from one generation to the next
I have rolled thousands of dolmades in my cooking career, but never before have I filled them with meat. Pickled vine leaves rolled into a cigar shape with a herb spiked rice, pine nuts and currants filling are a popular ready to go meze which I made in huge batches every week for 3 years to sell in my specialty food store, but since the business closed and weary of dolmade production, I’ve only occasionally made small quantities since.
There are no tricky ingredients or techniques needed to make Tessa Kiros’ recipe from “Falling Cloudberries” for dolmades with a meat and rice filling, but cooking with vine leaves preserved in brine needs close attention to detail, so sharing my experience…………..
1. The vine leaves need to be separated, soaked in cold water and rinsed as they can be very salty.
2. Put a layer of leaves on the base of the saucepan 3-4 deep, use any very small or torn leaves for this.
3. Place the filling on the underside of the leaf so when they’re rolled, the smooth glossy surface is on the outside.
4. Any minor tears in the vine leaves can be patched with a piece from another leaf
5. Don’t overfill the parcels, but be sure to roll each dolma tightly.
6. Closely pack each layer of stuffed and rolled vine leaves into the pot.
7. Be liberal with the oil so the dolmades don’t stick together.
8. Lay a plate over the dolmades in the pot while they cook to prevent them floating.
Follow these few simple guidelines, no matter what you use for filling and you’ll be assured of success.
Using the recipe for Dolmades in Falling Cloudberries by Tess Kiros, as a guide, this is my contribution to the first Cookbook Guru for 2014 hosted by Sharing the Food We Love. I own a number of books by Tess Kiros. She writes accessible recipes for simple family food influenced by her melting pot heritage and the places she has lived. Her recipes are generally tasty and unpretentious.
I have made a few minor changes to her recipe.
5 tablespoons olive oil
500g minced beef or lamb
1 clove garlic finely minced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
12 ripe cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup long grained rice
Freshly ground black pepper
250g vine leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Separate the vine leaves and leave to soak in a large bowl of cold water.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil then thoroughly brown the meat. Stir in spring onions, tomatoes, herbs, spices and rice. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes, leaving the rice firm. Season with black pepper but do not add salt. Cool slightly.
Rinse the leaves and drain.
Lay the leaves shiny side down, place a dessertspoon of filling at the stem end, fold in the sides then tightly roll the leaf into a cigar shape.
Line the base of a deep saucepan with a layer of 3-4 flat vine leaves. Lay the dolmades on top in firmly packed layers.
Sprinkle the lemon juice and remaining olive oil on top then add 2 cups of water.
Lay a plate over the dolmades to keep them submerged.
Bring the pot to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Makes approx immediately 40
Serve hot or cold with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.
Verdict: I was a little disappointed by these dolmades. The herbs and spices in the filling and the acidity of the lemon juice were quite indistinct.
Making this recipe has sparked the interest in making my own version of dolmades, simply filled with rice to appear in a future post.