Challenges for the Daring Cooks are announced to members on the 17th of every month, and posted publicly on the 14th of the following month. I always eagerly check the forum to find out what the month's challenge is, then leave it till the last day. Why? I have no idea, but I am a bit of a procrastinator. This month was no exception. I checked the forum last night, and realized in a panic that I only had a day. So, while I should have been doing the last of my unpacking after my move, I made stuffed grape leaves instead. I had purchased the grape leaves last week in a rare show of foresight, but that was all I had. So, I dug through my not-yet stocked fridge and cupboards and this is what I came up with:
I wanted to put some meat in the rolls, as those on the forum preferred the meat version to the vegetarian ones. Now, the only meat I had was a frozen package of ground caribou and I wasn't about to make a trip out. Then I remembered the Thanksgiving leftovers. I had been sent home with the raw turkey liver, as nobody in my family would touch it. I also had 4 litres of turkey stock I had made with the carcass. I added sumac, mace, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, cilantro, onions and garlic to the basmati rice and liver mixture. My jar of grape leaves was unpleasantly briny, so needed lots of blanching, leaving them quite delicate. I actually found the smell of the grape leaves on my hands really unpleasant and hard to remove. Luckily the finished rolls were perfectly seasoned and delicious. I served them with local cherry tomatoes, olive oil, sumac and cilantro. It was a nice lunch, and an even better break from unpacking.
1 jar grape leaves, rinsed and blanched to remove salt
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup stock or water
3 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 turkey liver, diced (completely optional!)
Rinse rice and set aside. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onion is softened but not browned. Add rice and stock. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low, until liquid is absorbed and rice is partially cooked. Cool. Add remaining ingredients and salt lightly (the leaves will add more). Spread leaves vein side up on work surface, trim stem off and roll 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of rice mixture tightly in leaves, folding sides in. You can put a couple of leaves together for larger rolls. Pack tightly in a steamer, in layers if necessary, and place a plate on top. Steam over boiling water in a covered pot for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, with tomatoes, olives, and cheese.
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.
Find the full challenge PDF here, with recipes, pictures, and more!