Thursday, May 30, 2013

Penerli (Fried Cheese Boreg – or Armenian Fried Ravioli)

I have been remiss in posting a recipe for Penerli, a fried cheese boreg, sent to me ages ago from Mark Gavoor, an occasional reader of our blog/website and self-proclaimed eater. (Forgive me, Mark!) 

He suggested we preserve and document this amazing recipe. I intended to prepare the recipe in order to have a photo to attach, but fried foods and I don’t get along, and the opportunity to make it for others never came to be. 

Since I am not one to let a delicious-sounding recipe fall by the wayside, I am posting it sans photo. However, if a penerli photo becomes available, I will include it at a later date.
Mark Gavoor- Photo credit: Lola Koundakjian
Gavoor, a musician and poet, played a gig with his band a while back at St. Hagop Church, Racine, Wisconsin, where, he said they make and sell an amazing cheese puff/beoreg called ‘penerli’.  

Mark sent me the following recipe, saying:
“The recipe is in the very well done and historical cook book from St. Hagop Church, 4100 N Newman Rd, Racine, WI   53406.  Daughters and granddaughters lovingly provided a bio. and photo of their mother and grandmother along with the recipe the 1st generation lady was best known for.  Miranie Munagian’s specialty was Penerli. Here it is and it is quite simple.  I hope I am not wasting your time but the deep frying does make it quite tasty when eaten immediately.”

Penerli (Fried Cheese Boreg – or Armenian Fried Ravioli!)

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

1 lb. brick cheese
5-6 sprigs parsley chopped

Melt butter and add warm water.  Mix in eggs and salt.  Add flour gradually and knead until flour is (workable), ~5-10 mins.  Let rest, covered with plastic for about an hour.  Place dough on floured surface and roll out to about 36" in diameter.   Grate brick cheese, add chopped parsley and mix.  Place cheese mixture in mounds on half of the rolled out dough.  Bring the other half over the mounds of cheese and cut out squares or circles (whatever you prefer).  Crimp edges with fork or fingers.
Deep fry in (hot vegetable) oil. (Brown on both sides.)  Drain on paper towels.  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

For Memorial Day - Pork Kebab

Another Memorial Day is upon us, signifying - to most - the beginning of summer and backyard barbecues.  As you plan your grilling menu, please don’t forget the reason for this American holiday - honoring and thanking the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of freedom in America.

In keeping with the season, be mindful of grilling safety. If you  need help in planning your holiday meal, scroll down our two recipe columns for some delicious ideas! 

Pork Kebab

What are we serving on Memorial Day? Glad you asked. Our meal will feature Pork Kebab, Armenian Chopped Salad, Nanny's Armenian Potato Salad, and refreshing watermelon for dessert.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches

Christine Datian does a lot of cooking. Many of her creations have appeared in ‘Sunset’  and ‘Cooking Light’ online magazines. In fact, several of her recipes have already been featured on The Armenian Kitchen. Perhaps you’ll recall  her ‘Spicy SouthwesternTabbouleh’, ‘Bulgur Pilaf with Onions and Tomato Juice’, ‘Red Lentil Soup’, and ‘Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta’.

The most recent recipe Christine sent me is called ‘Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches’ which appeared in Sunset Magazine in 2005. Pretty impressive!
I have been given permission to share this recipe with you.

Photo by Christina Schmidhofer
Eggplant always seems to have a love-it-or-hate-it audience. But, according to Christine, "even people who claim they don't like eggplant love these easy meatballs". You can use a small ice cream scoop to shape them quickly.

Christine Datian's 'Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches'
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Prep and cook time: About 1 hour

    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1 1/2 pounds ground lean lamb or beef
    1 1/2 cups finely chopped eggplant (about 4 oz.)
    1/3 cup chopped onion
    1/3 cup minced parsley
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    1/4 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
    3/4 teaspoon dried basil
    3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    2 cups purchased marinara sauce
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire
    6 pocket breads (5 in. wide), cut in half
    Green and red bell pepper rings (optional)

1. In a large bowl, mix the egg, lamb, eggplant, onion, parsley, pine nuts, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place them 1 inch apart in an oiled 12- by 17-inch baking pan.
2. Bake meatballs in a 425° oven until they are well browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Spoon out and discard any fat from pan. Stir in the marinara sauce and Worcestershire, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan and turning meatballs to coat. Bake until sauce is steaming, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
4. Spoon meatballs into a bowl and scrape sauce over them. Spoon meatballs and sauce into pocket breads and tuck in bell pepper rings if desired.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Easy Roejig (Rojik) a.k.a 'Sweet Soujuk' - is that even possible?

I love roejig (aka 'sweet soujuk'), a traditional Armenian candy made from walnuts which are strung on long strings and thickly coated in fruit syrup. I ate a piece of roejig a few weeks ago, and with the first bite, I was taken back to my youth – specifically my maternal grandmother’s dining room where she would serve this on special occasions. It’s one of those recipes that I enjoy eating (sparingly), but don’t necessarily want to prepare. 
Traditional Roejig (Photo from
I posted the roejig recipe once before, but since a reader requested the recipe the other day, I figured I’d mention it again. The recipe I included in the original post came from the A.G.B.U.’s ‘Treasured Armenian Cookbook’

Here’s the reader’s request:
“An Armenian friend of mine made me taste the "sweet sujuk", the one with walnuts inside and coated with a grape (brown) syrup... and I have to say it was delicious (with a tiny spicy aroma). Unfortunately, since her mother cooked the thing, she was unable to provide me the recipe.... any hint on where to find the sweet sujuk recipe? Thanks a lot!”

Making roejig is a tedious, time-consuming process. I wondered if there could possibly be an easier way to make this sweet delight.
Alice Bezjian to the rescue! In her cookbook, ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’, I discovered a less labor-intensive version of roejig. Does it pass the taste test? I don’t honestly know; her recipe has not been tested in The Armenian Kitchen. (Sorry!)

Compare the recipe below with the original one and you’ll see the difference.

(Easier) Grape Juice Rojik (Roejig)
from Alice Bezjian’s, ‘The Complete Armenian Cookbook’
1 1/2 cups Cornstarch    
 4 Cups Water              
 5 Cups Sugar             
 1 Cup Concentrated grape juice   
  1⁄2 Pound Walnut halves, shelled       
1. Combine the cornstarch with the 1 cup water in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve.
2. Add 1 cup more water.
3. Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the lumps. Set aside.
4. In a saucepan combine the sugar and concentrated grape juice in 2 cups of the water.
5. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.
6. Gently stir one-half of the sugar mixture into the starch mixture. Then add the remaining sugar mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
7. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, about 1 hour, or until the mixture forms threadlike pieces when dropped into cold water.
8. Pour half the mixture into an 11x7-inch pan liberally dusted with cornstarch.
9. Press walnut halves into the mixture in 3 or 4 close rows.
10. Pour the remaining mixture over the nuts.
11. Sprinkle with more cornstarch.
12. Cover with plastic wrap for at least 10 hours.
13. Using the walnut rows as your guide, cut the rojik into 3 or 4 rows.
14. Generously roll each strip into cornstarch.
15. Wrap each roll separately in wax paper and freeze until you are ready to serve.
Then unwrap, bring to room temperature, and cut into slices about a quarter inch thick.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Golden Opportunity!! Please read on...

In my last post, I announced the publication of Sonia Tashjian’s new Armenian cookbook, “HAYGAGAN AVANTAGAN KHOHANOTS” –“Armenian Traditional Cuisine”, the catch being that it’s written completely in Armenian.
For those of us unable to read or write in our mother language, this poses a problem.

Sonia's new cookbook

Sonia Tashjian offered the following service in a comment at the end of that post :
“I'll be so glad if a volunteer helps me to translate some of them. I will send her/him the recipe in Armenian, then we will ask Robyn to publish it in her website of course with the picture. Thank you.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must not pass up this golden opportunity!
If anyone reading this can translate from Armenian into English, and is willing to work with Sonia and The Armenian Kitchen, please contact me at:, and I will send your contact information to Sonia. Perhaps we, as a team, can preserve even more precious Armenian recipes. 

What do you say, any volunteers??

Friday, May 10, 2013

A new Armenian Cookbook: “HAYGAGAN AVANTAGAN KHOHANOTS” –“Armenian Traditional Cuisine”

I am delighted and excited to announce the release of a new Armenian cookbook. This one was created by Sonia Tashjian, and I have no doubt that it is marvelous. The catch is this: it’s written in Armenian, so if you’re like me, we’ll have to hope that an English version becomes available. However, if you are fortunate enough to have the ability to read and understand the Armenian language, I urge you to seek out this cookbook.

I marvel at Sonia’s dedication and determination to research, test, and incorporate almost-forgotten recipes into a cookbook for the current - and future – generation of cooks. 

Thank you, Sonia – and - Paree Akhorjag!

The cover of Sonia Tashjian's cookbook
Here is a description of Sonia's cookbook

“HAYGAGAN AVANTAGAN KHOHANOTS” –“Armenian Traditional Cuisine”
By Sonia Tashjian

Sonia’s cookbook consists of 223 pages and has 8 parts:  soup, main dish, dolma, kololak - or- kufta, pilaf, salad, bread, and dessert. It contains 200 old, traditional recipes that have never been improvised; Sonia presents these as they are.  She has gathered the recipes from villagers, old historical books and dictionaries.  Each recipe has its picture, a brief explanation about its origin, a traditional explanation, if any was available, and mentions the regional name to which it belongs. At the end of the book there is an index and a small dictionary.
The book is published by MARANIK LTD, which is a food (specially beans and herbs) production company in Armenia. For pricing and ordering information, please contact MARANIK LTD directly at:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Meat Boregs - Detroit style

After two years of preparation and anticipation, the 111th Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference held in beautiful Boca Raton FL concluded on Sunday, May 5th.
It was a whirlwind week of events with hundreds of attendees from mid western, east coast, and southern states. In addition to the planned sessions and meetings, guests participated in luncheons, kef time (featuring the music of Johnny Berberian), area sightseeing, and a gala banquet honoring Armenians of the Year – Janet and Edward Mardigian, and Friend of the Armenians – former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush. The week-long gathering culminated with a lavish farewell Sunday brunch.

I had a mini part in the grand scheme of things, but it was exciting just the same. Many of our seasonal visitors rolled up their sleeves alongside local parishioners to help create the massive menu for the farewell brunch. 
Boreg-Lahmajoun Table

Serving stations were set with assorted salads, yalanchi, lahmajoun, cheese boregs, meat boregs, and hummus. A carving station offered sliced-to-order roast beef, ham and turkey. Desserts included kourabia cookies, paklava, semolina cakes, fruit kabobs, and more. The beverage station served-up Mimosas (orange juice and champagne), plain orange juice, and coffee to help wash everything down.
Dessert Table

Weeks before the brunch, I was at church working on another aspect of the preparation while a group of seasonal parishioners from Detroit were in the kitchen making the meat boregs. They made Dolly Matoian’s recipe which came from St. John Armenian Church (Detroit) cookbook. This is not a ‘home version’ recipe as it yields 375 to 400 boregs, and requires 20 workers over a 2-day period to complete. 
Detroit-style Meat Boreg
Instead of using phyllo dough or puff pastry, the dough was more chorag-like. The meat filling had a nice ‘kick’ from the blend of black pepper and cayenne pepper in the filling. I got to sample a test boreg as it came out of the oven – it was soft, warm, and so delicious!
I have made an attempt to break down the large-group recipe for the home kitchen, but be warned - I have not tested this version. The new ingredient amounts represent 1/8th the original recipe measurements.

The smaller recipe should yield about 45 to 50 boregs, and I would suggest having one or two extra pairs of hands to assist. Oh yes, it’s important to prepare the meat mixture one day in advance.

Please don’t be discouraged by the lengthy recipe. One thing is for sure, I can certainly appreciate the time and effort the Detroit ladies put into this recipe, and I truly did savor every bite!

Here’s the (untested) home version recipe…

Meat Boreg (Beoreg)                                   
Yield: 45 to 50 pieces

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb. chopped onions
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ¾ lbs. ground lamb
1 ¾ lb. ground sirloin (or chuck)
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. paprika
¾ lb. (3 sticks) butter
¾ c. dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh, chopped parsley)

Dough Ingredients:
¼ lb. (1 stick) butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1¼ c. milk
5 eggs
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. dry granular yeast
½ cup warm water
2 ¼ tsp. sugar
 1 ½ tsp. salt
3 ¼ lb. all-purpose flour (approx. 12 cups)
Egg wash
2 eggs, beaten
Regular or black sesame seeds 

Day 1:
1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Saute onions until soft, but not mushy. Strain onions in a colander, pressing firmly to remove any liquid. Set aside until ready to use.
2. In a large frying pan, cook lamb and beef over medium heat until brown. Break meat down with a fork to remove any large lumps. Strain out any excess fat.
3. Place cooked onions and meat in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all of the seasonings. Taste for flavor and spiciness. Make any adjustments, if necessary.
4. Melt the butter in a skillet and add to the meat-onion mixture. Finally, add the chopped parsley.
5. Place mixture in shallow containers; cover and refrigerate until day 2.

Day 2
Directions for Dough Preparation:
1. Melt butter and shortening in a saucepan. Allow to cool. Add milk to butter mixture; set aside.
2. Using a hand or stand mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until well-blended.
3. Begin adding flour, a little at a time, to the egg mixture for a uniform mixture.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the ½ c. warm water, yeast and sugar, whisking to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof.
5, Add proofed yeast to the flour mixture and knead dough well.
6. Using a food scale, portion the dough into 1 ½ to 2 oz. portions; place on trays, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and allow to rest.
7. Portion the meat into 1/12 to 2 oz. portions.
8. On a work surface (no flour should be needed), roll each dough portion into 4-inch circles, and place on platters.

Forming and baking the boregs:
9. Hold each round of dough in one hand; top with meat mixture. Pinch or fold the dough over the meat to completely seal the filling.
10. Place – seam side down – on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly press down to make a bun shape instead of a ball shape. Continue the process until the trays are filled. Allow boregs to rest about 15 minutes before baking.
11. Bake in preheated 375°F oven (350°F for convection oven) until golden.
12. Place baked boregs on cooling racks; cool completely. If not serving immediately, place borges in freezer bags in single layers, and freeze until ready to use.
13. Prior to serving, defrost boregs in the refrigerator, and bake in preheated 325°F oven until warmed through.