Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Stuffed vine leaves

All the ingredients for stuffed vine leaves on the kitchen work surface
I don't think I've ever tried to show a recipe in one of my blog posts. For one thing, there are some great professional-looking food blogs that will make mine look very amateur indeed. But I did try to photograph my recent construction of stuffed vine leaves, thinking that it might be interesting. Let's see.

I took the recipe off a packet of vine leaves that I bought. It is slightly ambiguous, as I discovered when I attended a Vegetarian Society cookery course where they presented the same recipe. I decided that the rice should be raw; their version used cooked rice. I believe mine is the correct interpretation - cooking the rice inside the vine leaf wrappers swells and tightens the rolls nicely. Cooked rice just gets more soggy.
Two bowls with filling ingredients, one mixed, one not mixed8 oz / 225 g vine leaves
8 oz / 225 g white rice
2 to 3 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp mint, chopped
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
salt and pepper
¼ pint / 150 ml olive oil
¼ pint / 150 ml water
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1 lemon
The packets of vine leaves I used to buy in our local health food shop matched the recipe, but the jars I now get from Lola II's local Asian shop contain twice as much, so I doubled up the quantities above. You can use brown rice, but the texture won't be as good.
First stage is to mix everything in the list from the rice up to the salt and pepper. Then roll the filling into the leaves.
The leaves are usually packed quite tightly in brine, so I tend to float them in a big bowl of water and gently rinse and separate them at the same time. So as not to have loads of filling or leaves left over at the end, I tend to divide them both up into three or four sections, keeping any scrappy leaves for repairing parcels that threaten to fall apart. My calculations didn't work so well this time, but I had some green cabbage festering in the fridge, so the last few rolls were in blanched cabbage leaves rather than vine leaves.

To get a good tight roll, I try not to put too much filling in the middle of the leaf. I fold the lower lobes up first, then tuck the sides in, rolling up and tucking in the sides alternately.

After rolling I pack them tightly in the largest pan I have, which happens to be a pressure cooker. I put them on a trivet to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pan. I forgot to photograph that bit, but you can see the packing arrangement below in the finished version.
Mix the olive oil, water, sugar and lemon juice and pour over the parcels in the pan. Simmer for 1 hour, cool before eating.
It is a lot of olive oil, so sometimes I'm a bit stingy with the oil and make up the volume with water. The total liquid needs to be enough so it doesn't boil dry during the simmering. I actually use the pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes, but it's not necessary. Nearly all the liquid should be gone by the end.

Cooked vine leaves in the pan with a few stuffed cabbage leaves

So what do you think? More cooking blog posts, or should I stick to the diabetes and the odd adventure with Mr A and Lola II?

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