Friday, October 15, 2010

Daring Cooks October 2010: Dolmas/Stuffed Grape Leaves

I've mentioned before mine and The Hubble's love of Mediterranean food. Our first foray into hummus, shawarma and stuffed grape leaves was in a little restaurant in Syracuse, NY.

I've made shawarma and have thought about making my own hummus. But never did it occur to me to make my own stuffed grape leaves, or dolmas.

Why did I never think of this on my own? Well...I wasn't really a fan of the dolmas at the restaurant. The Hubble loved them, but I always skipped them and honestly didn't understand his fascination with them.

Imagine my surprise and, yes, excitement when I found out what the October Daring Cooks challenge was!

Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
I have to say, these were actually a lot of fun to make...and they were surprisingly tasty! The Hubble was cute eating them up.

My fellow Daring Cooks seem to have liked them as well. If you are interested in seeing how they did, you can jump on over to the blogroll

And, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that since I never thought of making my probably haven't either. So now I'm going to show you how to make these delicious dolmas at home! (P.S. I ended up making and serving mine with this spicy chicken shawarma. They complimented each other well).

Thanks for the great challenge Lori! I enjoyed it. we go:

Ingredients: Grape leaves, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, ground allspice, salt, pepper, dried mint flakes, ground cinnamon, flat leaf parsley, long grain rice, tomatoes, fresh dill, lemon and garlic.

Start by putting some water on to boil. Place your rice in a bowl, then pour the boiling water over it. Stir it around...

Then drain the rice and rinse with cold water.

Chop your tomato into small pieces and toss into a large bowl. I didn't take the seeds out of mine but I did drain the juice from the bowl when I was done.

Chop your onion and place in the bowl with the tomato.

To the onion and tomato, add the mint, parsley, dill, cinnamon and allspice.

Now dump in the rice, sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper then mix it all up good.

Now comes the fun part. Start by fighting with the jar of grape leaves for a good 3 minutes while you try to figure out how to get these tightly packed leaves out of the jar without ripping them all to shreds. Once you have managed the seemingly impossible, lay a grape leaf out on a cutting board, vein side up.

Place about 2 teaspoons of the rice mixture in the center of the grape leaf.

Starting at the bottom, roll the leaf over the mixture. When you are almost to the top, fold the sides over.

Then finish rolling it up. Set aside and repeat the process until all the grape leaves and or rice mixture is used up. As you run across torn or unusable grape leaves, line the bottom of your pan with them. This will keep the rolled ones from touching the bottom.

Once the grape leaves are all stuffed and rolled and you have a nice layer of leaves at the bottom of your pan, tightly pack those bad boys into the pan. Any extra space should be plugged up with garlic.

Now, it's time to make up the sauce. Whisk together your lemon juice, oil, 2/3 cup water and sugar.

Pour that juice right over the stuffed grape leaves.

Take a small plate and press the stuffed grape leaves down into the pan. Leave the plate in there as weight, cover the pan and let cook at a low simmer for about an hour or until the insides are cooked. The water will cook down so you will need to add more as you go along...otherwise the rice inside the grape leaves won't cook.

These are supposed to be served chilled but we ate them right after they finished cooking. I served mine up with a little tzatziki sauce.


Dolmas/Stuffed Grape Leaves
Retrieved from The Daring Kitchen

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  • 24 – 30 preserved or fresh grape leaves.
  • 1¼ cups long grain rice
  • 1- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped or 4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon or more
  1. Pour boiling water over the rice and stir well, then rinse with cold water and let drain.
  2. Mix the rice with the chopped tomatoes, onion or scallion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, dill, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up.
  4. Place about two teaspoons of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.
  5. Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long.
  6. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
  7. Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a large pan lined with imperfect grape leaves Place a whole garlic clove in between them for extra flavor. The tightness will help prevent the rolls from unraveling.
  8. Mix together olive oil, 2/3 cup water, sugar and lemon juice and pour over the stuffed leaves. 
  9. Put a small heat proof plate on top of the leaves to prevent them from unwinding, cover the pan and simmer very gently for about 1 hour, until the rolls are thoroughly cooked, adding water occasionally, a cup at a time, as the liquid in the pan becomes absorbed. 
  10. Cool in the pan before turning out. 
  11. Serve cold.
  12. Enjoy!!

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