Friday Faves – Cate’s World Kitchen

It’s Friday again! Hope everyone had a great week and is ready for this week’s Friday Favs. Today, you will be hearing from Cate of Cate’s World Kitchen. The first thing I remember about Cate’s blog was reading about the adventures she and her husband had while living over in Asia for a year. They were teaching and traveling and eating tons of good food. And all the while, Cate let all of her readers in on her experiences through her blog. Cate is now back in the US and runs marathons. Be sure to check her blog out if you’re looking for some healthy vegetarian meals.

I’m Cate, and I blog at Cate’s World Kitchen. I’m so excited to be a part of Jen’s Friday Favorites! I blog mostly healthy, vegetarian recipes incorporating flavors from around the world, and I also tend to write a bit about my biggest passion outside the kitchen…running. I’ll be in Boston in April to run the 2011 Boston Marathon and I can’t wait!

One of my favorite challenges to take on in the kitchen is trying to make something I love at restaurants but have never tried at home. Dolmas are a great example – I order them whenever I see them on a menu, but until a year ago the idea of making them at home never crossed my mind. The recipe I used then was kind of a flop, so it took me an entire year to decide to try them again. I would like to be able to claim perseverance as one of my good qualities, but sometimes I just cannot get back up on the horse. Until now!

The only thing that might be a challenge to find, depending on where you live, is a jar of grape leaves. If there’s a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean grocery store nearby, they should definitely have them. Otherwise, I know you can order them from Amazon. I used about half of the leaves in the 16-ounce jar that I bought.These are not hard to make, they’re just a little time consuming. I think the end result is completely worth it! Basically you start with chopped onion, saute it, add rice, herbs, and spices, then roll up the filling in the leaves and simmer them until the rice is cooked.

(adapted from LA Times)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup short- or medium-grain rice
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 2 (8-ounce) jars grape leaves, rinsed and drained
3 lemons (2 for juicing, 1 for slicing)

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium or large skillet or frying pan. Add the onion and lemon zest and soften over medium heat for about 5 -10 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook for a few minutes, until the edges of the grains are translucent. Add 1 cup of water and simmer until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer the rice and onion mixture to a bowl and stir in the parsley, mint, about 1 tsp salt, a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

Look through the grape leaves and set aside the large, untorn ones to use for filling. Put a layer of the smaller or torn leaves in the bottom of a dutch oven.

Place one of the large, intact leaves on a cutting board or other work surface, and put about 1 tbsp of rice mixture just above the stem.

This is the appropriate time to cut off the stem, which I unfortunately forgot to do…
Fold the stem end up over the rice.

Fold in the sides.

Roll up…but not too tightly because the rice expands as it cooks.

Repeat until you’ve used all the filling. Arrange the stuffed leaves close together in a single layer, then add another layer once you run out of room.

Juice 2 lemons and pour the juice over the grape leaves. Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over them. Arrange the lemon slices evenly in the pan. Add enough water to nearly cover both the first and second layers. Press a heavy, heat-proof plate on top of the grape leaves (I used a cake pan filled with pie weights). Cover and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rice inside is tender.
Let cool completely before serving.

Be sure to check out all of my favorite bloggers as they are featured on Friday Favs!

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