quinta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2010

Daring Cooks' Challenge - October 2010 - Stuffed Grape Leaves

Blog-checking lines: Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has 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.

Historical Note: Stuffed grape leaves are a part of many cultures including the Syrians, the Turks, the Greeks, the Lebanese, the Albanians, the Israeli's, the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Armenians (just to name a few). Generally speaking the stuffed part could be in zucchinis/courgette, eggplant, tomato or peppers. Really it also extends to stuffing certain types of fish as well. It is suggested that the origin of stuffed grape leaves goes back to the time when Alexander the Great besieged Thebes. It has also been suggested the Byzantines refined and spiced up the recipe and used the leaves of other vines such as hazelnuts and figs.

Mandatory Items: The challenge this month is to make a filling and roll it in grape leaves. If grape leaves are unavailable to us then we could use Swiss chard, kale, cabbage or some tough green.
The filling was totally up to us. We could do any meat filled filling or meatless, but it must include rice. We could add different nuts or dried fruits to our filling.

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Ground Meat and Rice
Preserved grape leaves, stems trimmed, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt

If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.
If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.

Cooked rice
Ground meat
1 onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, diced
½ cup tomato sauce
1 Tbspoom ground mustard
½ tspoom cinnamon
1 Tbspoom ground cumin
Peppermint leaves, chopped (that's what I call peppermint. Do you agree?)

Salt to taste
1Tbspoom olive oil
Mix the ground meat, ground mustard, cinnamon, ground cumin and salt. Set aside.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Stir-fry the onion and garlic. Add the ground meat until browned. Add the tomato sauce. In low heat, cook for 10-15 minutes. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Set aside.

The roll
Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up. You can trim the little stem if we would like. Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge. Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling (you can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)

In a medium saucepan put in the vegetable oil and then place the filled grape leaves in the pot. Cover and cook over low heat for 5- 8 minutes or until the grape leaves begin to sweat. Combine lemon juice, salt, and water then add to pan, filling it ¾ full. Weigh down the grape leaves with a heat proof plate or board to prevent them from unraveling. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Spoon cooking liquid over the grape leaves occasionally. We will know they are done, when the grape leaves are neither soupy nor dry. Tilt pan sideways over serving platter, allowing the grape leaves to tumble out. Try not to handle them individually to reduce unraveling.

Ok, this was very good. But Audax Artifex had inspired me to make some cabbage rolls baked in a oven. All I have to say is: D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!!!!

Stuffed Cabbage with Chicken, Pistachios and Arborio Rice
Cabbage leaves
Chicken or beef stock
Boil cabbage leaves in lightly stock until leaves become translucent, about 10 minutes. Make sure that the leaves are soft and all the leaves have the same degree of doneness. If the cabbage leaves aren't boiled enough they will never soften enough in the baking process. Shave off the protruding thick stem on the "outer" side of each leaf; this makes wrapping much easier.

1/3 cup Arborio rice, soaked in hot beef or chicken stock for 30 minutes
400g chicken breasts
20 semi-dried tomatoes packed in oil
¼ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 lime zests
½ cup peppermint leaves, finely chopped,
½ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
½ cup chives, finely chopped
½ cup tarragon, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon sumac
2 teaspoons cinnamon, freshly ground
1½ teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon molasses (or golden syrup or strong honey)
1-2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Place the chicken breasts, the dried tomatoes, the lime zests, garlic, the pomegranate molasses, the sumac, the cinnamon and the allspice in a bowl of a food processor. Beat until the chicken breasts are minced and everything gets mixed. Add the peppermint, parsley, chives, tarragon chopped leaves and the pistachios. Mix well. Add the Arborio rice and mix again.

The roll
To make each roll, place about 2-3 tablespoons of filling near the stem end, fold end on top, wrap the sides and roll. Make sure all the rolls are the same size. Preheat oven to very hot 480°F/250°C/gas mark 9¼ or as hot as the oven could go. Place the filled cabbage rolls seam side down in a tight even layer on a well greased shallow baking dish. Sprinkle rolls with salt and pour a thin lattice of molasses on top. Dot rolls with tiny lumps of butter. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes (check occasionally during this time that the rolls are not burning on the bottom) then reduce the temperature to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Bake about 1½ to 2 hours check every 30 minutes the cabbage rolls will brown on top during this time. Spoon some pan juice atop the rolls every now and then; add more water or molasses if they dry up too much. In the last 30 minutes remove most of the excess liquid in the baking pan and reduce in a small saucepan until it coats the back of a spoon (like thin honey) ladle a tablespoon or so over the cabbage rolls a couple of times in the last 30 minutes. Constantly check the rolls at this stage since they could burn on the bottom if the pan juices dry out. The reduced pan juices (mainly molasses, butter and salt) are supposed to soak into the cabbage and turn the top of each roll a nice glistening dark brown. Do not confuse this with the cabbage drying out and burning. Turn off oven and let them sit there and soak up the pan juices for an hour or two.

Additional Information:


Thanks Lori for another amazing challenge. I think I would never make stuffed grape leaves if there wasn't this challenge. Now I'm sure I'll do that again and again.

Don't forget to check out what the other Daring Kitchen members had done.

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