Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Anna at Morsels and Musings is creating a festive food fair and compiling posts about pre-Xmas yummy stuff. While this recipe is not necessarily Xmas-y, it is inspired by the season leading up to December here in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition to welcoming the first budburst of grapes in Spring, because that means the next wine vintage will approach post haste, I am always gagging for Dolmades as soon as I see the lacy green leaves unfurl in the sun. 'Dolma' comes from the Turkish word meaning "to stuff" and can be used to refer to many stuffed vegetable dishes. This recipe is in the Greek tradition, particularly if you serve it with lemon sauce.

In my opinion fresh leaves taste much better and are more tender then anything preserved in vinegar and they are at their best around late October and early November depending on the year and the climate. One Shiraz grape vine won’t send me into the dizzy realms of commercial wine production, but it’s darn handy for Dolamdes and Verjuice if I can get the unripe grapes before the birds do.

Pick lots of grape leaves – you need enough to line the pan and to roll the little parcels. Older larger leaves will do for lining and tender smaller ones for the Dolma. Blanch them for about 5 seconds in hot water then spread them out, underside up with the stem end towards you, ready for the filling. The filling is the same as the one I use for Cabbage Rolls

Mix together in a bowl:

500g lamb mince
1 large onion, finely chopped and fried ‘til golden in a little olive oil
½ cup of uncooked long grain rice (basmati is good for this)
3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint
Ditto of dill
Ditto of flat leaf parsley
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ nutmeg, grated
1 large or 2 small Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
Lots of fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Line a large deep saucepan with large blanched leaves. To make the Dolma with the smaller leaves, take a dessert spoon full of mixture and lay it on the leaf about 1cm from the stem. Fold in the two sides and roll up into a cigar shape. Lay the cigar seam side down into the pan. Repeat the process packing the Dolma tightly around the base, then on top of these, making two or three layers. Lay the remaining large leaves over the top and cover with an upturned plate. This makes about 55-60 Dolma.

1 - 1 ½ litres of hot chicken stock
½ cup of white wine
50 g butter.
Pat the top of the rolls with small pieces of butter and pour over the wine. Pour on the stock to come to the top of where the rolls sit in the pan. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Place over the heat and bring to the simmer, then simmer gently for 1 ½ - 2 hours. After cooking remove the plate and covering leaves and arrange on a serving plate and cover with a vinaigrette dressing or beat 2 eggs with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and slowly pour in the strained stock from the pan and the juice of one lemon while beating to make a light egg and lemon sauce.


Blogger PiCkLeS said...

Hi Rebecca! looks great where did you buy/pick the leaves from?

11:23 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

From my own plant Pickles. They wilt pretty quickly so you need to get them really fresh :)

11:44 AM  
Anonymous kathryn said...

Welcome back Rebecca, I was going to ask exactly the same question as pickles! How wonderful to have your own plant - I've only ever seen them pickled in tins and jars. I especially like the idea of matching them with the egg and lemon sauce.

11:58 AM  
Blogger neil said...

I was getting so hungry while you were away and you have come back with one of my favourite dishes! My kids very often call me when they eat these just to taunt me.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Hi Kathryn - fresh is definitely the way to go for sure if you can!

Hi Neil - well you would get hungry the amount of time your been waiting for those darned anchovies! I love dolmades too, but only the fresh ones, not pickled or left in oil.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Ange said...

Delicious though I must confess to never having made my own, my local deli does such a good job I hardly feel the need!

9:20 AM  

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