Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘backyard grape leaves’

Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 2 – Prepping The Fresh Grape Leaves

Posted by terrepruitt on May 29, 2019

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCDIn looking up how to prepare fresh-off-the-vine grape leaves for stuffing it seemed like I should have started days before I planned on stuffing them. The first few sites I found said that stuffed grape leaves were prepared with leaves that had been soaked in brine for days. Well, DAYS of soaking was not going to happen, but I figured that they did need some soaking. I thought that they would need the flavor of salt plus a soak in brine would help tenderize them. Ha! Still just faking all of this because I have never actually eaten stuffed grape leaves.

I went outside and cut off 30 grape leaves. Ideally they would have been all the same size, but there wasn’t 30 of all the same size. I started off with ones about the size of my hand, but ended up having to get larger ones. I also tried to get ones that look fairly new. I figured the newer leaves would be more tender and tasty.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCDAfter I gathered the leaves I brought them inside and washed them thoroughly. Although, it was pretty cool because it had rained the day before so they were pretty clean to begin with. There was no dirt or bugs, but still, I washed them. I also cut off each stem as close to the leaf as possible. Then, I poured some salt into the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish then added some water. I put some of the grape leaves in the dish, then I poured some salt onto the leaves then added more water. I put the rest of the grape leaves in, then filled the dish with water. I used another dish to hold the leaves down. I let them soak about five hours.

Since I didn’t necessarily want them to be salty and I was hoping for some tenderization, I rinsed the leaves off before I blanched them.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCDThen I stacked two piles totaling 15 leaves into the rinsed out 9X13 baking dish and poured boiling water over them. Instructions I had seen on blanching them said to leave them for two minutes. So I set my timer for two minutes or so I thought. I was doing something else and so I wasn’t paying attention but then it dawned on me that my timer had not gone off. So I took the leaves out of the hot water and stuck them in their ice bath. I don’t know how long they ended up being in the hot water. With the next batch I paid more attention to setting the timer and I actually did it. I took the leaves out after two minutes. By then I was fully immersed in making the stuffing AND my husband had come home so the surprise was out of the bag. We started talking about the books we were listening to and about what I was making and I didn’t really look at the second batch of leaves. I just took them out of the hot water and placed them into their ice bath after the timer had gone off.

I didn’t notice the difference in color between the two batches until I started stuffing them. I was concerned because the ones that I believed were in the hot water longer than two minutes were that drab color green – the same color as the jarred leaves, but the ones that were in the hot water for two minutes were still bright green. I was worried that they would not be tender enough and would taste too green. I asked my husband to pay attention while he was eating so that he could report to me so that I would be able to adjust the preparation in the future.

When I pulled the first group of leaves out of the ice bath I had just set them on a towel to dry. I did not separate them or even pat them dry to help them. I was more concerned at that point with getting the whole process underway because the stuffed leaves were going to take an hour to cook and it was getting late. We often eat late and I was trying to not let that be the case. So I wasn’t even thinking about taking the time to dry the leaves. I didn’t even think about drying the leaves until I was 18 into stuffing and rolling. Then it dawned on me. So I patted the last twelve dry.
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https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/47960702646_a44e8757a6_o.jpgFresh-Off-The-Vine Grape Leaf Preparation

Grape Leaves
Water
Salt
Ice

Wash the leaves. Cut the stem off as close to the leaf as possible. Pour some salt into a dish/pan large enough to immerse all of the leaves. Put some water in the dish. Put half of the leaves in the dish, then pour more salt on top of the leaves. Then put the rest of the leaves in and fill the dish with water. Use another dish to keep the leaves complete submersed, if need be. Let the leaves soak for about five hours.

After a few hours at least (if not five), rinse the leaves. Rinse out the dish/pan, then put the leaves back in . . . (you can blanch all the leaves at once if you’d like or not. I didn’t because I didn’t have a dish large enough to hold water, the leaves, AND ice for the ice bath so that is why I did two batches).

Pour boiling water over the leaves. Let them set for at least 3 minutes.

Take the leaves out of the hot water and put them in an ice bath.

(Since I was blanching the leaves in two batches I left the cooling leaves in the ice bath until I was ready to put the other ones in.)

Take the leaves out of the ice bath and let them dry a bit. Use a towel or paper towels if you want to dry them. I would think that if you are going to let them dry you might need to separate them first. I don’t know for sure though. I just left them wet. When I did dry the remaining 12 I had separated them and was filling each one then folding each one.
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PLEASE NOTE: In looking at the pictures I see why the second batch of leaves did not blanch well. As I mentioned, I was distracted as my hubby had just come home and I was making this up as I went along – I had put ice in the dish I used to weight the leaves down, I had been making more room in the ice bath dish and didn’t want to put it in the sink to melt because I figured I could use it for the next ice bath. When I went to use the dish as a weight, I didn’t think about the ice I had put in it. I just grabbed it and put it on top of the leaves in the boiling water. DUH! Had to have taken some of the heat out of the boiling water.

This is part 2 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 2 – Prepping The Fresh Grape Leaves

Here is the link to part 3 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 3 – Stuffing And Cooking The Stuffed Grape Leaves

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Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 1 – The Idea

Posted by terrepruitt on May 27, 2019

It has been so long I can’t even remember if the grapevines were in the yard when we moved in or if my husband planted them. Either way I do know that for as long as we have lived here (over two decades) I have said, “Oh I should make something using our grape leaves.” And by something I meant stuffed grape leaves because I don’t know of anything else that one actually uses grape leaves for. The vines are very hearty. My husband trims them back and the next thing I know I am looking outside to see the vine latching onto the lemon tree again. A couple of weeks ago I happen to look outside and see the vines with beautiful green leaves washed clean by all the rain. I decided to surprise my hubby with some stuffed grape leaves. I googled it and glanced quickly at a recipe listing dill as an ingredient. So I went to the store and bought what I thought I needed to make them. Then I got cold feet when I realized I didn’t know how to prepare the leaves. I had originally been thinking I would just cut them off the vine and roll the stuffing up in them. But then I realized they probably needed some prep. In the middle of that revelation it dawned on me that perhaps stuffed grape leaves were actually meatless? Ya see, part of the issue with this whole endeavor was – I don’t eat them myself. I have never had one. My husband loves them (LOVES THEM!), but I have never even tried one. So it was kind of a challenge to figure out how to make them.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFit, City of San Jose Exercise Classes, Cambrian Yoga & Cardio Dance, CYCDOne would think you could just look up the recipe on the internet, but – ha! There doesn’t even seem to be a consensus on what they are called much less how to make them. Plus, when I post a recipe – for the most part – I want it to be at least MY version of it if not entirely “original.” In regards to what they are called, I have seen them called

dolma
dolmades
dolmadaki
dolmeh
dolmates
dolmathes
dolmathakia

and that is just the words starting with D. Seems like stuffed grape leaves are like “Swedish Meatballs” and every culture has their own version with its own name (of course).

When I did look it up I found recipes with cinnamon and pine nuts. Now, I know my hubby would eat and probably like whatever I made, but I was TRYING to surprise him and make something that he actually liked and was somewhat familiar. But with every recipe I found having different ingredients I decided to just try making something that was simple and somewhat familiar (I was hoping). When I researched further – after I had gone shopping, in addition to pine nuts and nutmeg I was finding recipes with MINT. Makes sense mint and lamb, but I had already bought dill so I was going to use that.

My research on how to prepare the grape leaves had me thinking I should have started the process DAYS before I was planning on actually making the recipe. The information I was seeing was that they needed to soak in a brine solution for days. There were some sites that said they could be blanched. But, again, I started thinking that in order to make this a treat and something he likes and is used to, I should have PURCHASED grape leaves. But then again, the whole reason I wanted to do this was to use our leaves. Sigh. All of this thinking and planning was probably over the course of ten days. It took so long because of my chickening-out-period!

As usual since I planned on posting about this I decided to just fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I went along. I always feel funny posting other people’s recipes (but I have after making them) so I mostly try to make my own version. I will need a few posts to get it all documented. I started with the leaves.

This is part 1 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 1 – The Idea
Next:  Part 2 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 2 – Prepping The Fresh Grape Leaves
Next:  Part 3 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 3 – Stuffing And Cooking The Stuffed Grape Leaves
Next:  Part 4 of 4 – Stuffed Grape Leaves Part 4 – Avgolemono Sauce

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