03 August 2011


We have a grape plant in the backyard near the garage, and there are a lot of leaves on it during the summer, obviously. I happened to be browsing recipes online (yet again), and I came across the idea of dolmades - stuffed grape leaves. Food trucks around Philadelphia seem to serve these a lot, too. I figured I should make some dolma/dolmades because I have free grape leaves!!! None of those preserved leaves in a jar! These are fresh, smell grapey, and taste a bit sour/fibrous/grapey. I wonder why I never thought about making these before, or making zong[4]zi[3] (粽子) with grape leaves...
Since there are many variations of dolma (the Egyptian one interests me more just because I like Egypt, I guess), and I don't have any relatives who make dolmades from some family heirloom recipe, I know this isn't "authentic". Plus, I've never eaten stuffed grape leaves before, so I don't really know what I'm supposed to be comparing my version to. According to Wikipedia, possible ingredients include rice, pine nuts, cow, eggplant, raisins, and parsley/dill/mint. I sort of just used what we had at home. I also wasn't sure what online recipe would be good, but I ended up loosely following this one. By "loosely", I mean the way the rice stay in the grape leaves - quite loosely. Hah.

Ingredients for about... 38 dolmades (There are fewer than 38 pictured above because the rice either leaked out of the grape leaves for the bottom-of-the-stack dolmades)
Most ingredients are optional. Add what you want.

A. Flavouring
4 sprigs of fresh dill
A few leaves of fresh basil
Parsley flakes
Mint flakes
Liberal amount of coriander powder
Pinches of salt and pepper
75% of a lemon's juice

B. ~4 cups of Stuffing
2.5 cups white rice
0.5 cups Arborio rice (actually, whatever rice you want; 3 cups rice total)
0.75 cups pine nuts (boiled pine nuts are delicious!!!!)
A few tbsp chopped dried fruit
30% of a medium-sized onion
1.25 cups of ground turkey (for the rest of the family.)
1 cup of artichokes in oil

C. Misc
40+ grape leaves, and some to line the saucepan
25% of a lemon (possibly unnecessary)
0.25 cups of oil (possibly unnecessary)
A lot of water

1. Mix all ingredients except turkey in Group A and B together in a big bowl. If you like turkey, you can put it in now, but if you're cooking for a vegetarian (a.k.a. me), you should add the turkey after using half the stuffing.
2. Put one tablespoon of stuffing onto a grape leaf.
3. Roll
4. Put into saucepan along circumference.
5. Stick in 25% of the lemon (possibly unnecessary) and however much oil you want, and also pour in a lot of water until all dolmades are covered.
6. Put a ceramic plate on top of the dolmades to weigh them down, cover pan, and boil water on high heat.

7. Simmer on LOW for about an hour.
Note: Unfortunately, the bottom layer of dolmades ended up quite overcooked, while the top two/three layers ended up perfectly chewy and gooey. To avoid having the grape leaves break and the rice and pine nuts floating around (well, the rice sinks, but the pine nuts float in the water/oil mixture since they're less dense due to the high fat content), I will use a smaller saucepan next time and just make two batches of two-layers instead of one batch of four-layers. This will:
1. Use less than half the amount of oil/water I used today
2. Require less heat energy because I will be reusing the water/oil, which would already be about 97 degrees C instead of 25 degrees C
3. Cook all the dolmades evenly.
4. Possibly require less than 1 hr of simmering.


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