So, I've mostly been focusing on two of my other hobbies: reading and eating. Some friends from work and I formed a book club last year, and although we don't meet really regularly, we have thoroughly enjoyed every meeting we've had. I suggested our last book, which was Crescent by Diana Abu Jabar. I've read it several times and although I like the story itself, it's the food imagery that make me love it...and yes, I was drawn to it because of the knitted blue sweater sleeve on the cover.
The protagonist's is of Iraqi descent and is a cook in a Lebanese restaurant, so Crescent is full of references to humus, tabuleah, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and baklava. So, that is what the table in my dining room was full of this afternoon. I wish that I'd taken a picture of it because it was really a wonderful sight, but I do at least have a picture of the baklava that my friend, Janet, and I made yesterday.
Russ paid our baklava a very high compliment after tasting it today. Last summer we bought some baklava from an Iranian woman at a farmer's market in Nebraska. It was wonderful, just about melted in your mouth. I loved it so much that when we saw her at another farmer's market later that week, I had to go tell her how much we enjoyed her baklava even though we weren't buying any that day. When I told her that I had tried baklava numerous times and hers was by far the best that we'd ever tasted, she practically teared up and insisted that I take a free box of it. I tried to refuse, telling her that that wasn't why I'd told her that. She insisted though, and we eventually happily gave in. Writing this just now, made me wonder if she had a website, but all I could find was this blog post from a guy who obviously agrees with our assessment of her skills....back to Russ's comment. He said our baklava was about as good as that nice Iranian woman's!
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup white rice
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. dried mint (we used fresh)
1/2 bunch parsley
3-4 tbsp. lemon juice
20 - 30 grape leaves (We're lucky enough to have a Middle Eastern market nearby where we can buy fresh ones, but we used some leaves from Nancy's concord grapes vines.
Knead all ingredient in a bowl. If the consistency is too hard, add a little water.
Boil grapes leaves until they are soft but not tender. Fresh leaves will only take a minute. Cool leaves. Fill leaves with rice mixture and roll "burrito-style."
In a large pot, melt 1/2 stick butter. Arrange rolled dolmades in pot and pour 3-4 cups of chicken or beef broth over dolmades, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
Serve domades with avgolemono sauce:
- 2-3 eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon of water
- juice of 2-3 lemons
- broth from the dish being cooked (or hot beef or chicken broth or stock)