GRAPE LEAVES STUFFED WITH MEAT and RICE

I got this recipe from Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch years ago, and he gave me permission to reprint it.  I’ve eaten a lot of stuffed grape leaves in my day, and these are by far the best in the world.  I think this is Robert’s grandmother’s recipe.

FOR THE STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES:
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound ground lean lamb or beef
1 cup long grain rice – uncooked
2 medium tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups water, clear chicken stock, or rich meat stock
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Approximately 36 grape leaves I use an 8 oz. jar of brined leaves, drain & rinse them

In a skillet, gently saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat until tender but not brown. Remove the onion & cooking oil. Set aside.

Add the ground meat to the pan and cook, crumbling with a fork, until the meat has lost its pink color. Strain the meat through a sieve and discard the fat. Now return the meat to the pan along with the onion.

Stir in the rice to coat the rice thoroughly with the juices. Add the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the water or stock. Cook for about 10 minutes or just until the rice has absorbed the juices in the pan. Stir in the allspice, dill, mint, parsley, salt and pepper.

Stuff the grape leaves and arrange in a heavy kettle or wide, shallow saucepan. Add remaining water or stock just to cover the grape leaves. Pour lemon juice over all. Set a plate over the leaves, cover the pan and simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is thoroughly cooked.

FOR THE SAUCE
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
salt, to taste
Mix the ingredients well and serve as a sauce with the stuffed grape leaves.

It sounds a little labor-intensive. Once you get the hang of it, this is really quite easy. If you don’t know how to stuff a grape leaf, looky here for pictures of the process What’s Cooking America.

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National Cheese Fondue Day

Fondue was all the rage decades ago.  I’m happy it’s making a comeback.  Here’s Tyler Florence’s recipe:

CHEESE FONDUE

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound imported Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy, such as kirsch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Assorted dippers

Directions

In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic, then discard.

Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in cherry brandy, mustard and nutmeg.

Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods on a lazy Susan around fondue pot. Serve with chunks of French and pumpernickel breads. Some other suggestions are Granny Smith apples and blanched vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus. Spear with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip, swirl and enjoy!