Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 2010 Daring Cooks' Stuffed & Rolled Leaves

Stuffed and rolled leaves

This month's Daring Cooks' challenge was to roll leaves (grape, cabbage or kale) and stuff them.

Our host for this month was Lori of Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

What an enjoyable challenge I tried three version of stuffed leaves, grape, cabbage and perilla. I loved all of them, the cabbage leaves were a childhood recipe that my mum made, the grape (vine) leaves were dolmades and the perilla leaves were tasty bite-sized deep-fried morsels.

Recipe Source: I have chosen two recipes for October. One of the recipes comes from Aromas of Aleppo written by Poopa Dweck and Michael J. Cohen. The other is from Claudia Roden's, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

Blog-checking lines: Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

Download the printable pdf file HERE

Stuffed Grape leaves with lamb, feta cheese, pomegranate molasses and sumac
What a time consuming challenge (3½ hours for 120 dolmades) but so so worth it. I decided to “jazz” up the second recipe using lamb, loads of dill, mint and other herbs, semi-dried tomatoes, pistachios, preserved lemon and pomegranate molasses. I cooked 62 dolmades and froze the other 58 (uncooked).

I had a jar of preserved lemons (from another Daring Cooks' challenge) so I used the peel of one preserved lemon instead of the juice one lemon, also I used pomegranate molasses, pistachio and sumac (which has a lemon taste great on salads and meat) to impart a Middle Eastern flavour profile to the dolmades.

About preserved grape leaves
1. A 600 gram (21 oz) jar of preserved grape (vine) leaves contains about 65 good leaves and about 15 torn or small leaves.
2. Soak the leaves in boiling water for 30 minutes to soften them and then rinse them in fresh cold water several times. This is most important since the brining liquid is very salty and if the leaves are not rinsed with fresh water they will have gritty grains of salt in them yuck yuck.
3. Make sure the vein side is up (notice the raised veins on the leaf) and then fill them so the smooth shiny side is showing on the completed dolmade.

When layering the dolmades for poaching make the alternating layers run at different angles to each other so that the water can circulate more freely. Do not have more than 3 or 4 layers because the bottom layer will be ready before the top-most layer.

I used a steamer plate with a water-filled bowl to keep the dolmades from unravelling.

Make absolutely sure that the amount of liquid only goes up ¾ way up the dolmades since they will give off some liquid. If you have extra poaching liquid freeze and use again when you are making the second batch these dolmades will be even better than the first batch since the poaching liquid will be highly flavoured.

I cooled the dolmades for an hour and am storing them in the fridge overnight since most of the web-sites suggest that overnight storage will improve the final taste of the stuffed-grape-leaves.

I eat a few of the dolmades after cooling they are great, looking forward to the result tomorrow. Notice how the rice has swelled, using risotto rice gives a great look to filling.

Some of the ingredients for the Middle Eastern filling

The stems of the herbs are used as the lining of the poaching pot

The preserved grape leaves soaking
Some of the 120 dolmades I rolled

The layered dolmades in the saucepan

How I weighed down the dolmades

The interior of the dolmades

Below is the recipe in full

Stuffed Grape leaves with lamb, feta cheese, pomegranate molasses and sumac
Makes about 120 dolmades
Grapes Leaves
2 jars (600 gm/21 ozs each) preserved grape (vine) leaves, soaked in hot water 30 minutes and rinsed in fresh cold water several times
Meat and rice filling
1 lb (455 gm) minced lamb
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2⅓ oz) (65 gm) small grained rice like risotto (Arborio), soaked in hot (no salt) lamb stock for 30 minutes
Middle Eastern filling
100 gm (3½ oz) feta (Greek-style) cheese, finely crumbed
¼ cup (60 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) raisins
20 semi-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped, reserve 3 tablespoons of the oil
¼ cup (60 ml) (1⅓ oz) (40 gm) pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 preserved lemon, flesh removed and rind finely chopped
½ cup mint leaves, finely chopped, reserve the stems
½ cup dill tips, finely chopped, reserve the stems
½ cup parsley leaves, finely chopped, reserve the stems
½ cup chives, finely chopped
½ cup green (spring) onions (scallions), finely chopped
½ cup tarragon, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
12 olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon sumac
2 teaspoons cinnamon, freshly ground
2 teaspoons pepper, freshly cracked
1½ teaspoon allspice
Poaching liquid and saucepan lining ingredients
Stems of the herbs and the torn and small grape leaves for lining the base of saucepan
Juice and zest from one lemon
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of reserved oil from the semi-dried tomatoes
½ cup water or lamb stock (maybe less)
(Use the lining ingredients first, layer the dolmades in the saucepan, then add the lemon juice, olive oil, semi-dried tomato oil and then enough water to fill the saucepan to ¾ of the way up.)
(You can use browned lamb bones to line the base of the saucepan if you wish)

The cost for each dolmade was 16½ cents, so for 120 dolmades the total cost was $19.80. In the local shop non-meat dolmades (which aren't that good really I have to admit very bland) are $2 for ten so are 20 cents each, their meat-filled dolmades (only adequate) are $4 for ten so are 40 cents each.

Dolmades with lamb, feta cheese, pomegranate molasses and sumac

After storage for a day I thought I would serve them as an appetiser with avgolemono sauce for lunch. The lemon-egg sauce really adds that final touch to make them super delicious.

Cut section of the dolmades

I thought I would post a couple of recipes for avgolemono sauce

(Avgolemono) Lemon Egg Sauce (uncooked version)
This is the secret to dolmades! Whisk the juice of 1-1/2 lemon and 2 egg yolks until combined. While whisking quickly, slowly add 1 cup liquid from dolmades to the lemon-egg yolk mixture. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Add frothed egg whites and combine. Pour mixture over warm dolmades and serve. This will make your dolmades perfect!

Avgolemono Roux Sauce
Melt two tablespoons of butter.
Add two tablespoons of flour to it and whisk to make a roux.

In a sauce pan over medium heat warm up one cup of lamb or chicken stock or the broth from the poaching saucepan.

In a bowl whisk together until frothy:
The juice of one lemon.
Two eggs.
A splash of water.

Add the roux to the stock and whisk to combine. Add the lemon-egg mixture to the sauce and continue to whisk until thick. Do not boil the sauce.

Finnish Cabbage Rolls (Kaalikääryleet)

Cabbage rolls are one of those foods that exist in one version or another all over the planet, but my favourite are the one's that my Finnish mother made me. Here's the recipe.

This is not fast food. It takes at least 4 hours to prepare and cook the rolls, and you have to stick around nearby to keep an eye on them. However, you can make a big batch at once (this recipe serves 4 to 6) and the taste and texture actually improve if reheated, and it is recommended that you do store them for a day or two and then reheat. Finnish cabbage rolls freeze beautifully, thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in a preheated oven set at moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for about 20 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom. Or microwave for about 10 minutes turning the rolls once during this time.

Ingredients: Rolls
1 large head of cabbage

Ingredients: Filling
1 pound (455 gm) ground beef (you can use a mixture of veal and pork if you wish)
1/2 cup rice, uncooked
3/4 cup beef broth
1 onion, diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed (optional)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients: Basting
1 tablespoon molasses (or golden syrup or strong honey)
1-2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

1. Cook rice in the broth this makes about 1½ cups of cooked rice.
2. Sauté chopped onions until translucent.
3. Remove the core of the cabbage using a serrated knife. Boil cabbage head in lightly salted water until leaves become translucent, about 10 minutes. Use tongs to rotate the head of cabbage so you have even cooking.
4. Carefully peel off about 15 of the large outer leaves, one at a time, by cutting the thick leaf stem. The inner leaves cook more slowly, you may find it useful to remove only a few leaves at a time and let the rest cook while preparing rolls. Make sure that the leaves are soft and all the leaves have the same degree of doneness. If the cabbage leaves aren't boiled enough they will never soften enough in the baking process.
5. Shave off the protruding thick stem on the "outer" side of each leaf; this makes wrapping much easier.
6. Prepare filling by mixing the cooked rice with the raw meat, sautéed onion, egg, optional marjoram, salt and pepper.
7. To make each roll, place about 2-3 tablespoons of filling near the stem end, fold end on top, wrap the sides and roll. Make sure all the rolls are the same size.
8. Preheat oven to very hot 480°F/250°C/gas mark 9¼ or as hot as the oven can go.
9. Place the filled cabbage rolls seam side down in a tight even layer on a well greased shallow baking dish. Sprinkle rolls with salt and pour a thin lattice of molasses on top. Dot rolls with tiny lumps of butter. Pour the water into the bottom of the pan.
10. Bake for 30 minutes (check occasionally during this time that the rolls are not burning on the bottom) then reduce the temperature to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
11. Bake about 1½ to 2 hours check every 30 minutes the cabbage rolls will brown on top during this time. Spoon some pan juice atop the rolls every now and then; add more water or molasses if they dry up too much. In the last 30 minutes remove most of the excess liquid in the baking pan and reduce in a small saucepan until it coats the back of a spoon (like thin honey) ladle a tablespoon or so over the cabbage rolls a couple of times in the last 30 minutes. Constantly check the rolls at this stage since they can burn on the bottom if the pan juices dry out. The reduced pan juices (mainly molasses, butter and salt) are supposed to soak into the cabbage and turn the top of each roll a nice glistening dark brown. Do not confuse this with the cabbage drying out and burning.
12. Turn off oven and let them sit there and soak up the pan juices for an hour or two.

Serving suggestions
Serve as a main course, with boiled potatoes and lingonberry/cranberry preserves to provide a tart contrast.

Freeze any leftovers and reheat when you feel like it. A single small, juicy roll is also quite usable as an appetiser.

Ingredients cabbage leaves – remove outer green leaves and core the cabbage

Ingredients filling – minced meat, cooked rice, onion, one egg, salt and pepper

Ingredients basting – golden syrup, butter and salt

Unmixed filling mixture

Mixed filling mixture

Boil the cabbage and remove leaves when they are soft and pliable

How to roll a cabbage roll
Roll out cabbage leaf

Shave off the protruding thick stem on the "outer" side of each leaf

Filling and rolling the cabbage roll

Line the baking pan with the filled rolls

The left-over ingredients; the innermost centre of the cabbage and a small amount of filling, perfect for making cabbage soup.

Unbaked dish glazed with golden syrup and dotted with butter

After two hours of baking

After 2½ hours of baking with basting in the last ½ hour notice the huge difference in the appearance, gleaming with deliciousness.

Perilla leaves deep fried and stuffed with blue cheese, salami, olives, semi-dried tomatoes & rice
I wanted to make a recipe using fresh leaves I searched the local markets and found fresh perilla leaves (also called the beefsteak plant, shiso, purple mint, Japanese basil, or wild coleus) which are so pretty - green on one side and violet on the another side. They taste like fennel and apple with a lot of basil and mint the flavour profile is intense since the leaves are full of essential oils. The leaves are reasonably tough and can withstand some simmering (about 10 mins) and they fry really well to a crisp leaf and frying intensifies the mint and basil aspects of the taste. So I thought I would crumb (bread) and deep fry the stuffed perilla leaves.

These are incredibly rich and four parcels are a serving. They have a wonderful mouth-feel and an intense blue cheese and olive taste with a basil/mint aftertaste, so yummy and tasty. Excellent party food you will only need a few to feel very full.

Deep fried perilla leaves stuffed with blue cheese, salami, olives, semi-dried tomatoes & rice
Makes 48 parcels
¼ cup blue cheese
¼ cup salami, chopped
¼ cup olives, chopped
¼ cup semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup rice, cooked
48 fresh perilla (shiso)leaves
Ingredients for crumbing
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons of milk, beaten lightly
oil for deep frying
Combine using a wooden spoon the blue cheese, salami, olives, semi-dried tomatoes and rice until smooth.
Wrap one teaspoon of mixture using a perilla leaf.
Flour, egg wash and crumb each perilla leaf parcel do not cover evenly (tempura style) so when the crumbing is deep fried the crisp perilla leaf will show through in places.
Deep fry each side of the parcel for 30 seconds.
Drain each parcel on paper towels.

Fresh Perilla leaves (I used the Vietnamese species). See here for a listing of types.

A smooth mixture of blue cheese, salami, olives, semi-dried tomatoes and rice

Perilla leaves parcels

Crumbed perilla parcels

Deep fried perilla parcels

Close up of perilla parcels


shelley c. said...

I love your detailed posts and step by step photos - and the amazing variety of ingredients that you use, introducing them to a world of cooks. I love all three of the rolls that you did, and all three recipes sound delicious! Awesome job.

Julie said...

All of those look amazing! I've always wanted to try making dolmades and stuffed cabbage. I usually just run out of time or energy and end up chopping the leaves into a casserole or stew. ;)

One of our local Japanese restaurants uses shiso (perilla) as a garnish. I'd never seen a shiso leaf, but thinking that's what it was, I asked our waitress for verification without telling her what I thought it was. She had to ask three other servers before she finally just asked one of the cooks about it. Since then, I've been especially wary about eating at places where the waitstaff doesn't know their own ingredients.

Jenn said...

They all look great! Someday I will actually make the stuffed grape leaf recipe...

Kat said...

Wow oh wow!
I've never heard of perilla leaves before, and I just couldn't imagine seeing something like that in the small town America store I shop at. Sure wish I could taste the lamb...

Ruth H. said...

You never cease to amaze me! Your energy, creativity and obvious love for cooking are a a real inspirations, and it is always so much fun to see what you come up with. Thank you for your detailed and informative posts, and for helping all of us in the Daring Kitchen!!

chef_d said...

Great pointers on the grape leaves, I'll take note of those when I make dolmades. Love all your fillings! Great job :)

Mary said...

I am always amazed how quickly you get down to the challenges. I hang about the forums to find out what it is, then procrastinate till the end of the challenge period! Your grape leaves look fabulous--I was really wishing I had some feta in the house when I made mine. I have only ever had cabbage rolls with tomato sauce, and can't quite imagine them without, so I guess I'l have to give your version a try. Any excuse to use golden syrup is fine by me!

Ajonjoli said...

uau..... impressive
The cabbage rolls look amazing!!!!

Lori said...

I have never seen a shiso/perilla leaf. It is very pretty. What an interesting flavor profile. I would be so interested in trying those, especially with your flavorful filling.

The cabbage rolls I know can be more of a challenge than grape leaves as they seem to have their own mind. Especially true with spring cabbage I find. Since winter cabbage is now in in my half of the hemisphere I am going to give your cabbage rolls a try. They are pretty similar to my Moms Polish cabbage rolls but the sauce is entirely different. Very appealing to me.

A fabulous job with all of them Audax and thank you for helping out with questions in the forum.

FabFrugalFood said...

Beautiful job - your variations look scrumptious! Must try the deep fried version!


Marisa said...

I'm unfamiliar with perilla leaves, but the way you describe their flavour and the ingredients you stuffed them with makes me want some right now!

Great job on the challenge - I like your middle-eastern take on the dolmades as well.

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Fantastic job as always Audax! Can't wait to try your cabbage rolls - as soon as it cools down here they're going on the menu.

We once battered and fried some leftover tinned dolmas - the crunch is a great counterpoint to the soft filling.

Anonymous said...

Your dolmades look really delicious, I especially like your experimentation with different leaves. I've never heard of perilla leaves, I will have a look out for them!

Simones Kitchen said...

I like how you experimented with the different leaves Audax. They all look amazing!

blepharisma said...

I love the look of the fried perilla rolls. So tasty!

I'm really tempted to make something similar to your lamb & feta ones next, though - I'm obsessed with sumac, so any chance I get to use it in something!!

natalia said...

Ciao Audax ! I'm always amazed reading your posts and this one is really stunning ! May I ask you from where are your origins ? Ciao from Roma !

Chantel Beauregard said...

You out did yourself again Audax. Beautiful, Im gonna tried the deep fried!

Suz said...

The perilla parcels look superb! I love the idea of a crunchy casing & the filling sounds really tasty.

All your photos and recipes have been a great inspiration this month and I definitely want to try the cabbage rolls. Those golden tops look lovely and, this might sound weird, I really love how neatly they're arranged in the baking dish!

Shaheen said...

Wonderful - you do need a lot of patience and love to make these. I have love, but patience, not always.

pigpigscorner said...

WOw, you always amaze me with your creations! Well done!

Melanie said...

I started drooling when I saw your cabbage leaves. I'm going to have to try those. And soon.

barb said...

As always, an inspiring post with lots of ideas. I hadn't heard of some of those before, and they all look and sound delicious.

Lilli said...

Wow! They look great :) I've never heard of Perilla but now I'm going to have to look for that!

Sue said...

All of your stuffed leaves look amazing. The deep fried ones I will have to try. You're always pushing the culinary envelope - I love that creativity!

FamilySpice said...

I've missed your posts! Glad to see you back in action. The fried stuffed perilla leaves look mouth watering. As always, you went above and beyond everyone's expectations.

Valérie said...

Audax, your dolmades looks perfect, but I'm especially impressed by your baked rolls: such a beautiful colour! As for perilla leaves, I'd never even heard of them - you always manage to surprise us!

Koci said...

These all look so delicious! I'm especially loving those last crispy goodies--gorgeous! :D

Lana said...

I read your posts in the forum, and was amazed from the beginning. Yes, I promised myself I would try to finish the challenge earlier, but, like Mary, I procrastinated until the end:(I admire your energy!
Our Serbian rolls are made with brined cabbage (like sauerkraut, but the heads are brined whole) and I love them. This Finnish version looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

so, will you be having a roll party at your house with the hundreds of stuffed rolls in your freezer??
Love the sound of the finnish cabbage leaves.

Milagritos (mothertucka) said...

Thank you, Audaxartifex, you are always very generous with your encouraging comments. If only I could be a bit more like you...I meant to reply to your last comment but didn't, so sorry!

I am trying to obtain the best Aussie stuffed leaf recipe from my friend's mum. I'm slowly working my way there but it's one of those ventures that take time.

Thanks for everything Audax,

Milagritos (mothertucka)

MyMacaroniPie said...

The lamb and feta rolls look very tempting. I love those flavour combinations. Once again, well done on all your rolls. We can really see you enjoy this - thank you :-)

Anonymous said...

Love your manner of cooking and posting about these dolmas. Beautiful presentation, too. Thanks for coming over mine yesterday. Cheers to you from Texas.

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz said...

Oh they all look beautiful but love the perilla idea. I just discovered these recently too and would not have thought of using them that way. Great job.

Becca said...

Thanks for stopping by! Love all the different versions you did. Amazing as always.

Lisa said...

Aud, so sorry for comment is throwing me all over the place lately lol

EVERYTHING looks amazing, but as you know, I'm partcularly partial to the Finnish Cabbage rolls (AND - was even thinking of deep frying my cabbage rolls like you did with your stuffed grape leaves - brilliant!). I am dying to try these, the molasses glaze looks and sounds phenomenal! The filling is very similar to my Jewish version too! Beautifully done as always, my friend!

LizG said...

Wow! Fantastic post, Audax. Your leaves look and sound wonderful. Great job, as always. :)

Barbara Bakes said...

They all look delicious, but I'm particularly drawn to the deep fried ones. Great job on this challenge.

veena said...

Oh goodness, you made 120 of them!!!!! You are too good.Thanks fr stopping by my space, you truly are an inspiration to new bloggers like me. After seeing your post i just can't stop myself . Adding a link to your post from mine. Want everyone to see this!!!!!!!

Jacqueline said...

Thanks for your comment on the blog. You're like a legend for the Daring Bakers, it was really exciting hearing from you! In looking through your older posts I came across your rolled leaves post and had to share my dolma post

Anonymous said...

Make absolutely sure that the amount of liquid only goes up ¾ way up the dolmades since they will give off some liquid. If you have extra poaching liquid premature ejaculation freeze and use again when you are making the second batch these dolmades will be even better than the first batch since the poaching liquid will be highly flavoured.