There are certain things in life that I simply cannot seem to like. One of those things is stuffed vine leaves or more specifically dolmades. I first came across this green “cigars” when we were on holiday in Greece and Tom ordered them. I took one bite and decided I did not like them at all. I have since tried many different variations but well, none of these appeal to me in any way. It’s just not something that makes me happy. It’s not that I hate it; I just couldn’t care enough about them to eat it or order them in a restaurant. So when I saw the challenge for this months Daring Cooks I had to laugh and was secretly wondering if it was a conspiracy… Did Tom send someone an email? Did he bribe someone to make sure we would at some point have to make stuffed vineleaves?? Of course he claims to be innocent and since I have an idea that he wouldn’t know where to send an email anyway, I tend to believe him. But… there still was this challenge that I wanted to complete. Let’s face it; it has been far too long since I last finished a Daring Cooks or Daring Bakers challenge and I was not prepared to miss yet another month. Even though the subject of this challenge would have me skip any other time!
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.
So the first thing I had to do was to find vineleaves, which turned out to be quite easy in the Turkish section of our local supermarket, even though getting them out of the jar in one piece was a bit of a challenge, but nonetheless… I found them. I opted to go for the first recipe that Lori was mentioning with the ground beef but without the tamarind sauce. I sort of was under the wrong impression that I still had tamarind somewhere but that turned out to be something else entirely, so I had to leave the sauce out. I first had to rinse all the grapeleaves and untangle them from eachother. I think doing that was actually the biggest amount of work! But then came the filling part; I tasted the ground beef after having added all the spices and it tasted fine, but unfortunately once cooked; the taste was very bland. My thinking is that it must have washed away part of the flavor maybe? I am not sure but regardless of the blandness I also didn’t think that it was a very exciting filling. Tom – who is after all the dolmades expert – agreed that they were bland and while he did mention that he had dolmades on occassion tasting exactly like mine; I am not sure that that was supposed to be a compliment… lol..
I actually have to confess that the taste of the vine leaves was not as bad as I seemed to remember it. Once cooked it was very soft and easy to eat; it was just the filling that did not do it for me or anyone else (Tom had friends over so I let them all taste; they all agreed it needed to be spicier).
I did start the search for a better recipe and I think I have found one in one of the books by Tessa Kiros, but I have not had time to make them so that will have to wait for a later time. In terms of photos… well, I’ve done better to say the least but it will have to do!