Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sop Up The Juice

Okay, Peeps. I am proclaiming this Flaurella Cocktail Week. After all, it is dreary cold January when the days are short and insipidly wan and there's not much else to do when the pale sunlight fades so early but imbibe. Yesterday, I wrote about caviar canapés so today, let's enjoy something Greek... stuffed grape leaves marinated in lemon and olive oil.

Perhaps you have never considered stuffed grape leaves as an hor douvre but they are easy and delicious. Well suited to white wine, Bombay martinis with a twist, or Ouzo shooters (I dare you!). Stuffed grape leaves are piquant and will also absorb all the demon alcohol jujubes that flow within your bloodstream. You may have eaten stuffed grape leaves baked in tomato sauce served hot as an entree but I love them made small, chilled and marinated in fresh lemon juice and the best olive oil.

jar of prepared grape leaves
cooked rice (1 TBSP for each leaf)
salt and pepper
garlic (yes, I add garlic to everything)
dillweed, thyme or mint, or your fave herb
toasted pignoli (pine) nuts
a little finely diced onion
splash of best olive oil to bind the rice
More olive oil for marinade
About 1/5 cup of lemon juice for marinade

I like to see what leftovers I have in the fridge.... a little chopped sautéed onion and peppers is good, too. Use your imagination. That's what makes a good cook.

Mix all your ingredients into a gummy rice wad and then place about a tablespoon of it on the bottom edge of a cooked grape leaf. Form it out like a cigar butt on the bottom of the grape leaf. You can buy grape leaves in the pickle section at the market or you can make them from your own grape leaves. However, if you know how to boil your own grape leaves, you probably don't need me to tell you how to make this recipe. So, use whatever grape leaves you are used to or go buy them near the olives and the pepperancini at the market.

Roll up your little torpedo of rice, folding the ends in to seal like you would roll a burrito. Each should be about 2.5 to under 3 inches long but this depends upon the size of the grape leaves. Keep rolling as tight as you can without tearing the cooked grape leaf. Place in a bowl, seam side down. Make all the rest and do likewise. Now, squeeze plenty of fresh lemon juice all over the little leafy rolls. Sprinkle with your best olive oil over top and cover tightly. Place in fridge for at least one day and up to 5 days.

Grape leaf appetizers

Serve as finger food cocktail treats. I like to garnish with cherry or grape tomatoes and add a few crackers. The marinade is tasty so crackers or bread is useful to sop up the juice. Isn't that an elegant way to put it?

I just ran a search for stuffed grape leaves and Amazon (the book people) carries them in their gourmet food section. I may try ordering some but this leads me to believe that if you have a Greek market nearby, you can probably buy these ready-made. Unfortunately, we don't have any Greek markets out here in the North Florida countryside. Besides, unless you are having a party, why would you need two kilos of stuffed grape leaves, hmmm?

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