Monday, June 23, 2014

Dolmathes with Avgolemono Sauce

This past weekend was my brother's graduation from high school. Although he hasn't been little for a long time now I still can't believe how grown up he is and that he is moving on to the next chapter of his life. His graduation was on a beautiful sunny Saturday at UBC and we of course took many pictures of the proud graduate in his cap and gown.

The night before we hosted the family for a celebratory dinner. A few weeks ago my mother and I went to an Italian festival and while we were there we happened to stop by a local specialty grocery store and bought some grape leaves. The leaves were already cleaned and preserved in jars within a salty brine.

Our plan was to make a Greek dish called Dolmathes using the grape leaves. This popular dish is usually served as an appetizer and involves rolling some sort of filling, be it the traditional meat or a vegetarian option, in the grape leaves and then simmering them in stock until the filling is cooked through.

At first I was a little nervous because I had never worked with grape leaves before and I didn't know whether they would be difficult to handle. However I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to roll the grape leaves around the filling. Also we happened to buy grape leaves that were already de-stemmed so I didn't have to worry about that step either and only had to wash the brine off the leaves before using them.

There were so many grape leaves in the jar we still had extra left over, despite using over 1.5 lbs of ground beef for the filling and stacking the dolmathes in three layers within the pot. The dolmathes turned out great and were a big hit with the family, especially one of my cousins who raved about them and said she ate four in one go!

On a separate note, I recently noticed that my blog is now four years old. Usually I write a little post detailing what has happened in the last year but the truth of the matter is that my blog has taken a bit
of a backseat this past year. I still try new recipes and write about them when I have the chance but I no longer have the blog at the forefront of my thoughts.

I started this blog four years ago based on a friend's suggestion mostly as an entertaining way to keep track of my improvements in the kitchen. I would research many recipes online, always searching for new things to try or new techniques to teach myself. I still spend my free time perusing blogs and websites for recipes, but I'm also much more comfortable in the kitchen and like to experiment with my own creations. I also used to have a "monthly minimum" that I would try to meet but as my life has become more busy I've become more laid back and simply try to do as much as I can given my schedule.

I didn't know when I first started it how much I would enjoy writing my blog and what a great source it would become for new friendships. It's also a good conversation starter when introducing myself and talking about my hobbies. I don't know how long I will keep blogging and what form it may take in the future but for now I'm content with how things are and I will always be glad I followed my friend's suggestion way back when.

Dolmathes with Avgolemono Sauce
Note: Depending on the size of the grape leaves and the amount in the jar, the filling may have to be doubled.
  • 1 16 oz jar grape leaves
  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (presoaked to soften and absorb some liquid)
  • ¼-½ cup fresh Italian leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients starting with the ground meat through the salt and pepper fo the filling and season to taste. Set aside.
  2. Drain the brine from the grape leaves and lay them flat in a large shallow bowl. Soak them for five minutes in hot water then drain and rinse off with cold water. (You may have to do this in batches in order for the leaves to be easier to handle.) Keep the leaves laying in cold water once rinsed.
  3. If the leaves have stems, cut off the stems then lay them on a flat surface, with the veins facing up.
  4. Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the bottom third of the grape leaf.
  5. Roll up the bottom of the leaf to cover the filling, then bring in the sides, and then roll the rest of the way to the top.
  6. Place some torn up grape leaves (I used cabbage leaves because I didn't want to waste any of the grape leaves) on the bottom of a large pot. Lay the rolled dolmathes, seam side down, on top.
  7. Keep placing each side by side, filling the bottom of the pot in a single layer. Once filled, stack the next layer on top.
  8. Once all of the dolmathes have been rolled and stacked in the pot, pour the chicken stock, lemon juice, and olive oil over top. Add enough water so that the dolmathes are covered by about ½" of liquid.
  9. Put an inverted plate over top to apply some pressure on the dolmathes. Heat the pot on medium-high heat until boiling, then reduce to medium-low and continue to simmer for 35-45 minutes.
  10. To check for doneness remove one from the pot and slice in half to make sure the rice and meat have cooked through. The dolmathes can be served warm or at room temperature with the avgolemono sauce. 
To make the sauce:
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp butter

  1. Whisk the egg yolks together with the lemon juice.
  2. Add the stock and heat in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Whisk the sauce often so that the egg yolks don't start to cook.
  3. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the butter. Continue to heat until the sauce thickens slightly.

No comments:

Post a Comment