Thursday, May 16, 2019

Stay cool with Chilled Yogurt-based Soups!

Outdoor temperatures are beginning to rise, so it's time to start collecting recipes for chilled soup.  

Rich, tangy,  creamy yogurt-based soups offer delectable, refreshing dining on hot days. Add some fresh herbs and these soups are out of this world!

Here are two chilled yogurt-based soup recipes with fresh herbs (mint and basil) to help you get on your way to cool, delicious dining.
Chilled Yogurt-Mint Soup (Madzoon Abour)

Chilled Yogurt-Mint Soup (Madzoon Abour)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup barley**
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups very cold water
1 Tbsp. crushed mint

Directions:
1. Cook barley according to package directions. Cool and set aside. **NOTE: Quick-cooking barley works well in this recipe.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir yogurt and salt until smooth.
3. Mix in the barley.
4. Add the cold water and mint; stir to combine.
5. Place in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving.
6. To serve: stir the yogurt soup, ladle into bowls, add an ice cube, garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.



Chilled Cream of Zucchini Soup with Fresh Basil
Serves 4

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.



Thursday, May 9, 2019

St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Charlotte, NC hosts its annual Food Festival May 10, 11, and 12


Come One – Come All! 
St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Charlotte, NC is hosting its annual Food Festival May 10-12.

If you happen to be in the area and are looking for family fun and delicious food, please join us!

See you there!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Introducing a NEW Armenian coffee company – SARA Coffee Company

Sos Nazaryan
Sos Nazaryan reached out to The Armenian Kitchen to announce his family’s new Los Angeles-based Armenian coffee company - SARA. He asked if we would mention its existence to our readership. In order for us to do this properly, Sos kindly sent us a bag of their medium roast product to sample.
SARA coffee from the Nazaryan family


SARA coffee - getting ready to taste-test!
Doug and I were pleased to have been asked and agreed to help, but we needed some family background information to understand the story behind the company.

Here's a bit of the Nazaryan family background as told by Sos:

“My parents, Alfred and Rita, immigrated from Soviet Armenia in 1988, one year before my brother Ara was born and four years before I was born. Both of my parents had and continue to have a strong passion for Armenian music, poetry, and culture. In 1992, my father purchased an Armenian music store in the heart of downtown Glendale, which later grew into a community hub for Armenians in Glendale. When the recession hit, we had to close the music store. Fortunately, however, in 2008 we were able to purchase the mom-and-pop Armenian grocery next door to the music store, allowing us to continue our relationship with the community and sustain our family economically. 

All hands were on deck at the grocery store. My dad orchestrated the show, while my mother, brother, and I supported in any way we could. It was tough, but the silver lining was that we spent a lot of time together. While there was always an endless list of errands waiting to be finished at the grocery, a cup of "soorj" gave us an opportunity to take a short break together. It was around this time that my parents began to test out different coffees and blends, simply to find a coffee for our family that we thoroughly enjoyed; we hadn't even begun thinking of any type of coffee company yet! 

Well, eventually, I relocated to Santa Barbara for college and my brother moved to Seattle for a great job opportunity. My parents, however, continued their pursuit to find this perfect coffee blend and even began sharing this ever-evolving blend with the community. People seemed to really enjoy it, and shortly thereafter, people came to the store asking for more of it. It was at this point that we began entertaining the idea of a coffee company. 
I slowly started to work on the design, while my parents continued to refine the taste. 

Fast forward a couple of years and we have Sara Coffee Co. and the Original Blend. 

Armenian coffee is tricky because, in addition to great taste, the beans need to also be able to produce a nice, thick and creamy layer of froth or crema on top. The Original Blend features medium-roast beans from South America and Africa, resulting in a cup of coffee that is rich in taste, has a velvety body, and produces an excellent layer of crema. 
We launched the company in February of this year and have been overwhelmed by the support we've received. This coffee is something that I am truly proud to share. 

Any time we all four of us (my parents, my brother, and myself) are back together, a cup of coffee together is the first order of business. So when I tell people it's from our family to yours, I truly mean that. In the same way that you and Doug are trying to keep our culture alive by sharing recipes, our family is trying to do the same by bringing generations of Armenians together to enjoy a cup of coffee together and share stories about our culture.”

What a wonderful family project, and such passion!

To do our taste-test properly, Doug and I gathered a few friends in our home and put their coffee to the test. Naturally, we had to serve ‘nibbles’ to go along with the brew – choreg, string cheese, fruit, cookies.

Doug prepares pot #1 of SARA coffee for our tasting
 Doug, as always, was the coffee maker. Our friends watched as Doug prepared 3 pots of coffee – 2 of the SARA brand, brewed in 2 strengths, and one from a canned brand that’s often used.
Doug pours coffee for our guests
Our SARA coffee-tasting party in full-swing
After our careful sipping and sampling of each cup, here are the comments and final result of our SARA coffee experiment:

Guest's unbiased comments:

SARA coffee transports you to the old world with a rich, robust flavor. It’s smooth yet robust.

The stronger serving was very rich, with a full taste - a premium coffee.

   Grandma (Mayrig) would approve! Reminiscent of family     gatherings around the living room coffee table.

Delicious, with a deep-roast taste.

Subtle flavor with a slightly smoky undertone. You get a burst of flavor with every sip. 

    By the way, if you’re into reading fortunes in the coffee grounds, SARA’s grounds make an interesting story! This is the image Doug’s cup produced. Don’t know what you see, but we all agreed it resembled the Three Wise Men!

Group Analysis:
A Unanimous Decision: The SARA coffee made with the heaping scoop rather than the level scoop was the standout. 

On the other hand, the coffee made using the canned product was a total let-down.

As a way of introducing you to SARA Coffee, Sos provides a Promo (Coupon) Code for a 15% savings. So, if you go to https://saracoffeeco.com/ include the promo code ARMKITCHEN15 to receive the discount on your order. 

Just so you know, Sos informed me that plans for both a dark roast and a decaf version are in the works. 
Also,they don't have a storefront (yet). Customers living in/or visiting the LA area can find SARA products in Armenian grocery stores and bakeries throughout Glendale, including Lord and Villa Bakery on Pacific Ave. in Glendale.


We wish the Nazaryan family and their SARA Coffee Company much success!

Happy sipping!