Now this is a sign of a much-loved and used recipe. Three generations of women have scribbled, crossed out and added to this recipe. I must say it is near perfect! On a serious note, my grandfather was Armenian and I grew up eating these grape leaves as a little girl. Most times, they were made for the holidays and it was when I was 31 that my mother and I sat down at the kitchen table and I officially rolled my first leaf. Traditionally my grandmother has always made these. The only way she was allowed over was to have a plate full of grape leaves at the door. Usually my brother and I would sneak one or two out before the meal began. So on this Easter, being away from my family, I decided to roll my own batch. The first sweet tangy bite took me right back to my Mom’s kitchen…amazing how a little thing can do that. The stuffed grape leaf put a huge smile on my face instantly and took a smidge of the homesickness away. (recipe to follow at the end)
This past month Bon Appetit had their annual Easter special. I made a few things from the issue and wanted to pass along the recipes. First up were the lamb chops. I used this recipe and it was exceptional! It was served with lemon-roasted potatoes and lemon-garlic spinach. For dessert, I went all out and made Walnut & Pistachio Baklava. Don’t be intimidated by the recipe. It was easy to prepare and even easier to eat up!
And I want to give a shout out (I know such a 1990 saying, but still rings true) to House Red. This is a wonderful wine shop in Forest Park, with Neb heading up the wine selections. His recommendations were off the chart for the lamb dinner and dessert. This Friday he will be opening the cheese section of his wine store. Can’t wait to enjoy the wine pairings! Two reds we had were…
G.6 Grenache from Croatia (picture from their website)
Syrocco Syrah from Morocco (picture from their website)
Vietti moscato d’asti (picture from their website)
Yalanchi – Or Grape Leaves Armenian Style
1/2 cup of oil (I used Canola)
1 cup of short grain rice
6 cups of onions, chopped fine
1 lemon; juiced
1 1/2 cup of boiling H2O
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. of dried mint
1/2 tsp. of allspice
1 jar of grape leaves
1. Rinse the grape leaves individually under water and dry.
2. Chop the onion fine. ( I used a food processor. 1 large onion will yield you approximately 1 cup)
3. Heat oil in a large frying pan and saute onions on medium-low heat until tender- about 15 minutes.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except water) and stir until combined.
5. Add boiling water and cook rice mixture until the liquid is gone and the rice is tender. Cook on a low flame and stir constantly so the rice won’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
6. Beginning with the grape leaf cut off the stem. With the stem side of the leaf facing you, put a teaspoon of the rice mixture on the an individual leaf and roll up. Start at the stem, be sure to fold in the sides as you roll.
7. Using a dutch oven, place a few flat leaves on the bottom (so the rolled ones won’t burn) and place a plate upside down on the leaves. Arrange the rolled leaves together around the plate in the dutch oven. Add 1 cup of H2O – cover- and cook for 1 hour on medium heat. Cool and plate.