Friday, September 27, 2019

Chicken Shawarma with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce or Toum

I love a good shawarma. I also love fenugreek, a pleasantly bitter, slightly sweet seed which – in ground form – is used in curry powders, spice blends, and teas. After searching for a chicken shawarma recipe using fenugreek in the spice mixture, I finally found one on Veronica's Cornucopia.
This version is for a sandwich, but I felt it would work just as well as a dinner entrée.

Chicken Shawarma with rice pilaf, salad and lavash.
Chicken Shawarma with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce or Toum
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded until thin
Ingredients used in the seasoning blend
Seasoning Blend Ingredients:
2 tsp. fenugreek                                       1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice                                           1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon                                       1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger                                             1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves                             1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. lemon juice                                 
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt                        1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice                         2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
The night before serving, combine the seasoning blend spices in a gallon-size plastic bag and shake to combine. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic, and massage the bag to combine, creating a thick-ish paste. Add chicken pieces, seal tightly, and massage the marinade into the chicken until all the pieces are coated.

Refrigerate overnight.

Note: Prepare the tahini-yogurt sauce the night before by whisking all the ingredients together and storing in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

Grill (outside) or pan-grill (stovetop) the chicken breasts on both sides until no longer pink in the center. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut chicken into thin strips.

Can be served as an entrée with rice, salad, and a vegetable of your choice, or as a sandwich: fill pita bread with lettuce, chicken strips, tomato, cucumber, and onion, and top with tahini sauce or toum.

Recipe for Toum is from Liz Della Croce, the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl®, a healthy food, travel and lifestyle blog.

1 cup garlic cloves peeled (roughly 3 heads of garlic)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups canola oil you may not need all of this
1/4 cup lemon juice (about one lemon)
Place the garlic cloves and salt in a large food processor and puree until smooth. It's a good idea to scrape down the sides two or three times to ensure that all of the garlic is finely processed.

Turn the machine back on and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid starting with 1/2 cup. After the first 1/2 cup has been added, pour in a teaspoon of the lemon juice.

Continue alternating between 1/2 cup of the canola oil and a teaspoon of the lemon juice until you've added all of the oil and lemon juice. Alternating between the two is the key to proper emulsification which creates the light and fluffy garlic sauce.

You know it's done when the sauce is white and thick with a similar consistency of mayonnaise. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes.

Recipe Notes:
Do not replace canola oil with olive oil, it will ruin the end result.
You can use vegetable or corn oil.
If the mixture breaks while processing, stop adding additional oil and lemon juice and continue pulsing until it comes together again.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka) and Armenian Meatball Soup: Two More Treasured Recipes from the cookbook, ’Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes’

In a previous post on The Armenian Kitchen, I introduced the cookbook, ’Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes’ published in 1970 by the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (Fresno) Ladies Guild, and the information in which to order a personal copy.

Today I am sharing, with permission, two more of the cookbook’s recipes, Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka) and Armenian Meatball Soup. Both recipes recently appeared in The Armenian Mirror Spectator’s Recipe Corner by Christine Vartanian Datian.

Christine and I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Patligan - Armenian-style Eggplant Moussaka

Patligan (Eggplant Moussaka)
Serves 6

1 medium eggplant, peeled
1 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Pinch of sweet basil (rahan)
1- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. Shortening (butter or oil may be substituted)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the peeled eggplant in ¼-inch slices and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand 15 minutes.
Wash the salt off the eggplant with water. Squeeze lightly and pat dry. Set aside.
Lightly brown meat in a tablespoon of shortening. Add the bell pepper, onion, basil, tomatoes and tomato sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper, and stir. Cook for 5-10 minutes, tossing. Arrange eggplant in a prepared baking dish alternating with meat mixture, and top with meat mixture.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden, and eggplant is tender.
Armenian Meatball Soup
Armenian Meatball Soup
Serves 6-8

2 lbs. ground lamb or ground chuck
3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white rice
2 1/2 quarts water
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
Garnishes: paprika and lemon slices, optional

Mix the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl and knead for a few minutes. Shape into balls the size of walnuts and roll in flour. Set aside until ready to cook.

Prepare broth by combining the water, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring broth to a full boil. Add the meat balls a few at a time. Reduce heat to low and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve meat balls in hot broth. Garnish with paprika and sliced lemon, if desired. 
A side of rice or bulgur pilaf, and Armenian madzoon (yogurt) will complete the meal nicely.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam from Fresno, CA

The following recipe was posted in The Armenian Mirror Spectator, August 14, 2019 by Christine Vartanian Datian. It is with her permission that I am posting it here.
The caption reads: "Auntie Zee" (Zarhoui Baxter) - 100 years young and one of the BEST Armenian cooks there was. Her famous "Apricot Jam"!
(Recipe and photo are courtesy of the late Dr. Harold H. “Buzz” Baxter from the Gutsy Gourmet, his popular international food website.)

Dr. Baxter stated:
“Here’s my late Auntie Zee’s (Zarhoui Baxter) private recipe for the most delicious apricot jam on earth,” said Dr. Baxter. “This delicious jam recipe takes time to make and is a major labor of love. My Auntie Zee in Fresno knew how to cook and always went the extra mile to make special Armenian dishes that had her signature. Auntie Zee protected this recipe for many years and had a twinkle in her eye when she would give it up to those few relatives and friends who asked how to make it. I think I am the only person she shared the recipe with in all those years. And I think that was because I once caught her climbing up a fruit tree to pick her own apricots on a hot summer day when she was in her late 90’s. She knew I was thinking of her that day, and she reluctantly shared this recipe with her oldest nephew.”

Auntie Zee’s World-Famous Apricot Jam

3 quarts washed and cut apricots*
8 cups sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
**15 apricot pits — remove seeds and boil until skin peels off
2 tablespoons light Karo syrup or corn syrup

In a large pot, bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until apricots are soft and begin to lose their shape. Let cool completely.

Pour into shallow baking pans to about 3/4 inch deep. Cover with cheese cloth netting and put in the hot sun for 3-4 days to further “sun-cook.”  (Dr. Baxter explained: “Of course you have to live in an area where the temperature will remain in the 90’s to 100’s during the day. Bring pans in at night because you do not want insects to eat your jam.”)

When ready (after 3-4 days), put the jam back into a large pot and bring to a boil for 10-12 minutes, stirring. Pour into sterilized jars and seal (and follow normal canning instructions).

Dr. Baxter added: “Cut apricots in half unless they are very large, then you should cut them in quarters. We are making jam here, not jelly. Tree-ripened apricots are not easy to find these days. It is important that these apricots are ripened in the sun. That is where all the flavor comes from. If you can find a farm that grows apricots or have your own tree, you are going to love this recipe.

**The apricot pits are the hard, woody center of the apricot. Within that hard, woody center is the seed. You will have to use a hammer or vise to break the hard pit and remove the seed. Boiling the seed will remove the bitter skin that covers it. This seed gives a unique flavor to this jam.”

Makes about 4 quarts.

For this recipe, go to:

Monday, September 9, 2019

Simit: A recipe from Fresno's Holy Trinity Armenian Church Guild Cookbook: ‘Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes'

In 1970, Fresno, CA's Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Ladies’ Guild members and their friends decided to come together to publish the first 'Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook. 
‘Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook.  

This comprehensive, easy to follow recipe collection is available for sale, and is a must for anyone who is interested in making traditional and authentic Armenian dishes (as well as many American specialties) including kufta, keyma, shish kebab, harissah, pilaf, lamb shanks, dolma, basterma, yalanchi, sarma, lahmajoon, monti, chorag, gata, cheese berag, paklava, bourma, lavash, shakarishee, and roejig, to list a few.  

Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, Fresno, CA
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church is the oldest Armenian church in the Western United States, and the oldest standing Armenian church in the country.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 31, 1986.  
Christine Vartanian Datian’s parents and family have belonged to the church since about 1907 when her grandfather and his family emigrated to Fresno from Bitlis, Turkey.  

Armenian culinary traditions are over 2000 years old.  Armenian cuisine is as ancient as its history, and the land it is standing on. 

According to the cookbook’s introduction, Plutarch said that Ancient Armenia was “a land that abounded in all sorts of plenty.” 

Christine adds, “Many of the cookbook’s celebrated and beloved Armenian recipes have survived years of war, genocide, forced migration and assimilation, yet still exist today. That millions of families from around the world continue to make and enjoy these recipes feels like a miracle.”

Simit: One of the treasured recipes from 'Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes' cookbook.  
Holy Trinity Church Armenian Bread Sticks (Simit)
Yield: About 45 pieces

4 cups flour
1 cube butter at room temperature (Note: 1 cube is equivalent to 1 stick or 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dry yeast cake, dissolved in warm water (Note: 1 dry yeast cake is equivalent to one (1/4-ounce) packet of dry yeast - or - 2- 1/4 teaspoons of active dry or instant active dry yeast.)
2 tablespoons madzoon (plain yogurt) or sour cream
1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy, optional
1-2 large eggs, beaten
Sesame seeds as garnish


Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, butter, shortening, and salt together until well combined.

Add the yeast, sour cream or madzoon (plain yogurt), and brandy (if using).

Mix and knead well.  Let dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Take small amount of dough each time, roll pencil thin (about 6 inches long), and twist into a braid.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. 
Lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, do not burn.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks.

If you are interested in ordering a copy of the cookbook, please call or email:
Ms. Nazik Arisian
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church
2226 Ventura St.
Fresno, CA 93721
Church Office: (559) 486-1141

The cost to purchase a copy of the cookbook is $20.00 plus $5.00 for shipping.
Make check payable to: Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church.

Thank You!