It’s not often these days I get the chance to ‘wing it’ with creating food dishes. I have fallen into the trap of mostly using (usually tweaking) other people’s recipes. Don’t get me wrong, we have discovered some brilliant food this way but I do miss just playing and seeing what evolves.
I spent a few hours in the veggie patch today and one of the jobs was to trim the grapevine in the berry house. It was overtaking everything and reaching for the stars. I also had to trim the lemon grass in the greenhouse, so thought I’d have a go at using the trimmings somehow in tonights dinner. First thought was to make dolmades but I couldn’t find my trusty greek cook book. So here’s how it went.
Selected about 20 vine leaves,
The following were all mixed together
- 250g minces pork
- 1 finely chopped chicken fillet
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tspn fennel seed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 and a half cups of almost cooked rice. I used carnaroli that I had cooked with stock and a small bunch of thyme then let cool.
- 1 small handful (in total) of chopped parsley and chopped mint
I placed a dollop of filling onto vine leaf. Note, the positioning is important and the veins should be facing up.
The lemon grass trimmings were put in the bottom of a cast iron pot and a little of the sauce I made spread over it.
The sauce was made by sweating a chopped onion in a pan, adding the same spices as in the filling but at quarter strength, 1 litre of tomato passata (puree) was stirred through. A little was spread over the lemon grass and the rest spread over the stuffed leaves.
Verdict, the flavour very nice and the spice mix was great but the leaves were quite tough. Maybe they should be cooked longer or have some acid added to break them down a little more. Maybe I should have selected much younger leaves! I have only ever used preserved vine leaves before and I find the taste of them a bit heavy. I was really pleased with the subtle lemon flavour that came from using the lemon grass in the bottom of the pot. Quite often we only use the thick bottom bits but there is quite a lot of flavour in the grassy tops.