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

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

Image from American Grilling Club

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

Sunset JANUARY 2005
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’
            Cornstarch    1 1⁄2 Cups
            Water              4 Cups
            Sugar             5 Cups
            Concentrated grape juice   1 Cup
            Walnut halves, shelled       1⁄2 Pound
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.