As promised, my outtakes from the joint dolmades excursion Good
EatNZ and I took earlier this summer in the Fusion Confusion:
Callusion with Cat, or Sushi...It's all Greek to me!!!! blog. For those that read our blog, you know she and I got together to see if the same old, same old was all that could be stuffed in grape leaves. Good
EatNZ also went to the extra effort of doing a
Dolmades tutorial blog beforehand using typical ingredients in the usual way. Perhaps she needed a slight refresher course in
dolmades but she may have done this because of all the questions I was asking. Just maybe. Good
EatNZ does such a great job with her blogs and this did help me to see what they were supposed to be like but our goal was to take grape leaves in a whole new direction!
If you are familiar with Good EatNZ's blogs, you know fiddly is a term she uses to describe some of the foods she enjoys making. It was certainly my good fortune that she cheerfully agreed to share her wealth of
knowledge with someone who thought grape leaves where just to shade growing grapes. After all, she does have a "well traveled spatula"! To me, this is still one of the best parts of AR, making new friends from all corners of the world and learning from them.
Why were my grape leaves giggly and not fiddly? Because I can't help but laugh every time I think of the look on her face or what she might have said out loud while reading the various "how to" questions our culinary adventures were prompting me to send.
GOL! (giggling out loud)!
Some of that I'll share shortly but all lightheartedness aside for a moment, I've never experienced an earthquake, hurricane or wildfire. We have tornadoes in the Midwest. I do know that living through and cleaning up after Mother Nature's rage is so different
than catching glimpses of the destruction on T.V. It was alarming to see an earthquake had struck Christchurch. To know one of the only things to do was send an email and hope for a quick, positive answer. The other, check the RE and see if anyone had heard
any news. I know I wasn't the only one that was ever so glad to get her "we're OK" reply. I sincerely hope Mother Nature settles down and everyone affected by the quake can get their lives back to normal as soon as possible!
Now for those outtakes. GOL. This first question should have tipped off Good
EatNZ what she was in for. You see, I have my own grapevines and really wanted to try making my own grape leaf wrappers. Some of the websites I looked at made is sound so easy. One said, "sure you can use
fresh grape leaves." It neglected to say fresh didn't mean fresh off the vine. Unless, you need some serious fiber in you diet don't try this!
At least the insides tasted good! That's garden fresh asparagus, goat cheese, sliced carrot, slivered red onion, mushroom and fresh basil with lemon verbena. Wrapped in a "fresh" grape leaf and
tied with a chive.
Shot off yet another email "why didn't that work"? A briny blanch is a must! Ah ha! Might explain the toughness of the leaf!
To this day, my blanched and brined leaves are not as tender as store bought. Yes, I did break down and buy some just like Good
EatNZ gently suggested the first time! GOL. I don't know what went wrong. According to directions, I picked the right ones at the right time. Maybe it was our screwy spring weather that caused outtake #2 or is
this #4. Oh, never mind! I did learn about typical Greek herbs and spices while researching the
brining procedure which prompted me to try making fresh spicy dill pickles. Before that I thought you could only make sweet refrigerator pickles.
I had a rather odd result from the blanching experiment. That particular day I had just enough time to blanch some leaves and try my first steamed (hopefully properly cooked) stuffed
dolmades. Being frugal, I just used the blanching saltwater to steam with, then left the pan on my cook top and took off. Don't worry I did turn off the burner. Gol. When I came back this is what was left in the
pan-a lovely colored slightly grape flavored salt.
This worked well for something else though!!
A seasoned rub for cedar planked smoked salmon. I used the recipe and directions on the package. It called for kosher salt so I figured my flavored salt wouldn't hurt a thing. It didn't!! Dinner was a hit!!!!
Planked Salmon with Spice Rub
1 T brown sugar
1T coarse salt (I had just enough accidentally flavored salt)
2 tsp ancho chili powder (used what I had on hand)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
I'd also asked about smoking with grape leaves. Poor GENZ (stands for Good
EatNZ not genetically engineered New Zealand), she put up with a lot during our joint blog. GOL! I actually tried it. No, I wasn't rolling my own out behind the woodshed. I rolled the
brined grape leaves around cherry wood and used them as you would regular wood chips to smoke ribs with. At this house we have experimented with different fruit woods so I figured why not grape leaves? Terrie and
her husband thought it was a great idea after sampling the ribs for dinner.
Remember those spicy dill pickles, I learned to make? I served those with the BBQ and they were a hit also. So much so that my DH asked if I'd made them cause he liked the flavor. Uh, could have been the lack of uniformity in the pickle slices and that they
were in a canning jar with a plastic Miracle Whip lid that tipped him off.
I also did the cedar smoked salmon again. This time I wrapped grape leaves around the salmon before putting it on the plank. YUM!!!!!!!
GOL! for sure now. When I asked if we were doing a dessert stuffed grape leaf, GENZ may have had some reservations but she told me to go for it. Just follow the line of culinary logic here. It had to be a filling that would stay put and this style of cooking
would work for. Idly thinking about what kind of desserts were similar, old fashioned steamed puddings came to mind. Not being a fan of pudding, the next thought was what kind of dessert is solid enough that I do like? Cheesecake!!!!!! I believe GENZ"S reply
to my announced dessert was, "I NEVER would have thought of that!" GOL!!!! Now in defense of my dessert attempt, GENZ did see an episode of "Chopped" after our blog and grape leaves were in the dessert round. I don't believe those chefs went as far outside
the creative box as I did but I haven't seen the episode.
I used the Barefoot Contessa's Raspberry Cheesecake recipe as my guide. Not wanting to waste a whole cheesecake recipe just in case this didn't work. I mean, what would the odds of that be?! I reduced the recipe.
Confused Cheesecake Version #2
(my original notes disappeared so I had to redo the dessert to make sure it was the same. This is for you ALVA416!)
6 oz low fat cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp lemon zest
I mixed this together and placed a spoonful onto the grape leaves. Adjust the amount for the size of grape leaf. The first version had fresh sliced plums from my tree on it so the grape leaves wouldn't dry out. #2 did not. For the baking "water", I used
1/2 cup red wine mixed with 1/4 cup of homemade grape jelly. I did reduce the sauce for a couple of minutes so it wouldn't be too watery. Baked in the toaster oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I served this over homemade graham crackers with more wine
sauce drizzled over the top.
Homemade Graham Crackers
1/2 cup butter
2/3 C brown sugar packed
2 3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon 1/2 C water
1 tsp vanilla
In my trusty Kitchen Aid I cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Beat the dry ingredients into the creamed mix, 1/2 cup at a time alternating with a little water until you have a smooth dough.
Beat in vanilla. Cover and let rest 30 minutes at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The original recipe calls for parchment paper lined baking sheets. I like to use
silpats. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares and Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack then store in an airtight container. I put mine in the
There you have it!!! The Fusion Confusion Continental outtakes! Some worked tastefully well, 1 or 2 were frightful but it was all so much fun! Anytime I think of making that blog, I laugh. Laughter is so good for the soul!!!
But what did I really get from our joint blog effort?
Experimental experience & knowledge of a different cuisine-
Positively a plus!!!!!
A new friend with a delightful sense of humor-