29 December 2012

Dolmades en Domu

I am American: my heritage is 5/8 Italian, 2/8 Finnish, and 1/8 Armenian.  One year, when visiting my dad’s side of the family as we do every New Year’s, we were introduced to dolmades at a Mediterranean restaurant called The Black Olive (since closed) in Tewksbury, MA. 

Dolmades consist of blanched grape leaves filled with rice and sometimes meat or nuts and raisins (trail mix?) which are then steamed to tenderness.  Last year, I made sushi for Christmas. This year, I made dolmades with the help of my mom and grandmother.  My grandfather took all the photographs of the assembly.

Doubled but otherwise pretty much to the letter from http://www.mydarlinglemonthyme.com/2011/11/vegetarian-dolmades-recipe.html

1 cup brown rice, rinsed and then soaked overnight in
2 cups water

about 60 preserved grape leaves
cool water to rinse
water to boil
cool water to rinse again

1 large onion, diced
1 cup walnuts, toasted and broken into small pieces
1 cup sultanas (or 2 tablespoons for a more savoury dolma)
1 tablespoon dried dill (or about a cup of fresh parsley, chopped)
dash Kosher salt
a few grinds black pepper

3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

First, soak the rice overnight.  The next day, bring the rice to a boil and cook for about 35 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.

Remove the preserved grape leaves from the jar and place in a bowl of water to rinse off the brine.  Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil on the stove.  Place 5-10 grape leaves in the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they turn slightly darker in colour (an olive green).  Remove and place in the second cool water bath.  Repeat with remaining grape leaves.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt and stir, cooking until the onion is mostly translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion to the rice (it’s fine if the rice isn’t finished cooking).  Add the walnuts, sultanas, dill, and black pepper to the rice.

Once the rice is finished cooking, remove it from the heat, and line a large, tall-sided, lidded skillet with any ripped or small grape leaves.  

On a clean cutting board, place a grape leaf.  Trim any stems.  Place about a 2 teaspoon-4 teaspoon scoop of rice in the bottom centre of the leaf.

Fold up the bottom.

Fold in the sides.

Fold down the top and roll.

Place in the side of the pan and repeat.  Enlist your whole family!  It was a multigenerational effort, with my grandmother, mother, and me rolling while my grandfather took pictures.

random grapes

Your event photographer, Elmer Naples.

Once the pan is filled one layer deep, cover the dolmades with any remaining runty grape leaves.  Pour the water,

olive oil,

and lemon juice on top of the dolmades.

Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook on low for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the liquid is mostly dissolved and filling is tender, checking occasionally to see that the liquid isn’t bubbling so violently as to disturb the dolmades.

Once done, remove from the heat and let steam until cool.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Those interested in learning more about dolmades should check out the fascinating--and controversial!--Wikipedia article.  You should also consider editing said article if you have any knowledge on the subject.

This was our Christmas Eve lunch.  From 9 o’clock: edamame hommos, red pepper hommos, baked corn tortilla chips, Mary’s Gone Crackers (in the centre), baby carrots, artichoke white bean dip.  Not pictured: tea and cookies.

My Christmas Eve plate: a sheet of nori; roasted flaxseed tempeh with cherry tomatoes (L), fennel, Brussels sprouts, and red onion; brown rice with kale and red pepper; and dolmades.  Not pictured: spinach salad, tea, and cookies.

My Christmas Day plate (after antipasto): butternut squash spaghetti casserole, butternut squash a la Lidia, green bean almondine, and dolmades.  Not pictured: more tea and cookies!

Parting thoughts:

After we returned from dad's parents' house in a snowstorm, my entire family (mom, dad, bro, and me) went outside and shovelled.  Yay for team effort snow shovelling!

My playlist is "Throat Full of Glass" by Combichrist and "Murderers are Getting Prettier Every Day" by Marilyn Manson.  On repeat.   The Combichrist video is fairly NSFW.

Realisation of 2012: I need to do more cardio; I used to be much more in shape in summer 2011 (or in a shape I liked).  I enjoy it and I burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and I like to rock out to *my* music (sorry, Cassey, though I like your workouts!). Resolution for 2013: more cardio and more sleep.
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