Saturday, April 25, 2020

Blueberry Buckle

I know this is The Armenian Kitchen website, however the following recipe, Blueberry Buckle, is not Armenian. It was, however, made by an Armenian (me) in my kitchen therefore I declare that it qualifies!
Blueberry Buckle
What's a 'buckle', you ask? In the culinary world, 'buckle' is an old American term for a simple, single-layer cake made with blueberries or other berries.

Doug and I have been relying on a grocery-delivery service lately, so we get-what-we-get from the store. This time around we scored fresh blueberries! Unfortunately, they were the tartest berries we’d ever tasted. Doug was ready to toss them; I had another idea.

The following recipe comes from Food Network’s Alton Brown with a few minor changes based on what I had on hand. His recipe calls for cake flour; mine is all-purpose. He uses freshly ground nutmeg and ground ginger. I have ginger and cinnamon, but no nutmeg - and so it goes.

Despite my ingredient substitutions, the buckle was a big hit! Doug particularly enjoyed the sweet-tart taste and moist texture.
I ended up wrapping some pieces and putting them in the freezer because we want to make this dessert last.
You never know what will be in our next grocery delivery.

Blueberry Buckle
Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake 

Ingredients for the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk (I used fat-free)

3 cups fresh whole blueberries, rinsed and patted dry

Ingredients for the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar (Note: if you don’t have brown sugar, just use a total of ½ cup granulated sugar.)
1/3 cup flour, approximately
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Cake Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Spray a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. 

Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add 1/3 of the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined. 

Coat the blueberries in 2 Tbsp. flour, then gently fold-in them into the cake batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly. 

Topping Directions:
In a small bowl combine the sugar(s), flour and ginger. 
Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork or pastry blender to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumbly texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Armenian Mixed Vegetable Dolma - a recipe from The Gutsy Gourmet

Today's post, which Christine Datian recently submitted to The Armenian Mirror Spectator, features an updated version of Armenian dolma created by the late Dr. Harold H. "Buzz" Baxter.
This and more of his family's recipes can be found on  his comprehensive Armenian and international food and cultural website, The Gutsy Gourmet

In Armenian and Middle Eastern cultures and cuisines, dolma refers to a family of stuffed vegetable dishes, most often wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves. 

You can use the same meat and rice filling to hollow out and stuff zucchini squash, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. “If there’s anything Armenians love to stuff it is fresh vegetables. Armenians will stuff just about any part of a lamb, from stomach to head. And we even stuff meat with meat like kuftah,” Baxter said. 

“Dolma is considered the most cherished Armenian dish because it is part of our rich Armenian culture, and because Armenians love dishes made of chopped meat and all possible variations of stuffed fresh vegetables,” he added.

Dr. Baxter’s website is dedicated to his beloved mother, Gladys Baxter, who was born in Fresno on July 1, 1908. She descended from Armenian immigrants from the Bitlis area of Turkey. “My mother was the youngest of eight children, and had five older sisters who were excellent cooks, too, as was her mother. She naturally learned from them and became one of the most respected Armenian cooks in the San Joaquin Valley. She had no difficulty in cooking for two or two hundred people. She seldom consulted a cookbook and measuring devices were rarely used in her cooking. A pinch of this and a scoop of that was all that was needed to perform magic in her kitchen.”

In 1930, Gladys married Avedis Baxter, an auto mechanic from Fowler, Calif. They had two sons to whom she taught her culinary and domestic skills. Ironically, she spent her last few years with Alzheimer’s disease that caused her to forget her amazing art and skills in Armenian cooking. Dr. Baxter added, “I felt it incumbent upon me to celebrate my mother’s deep love of cooking by sharing many of her traditional Armenian specialties such as this dolma recipe.”

Buzz Baxter's Armenian Mixed Vegetable Dolma
Armenian Mixed Vegetable Dolma
Serves 6 to 8
Assorted fresh vegetables suitable for stuffing: any color bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, apples, quince, small eggplant, grape leaves, cabbage leaves.
3/4 cup rice or fine bulgur, or a combination
1 1/2 lbs. ground lamb or ground round or 3/4 lb. each ground lamb and lean ground top round
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Cayenne pepper or paprika to taste
1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried mint
1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 oz. crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 cups water or 2 cans chicken broth or beef broth, or enough to cover the vegetables

Wash and prepare the vegetables of your choice. (See list above.)

Scoop out vegetables leaving an opening for the filling about 1 1/2-2 inches in diameter and 2-3 inches deep. (Note: Scooped out portions of vegetables may be grated or processed, and added to the broth to make it thicker, or it can be used in another dish, such as a vegetable soup base.)

In a bowl, combine the rice or bulgur, lamb or ground round, parsley, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, onions, and spices. Add lemon juice and mix all ingredients to combine; check seasonings. Fill vegetables with some filling mixture and place upright in a large pot, Dutch oven, or covered casserole. 

Pour crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce over the stuffed vegetables along with water or broth. Add more liquid, if needed, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes, until vegetables, rice or bulgur are tender. 

Allow dolma to rest for 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a platter and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon remaining sauce over dolma, and serve with rice, lentil or bulgur pilaf, Armenian yogurt, and fresh pita bread or lavash.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Leftover Easter egg recipes

If you're like me, you've made extra hard-cooked eggs for Easter so that there are some leftover to serve in other ways. Here are several easy-to-prepare recipes that I've posted before, but are worthy of repeating.
Teereet (Tirit) - Armenian-style egg salad
Teereet (Tirit): Armenian-style Egg Salad
Serves 3-4
6 to 8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt, pepper, allspice, to taste
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Gently combine the chopped eggs, parsley, onion and seasonings.Then drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, tossing lightly. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with your favorite chorag,  lavash, or simit recipe. 

Potato-Egg Salad (Photo from
Potato-Egg Salad
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 lb. boiled potatoes, peeled, cooled and sliced
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
Dash allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil, to taste
1. Place sliced potatoes and chopped eggs in a large mixing bowl.
2. Gently toss in the parsley, onion and seasonings.
3. Lightly dress with a little olive oil.
(Note: If you’d like, you can add a little white vinegar or fresh lemon juice with the olive oil.)

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs
Yields 12 halves

6 large eggs, hard-cooked in the shell

Cooking directions:
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with water to cover and bring to a boil. Remove saucepan from the heat, cover the pan, and let stand for 20 minutes. Pour off the hot water. Have a bowl of cold water ready. Gently crack the eggshells all over and let them sit in the bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Peel the eggs**, cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

**Peeling hard-cooked eggs:
Gently roll eggs between your hands to loosen the shell, then peel. If the shell is too hard to peel, hold the egg under cold water while peeling.

Deviled Egg Filling ingredients and directions for 6 eggs:
In a bowl, mash together until smooth:
Yolks from 6 eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 or 3 Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. salt
Dash Aleppo red pepper or black pepper

NOTE: The options for the egg filling are endless. You can add chopped olives, pickle relish, parsley, flaked seafood, chopped basturma, chormees, chopped onions, etc.
To assemble:
Cut shelled eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks.
Prepare filling as described above.
Spoon filling evenly among the 12 egg halves.
Sprinkle tops with paprika.

Sonia Tashjian's Eggs with Herbs
Eggs with Herbs - Sonia Tashjian’s left-over Easter egg creation
Approx. 1 lb. (1/2 kg.) of Swiss chard leaves thoroughly washed, and chopped (Fresh spinach may be substituted)
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of butter or ghee
1/2 teaspoon of sumac
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
 red pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
 Approx. 8 oz. (200 gm) of cheese, shredded (any good melting cheese will do)
3 or 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced

Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter or ghee in a skillet. Fry the onion, then add the chopped chard, sumac, black pepper, salt and a pinch of red pepper; cook for 5 minutes. Spread the onion –chard mixture in a baking dish, arrange the sliced eggs on top of the onion and chard, then top with the shredded cheese.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees), until the cheese is melted.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Easter Sweet Treats: Kadayif Two Ways - Cream Kadayif and Kadayif with Cheese

Despite what's been happening around the world, Easter is not cancelled! 
Therefore, preparations for this most-Holy Day are underway.

Christine Datian shares two kadayif recipes from The Armenian Mirror Spectator which are perfect for Easter - or anytime!

Kadayif is finely shredded phyllo dough used in many popular Middle Eastern desserts.  In this case, it is also the name of the dessert.  Kadayif dough is commonly available in one-pound packages in either the refrigerator or freezer section in Middle Eastern shops and international markets.

This classic recipe is courtesy of the late Madelyn Markarian and is reprinted from A Harvest of Recipes Cookbook published by the Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church in Fresno, California.

Cream Kadayif

#1. Cream Kadayif
Serves 24
Simple Syrup:
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 lb. package kadayif dough (shredded phyllo dough), defrosted and at room temperature
1/2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)

Cream Filling: (Yields about 5 cups of cream filling)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 pint (2 cups) half and half
1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Simple Syrup: Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Take off heat, add lemon juice and stir.  Allow syrup to cool completely.

Cream Filling: In a large bowl, add cold milk and cornstarch, stir constantly to completely dissolve the cornstarch.  Transfer the milk mixture to a large saucepan. Add the half and half, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla.  Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.  Set aside.

Dough: It is important to defrost kadayif dough overnight in the refrigerator and not at room temperature in order to prevent it from getting soggy. If kadayif dough gets soggy, it will be difficult to work with and less crispy when baked.

Assembly and Baking:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter.  Shred/cut dough into small 1-1/2 to 2” pieces.  Stir in melted butter and mix well.  Spread 1/2 of dough in bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan.

Pour 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cream mixture over dough. (Note: Save any remaining filling to serve as pudding.) Top with remaining dough.

Bake for 20 minutes on the lowest oven rack.  If not golden, move pan to top rack and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer.  Lower heat to 300° degrees and bake until golden brown.  Pour cooled syrup over hot kadayif.  Allow to cool, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, cut into squares and garnish with ground pistachios or walnuts, if desired.  (Note: You can bake this dish a day ahead, then reheat immediately before serving and pour the syrup on.)

Kadayif with cheese filling
#2. Kadayif with Cheese
1 lb. package kadayif dough (shredded phyllo dough), defrosted and at room temperature
1 1/2 cubes (1½ sticks or 12 tablespoons.) unsalted butter
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
Melt butter and mix with kadayif dough.  Put 1 layer of dough in a 3-quart baking dish. Layer with the cheese. Cover with remaining dough. Bake about 40 minutes at 350°. Pour cooled syrup over hot kadayif and serve.
Simple Syrup Ingredients and Preparation:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 lemon peel and juice of 1 lemon
Bring sugar, water and lemon peel to a boil. Keep stirring till the sugar has dissolved and water is clear. Add the lemon juice and leave to simmer for 7-10 minutes.  Leave to cool slightly.  Remove lemon peel.

 *The is one of the treasured recipes published in the Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes Cookbook by the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Trinity Guild (now Ladies’ Guild) in 1970. The church, located in historic downtown Fresno, is registered as a U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The cost is $20.00 each to purchase the cookbook, include $5.00 for shipping.  Please make check payable to: Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. To order, call or contact: Nazik Arisian, Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, 2226 Ventura St., Fresno, CA 93721.


Saturday, April 4, 2020

Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds

What would any holiday be without serving traditional pilaf? Christine Vartanian Datian learned from the best - her mother Alice Vartanian and her late grandmother, Pepay Sarkisian.  They taught her how to prepare many holiday dishes including this festive nut-and fruit-topped pilaf.
Christine's recipe for Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds was originally published in the New York Times 2014 Thanksgiving Food Blog.
This updated version of a family favorite is in demand, especially during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds

Yield: 8 servings


4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup dried vermicelli, crushed or broken into pieces (may substitute Angel hair pasta)

2 cups long-grain white rice

4 cups fat-skimmed chicken or turkey broth

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (Marcona almonds, if available)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped golden or black raisins

1/2 cup frozen petite peas (optional)

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Break vermicelli into 1-inch lengths.  Add pasta and rice to 3 tablespoons butter and stir often until golden, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the broth, allspice, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an 8- to 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the almonds, and stir often until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the raisins and stir until they puff, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir peas, parsley, and lemon juice into rice.  Cover and simmer until peas are hot, about 3-4 minutes, and remove from heat.  Allow pilaf to sit another 10 minutes.  When the liquid is fully absorbed, it is ready to serve.  Serve pilaf in a bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with the raisin and nut mixture.
Note: Diced dried dates, pistachios, and apricots may also be used in this topping.