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Daring Cooks: Stuffed vine leaves (dolmades)

The October Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, who challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves.  Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

A lot of you have wondered recently how I manage to do everything I do: work full-time, study part-time towards my PhD, work towards my Food and the Media Certificate at George Brown College, run an after-school cooking club, freelance for Food Network Canada and The Mushroom Channel and take part in the various blogging challenges – Daring Cooks and Bakers, French Fridays with Dorie, Kitchen Bootcamp, International Incident, Mactweets and RSVP Redux (geez, if that’s not The Next Food Blog Star material, I don’t know what is…).

Well, there is no big secret -  I am just pretty organised. I manage my time well and part of time management these days is meal planning on the weekends. What often ends up happening is that we enjoy a wide variety of “challenge foods” in one meal, which is exactly what happened last weekend on Canadian Thanksgiving.  We had this Daring Cooks starter followed by turkey with an RSVP Redux side and a French Fridays with Dorie dessert…  Thankfully our lovely neighbours who always come over for Thanksgiving were happy to be food blog recipe guinea pigs and each of the dishes was a huge success!

These stuffed vine leaves were fairly labour intensive but a nice way to spend the morning as I watched Neil deal with our “small” 14lb turkey.

I soaked the vine leaves and prepared the (vegetarian) filling…

And scoured the pantry for some appropriate rice to use. We’re all about trying to use up stuff we have in the pantry and I found this:

Kind of like sushi rice to look at – it worked perfectly for this recipe.

Ah yes, the dreaded rolling and fear of unravelling.  I found the vine leaves a tricky shape to work with but after a few of them I got the hang of it..

And as you can see, I didn’t have a pan the correct size to keep them tightly packed but they seemed to be ok.  Unlike the recipe says, there was never any point where the oil/ lemon juice/ water mix dried out and, in fact, a couple of the smaller ones fried on the bottom a little.  No matter, I served them with a sprinkle of lemon zest and some roughly chopped mint and a squeeze of lemon juice. And they tasted pretty darned amazing.  A dish I would definitely try again now I have figured out the rolling and folding part!

Thanks Lori for a great challenge – a fabulously different hors d’oeuvre for Thanksgiving!

If you liked my last Project Food Blog entry – a step-by step demystification of chicken tikka masala, I would appreciate your vote to go to Round 5.  I have a great idea for a “pizza remix” – you definitely want to see it.  Voting ends at 6PM Pacific Time today, October 14th.  Simply click here to vote. You have to be a Foodbuzz member to vote but it’s a simple sign-up process. Once you’re signed up, click the red heart to vote.  Thanks in advance.

Disclosure: The gorgeous bamboo disposable serving dish of the end result was provided at no cost by RestaurantWare.com.  If you would like to order your own bamboo tableware with 10%  off, use the code eatlivetravelwrite at checkout.

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57 Responses to Daring Cooks: Stuffed vine leaves (dolmades)

  1. notyet100 October 14, 2010 at 05:10 #

    This looks awesome.

  2. My Restaurants Melbourne October 14, 2010 at 06:08 #

    You did such a great job on these, I have never attempted these dolmades yet. But you have just inspired me to do so. Thanks

  3. Marisa October 14, 2010 at 06:26 #

    Great job on the challenge – is it just me or does the slight frying on the bottom of the dolmades sounds pretty darn tasty?

  4. Jenni October 14, 2010 at 06:59 #

    Great job! They look wonderful! Thats so fun that you were able to incorporate them into your Thanksgiving!

  5. Audax Artifex October 14, 2010 at 07:25 #

    WOW it is great that you liked the recipe so much and I’m amazed that you can do so many projects at once, talk about time management! I’m impressed with your results. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:30 #

      Cheers Audax :-) I am glad they turned out. At one point before I was really into the swing of rolling, I was worried I would have no photo worthy rolls!!

  6. Borislava October 14, 2010 at 07:31 #

    Wow! They look amazing with the lemon zest – I would never thought about that match.
    I’m bulgarian and here we prepare quite often wine leaves with various fillings, but I never tried your filling, so next time I’ll do your recipe. We use vegetarian filling (rice, herbs and raisins) for Christmas eve dinner, and this plate is a must on every Bulgarian table that evening, so I’m glad you find them appropriate for Thanksgiving.
    One last thing – you can find easier cooking the “lozovi sarmi” in a glass cooking pot in the oven. At least for me it is more comfortable – I use a small one, so I arrange them in two layers with some liquid (water and oil), put the lid on and put them in the oven on 160 C for about 1,5 hours.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:29 #

      Yes I would have cooked them in the oven but it was full of a 14lb turkey!!! LOL! Thanks for visiting and your kind comments!

      • Borislava October 20, 2010 at 08:07 #

        Wright! 
        Thanks, Mardi, and good luck for the next challenge 

  7. chef_d October 14, 2010 at 08:43 #

    Wow, delicious looking dolmades and great step-by-step pictures. Great job on this challenge!

  8. Megan October 14, 2010 at 08:47 #

    Great job as always Mardi! I was totally not inspired by the challenge this month and skipped it (ahem!) but I love how you incorporated it into another meal rather than worrying about it standing alone.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:28 #

      Well I was worried about it being a stand alone until I realised that we had vegetarians coming for Thanksgiving and I needed something for them to eat!!!!

  9. Conor @ HoldtheBeef October 14, 2010 at 09:31 #

    Excellent practice for the impending Christmas present wrapping (sorry, won’t mention the C word again for a while).

    Happy Thanksgiving! I was going to celebrate with Canadian friends this weekend but they’re too busy now so I think it’s passed me by this year. Halloween however will not be passing me by, oh no! Got my costume all planned, hope I can pull it off.

    Aaaanyway, the dolmades – they look so good! Something I like to eat but haven’t made, and definitely on the ‘make one day’ list.

    • Mr. Neil October 14, 2010 at 12:24 #

      The mind boggles… ;-)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:27 #

      Totally – when I was wrapping these, I was reminded of when I was little and we would wrap Barbie presents – a very similar technique… And yes, the mind *does* boggle at the Halloween costume!

  10. Rachel October 14, 2010 at 10:16 #

    Wow! You really do do a lot! I would love to have a full plate of so many interesting and rewarding activities. Good for you for being so organized.

  11. outoftheoven October 14, 2010 at 10:48 #

    They look gorgeous! I love how you plated them with the lemon zest and mint!

  12. A Canadian Foodie October 14, 2010 at 11:59 #

    I went through a Greek phase – like Picasso’s Blue Phase… about 20 years ago, and dove deeply into the cuisine, mastering much of it. I learned from every one I could that was Greek. That is what I love about our multi-cultural mosaic in Canada! I have a post I did a few years ago here: http://www.acanadianfoodie.com/2009/10/07/greek-dolmates-beef-or-pork-rolled-in-grape-vine-leaves/ that you can take a look at. The folding is similar, but tucking the leaves in at the end is definitely an Eastern Block Baba secret that was shared with me, and once you know it, it makes all the difference when rolling the dolmates, to me.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:25 #

      Yes as you can see from the pictures I figured out the part about tucking the ends in – it was like wrapping tiny presents!

  13. Mr. Neil October 14, 2010 at 12:26 #

    Ah yes, memories of Aleppo. A magical town, one of my favourites. And yes, these do bring back memories…well except for the turkey “side”!

    Next year we’re going to do one better, and Mardi will prepare with our very own vine leaves (reinvigorated in our yard – will have many leaves for next season) so we can truly make from scratch.

    Well, we’re not doing a rice paddy out back just yet, tho’!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:24 #

      Right – I will just stay in the kitchen and cook with whatever you bring me in from the garden then, shall i?

  14. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz October 14, 2010 at 12:41 #

    Great job on the dolmades. And you are so good to be so organized. I usually try to do the same but like to procrastinate too lol

  15. Mindy October 14, 2010 at 14:44 #

    Smart tip about the meal planning. Chris and I have started to do that- and by “Chris and I,” I mean “I” and he just eats:) And nice pics! Now excuse me while I go vote for your PFB entry before today’s deadline.

  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction October 14, 2010 at 18:38 #

    These look amazing! Dare I ask where you got the leaves? I’ve often wanted to try a similar recipe, but never knew where to purchase them.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:23 #

      Luckily we have a Syrian grocer up the street and he stocks them in brine in jars. I am sure you could get them online?

  17. Patty October 14, 2010 at 19:10 #

    Yummy! I’ve only had stuffed grape leaves once, but I think about them all the time. I don’t think the version I had was meatless, but I could very well see myself enjoying your vegetarian version…easily! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Lori October 14, 2010 at 22:01 #

    I think you are forgetting to tell us something like you only sleep four hours a night. Ha. Wow you are Wonder Woman.

    I am glad you liked the challenge and found it delicious. You certainly did an amazing job here, preparing, rolling and cooking.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:22 #

      Actually I need *a lot* of sleep – always have… As I have grown older, I just stopped going out late during the week – can’t do it anymore! Thanks for a great challenge!

  19. penny aka jeroxie October 14, 2010 at 22:38 #

    Looks fab! You are so good… sometimes I’m not sure where you find the time. Love the last photo… YUM

  20. Daydreamer Desserts October 14, 2010 at 22:55 #

    So very labor intensive, yet so incredibly tasty. Great job with the rolling your dolmades turned out beautifully! :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:21 #

      Thanks Josie – they most definitely were worth it because everyone went “wow” when they realised I had made them!

  21. Couscous & Consciousness October 14, 2010 at 23:20 #

    I’ve never tried making dolmades, but I need to give this a go. Yours look beautiful.
    Sue

  22. Sophia Lee October 15, 2010 at 03:03 #

    Oooh! Awesome job, Mardi. I first tasted this during an English project when one of the teams did a project on Greek literature and they made these. Actually, I think they bought these, but oh well. From the looks of it, it’s pretty intensive…but worth it!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:20 #

      Thanks Sophia – as I said, once you get the hang of rolling them up, it gets faster! But yes, for the “wow factor” they are definitely worth it!

  23. Belinda @zomppa October 15, 2010 at 08:53 #

    Amazing!! When you finish that PhD, it’s the best feeling!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 16, 2010 at 06:19 #

      Yes well it will be at least another 5 years as I am completing it part time. I hope I *do* complete it!!

  24. Laura @ Family Spice October 15, 2010 at 16:47 #

    You certainly do know how to keep busy! Your pictures and dolmeh look divine!

  25. Anna Johnston October 16, 2010 at 08:39 #

    No doubts about it Mardi, your one hugely organised lady. These dolmades look incredible & the lemon zesty touch. Like it :)

  26. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) October 18, 2010 at 06:12 #

    Great job on the dolmades and for your time management skills! I was not able to participate in this round due to way too many activities . These look amazing and I bet your guests were thrilled with them. Congrats on rolling them so perfectly

  27. Vegolicious October 23, 2010 at 18:49 #

    These look fantastic. I love stuffed vine leaves.

    I’d love for you to submit one of your beautiful photos, and a link to your post, to my new vegetarian food photo gallery showcasing beautiful and flavorful vegetarian food.

  28. India Leigh July 15, 2013 at 08:49 #

    These look great. I found you when trying to find out if I can freeze my ‘split pea & mint dolmades’. You need a super hero cape (adapt your apron!). Wow, unbelievable how much you cram into your life. But, I guess if you are doing what you love it seems less like work. I’m really interested in the Food and the Media Cert. Sounds fascinating.

    Thanks! Following now.
    India

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