Friday, March 31, 2017

Christine Vartanian Datian serves-up 'Yellow Split Pea Soup with Mint, Browned Onion and Yogurt Garnish'

As we are still in the season of Lent, I would like to pass along, with Christine Datian’s permission, her most recent recipe found in TheArmenian Mirror-Spectator - ‘Yellow Split Pea Soup with Mint, Browned Onion and Yogurt Garnish’ – suitable for Lent - minus the use of chicken broth or yogurt garnish, of course!
Christine Datian's 'Yellow Split Pea Soup with Mint, Browned onions, and Yogurt Garnish'

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Mint, Browned Onion and Yogurt Garnish
By Christine Vartanian Datian
Yield: approx. 4 to 6 serving
2 1/2 cups dried split yellow peas, picked over and rinsed
6-8 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced or diced
2 stalks celery (and top greens), diced
Extra water or broth, if needed
Kosher or sea salt and white or black pepper to taste
Aleppo pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes to taste
1.  In a large pot, sautĂ© the onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and a dash of salt for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat until onions are browned and vegetables are tender; stir so garlic does not burn.  Add the water or broth and the split peas to the pot and stir.
2.   Bring ingredients to a full boil, reduce heat, and cook for 40 to 45 minutes or until split peas are tender.  Stir again, adding more liquid if soup becomes too thick.  Season with salt, pepper, mint, and choice of seasonings to taste.
3. Using a ladle, place small batches of soup in a blender.  Puree each batch then place in a bowl.  Continue until all the soup has been pureed.  If you prefer the soup with more texture, puree only half of the soup.
4. Serve with Yogurt Garnish and additional toppings on the side (see below). 
While the soup is cooking, prepare the Yogurt Garnish.
Yogurt Garnish:
1 cup plain white or Greek-style yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried mint, crushed
Dash of sea or Kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 large lemon and 1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint, salt, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.  Cover and chill garnish until ready to serve.

Additional toppings:
 Minced flat-leaf parsley
Olive oil for drizzling
Chopped Kalamata or black olives and chopped Roma tomatoes

Friday, March 24, 2017

Green House Bazaar, 5100 10th Avenue North, Greenacres, FL - A Hidden Gem Found!

When a Middle Eastern grocery store opened in our hometown of Boynton Beach a few years ago, Doug and I couldn’t have been more pleased. We were able to purchase the  must-have Armenian ingredients in order to make our cherished family recipes. The store’s owner, ‘Ken’ had a meat counter, some fresh produce, frozen items, housewares – you name it. He was even planning to have a bakery oven installed for daily-baked pitas, and eventually, a kitchen for freshly prepared food.  Sadly, things didn’t turn out as Ken expected and the business came and went after a short two-year run.

With the arrival of more ethnicities requiring the same cooking ingredients as we use, we’re puzzled by the severe shortage of Middle Eastern specialty shops in this area.

Several years ago, Doug and I stumbled upon a place called Green House Bazaar in Greenacres, a suburb of West Palm Beach, and not far from our home. At the time it was a partially open-air produce stand with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern items on their meagerly stocked shelves, and a kebab counter that didn’t seem to have anyone running it. The place was ok, but we never bothered to return ... until …

… our friend, Adele Abbott, alerted us to the fact that the Persian-owned Green House Bazaar had been enclosed, still had fresh produce, housed numerous shelves of ‘interesting food items’, a refrigerated and frozen food section including phyllo dough, kadaif dough, etc. – and best of all – the kebab cafĂ©, which she claimed was very good!

This is the only made-in-Armenia product we found.
Doug and I swung by one afternoon to check it out. We were delighted to find lavash, basturma, paklava, and a myriad of ingredients that would be useful in The Armenian Kitchen. They were, however, lacking in products imported from Armenia (we found only one) and items such as prepared lahmajoun and Armenian string cheese.

Our take-out combo plate

Salmon kebab take-out dinner with green rice

While there, we decided to buy two kebab meals-to-go for dinner that night, and are we glad we did!  We chose the combo platter with chicken kebab and beef lule kebab, and the second with salmon kebab. Both meals contained salad, rice – white, or green rice, which was studded with fava beans and lots of dill (we got one of each), grilled tomatoes and red peppers, a piece of freshly made lavash, and a side of a garlic-dill sauce. The salads and veggies were particularly fresh –as the produce stand is just steps away from the kitchen!
Lavash is made right on the premises

Would we return? You bet, but I plan to have a chat with the owner to see about stocking some more of our personal favorites!

Friday, March 17, 2017

CARROT (or APPLE) LENTEN CAKE from Sonia Tashjian

Sonia Tashjian's Carrot Lenten Cake

Periodically, Sonia Tashjian posts a special recipe from her vast repertoire on The Armenian Kitchen. With the Lenten season in full swing, she recently added her recipe for a carrot cake which is suitable for those choosing to follow a strict Lenten diet - or anyone at all!

Without further ado, here is Sonia’s preparation for Carrot Lenten Cake. In parentheses, I have noted that appple juice and applesauce may be substituted for the carrot juice and puree.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lemon Yogurt Hummus by Christine Datian

Christine Datian's Lemon Yogurt Hummus

Christine Datian has come to my rescue!

Little did she know, but I’ve been swamped this week helping with an upcoming event at our church. In fact, I’ve been taking reservations along with my side-kick, Linda Aginian, and it’s been keeping us on our toes.

How did Chris rescue me? By providing me with her latest recipe, Lemon Yogurt Hummus currently appearing in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator(pg. 15), to post for my readers.  
The recipe is quick, simple, and lip-smacking delicious!

I'll be back in 'The Kitchen' soon!

Lemon Yogurt Hummus
by Christine Datian

1- 16 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained except for 1/4 cup of the liquid (use this liquid)
1 1/2 cups plain white Greek yogurt (more to taste)
Juice of one large lemon (more lemon juice to taste)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2-3 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and dash of black pepper
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Aleppo pepper (more to taste)
Fresh lemon wedges, olive oil, minced parsley, chopped tomatoes, paprika and fresh mint as garnish

Place the ingredients, remaining liquid, and spices in a blender, cover, and process until smooth.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.   Place hummus on a platter or in a bowl and serve with sliced vegetables, cracker bread, pita bread, and pita chips.

Garnish with choice of fresh lemon wedges, olive oil, parsley, chopped tomatoes, paprika and mint.

 Note: *This hummus recipe may easily be doubled for more servings.

*Christine’s recipes have been published in the Fresno Bee, Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines, and at

*For Christine’s recipes that have been published in Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines, go to: <>

Friday, March 3, 2017

Zucchini Yogurt Tahini Dip

Zucchini Yogurt Tahini Dip 
It’s the height of vegetable-growing in south Florida. Locally-grown tomatoes, strawberries and zucchini are at their peak right now. The best part is that the prices for these are at their lowest, so we stock-up on as much as we can consume without having any of it go to waste.

In the past we’ve posted numerous recipes featuring zucchini (see list below), but here is a very tasty appetizer utilizing our locally-grown zucchini, plain yogurt, and tahini. Add some special seasonings and garnish with pomegranate seeds, and you’ve got yourself an eye-appealing, tasty mezze!