Saturday, July 27, 2013

Crunchy Cauliflower Broccoli Slaw

When I met a cousin, Maro Nalabandian, through my website, I was excited. When I learned she had a culinary background, I was thrilled! Since meeting her face-to-face this past April, we’ve been in touch, sharing family updates, and recipes.
Robyn (L) Maro (R)
Here is one of Maro’s recipes that’s not only nutritious, but colorful, tasty and good for you, too!

Crunchy Cauliflower Broccoli Slaw
Recipe by Maro Nalabandian      
This healthy and delicious recipe is great to eat with your meals as your vegetable/salad or, this may also satisfy your urge in between meals. 

Vegetable ingredients:
4 cups diced cauliflower
4 cups diced broccoli
1 cup diced celery
3 large carrots, grated
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
3/4 cup dark raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, roasted

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or herb vinegar
2 tsp. Agave sweetener
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. coarse salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. dried oregano or 1 sprig fresh oregano leaves, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup bottled water, as needed

1. In a large serving bowl, add the above vegetable ingredients and set aside. 
2. In a two cup measuring cup, add all the vinaigrette ingredients except the oils and the water.  Whisk the ingredients while very slowly pouring in the oils until combined.  Add the water as needed to taste, while whisking till all is combined.  Pour the vinaigrette, as much as desired, over the vegetable slaw then toss it around.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chilled Cream of Zucchini Soup with Fresh Basil

This 'chilled cream of zucchini and basil soup' recipe was handed down to me by a former culinary colleague. I came across it as I was going through my vast recipe collection, and thought it a perfect dish to pass along - especially since it combines yogurt, zucchini, and fresh basil.

It’s a refreshing way to keep cool, and well-nourished during the hot summer months. 

Chilled Cream of Zucchini Soup with Fresh Basil
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup sweet onion, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
3 medium zucchini, washed, ends trimmed, and sliced into ¼-inch circles
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup light cream
½ cup plain, low fat yogurt
Dash white pepper
Garnish: Basil sprigs 

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and salt; sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are transparent.
2. Add zucchini and broth; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the basil leaves.
3. Puree the soup in a blender.
4. Place pureed soup in a large bowl. Stir in the cream, yogurt and white pepper.
5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. Serve in chilled bowls, and garnish with basil sprigs.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Honey-Lemon Fruit Salad

Armenians, summertime, and melons go hand-in-hand. Armenia is said to have some of the biggest, sweetest watermelon on the planet. 

As an American-born Armenian living in Florida, I can boast that 750 million pounds of watermelon were grown in Florida in 2012, making this state the leading watermelon producer in the U.S. (This bit of trivia comes straight from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

I can’t swear that Florida watermelon tastes better than those grown in Armenia, but what we’ve eaten here so far this season has been pretty darn sweet.

Photo from
Why not kick back on your front porch or back deck with family, friends, and a bowl of refreshing fruit salad? 

This honey-lemon fruit salad is perfect for summer gatherings– it’s cool, sweet, tangy, and minty – all at the same time. The honey-lemon syrup can be made a day in advance for a quick-to-serve- dessert or snack.
You can use any kind of melon you like, and add fresh seasonal berries for a special touch.

Honey-Lemon Fruit Salad
Yields about 8 servings

Honey Syrup Ingredients:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1. In a small saucepan combine the honey, water, lemon juice and zest. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring now and then.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is reduced by half – about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and cool syrup to room temperature. Set aside until ready to use.

Ingredients for the fruit salad:
1 small seedless watermelon (or about 5 cups-worth) , cut into bite-sized cubes
1 large cantaloupe, honeydew or a combination of the two, seeds removed, and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 cup seasonal berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
Optional Garnishes: chopped nuts of your choice, chopped fresh mint leaves

1. In a large bowl, combine the various melon cubes and berries. Drizzle the honey-lemon syrup on the fruit; gently toss to coat.
2. Place fruit in individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped nuts of your choice, and chopped fresh mint leaves, if desired.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Simple, Refreshing, Anytime (Madzoon, aka Yogurt) Dessert

Have you had a chance to make our recipe for homemade yogurt? or Sita Jebelian's microwave oven method for making yogurt? No? It doesn't matter. You can still enjoy this simple, refreshing recipe using a good-quality, store-bought variety.
This dessert is satisfying anytime, day or night, throughout the year.

If you're looking for others ways to 'keep cool with madzoon' this summer, click here, and enjoy! 

Homemade madzoon topped with chopped fresh cherries, pecans and a honey drizzle

Madzoon (Yogurt) with Honey, Fruit and Nuts
Yield: 2 servings

1 cup plain yogurt, homemade (preferred) or good quality store-bought
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
A drizzle of honey
¼ cup seasonal fruit (fresh berries, cherries, peaches, or dried fruit, such as currants, or apricots)
3 Tbsp. walnuts, pecans or pistachios, chopped

 1. Mix together yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon and honey. (Note: honey can be drizzled on top before serving.)
2. Chill until ready to serve.
3. Just before serving, gently fold in nuts and fruit- or just sprinkle them on top.

Note: For this recipe I used homemade madzoon, fresh cherries and chopped pecans... Delicious!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

‘Lucky’ Meatball and Madzoon (Yogurt) Soup

I’m excited to say that our YouTube channel has become pretty popular, even though we haven’t made a cooking video in a while. Folks from all around write comments, and on occasion, make requests.

A YouTube viewer recently asked for the following:
“I don't know what it's called, but my ex. Mother in law would make a yogurt (maybe mint too) soup with balls in it. Inside one of the balls, she'd put an olive for a lucky person to find. What is this soup called and can you make it?”

Here’s the recipe I think they're looking for…
(Image from the
‘Lucky’ Meatball and Madzoon (Yogurt) Soup
Yield: About 4 to 5 servings

Meatball Ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef (or ½ lb. ground beef and ½ lb. lean ground lamb)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Cayenne pepper and/or paprika, to taste
1 cup fine bulgur, size #1
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)
1 egg
1 pitted olive, optional (see meatball step #2)

Soup Ingredients:
3 cups plain yogurt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dried mint
2 – 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter

Meatball Directions:
1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients until well-incorporated. This can be done by hand or in a food processor.

2. Dip hands in a bowl of cold water, then roll meat-bulgur mixture into balls about ¾ inch to one inch in size. (NOTE: At this time, you can place a pitted olive in the center of one of the meatballs. Whoever receives that meatball in the soup at serving time, will be considered lucky.)

3. Cook the meatballs in a pot of boiling water until they float to the surface. Remove meatballs using a slotted spoon and place on paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Soup Directions:
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, and dried mint.

2. Place yogurt mixture in a large pot. Begin cooking on a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the egg from curdling. Stir in the chicken broth and butter; continue to stir and cook gently for 5 minutes. Do not let mixture come to a boil.

3. Add the meatballs and continue to cook at a low heat for 10 more minutes, stirring now and then.

4. Serve immediately. (Remember, the person who gets the meatball with the olive inside will have good luck!)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Losh Kebab – Jazzed-up Armenian Hamburgers for an American Holiday

It’s summertime which, in South Florida means the rainy season – and travel time. Power outages are common during this time of year, and if it stays out for a long period, we certainly don’t want our frozen foods to perish. So, we use up all of our frozen foods down to the last package of ground lamb, and keep plenty of canned goods handy because you just never know.

Our recipe of choice for the last package of frozen ground lamb is losh kebab – an Armenian hamburger which is much like lule kebab except that it’s shaped like a hamburger rather than a sausage. Served with your favorite side dishes, it’s a meal worthy of a celebration, such as the Fourth of July!
Losh kebab with bulgur pilaf, salad, and yogurt sauce
Losh Kebab
Makes 4-5 generous burgers

1 1/4 lb. ground lamb
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. red pepper paste (1 Tbsp. tomato paste and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper can be substituted)
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. Aleppo red pepper


1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the beaten egg, red pepper (or tomato) paste, and seasonings. Blend well. Set aside.
 2. Place meat, onions, parsley, and bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well. Add the egg mixture to the meat, mixing well until all ingredients are well-blended. (NOTE: If you’re squeamish about handling raw meat and egg, you may want to wear non-powdered, sterile latex, non-latex, or vinyl gloves for this step.)
3. Shape into 4 or 5 good-sized patties.
4. These can be grilled, broiled, or pan-fried to your preferred degree of doneness.
5. Serve with or without your choice of bread and your favorite side dishes.
 Optional toppings for the losh kebab served in a bun: sliced tomato, onion, lettuce, * yogurt-garlic sauce, etc.

*Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
16 oz. plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
2. Chill until ready to serve, allowing flavors to blend. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
NOTE: If you want a thicker sauce, use Greek yogurt or labne - or - line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer and place all in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Discard the excess liquid that collected in the bowl, and place the thickened yogurt in a separate storage container. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.