Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Watermelon and Peaches with Vanilla Yogurt Topping

Summer is a time when food preparation should be simple and flexible.

This warm-weather, fruity dessert can be served at a picnic or at a fancy, sit-down dinner. With the season’s bounty of melons, berries and stone fruit, this can be ready in a jiffy!

Feel free to mix-and-match your favorite combination of summer fruit. Don’t want to spend time toasting nuts, that’s OK, too. Just chop - and -sprinkle, or skip using nuts altogether. 
Watermelon and Peaches
(Photo credit: National Watermelon Promotion Board) 

Watermelon and Peaches with Vanilla Yogurt Topping
(adapted from a recipe from the National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Serves 6 to 8

For Garnish: ½ to ¾ cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 ripe peaches
Juice from 1 large lemon
4 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes
For Yogurt Sauce:
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups yogurt (Note: vanilla favored yogurt may be used, but then omit the 1 tsp. of vanilla)
1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, add the pistachios. Stir until they are lightly toasted. Remove the nuts from the pan to a heat-proof plate to cool.  Coarsely chop nuts and set aside.
2. Thinly slice the peaches without removing the skin. Discard the pit. Place peach slices in a large mixing bowl and toss with lemon juice. Add the watermelon cubes to the bowl with the peaches and gently toss together.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey, cinnamon, yogurt and vanilla.
4. Evenly distribute the fruit mixture into individual serving bowls. Spoon some topping over each serving.  Garnish with chopped pistachios.  

Serve immediately.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cherries- Sweet or Sour, the flavors are delicious!

I love cherries- sweet or sour. When I was growing up in NJ, my grandparents had a cherry tree in their back yard, along with a peach tree, grape arbor, and vegetable patch. It wasn’t quite the Garden of Eden, but to me, it came close. The only problem I can recall eating fruit just picked from the tree, was the occasional worm that slithered out with that first bite. It’s no wonder I continue to cut my fruit with a knife before eating!

Regardless, cherries are delicious, nutritious, but have a fairly short growing season. In North America, early summertime is the best time to get fresh cherries, so enjoy them while you can. Just so you know - sour cherries, also known as ‘pie’ cherries, are more perishable than the sweet variety, so use them quickly.

Chart image from

In addition to tasting great, cherries are an excellent source of antioxidants, and may help relieve insomnia, joint pain, and help reduce belly fat. Can’t beat that!!

Click here for some of our favorite cherry recipes.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Now We're The 'Blessed' Armenian Kitchen

Father Paren Galstyan
We’ve always thought of our kitchen that way, but now it’s official.

We were joined recently by a small group of family and friends as our home was blessed by our Der Hayr, the Rev. Father Paren Galstyan of St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, Florida.

The house isn’t new to us but Father Paren is. Originally from Armenia, he recently moved to South Florida from Illinois. He is young, energetic, earnest and has a keen sense of humor that he’s eager to share.

He’s even more eager to share his faith and knowledge, which he demonstrated by doing something I’d never experienced through countless home blessings since childhood: He offered to conduct the entire ceremony in English.

I eagerly accepted the offer. He then conducted a question-and-answer session on the meaning of the traditional Armenian house blessing and stressed the significance of each of the three dishes arrayed before him: bread representing the body of Christ, and to sustain life; salt to preserve; and water to cleanse.

Of course he was much more eloquent and offered both practical and spiritual meanings behind each symbol. Then he sprinkled the blessed water in each corner of the house.

He cautioned us not to discard anything in the now blessed dishes, so we made good use of the water by making a pot of coffee that we all shared. The bread served quite well in a sandwich a bit later that evening.

Father Paren said the church allows such blessings twice a year if the occupants feel it’s necessary. I think he did such a fine job that we’ll be safe from unholy intrusions at least until the blessed salt runs out. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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We have no idea how such things work, but we're glad they do!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Return to Asbury Park 2014 - an Armenian Kef Weekend at the the Jersey Shore!

For those of you who were fortunate enough to have vacationed in Asbury Park, NJ in the 1950’s and 60’s, you understand why there’s so much excitement about the upcoming ‘Return to Asbury Park’ weekend extravaganza, August 8th -10th.

In its hey-day, Asbury Park was the official summer hot-spot for Armenian families mostly from the Mid-Atlantic states, although some came from New England, and others from as far away as Michigan and beyond. 

The beach, boardwalk, Monte Carlo swimming pool, and expansive Armenian hotel porches provided places to meet old friends and make new ones, creating life-long relationships. I was just a kid back then, but, boy did we have a grand time! (Many-a-marriage came from these Asbury relationships, too. Just sayin'.)

Each summer there was a huge Armenian dance or two, usually held at Jimmy Byrnes’ gigantic hall in Sea Girt, a few miles to the south – and afterward – a stop at the Asbury Diner for light refreshments after a night of fabulous Kef. Sadly, both of those destinations are long gone. Worry not, the Berkeley and nearby locations will take care of your entertainment and dining needs.

The Berkeley Carteret Hotel serves as the headquarters of ‘Return to Asbury Park’ once again.  (Did I ever mention the summer of 1968 when I worked at the Berkeley as a waitress? That’s another story!)

Time is running out for room reservations, so don’t delay! The hotel phone number is 732-776-6700. Mention 'KEF' for preferred rate until July 25th.

Tickets for the various weekend events must be purchased in advance, too. 
Order now so you don’t miss out!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cool off this summer with some of our favorite Madzoon (yogurt) recipes!

With the summer season heating things up, it’s time to step out of the kitchen and revisit some of our favorite hot-weather recipes, starting with Homemade Madzoon (yogurt).

Just click on any of the recipes on this list, and get ready to feel refreshed!  

Cold Yogurt Soup
Spiced Labne Balls

Yogurt-Lemon 'Pudding'
To wash all of these down, sip on a tall glass of Armenian-style Iced Tea!