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Old 05-01-2003, 05:13 PM   #5
lapietra
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: just ducky
Posts: 12,078
dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

Okay - this is kinda involved - but I've gotten more people hooked on these things...
You'll need a largish pot with a thick bottom and a lid, a heavy plate that just fits inside the pot and a colander.

1 lg. jar preserved grape leaves
5 cups short grain brown rice (after cooking)
2 cups of walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup of butter
3 large onions
1 head fresh garlic (about 5 cloves, peeled)
1/2 lb kasseri cheese (or other flavorful, hard but meltable cheese), shredded
2 T oregano
2 T cumin
1 T cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

olive oil
lemon juice
water

Have the rice waiting in a big bowl. Add the chopped walnuts. Chop the onions and garlic up very fine (I use a food processor). Melt the butter in a large skillet; cook the onions and garlic in it very slowly until they're soft. Add the spices (including salt & pepper to taste) and cook for a minute or two, then add the cheese and stir until everything's melted. Transfer the onion and spice mixture into the bowl with the rice & nuts & mix until thoroughly combined. Taste to check the seasoning; add a little salt & pepper if necessary.
Open the jar of grape leaves and remove them - the best way is to drain the liquid out first, then gently mash the leaves against the side of the jar to make them more compact for easy removal. Unfurl them, rinse them off and drain in the colander. Cover them with a moist kitchen towel - you'll want to keep them from drying out while you work.
Line the bottom of the cooking pot with any very small or broken leaves - this will help keep the dolmas from burning. You may want to do a couple layers.
Place a grape leaf in front of you, veiny side up with the stem pointing down. Grab a little filling - you'll have to get a feel for how much filling to use - usually about a teaspoon to a teaspoon & a half - and place it in the center of the leaf. Bring the stem up over the filling, fold each side over, and roll up the leaf. Place each dolma in concentric circles, starting with the outer ring and working toward the center. Once you've filled the bottom, start a new layer. Don't worry if you end up with an incomplete layer.
Pour about a half cup of good olive oil over the dolmas, followed by about a half cup of lemon juice (fresh is good but I've used bottled with good results). Pour in enough fresh water to just cover the dolmas. Place your heavy dish on top, and cover.
Cook over very low heat for about an hour or a little longer - test a dolma to check - be very careful though... I've burned my tongue many times The leaf should be very tender.
You can eat these warm or at room temperature, garnished with lemon slices. They keep for about a week (if they last that long!).
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