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Deb Geisler
debgeisler
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August 2014
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Deb Geisler [userpic]
Dolmas with tzatziki: two recipes

While this is mostly for a project gerisullivan is doing, it's always a good idea to save these recipes, just in case my iPad goes kerblooie.

First, the tzatziki sauce/salad/stuff.

Tzatziki

1 pint Greek-style super thick yoghurt, preferably *not* non-fat
1 English cucumber
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or mashed to a paste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
salt

1. Prepare cucumber: peel, seed, and grate on a box grater. Then salt lightly, leave for 5 minutes, and then squeeze between the hands to remove moisture.

2. Mix everything together thoroughly. Cover. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours to let flavors come together. Stir before serving.

Next, the dolmas/stuffed grape leaves.

Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

1 lb. ground lamb (this may be hard to source, so be sure you can get it before getting excited about this recipe)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. uncooked rice
1 medium onion, cut in small dice
1/2 - 2/3 c. chopped fresh herbs: any combination of mint, parsley, dill
1 t. dried thyme
salt
pepper
-
1 large jar of grape leaves (We use these.)
-
2 c. chicken broth/stock
2-3 T. olive oil

1. Remove grape leaves from jar, drain, and place (unfurled) in large bowl. Add hot water to cover. Soak for 15 minutes. (This step is designed to leach out the salt that many grape leaves are packed in. Taste the water after the first soak. If it is quite briney, drain the grape leaves and soak in cold water. Otherwise, one soak is usually fine.) Drain and set aside.

2. Combine the lamb, beef, rice, onion, herbs, thyme, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

3. Comb through leaves and find any rejects (too big, too small, shredded, etc.). Take a few of these and line the bottom of a straight-walled pan: a large saute pan or a 6 quart pot/Dutch oven.

4. Begin making the dolmas. Take a grape leaf and turn it so the under side is up. Put a tablespoon or so (depending on the size of the leaf) onto a leaf. Fold sides in. Then fold top down and roll toward unfolded side. Roll fairly tightly. When finished, you should have something that looks like a half of a cigar. They will look like this.

5. Place finished dolmas loose side down in a pan, stacking sideways and filling first one layer and then, if needed, a second. When all of the dolmas are in the pan, drizzle 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil over them and pour in chicken broth/stock. Top with more rejected leaves to make a complete layer on the dolmas. Place a bread or dinner plate (depending on size of pan) on top of the dolmas, right side up.

6. Cover pan and cook over medium heat for ~30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand at least 15 minutes more.

Yield = 70ish.

Serve dolmas with tzatziki, lemon wedges, and pita cut into triangles.

Comments

Oooh. I love good dolmades! Thanks for posting this! Although, in these parts, I think that it will be the grape leaves, not the ground lamb, that will be hard to source. Ground lamb is regularly available at Fred Meyer, let alone specialty sources -- I can think of two or three local Hallal butchers, two of which are right in Kent. But possibly one of the Hallal butchers will be able to point out somewhere to get the grape leaves. Mmmmm. Dolmades.

The reason I linked to the one brand of grape leaves was because they also were available through that large online store. We just get them at the grocery store, and we usually have a jar or two as backup in the basement. The lamb, however, we source fresh. (If we have it in the freezer, it is very well labeled...to prevent a repeat of the infamous lamb chili incident.)

Our local grocer offers both, routinely. OTOH, *none* of the other grocery stores in the immediate area will reliably have either ground lamb or the good grape leaves.

BTW, one addition to this can be toasted pignoli. They give it a nice depth of flavor and a bit of crunch.

Well, it isn't as if I refuse to spend money with LargeSouthAmericanRiver.com, but I try to save that as the vendor of long tail last resort. One of the things that attracted us to Kent is its ethnic diversity, and I'm at least somewhat optimistic that I'll be able to find a local source of grape leaves. The pignoli sound like a nice addition, but I will likely save that until I've tested the recipe at least once, because if I buy pine nuts I try to splash out on the tres cher good ones. After enduring one episode of "pine mouth," I've been a lot more wary of the less expensive Chinese ones.

Huh. I've never seen Chinese pignoli. Probably they don't get to the east coast. I'm almost afraid to ask what "pine mouth" is. Sounds like splinters. :-)

There are several other online vendors for the grape leaves...which start their lives on the left coast, of course, so you should at least get cheap shipping!

Deb & Mike's dolmas are wonderful! I didn't care for dolmas at all until having theirs. They're not oily, just fresh, delicious, and stuffed tight with flavor. I suspect other makers don't take steps to remove the briney taste, either.

Sadly, I cannot now reliably recall what restaurant it was that first introduced me to the wonder of good dolmades -- it might have been the deceptively named Burger Continental in Pasadena -- but I've long known that good ones are the noms. Now that Panos Kleftiko is no more, it clearly behooves me to learn more Mediterranean cooking to console myself with. :)

Many thanks!