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.

57 thoughts on “Daring Cooks: Stuffed vine leaves (dolmades)”

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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’!

  9. 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.

  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.

  11. 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.

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

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  14. 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!

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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.


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