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deluxestogie

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Making Dolmades (Yaprak; stuffed grape leaves)

A month or so back, I needed to prune some wild branches from my two grape vines. Rather than tossing these like yard waste, I saved the nicest leaves, pickled them in rice wine, and stored them in the fridge. So my batch of dolmades today is limited to the relatively small number of these home-grown leaves.

A dolma is not rolled like a cigar, but like gift wrap around a small cylinder. I began by mixing 1/3 cup of raw, dry, white rice with a similar quantity of raw, ground beef, together with ground pepper, oregano, dill weed and garlic powder. This is actually the hardest part, since in takes me about 10 minutes of pressing, turning and "stirring" of the ingredients to get a relatively uniform mixture. [I have made batches of these using ground lamb, which was wonderfully flavorful, but seemed overly greasy. When refrigerated after cooking, the lamb dolmades were stiff and unappetizing.]

[Turkish Yaprak may also contain currants. I've made this occasionally with dried raisins in the filling. What herbs and spices you use is your choice.]

One at a time, a leaf is unrolled, any stem remnant removed with the tip of a sharp knife, then laid with its underside (dull surface) facing up on the prep board. I am always tempted to place too much of the filling into each leaf. This is about one generous teaspoon of the filling. The goal is to keep it from leaking when the rice swells. If I wrap them too loosely, they just unwrap during cooking.











This is a truly small batch. When using a jar of purchased grape leaves, I can make enough dolmades to cover two layers in the bottom of a large pot.



I poured a tablespoon of olive oil into this 3 quart pot, then laid out the dolmades in a snug row (this is to keep them from unwrapping), found places for the remaining few, then made little balls of the leftover meat/rice filling. [That garlic clove came from the jar in which I had pickled the leaves.]



Next, I poured a small can of tomato sauce over it all.



The dolmades need to be held down with a plate, so they don't float away and fall apart. The largest that would fit in this small pot was a saucer, inverted so that it catches less liquid on top. My preference is to cook dolmades along with Great Northern Beans, so an undrained can of it went in. You can leave out the beans, and even the tomato sauce, then dress them however you like when they are served.



For additional weight, I added an inverted ramekin, to hold it all down. Before cooking, I added the same amount of water that my quantity of rice required (twice the volume of the dry rice--so 2/3 cup in this case), as well as adequate salt for the rice and the can of beans. The tomato sauce, water and salt will all mix themselves during cooking.



Bring it to a slow boil, then allow it to simmer with the lid on, until the water is absorbed (typically in the range of an hour).



You can also make these with any edible leaves, like squash leaves or nasturtium leaves, but the taste is not the same. Grape leaves contain natural tannin. That tends to keep the leaves from getting mushy during cooking. And the prior pickling (either commercial, which is usually citric acid, or your own, with any form of vinegar) adds to the expected, slight astringency.



These are great when served either hot or refrigerated.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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I finally made a jar of cucumber pickles today, from my Little Leaf cukes. Instead of whole or wedges or slices, I cut them into chunks. These will be lactate fermented, using the enzymes within the vegetable tissue to carry out the fermentation.

For this 1 quart Mason jar, my brine consisted of:
  • 1 pint of distilled water
  • 3 Tbsp of pickling salt
  • 1 tsp of distilled vinegar
The brine was heated only enough to dissolve the salt, then poured warm over the contents of the filled jar. The tiny amount of vinegar is to start the solution slightly acidic, until the lactic acid starts forming.

In the jar, I placed:
  • 1 head of Slovenian Anka garlic (peeled, whole garlic cloves)
  • black peppercorns (maybe 1 Tbsp)
  • dill seed (maybe 1 Tbsp)
Last to go in were the chunks of cuke. To prevent the vegetable from floating above the brine, I place a circular polyethylene grid, which can just barely be seen in the photo, on top of the cukes. The brine pours right on through the plastic grid. (These are sold in craft and fabric stores as a 4" "coaster"-size base for yarn craft projects. I trim them to fit the wide-mouth or the standard-mouth jars, always leaving a full-width tab extension on either side.)

I'll leave these pickles out on the counter for a few days to maybe a week, until bubbles of fermentation begin to show, then it will go into the fridge for a few weeks. This works best when the ambient kitchen temperature hovers in the 80°F range. Late fall pickles are really slow to get going, because of the cooler temp.

I don't use metal lids for pickles, unless they will be canned for storage on a pantry shelf (and these always use a primarily vinegar brine, for safety). The plastic lids are unsuitable for canning, but have the advantage of not rusting or corroding from the brine. I have to purchase the wide-mouth plastic lids. For a standard mouth Mason jar, the plastic lids from jars of mayonaise are a perfect fit.

Some pickled cukes, green tomatoes and peppers made using the same fermentation process have stored well in the fridge for several years. Occasionally, such an elderly jar will "catch" a yeast infection, and need to be tossed, but that is rare.

Bob
 

Oldfella

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I finally made a jar of cucumber pickles today, from my Little Leaf cukes. Instead of whole or wedges or slices, I cut them into chunks. These will be lactate fermented, using the enzymes within the vegetable tissue to carry out the fermentation.

For this 1 quart Mason jar, my brine consisted of:
  • 1 pint of distilled water
  • 3 Tbsp of pickling salt
  • 1 tsp of distilled vinegar
The brine was heated only enough to dissolve the salt, then poured warm over the contents of the filled jar. The tiny amount of vinegar is to start the solution slightly acidic, until the lactic acid starts forming.

In the jar, I placed:
  • 1 head of Slovenian Anka garlic (peeled, whole garlic cloves)
  • black peppercorns (maybe 1 Tbsp)
  • dill seed (maybe 1 Tbsp)
Last to go in were the chunks of cuke. To prevent the vegetable from floating above the brine, I place a circular polyethylene grid, which can just barely be seen in the photo, on top of the cukes. The brine pours right on through the plastic grid. (These are sold in craft and fabric stores as a 4" "coaster"-size base for yarn craft projects. I trim them to fit the wide-mouth or the standard-mouth jars, always leaving a full-width tab extension on either side.)

I'll leave these pickles out on the counter for a few days to maybe a week, until bubbles of fermentation begin to show, then it will go into the fridge for a few weeks. This works best when the ambient kitchen temperature hovers in the 80°F range. Late fall pickles are really slow to get going, because of the cooler temp.

I don't use metal lids for pickles, unless they will be canned for storage on a pantry shelf (and these always use a primarily vinegar brine, for safety). The plastic lids are unsuitable for canning, but have the advantage of not rusting or corroding from the brine. I have to purchase the wide-mouth plastic lids. For a standard mouth Mason jar, the plastic lids from jars of mayonaise are a perfect fit.

Some pickled cukes, green tomatoes and peppers made using the same fermentation process have stored well in the fridge for several years. Occasionally, such an elderly jar will "catch" a yeast infection, and need to be tossed, but that is rare.

Bob
Copied and pasted to my recipe work book. Sounds yummy. I'll have to wait until the end of winter to get my plants going. I usually grow zucchini as they are versatile and I like them.
Thanks for the recipe
Old pickled fella
 

deluxestogie

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Oh, man! You guys can't just let a poor old fart enjoy some ice cream sandwiches on National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.
The ice cream came out of the bottom of a bucket of "This stuff has to be super cheap for some reason" brand ice cream. And yes, these cookies did sort of violate the 5 second rule, until they were rescued by Komperdell. I figured that the semi-toxic ice cream would counterbalance the scum and filth that I wasn't able to blow off the fallen cookies. Besides the one I just ate tasted mighty nice.

I actually made the photos to send to my son, to give him an idea for getting his kids out of his hair for a brief moment. Tactical redirection.

Bob
 

GreenDragon

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Maraschino cherries (Bing and Rainer)
Equal parts sugar and water
Citric acid 1 tsp / quart
Pinch of salt
Juice and rind of one lemon
Splash of vanilla and almond extract

Boil water, sugar, salt, lemon juice and rind. Add extracts and pour hot syrup over pitted cherries. Let sit 3 days, enjoy! You’ll never by those artificially colored ones again.

DEF02AB3-D236-4E15-BC51-43B8265ACEAE.jpeg
 

Knucklehead

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@tullius don't judge, I have grill envy:)
Had some pork ribs, bratwurst, and frozen cheese stick thingies on the grill along with some fries and garden salsa with chips to go with it. I still can't move and can feel my arteries clogging, but damn it was good:)
Salsa counts as healthy right;)
View attachment 32168
Those pork ribs look good!
Note to self: Eat first, then look at these pictures. :p
 

tullius

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Maraschino cherries (Bing and Rainer)
Equal parts sugar and water
Citric acid 1 tsp / quart
Pinch of salt
Juice and rind of one lemon
Splash of vanilla and almond extract

Boil water, sugar, salt, lemon juice and rind. Add extracts and pour hot syrup over pitted cherries. Let sit 3 days, enjoy! You’ll never by those artificially colored ones again.

View attachment 32188
They look and sound great! Next time I see washington or oregon cherries I'm doing this. Perfect for manhattans or rob roys..
 
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