Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving menu have you stumped? Try some of our favorites!

Thanksgiving may have a different meaning from family to family. For ours, it means love, being thankful for all with which we’ve been blessed, and sharing our favorite recipes.

When it comes to the ‘feast’, ours takes a slight detour from the All-American menu. We sprinkle-in some of our family’s Armenian treasured recipes, passed down from our loved ones.
Midia Dolma
Cheese Boregs
For instance, our appetizers often include Midia Dolma, cheese boregs, homemade hummus, assorted olives, Armenian string cheese, and lavash or pita bread.

Sometimes a Roasted Leg of Lamb (recipe below) is the star of the show, but, when we do roast a turkey, it’s filled with Armenian Stuffing (recipe below), rather than the usual bread or cornbread-based varieties.

Dessert is more likely to be Apricot Pie, rather than apple or pumpkin, and for good measure an occasional plate of Boorma (or paklava) would adorn the table.

Image result for armenian apricot pie
Technically, this is my apple pie, but imagine it with an apricot filling!

No matter what you serve, the main thing is to share and give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Table to yours!

Roasted Leg of Lamb
Yield: approximately 6 servings

1 leg of lamb, bone-in, 6 to 7 lbs., untrimmed
2 Tbsp. Coriander seed, freshly ground
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 medium onions, roughly cut, skin on
4 cloves garlic, whole, skin on
½ cup water

1. In a small bowl, combine the ground coriander, salt, and pepper. Blend well and set aside.
2. Place the oven rack as close to the center as possible, then preheat to 350° F.
3. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with heavy-duty foil.
4. Spread the cut onions, garlic, and ½ cup of water on top of the foil. This will impart a lively flavor, and fragrance to the recipe during roasting.
5. Place a roasting rack over the onion mixture.
6. Place the lamb on the rack, fat-side up. Leaving the fat on will flavor and moisten the meat.
7. Sprinkle the coriander, salt and pepper on the surface of the lamb, gently rubbing them in.
8. Roast the lamb for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, basting periodically with the juices from the bottom of the pan. (There is no need to turn the meat during roasting.)
9. Remove the roast to a carving board, allowing the meat to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.
10. Serve with pan juices that have been skimmed of fat.

Special Note
Do Not discard the juices at the bottom of the pan! When cooled, strain the juices into a food storage container, discard the onion & garlic.

Refrigerate overnight. Remove the layer of fat which hardens on the top. What’s left is a flavorful broth to use as a base for soup or sauces.
Armenian stuffing
Armenian Stuffing
Yield: Enough to stuff a 10-12 lb. turkey – or serves 6 or so as a side dish

½ lb. ground lamb (ground beef or ground turkey may be substituted)
½ cup chopped onion
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
1½ cups long grain, parboiled rice (Uncle Ben’s works well in this)
Salt, pepper, to taste and allspice (about 1 tsp.)
3 cups water or chicken or beef broth
1 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon paste (optional)
¼ to ½ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

1. Brown the meat in a large pot with a little salt, pepper and one tablespoon of water. Drain off any grease. Remove meat from pot and place in a bowl. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté onion until soft. Return meat to pot and stir.
2. Bring the water or broth to a boil. Add the rice and butter; stir. Reduce heat to low, cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed, and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
3. Using a fork, fluff the rice and add the allspice, and more salt and pepper, if needed, and toasted pine nuts, if using.
NOTE: This recipe is used as a stuffing, but makes a delicious side dish, as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Christine Datian's Potato-Cheese Patties

Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather around the table studded with specialty foods. The stuffed turkey usually takes center-stage. (One of my relatives, who shall remain nameless, serves lasagna instead of the 'bird'.) Then there are those wonderful - and some not so wonderful - side dishes and desserts - too many to name!

As you plan your Thanksgiving menu, be sure to allow for leftovers.
Christine Datian's Potato-Cheese Patties 
(Image from

For instance, if mashed potatoes are to be served, make plenty so that you’ll have enough leftover to make Christine Datian’s Potato-Cheese Patties or one of her variations.

Making sweet potatoes instead? Not a problem. Christine offers a variation using leftovers of those.

Not making either kind of potato? She’s got you covered with a 3rd variation using zucchini or squash.

Check out her recipe and variations below, and decide which you'll serve the day after.

Happy Cooking!

Potato Cheese Patties by Christine Vartanian Datian
Serves 4-6

4-5 cups chilled leftover mashed potatoes*
1/2 medium onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup crumbled Feta, shredded Monterey Jack, Swiss or cheddar cheese or grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup flour (or plain bread crumbs, or a little more)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons canned green chilies or minced green or red bell pepper
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste
Flour, plain bread crumbs or cornmeal for rolling
Butter or cooking oil for frying
Sour cream, yogurt or hummus
Chopped parsley, mint, paprika, green onions

Place mashed potatoes in a large bowl; combine with the onions, garlic, eggs, cheese, flour, parsley, chilies, and spices, and mix thoroughly. Flour hands and form mixture into patties; roll in flour, bread crumbs or cornmeal, and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

Flatten patties slightly and fry in butter or oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Garnish with sour cream, yogurt, hummus or chopped parsley, mint, and green onions.

Serving Suggestion: Serve patties in pita pockets, topped with yogurt or hummus and thinly sliced red onions, radishes, and cucumbers or as a side dish or appetizer.

*Recipe Variations

Mashed sweet potatoes version: To the mashed sweet potatoes add 1/2 cup chopped raisins, dates or dried apricots and omit garlic, green chilies and parsley. Add 1/4 cup flaked coconut, 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger, and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds. Flour hands and form mixture into patties; roll in flour, bread crumbs or cornmeal, and chill for 30 minutes until firm.
Flatten patties slightly and fry in butter or oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, roll patties in cinnamon and sugar. Serve immediately. Garnish with chunky applesauce, cranberry sauce or sour cream, if desired.

Zucchini/ Squash version (Baked): Patties may be made with 2 to 3 cups uncooked, unpeeled, shredded zucchini or squash, well drained. Add the grated onion, minced garlic, crumbled or shredded cheese (refer to above options), egg, flour (or bread crumbs) and parsley as listed above. (Omit green chilies) Season with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Shape into patties; chill 30 minutes. Coat patties in flour, bread crumbs or corn meal. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Carefully turn patties over and bake for an additional 12 minutes or until golden.

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

Friday, November 2, 2018

Quince Butter

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, pumpkin recipes are in the spotlight, and rightly so. But don’t forget about QUINCE.

Not as well known, or as readily available as the mighty pumpkin, quinces are not to be overlooked. They have a pear-like shape, but they are not pears.

Over the years I’ve posted a few recipes featuring the quince:
Candied Quince Preserves 
Candied Quince Preserves

If you come across quince, buy some and try making one of the dishes above, or try this very easy recipe for Quince Butter.

Quince Butter
Yields about 3/4 cup

6 large quinces (about 4 pounds total), peeled, seeded, and cut into large dice
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (the sweetness level is up to you!)
3 cups water
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

In a medium-sized pot, bring quinces, sugar, and 3 cups water to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring now and then, for about 20 minutes, or until quinces begin to soften. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the mixture resembles applesauce.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  If you prefer a smoother product, press the quince mixture through a sieve or food mill into a bowl and discard pulp.

Place quince butter in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for about 1 week.

Serve on toast, crackers, pancakes, plain yogurt, etc. Or, just eat it with a spoon!