’s an apiary for their honeybees, too. The honey is harvested in June and the extra beeswax is melted for use in soaps. Honey is for sale as it becomes available.

Farmer Bob Burgess and his wife Debbie, a warm and welcoming couple, own and operate the farm. It's open only on Sundays between 1-5 PM, weather permitting. 
Farmer Bob getting ready to take a group on a tour in the hay wagon.
Bob takes visitors on a tour in the hay wagon pulled by his tractor, while Debbie runs the store, among many other things.

Doug and I chose to walk the grounds in order to hang out with the farm animals; it was pretty neat!

We’d hoped to be bringing home a variety of lamb cuts that day but discovered their lamb production isn’t until September. You can bet-your-boots we’ll be heading back then.
Rack of Lamb for sale at the Farm, when available
I was particularly happy to learn that the Burgess' favorite recipes are posted on their website, including the following one for Lamb Shanks.

As soon as lamb products are available, we'll return to Fox Trot Farm, to purchase the shanks and other cuts. We'll have a lamb-fest – and report back to you!

Here’s Debbie and Bob’s special Lamb Shank recipe …
Fox Trot Farm Braised Lamb Shanks

Fox Trot Farm Braised Lamb Shanks
Makes 2 hearty servings
1 package Fox Trot Farm Lamb Shanks (2 shanks, about 1 ½ lbs.)
Flour, salt, and pepper
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, or chicken broth
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

-Defrost, rinse and dry lamb shanks.
-Liberally dust with flour, salt, and pepper.
-Heat oil in Dutch oven till shimmering. Do not burn.
-Brown shanks on all sides in hot oil, turning as the meat becomes deep brown. (Important for richer flavor to not skip this step.)
-Remove browned shanks to plate.
-Add chopped vegetables to the pan drippings and sauté till they start to soften.
-Add garlic, thyme, and tomato paste and stir till combined with vegetables.
-Pour 1 cup wine (or chicken broth), and remaining broth into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
-Add bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I go light on the pepper and let folks add more to their plate when served.)
-Return shanks to the Dutch oven and nestle them down into the vegetables and broth.
-Tightly cover and turn heat down to low simmer. Braise, turning every 20 minutes or so, for 2 hours or until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender.
-Serve over rice, potatoes, noodles, or just in a bowl with the broth and sop up all that delicious broth with crusty bread or rolls.
-One shank is a perfect portion for each person.