Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Surim or Surum - A Forgotten Food

When it comes to Armenian dishes, I seem to always select the one that is "not authentic".  I say that because my neighbor, whom you will remember is Armenian and a fantastic cook, will ever so politely let me know that this may just be a dish that she has never heard of....and, since it can't be found in any of her numerous Armenian cookbooks either, I could surmise that this dish might be an Armenian-American dish.  Maybe it was dubbed Armenian because the family was Armenian and in the 50s the mom was trying to come up a dish that would appeal to kids when they wanted Mac and Cheese for dinner just like their friends at school were having.  It is a thought.....

While that sounds feasible, I decided to do some more digging.  I do love to research and guess what I learned?  This is a for-real dish!  I found it spelled Surum and it was referenced as a "forgotten food"!!  Wait until I tell my neighbor that I found it.

I was reading a post on the Armenian Kitchen that shared a journal entry by Dr. Carolann Najarian. Dr Najarian was active in establishing medical facilities, assistance and training to various regions in Armenia.  On one of her trips, the guide shared with them that they would be served two local specialties at mealtime.  One of them was surum.  Dr. Najarian was thrilled, she described her childhood memories of the dish:
For years we have enjoyed surum (or serim) in or family, but today, few people are familiar with this dish - it is not in any recipe book or on any menu.  It is a forgotten food!  ...I simply could not believe that surum was here, in this desolate town.  During the summer, on the days our grandmother baked the flat round bread on the sheet of zinc - the sahye - over the outdoor fire, she would make surum for lunch.  Some of the flat rounds of bread would be cooked until thoroughly dried and hard making it possible to store the breads for weeks while others were taken off the sahye while still soft.  These she rolled and placed in a large baking pan layered with garlic, butter, and with her own madzoon (yogurt), and then baked.  This is surum!
The traditional method of preparing this dish is labor intensive and may just "take a village" but today with pasta readily available it is a simple side dish that can be enjoyed often.

Surum - The Forgotten Food
adapted from the Gutsy Gourmet and the Armenian Kitchen

Yield:  4-6 servings

3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1 pound orrichetti or other small pasta that will hold the sauce
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

Saute the garlic in butter.  Do not brown.  When the garlic is soft and translucent, add the yogurt slowly so that it does not curdle.

Add the feta cheese and stir to melt.

Boil the pasta in salted water following package directions.  Drain and place in a serving bowl.

Pour the sauce over the freshly cooked and toss.

Sprinkle the top with the chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Note:  There is not normally cheese in Surum.  It is usually served with just the garlic-yogurt sauce. This recipe included Feta among the ingredients.  If you decide to add the Feta, it is recommended that salt not be added as Feta is usually quite salty.


We really enjoyed this side dish.  It is one that I will definitely make again!  Delicious!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage, Blogger CLUE

I am very pleased to be a part of a new recipe exchange group called Blogger C.L.U.E.  Each month members are assigned a blog, a theme and challenged to find a recipe that meets the theme!  How fun is that?!  I love a challenge...I love exploring new blogs....I love to cook....and, I do love to eat new things.  I was so excited to get my first blog assignment:  Anna Dishes.  Anna's blog is packed with "homegrown, flavor-packed recipe creations".  I saw so many dishes that I would prepare that I had a hard time focusing on the theme...and what was the theme for March?  Well, of course, it was the potato!

I tried not to get distracted  by the lovely Salmon with a White Wine Cream Sauce, or the Drunk London Broil...instead I focused on Twice Baked Smashed Potatoes and Balsamic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.   Then I spied the Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage!  Eureka!

Potato with White Bean Soup with Sage
adapted from Anna Dishes

2 lbs Yukon potatoes
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, rinsed and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
8-10 sage leaves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1/2-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
a splash of white balsamic vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leeks, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently until they are very soft but not browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook.  Add the sage leaves and saute until the leaves are softened.

Add the potatoes and bay leaves and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the stock.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and cover.  Cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.  

Stir in the heavy cream, milk and parmesan.  Stir to blend.  Add the beans and stir to evenly distribute.  Simmer about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

Remove about three cups of the soup and transfer it to a blender.  Puree and add the mixture back into the soup pot.  Stir well to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.  Add the splash of white balsamic vinegar if desired.

1) I only used two cups of dairy as I reduced the amount of heavy cream by one cup.  If you desire more liquid, add the additional cup of cream.  
2) The amount of parmesan is my guesstimate as there wasn't a measurement listed in the recipe. 
3) Instead of removing some of the soup to a blender, I used an immersion blender until it was the desired consistency, being careful to leave some potato chunks and beans!
4) The mister had just finished frying some bacon so I took a few pieces to crumble as a garnish...pretty tasty.  Doesn't everything go better with bacon?  "smile"

Serve hot with crusty bread.

We really enjoyed this soup.  I loved the addition of cannellini beans to the potato soup!  Delicious! We had leftovers the next day and I do believe that the soup was even better the next day.  This soup is worthy of landing a spot on the soup rotation!

Join me to explore the potato recipes that the other Blogger CLUE participants have prepared!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Southwest Skillet Dip

Are you a fan of the Mexican Layered Dip?  We are.  It is one of those taste combinations that is hard to get enough of...and even harder to make the chips and the dip come out even!  There are many variations of the layered dip but I was especially intrigued by this Southwest Skillet Dip that I found on Miz Helen's blog, Miz Helen's Country Kitchen.  First, I love the idea of making a hot layered dip and second I love the idea of using a skillet!  Miz Helen's blog was my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month...and what fun that assignment has been!

I served the Southwest Skillet Dip as an appetizer when we had some friends over for dinner. Everybody enjoyed dipping in to discover what layers just might be under the melted cheese!  I did change it a bit in that when it came out of the oven I added the avocado, tomato and olives along with the sprinkling of green onions. What I missed in it was the salsa and its punch of flavor. I will add a salsa layer the next time I make this....and there will be a next time.

Southwest Skillet Dip

1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
2 cans roasted green chilies, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped with tops, divided
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup pepper Jack cheese, grated
1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated, separated
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
1 can sliced black olives, for garnish
1 avocado chopped, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a large mixing bowl, add the drained pinto beans, black beans, whole kernel corn, green chilies and 1/2 of the chopped green onions (reserve the remaining onions for garnish). Stir to combine.  Add the sour cream and seasonings.  Mix well.  Stir in the pepper Jack cheese and 1 cup of the cheddar (if desired).

Lightly spray the bottom of a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet or a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Pour the mixture into the skillet or baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and is lightly browned.

Garnish with the avocado, tomato and black olives and then sprinkle with the remaining green onion.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Note:  Adjust the amount of cheese to your liking.  Consider adding a layer of salsa.


As I mentioned earlier, it has been a fun month exploring Miz Helen's blog.  There were quite a few recipes that caught my eye.  I love the garlic mashed potatoes at Buca di Peppo so when I saw a recipe for Buca Garlic Mashed Potatoes I quicked added that recipe to a menu and made them for a Sunday dinner.  (They will appear later this week...)  Then there was the recipe for Smoked Texas Brisket which I pinned for a later time.  Miz Helen offers a big Texas welcome and a cup of tea to those who stop by her blog where she shares simple family friendly meal plans and recipes...and, don't forget to say hi to Max her Bichon who is more than willing to cuddle up while you drink your tea and browse!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tabouli or Tabouleh...It's a Salad!

The first time I ever ate Tabouli was when my daughter made it. It was a wonderful combination of fresh flavors and just the right salad for the meal that she had prepared. It was different and I really enjoyed it. So, when our gourmet group had an Armenian theme menu, I opted to prepare the Tabouli.

Tabouli can prepared anytime of the year as it uses vegetables and herbs that are readily available. Do not you love the verdant green? It just has a spring "feel" to it! Preparing Tabouli Involves lots of chopping but it is worth every bit of time it takes! That said, my daughter was to the rescue again! When she Gave me the garlic mincer that I Mentioned in an Earlier post , she Also Gave me a Microplane Herb Mill . It was the perfect tool to have when finely chopping cups of parsley and mint!


Yield: 12 to 16 servings

2 cups bulgur or cracked wheat
2 cups very hot water
1 cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, sliced, tops included
1/2 cup chopped fresh minted
2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Romaine leaves, separated, washed and dried

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste

In a small bowl, soak the bulgur in the hot water until the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Drain any excess water and squeeze dry.

Prepare the salad dressing and set aside.

Separate, wash and dry the Romaine leaves. Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables and herbs. The key to a good Tabouli is to finely chop the parsley and mint and not to skimp on either of them. Set aside the vegetables and herbs.

Stir the bulgur, vegetables and dressing together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve the salad chilled or at room temperature. Place the Romaine leaves around a platter. Spoon the Tabouli onto the leaves. Tabouli any remaining mound in the center of the platter.

Notes: There are numerous variations to this dish. A friend adjusts the dressing by adding a little lemon zest, paprika or cumin. It is a matter of taste. My Armenian neighbor Tells me that she keeps the dressing simple Because it is usually Accompanying of foods that may be more spicy.


We enjoyed the Tabouli and had enough left over for lunch the next day! If you are looking for a vegetarian dish and something light and flavorful, you MIGHT want to try Tabouli!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Parmesan Garlic Potato Wedges

It was hamburger night and we wanted something different for a side. Potato wedges Came to mind and I had just seen a shared recipe for parmesan and garlic wedges. Immediately I envisioned an appetizer that we had eaten a number of years ago, oh the thought ... I conjured up call now dipped in garlic fry an aioli sauce and how I swooned with every bite. This had to be-similar but with "more potato"!

The wedges sounded simple and perfect to me. Since it was a side I opted to enjoy them without a fancy dipping sauce ... just good ole wedges with garlic and parmesan. They did not disappoint .... and, I want to thank my youngest for a little gift. It is a garlic mincer ! If one has numerous cloves of garlic to mince, this little gadget is a must!

It is pushed back and forth and the little blades mince the garlic for you ... so quick and so easy and not sticky! It holds about three cloves at once ... it MIGHT take more but some of the cloves were large. I love my new toy! They just need to include a little scoop so that it can be emptied Easily.

Parmesan Garlic Potato Wedges
adapted from The Chunky Chef

Yield: 4 servings

3 russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into 8 long call now wedges (24 wedges)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with: minced parsley, minced fresh thyme and extra grated Parmesan

Preheat oven 375 ° F.

Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat. Once preheated, remove from the oven and spray lightly with oil or a cooking spray.

Place the wedges in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside. In a small bowl mix together the grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, minced parsley and dried thyme. Stir to combine. Add the mixture to the potatoes and toss well.

Place the potatoes in a single layer onto the preheated baking sheet.

Place them into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Halfway through or when golden brown and crisp, turn the wedges. If you like your potatoes extra crispy place them under the broiler until they reach your preferred doneness.

Garnish the potatoes with extra parsley, thyme and grated Parmesan cheese.


That was a lot of garlic but we loved them! The next time I make-them it will be as an appetizer with an aioli sauce. I can hardly wait !!