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Stuff it!

Dolmades, oh-oh!
Cantare, whoa-oh-oh-oh!

I made stuffed vine leaves last night, which were fantastic. I’m beginning to suspect I’m awesome, although after M’s croissants on Sunday morning, it’s hard to say (I think he’s set the bar, you know what I’m saying?).

Anyway, yes, vine leaves. We bought a packet of them in brine a few months ago, and they were still preserved and still tasty, so I thought “I’ll do that”. It was a lot of fun, and I regret not taking more pictures of the process in order to adequately convey their (and my) awesomeness. On the other hand, they’re not that photogenic. First you have a big pot of cooked, spiced rice; then you have a pot full of stuffed vine leaves; so photos are hard to make the whole affair look appetising.

bethini’s awesome-stuffed leaves

  1. chop up a brown onion. Seek help as necessary. Fry the onion in quite a lot (about a 1/4 cup) of good olive oil. After the onion starts to look pretty and translucent, throw in around 2/3 of a cup of short-grain rice. I used arborio because that’s all we had and also because I’m awesome.
  2. While the onion and rice are sizzling, add some salt and pepper, some cayenne pepper, some ground cumin and cardamom, a teensy bit of cinnamon, some finely chopped (or minced) coriander and mint, and some pine nuts and raisins. By now, your rice and onion should be hissing fiercely, and if you’re anything like me, you’re awesome and you’re not going to stand for that. Deglaze with a splash of white wine and top up with about a cupful of water. Let it simmer until all the water’s absorbed — you’re not trying to cook the rice here, just get things started.
  3. Wrap! I haven’t the faintest idea on the actual process of stuffing the leaves. Use a generous teaspoonful of the rice mix, and aim to wrap the vine leaf around it into a fat cigar parcel, with ends tucked in. Then let me know the best way of doing it. It must be hard, because I’m awesome and I’m still not sure on the best method.
  4. Get a nice big saucepan and line it with vine leaves. Place all your little cigar packages into the saucepan, packing them quite tightly and each one resting on top of its ‘seam’ where you rolled it up — that helps them seal. When you’ve got them all in there, add about a cup of water, a generous squirt of lemon juice and about half a cup of olive oil. Grab a breadplate and squish it down on top of them all, and then cover and bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for about an hour, and in the meantime, do something awesome.
  6. Turn off the heat: ideally, you want to let them sit for a fair while, in order for the awesomeness to truly soak in, but we ate ours right away.

I made some baba ganoush and some yoghurt sauce (although I don’t think I can truly call it tzatziki because I didn’t actually have any cucumbers in it, which is part of my awesomeness), and served up some crumbled goat’s cheese and feta in little bowls. Plus I had some hummus and beetroot dip lying around the fridge, so I pulled those onto the table as well: some hot bread and voila! Awesome!

They really were tasty, and I will probably make them again sometime. Maybe next time I’ve got something on where I want to show everyone how awesome I am.

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