Monday, October 27, 2014

A Successful Ghapama Day at St. David Armenian Church, Boca Raton, FL!

After much hard work and anticipation, Yeretsgin Anna and her team of devoted Armenian School-Sunday School mothers, put together a most enjoyable array of refreshments for the parishioners of St. David Armenian Church on Sunday, October 26th

Ghapama prepared by Yeretsgin Anna

Yeretsgin Anna (back row, right) with the students from St. David Armenian Church Armenian-Sunday School
The women prepared Ghapama and Jingalov Hats as part of a Cultural Day program for the children who attend Armenian language and religion classes in the church's Manoogian School. The students, dressed in Halloween costumes, participated by helping fill the hollowed pumpkins with a mixture of rice, nuts, and assorted dried fruit.
 Students help fill the hollow pumpkins before baking.

Honey was drizzled into the rice filling, and melted butter was ladled over the top of each pumpkin before baking.

Yeretsgin Anna puts the finishing touch on the ghapama before baking.

Jingalov Hats

Father Paren and Yeretsgin Anna serve parishioners Ghapama and Jingalov Hats
The result was a delicious taste of Armenia enjoyed by all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ghapama Day at St David Armenian Church, Boca Raton, FL

Every Sunday coffee hour follows church services in the Fellowship Hall at St. David Armenian Church. It’s a great way for parishioners to meet friends and, on occasion, enjoy a cultural event.

At our last Women’s Guild meeting, Father Paren Galstyan asked if I knew what Ghapama was. I assured him I did, and that I even knew of a song which pays tribute to this traditional Armenian dish. I showed him the existing post on this very topic
Yereztgin Anna, 2nd from right, serves her Ghapama to the congregation in their previous parish in the Mid-West.
Father Paren informed me that *Yeretzgin Anna, is quite the ghapama expert. In fact, she will be hosting coffee hour on Sunday, October 26th with her special ghapama recipe. She hosted a similar ghapama event at their previous parish in the Mid-West to the delight of the congregation.
* A special note to non-Armenian readers:  'Yeretzgin' is a term which designates one as a priest's wife.

What is ghapama, you ask? Father Paren was kind enough to explain it in the church e-newsletter: 
“Ghapama (Armenian: ղափամա) is an Armenian stuffed pumpkin dish, often prepared during the holiday season. It is prepared by removing the flesh of the pumpkin (known as դդում in Armenian, pronounced ddum in Eastern Armenian and ttum in Western Armenian) and stuffing it with boiled rice and a variety of dried fruits such as chopped almonds, apple, corn, apricot, prunes and raisins. It is also common to pour on honey and mix in ground cinnamon or sugar. The pumpkin is then baked until it becomes soft, and then brought to the table where it is cut up and served.”

If you’re in the neighborhood on October 26th, please come to St. David Armenian Church, 2300 Yamato Rd, Boca Raton, FL. Church service begins at 10:30 AM. Then join us in the fellowship hall for a taste of this very special dish!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marinated Red Onions with Sumac

How would you describe the taste of a raw red onion? Sweet? Sharp? Bitter?
I’ve heard chefs refer to the red onion as being sweet. Sorry chefs, but my palate definitely disagrees. To me, a raw red onion is quite sharp to the point where I only enjoy it if it’s been marinated.

There is one – very simple - red onion recipe that I enjoy so much, I could eat it by the bowlful, but that would be unladylike. Whenever we’re at a Middle Eastern restaurant and the dish I ordered is served with a red onion -sumac condiment, I’m overjoyed! 
Marinated Red Onions with Sumac

Marinated Red Onions with Sumac
Red onion, parsley, ground sumac
    2 medium red onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
    2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)
    1 1/2 tablespoons ground sumac, or to taste
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Onions soaking in very hot water.
1. Place sliced onions in a bowl. Pour enough very hot water over the onions to cover. Allow to sit for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Place onions on paper towels in a single layer; pat to dry. (This step helps to lessen the sharpness of the onion.)

2. Place onions in a mixing bowl.  Toss with remaining ingredients. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Allow the onions to sit for about 30 minutes before serving so flavors can blend. Best served at room temperature.

To Serve: This is a perfect accompaniment  with your favorite kebab dish (chicken, lamb, beef, pork, lule), burger, or grilled meat, poultry or fish.
If meat isn’t your thing, add the marinated red onion-sumac to a salad, cooked potatoes, or a grain dish.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Whole Wheat Paklava

Last June, I wrote a piece about using whole wheat lavash to make paklava instead of using phyllo dough made with white flour. It’s clearly not the same, but in a pinch it would do.
Display in the bakery section at Whole Foods
The other day, Doug and I went to Whole Foods to pick up fish for my Baked Fish Armenian style recipe. While there, we scoured the shelves for other interesting products. Doug, with his eagle-eyes, spotted something in the bakery section that made our hearts skip a beat– prepared whole wheat paklava filled with pistachio nuts! 

We didn’t know how long ago their paklava had been made, and it looked more syrupy than our homemade version. But how could we pass up a dessert that was calling our names? Plus, it was our duty to do a taste-test.
Whole wheat baklava with pistachios from Whole Foods
We often take a ‘coffee break’ in the afternoon,(one of the perks of retirement!) and on this day, the whole wheat paklava was our very special treat. We didn't noticed any difference in taste in terms of the whole wheat fillo, but I'll stick to my own recipe in regard to sweetness.

Whole Foods product update: I just learned that our local Whole Foods now carries organic whole wheat phyllo (fillo) dough from The Fillo Factory in their frozen food department.
If that isn’t enough, The Fillo Factory also makes fillo dough from organic spelt! 

Now that I have a box of it in my freezer, you can bet I’ll be making something with it soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mixed Vegetables Pickled with Blackberries (MOSHOV T-TOU)

Now that autumn has arrived in Armenia (and elsewhere), it’s time to prepare pickles! 

Fortunately, I have a ‘foodie’ contact in Yerevan, SoniaTashjian who told me so. Sonia sent me a very unique recipe from the Artsakh region called MOSHOV T-TOU, or ‘Mixed Vegetables Pickled with Blackberries’.
Mixed Vegetables Pickled with Blackberries (Photo courtesy of Sonia Tashjian)
Sonia said:
“When autumn comes, everything that remains in the garden (vegetables, herbs, even watermelon) must be turned into pickles. In some regions, the grapes are used in the salty water to marinate. Some other regions used barley grains. In Artsakh, there is an old style of marinating by using unripened blackberries.”

MOSHOV T-TOU, or ‘Mixed Vegetables Pickled with Blackberries’

black peppercorns
bay leaf
1 cup of unripe blackberries
1 celery stalk, chopped
½ kg. of cabbage (approximately 1.1 LB.)
½ kg. of cauliflower (approximately 1.1 LB.)
3 green peppers
3 cucumbers
2 green tomatoes
2 carrots
for 3 liter (about 3 quarts) of water + 200 gr (about 1 cup) of pickling salt + 1 tablespoon of sugar

1. Put the spices, the berries and the chopped celery in a jar.
2. Chop the vegetables into a desired size and arrange them in a jar large enough to hold the all of the ingredients.
3. Meanwhile boil the water with salt and sugar until dissolved. Pour on the vegetables.
4. Store in a dark and cool place. (See Notes below)

Sonia's Notes:

1. If you want to keep jars of pickles for several months, three days after the preparation empty the salty water from the jar (into a pot) and boil it again. Pour the boiled water on the vegetables and close the cover firmly.

2. If you are going to use it immediately, let it stay at room temperature for a day or two, until it marinates. (The odor will remind you & the color of cucumber must change from green into yellowish green), then put in the refrigerator.
Because in Armenia we prepare it a lot (almost for the whole winter), on the third day, you must empty the water, bring (the same water) to the boil, then again pour into the same jar & close firmly. Put in a cool, dark place to store.
It will keep for 7-10 months.