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Suvir Saran

Stuffed Grape Leaves

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I've been away from the site for some time and happily dipped in this evening to find this treat. This thread is exactly why I love eGullet! It has all the components that make the site dear to my heart -- erudition, humor, warmth, sharing... Thank you all.

So now for my small contribution. (I was tempted to veer off-topic about all the other interesting dishes I’ve come across that use grape leaves -- or fig leaves, but I’m restraining myself.)

1) Whole Foods Markets carries a brand of brined grape leaves that looks heads and shoulders above others I've seen, although I admit that at the moment they're just sitting on my shelf, looking beseechingly at me. Look for "Greek Artisans" Vine Leaves. Small and tender, from what I see through the glass.

2) Melissa Clarke wrote a nice piece about grape leaves in the New York Times (10/13/99) -- how to work with them and what local chefs were doing with them; a few recipes are included. ("From the Vineyard, Nature's First Wrap") She wrote that fresh leaves are available at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays from August to November -- at least they were in 1999.

3) Diane Kochilas provides a source for "excellent vine leaves" in The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes from the Islands, Cities, and Villages (2001). I misplaced the phone number and just checked online, so I think the following is correct:

Euro-USA

3212 West 25th Street

Cleveland, OH 44109

Tel: 800-999-5939

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Andrew Dalby in his monography, Sirens Feasts mentions that classical cooks used the fig leaves to wrap what evolved to dolmathes during the Proto-Byzantine Era ( ci.6th ce. A.D), In order to get rid of the sour taste that the fig leaves have they pickled them in brine. Obviously it worked.:)

Athenaeus( the original ancient author, not me) mentions those leaves for dolmathes ( wrapped minced meat) as thria.

(You can also read Dalby's “On Thria” in Petits Propos Culinaires 31, i.e., March 1989 -- pp. 56-57...)

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This thread always makes me crave stuffed grape leaves. Here's dinner for tonight, with a side of yogurt:

i11828.jpg

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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@#$%^% it Elie.........

Those look so gosh darn good. It must be time for me to make another batch. Its only 8:32 in the morning and you have me salivating all over my keyboard, yet again. My boss is going to think that I'm rabid!

Thanks for the food porn!

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After reading all these posts, I am holding my breath and taking a big chance here to render my humble contribution regarding one of my favorite Middle Eastern foods, stuffed Grape Leaves.

The best I ever had was at Abdul's Afandy in Minneapolis. Abdul took a liking to me and took me back in the kitchen after several years of being "his best customer", and showed me how he does stuffed grape leaves (and everything else on his menu, except the Shawirma!). I was surprised how simple it was.

He includes whole cardomon pods with the rice as it cooks. Fishes out the pods when the rice is done, rolls the grape leaves, puts them in a covered pan, with lemon juice and water. Bake covered until done.

They're still the best I've eaten, although I must say the recipes rendered on this thread seem awfully inviting!

doc

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Margaret Tayar restaurant in Jaffa surely serves the best SGL in Israel and could easily be a candidate on the global list.

The place itself is not one you'll happily get in by mistake or intention, unless you are accompanied by someone in the know.

Margaret's version of SGL is her personal interpretation with a North African flair.

It has a multi layered taste; there are the SGL with delicate rice and more inside (no meat) it lays on a small pond of great yogurty kind of dressing and covered with lemon sauce (something Margaret uses to decorate other portions as well), All that is topped with slightly caramelized leek-onion gravy essence.

A bite of that - seating above and in front of the Mediterranean, with Jaffa on one side and Tel Aviv's beachfront on the other, beginning of September, with friendly wind coming, between 6-7 in the afternoon just as the sun sets down, - can make your day or even your week.

Boaziko


"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

http://foodha.blogli.co.il/

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You should try once to stuff the leaves with dry cod fish and rice and serve it with an avgolemono-tomato sauce.


"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)

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Oh God, I haven't had the meat version since leaving lebanon. I never had it with the yoghurt as you mention  but otherwise it was quite a production: grape leaves stuffed with rice, spices and ground lamb, rolled up into tiny little pinky-sized cigars that tripoli women are famous for. (This in itself was quite a social event, the evening before everyone would be sitting around rolling these things). Cooked in a giant pot with along with intestines stuffed with rice and more lamb (kind of like a lurid, long sausage and my absolute favorite food as a kid), and then a bunch of giant lamb bones. Dinner would be very noisy that night, with everyone banging those bones against their dishes to get at the marrow. Then we'd all sit around in a gluttony-induced stupor, kind of like Thanksgiving.

Wow, my family (from Aleppo Syria) also makes the stuffed intestines with the same mixture we use for grape or mulberry leaves, yellow and zuchini squash. Your dinning description sounds familiar. :rolleyes:

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The best dolmades I've ever tasted were, naturally, homemade. I once visited a friend in the Greek part of Cyprus. One night, her family and I went to a cousin's house for a party; I think it was out in the countryside, about an hour's drive west from Limassol. Among the other gigantic quantities of foodstuffs was a platter of dolmades, which my friend always refers to in English as "stuffed wine leaves" -- note that that's "wine" not "vine". They were pretty simple, stuffed with rice, spices and meat, which I suppose was probably lamb but could have been beef. They were awesomely good. I've never yet found any restaurant that makes them with meat, much less makes them as delectable as those dolmades.

And of course, so many of my friends and acquaintances these days are vegetarians that it's hard to convince anyone to spend ages rolling dolmades with a filling that only a few of us will enjoy. Sigh.

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The best dolma I have tasted are the ones served at the Greek food festival here in Lancaster which is going on today at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds and which I plan on attending in a couple of hours.

They make them with rice and spices, plus some vegetables, another variety with lamb and yet another with beef.

They are all good.

I have tried my hand at them and they are okay but not as good as those at the festival.

Since I have sorrel growing all over my yard like a weed, in addition to the two large containers in which it grown on purpose, I often use sorrel leaves to wrap rice and meat mixtures, bulgur wheat and meat or vegetable mixtures, couscous and whatever mixtures, etc.

The lemony flavor of the sorrel is a very nice compliment to the flavors of the filling and the spices.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Since I have sorrel growing all over my yard like a weed, in addition to the two large containers in which it grown on purpose, I often use sorrel leaves to wrap rice and meat mixtures, bulgur wheat and meat or vegetable mixtures, couscous and whatever mixtures, etc.

The lemony flavor of the sorrel is a very nice compliment to the flavors of the filling and the spices.

Sorrel! STUFFED SORREL LEAVES! <insert light bulb emoticon here> I've been looking for new ways to use my surplus before it freezes! Thank you! :wub:


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Sorrel!  STUFFED SORREL LEAVES!  <insert light bulb emoticon here>  I've been looking for new ways to use my surplus before it freezes!  Thank you!  :wub:

So, my sorrel leaves are pretty stiff. Do you blanch them first for flexibility, or leave them uncooked for the best color? Any hints would be appreciated; I think I'll try it this weekend.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I'm bumping this thread up because I have a yard full of wild concord grape vines, and I wonder whether I can use the leaves from these grapes? I tried once but the leaves may have been too mature. Right now there are plenty of light green leaves. After blanching them, do you brine them only if you want to preserve them? Or does brining help the flavor/texture?

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You can use the concord grape leaves. Simply blanch them for an instant, then chill down at once, press out the moisture betweeen kitchen towels, pack and freeze. Simply defrost, fill and roll them.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Goat cheese. Goat cheese. And more goat cheese.

Cook and drizzle with the best balsamic you have.


If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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So, I picked a mess of grape leaves and blanched them. Whether I boiled them for 1/2 minute or 3 minutes, in salted or unsalted water, they came out tough as leather. I was going to give up, figuring we had some mean old Yankee grape vines here in southern Rhode Island, but then I went back to Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (Thank you again, Paula Wolfert!) and read the recipe for Macedonian stuffed vine leaves. It seems that you need to cook the leaves for another hour or two after they are stuffed to make them tender. Since I've used only bottled brined leaves before, I was surprised about this. I sure hope it works, since I have a nice container of peeled and split chickpeas ready to make the Syrian stuffing in the same book--and I'd hate to throw away all that work, too!

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The best yebrah I ever had were my mother's (isn't that always the way?) and she used a lot of allspice and tamarhindi in her recipe, also, I remember her putting lemons in the bottom of the pot no matter what version she made, but sometimes apricots as well. Even if she made her tomato sauced version there were lemons in the bottom of the pot. Now, about 20 years ago I received the Deal Cookbook, a red vinyl covered book filled with Syrian recipes, and the yebrah recipes in it were almost verbatim my mother's standbys. If anyone has access to a spare copy of this book I would be grateful for the opportunity to buy it, as my copy was stolen a few years ago! I make my yebrah with brown rice now, and they are still the item that is most irresistible at any meal. I personally think that yebrah is the most delicious food on the planet, and I can't understand people who dislike them.


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Fresh apricots or dried?

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The Syrian version is called Yabrak and is with Lamb.

The Lebanese version is the vegeterian one and is called Warak Enab bel Zeit (EVOO based).

*********************************************

Originally such dishes were very much seasonal and of course you can use the preserved stuff now.

Caveat:

1- Green leaves=more sour and therefore decrease lemon juice

2- Layer bottom with Lamb chops and potatoes.

3- Add as many full garlic bulbs as you can fit in the pot.

4- Press down on wrapped leaves in the pot with inverted plate or clean stone.

5- And most importantly, this dish is to be enjoyed after 24hrs. So eat it the second day when all the juices would have mollified the rice and the garlic is reduced to sheer cream petals.

That's if you can wait for the next day!!!

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I served the stuffed Concord grape leaves, filled with Paula Wolfert's rice and split chickpea filling, yesterday, and they were delicious. I'm not sure how much flavor the leaves themselves contributed, but the whole packages were lovely. One more question: I've seen several suggestions, including one upthread, for cheese baked in vine leaves. JPW, or anyone else, do you eat the vine leaves or just unwrap the cheese? And if you do eat the leaves, how do you cook them first?

Thanks, as always.

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I served the stuffed Concord grape leaves, filled with Paula Wolfert's rice and split chickpea filling, yesterday, and they were delicious. I'm not sure how much flavor the leaves themselves contributed, but the whole packages were lovely. One more question: I've seen several suggestions, including one upthread, for cheese baked in vine leaves. JPW, or anyone else, do you eat the vine leaves or just unwrap the cheese? And if you do eat the leaves, how do you cook them first?

Thanks, as always.

They are lovely with goat cheese. Simply boil the leaves first till almost done and then roll the cheese in them and bake them. Mario Batali has a pretty good recipe in his first book.

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I served the stuffed Concord grape leaves, filled with Paula Wolfert's rice and split chickpea filling, yesterday, and they were delicious. I'm not sure how much flavor the leaves themselves contributed, but the whole packages were lovely. One more question: I've seen several suggestions, including one upthread, for cheese baked in vine leaves. JPW, or anyone else, do you eat the vine leaves or just unwrap the cheese? And if you do eat the leaves, how do you cook them first?

Thanks, as always.

They are lovely with goat cheese. Simply boil the leaves first till almost done and then roll the cheese in them and bake them. Mario Batali has a pretty good recipe in his first book.

Elie

Or better! Grill!

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