Stuffed vine leaves-using the garden castoffs.

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,

Grape vine leavesRinsed them. then blanched for about 4 minutes in boiling water. Lay on tea towel and rolled the towel up until filling was ready.

Blanched vine leavesI’d decided on a filling of chicken, pork, rice and spices:

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.

Stuffed Vine Leavesthe bottom of the leaf  folded up and over the filling,

how to fold stuffed vine leavessides folded in

how to roll stuffed vine leavesThen roll them up as you would a spring roll. Place into pot with seam down.

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.

Stuffed grapevine leavesThe 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.

IMG_3336Lid on and onto the gas on low for about 20 minutes. I set the lid ajar after 10 minutes to avoid too much liquid building up.

Served with greek yoghurt and chopped mint and parsley.Stuffed vine 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.



Lucky I like parsnip!

I pulled the entire parsnip crop on Sunday because I needed more space for tomatoes. I am really chuffed with the results, most are a pretty good shape and a decent size. They probably should have stayed in longer to develop some more, but, oh well…………….

IMG_6189 The oddly shaped ones will go into one of my favourite childhood foods. Carrot & parsnip mash! Just boil carrot and parsnip until mashable, drain well add salt and pepper (I like heavy on the pepper) and a good dollop of butter. Mash or give it a stick blender whizz and it’s done. The better shaped ones here will go in with the roast lamb I’m cooking from the recipe posted by Kylie over at  Town Mouse Country MouseParsnips cleanedOnly problem is that It’s hard to fit the joint and the veg into the ‘toy oven’ so I cooked the veg on the barbecue on a cast iron pot.Roast lamb Jamie OliverWorked out OK but unlike Kylie I wasn’t that thrilled with the gravy. I was having a bad day and even spilled olive oil on my keyboard while reading her recipe! Presentation is pretty ordinary too but the lamb tasted great! Our parsnips, our broccoli, our thyme and parsley in the rub.  All clean, fresh and full of flavour. This is why we do these things!Roast lambOther weekend jobs in the garden were, pulling the first of the garlic to make room for even more tomatoes. Looking great, another couple of weeks will really make it shine I think.Italian garlicThe berry house was out of control! First time I’ve been in there since the spring growth started, boy, things had gone ballistic! IMG_6173I found some baby grapes on the grape-vine. This variety is a slip grape we got from a man who used to supply Mr ATMT with winemaking grapes and it also makes a great table grape. First time its fruited so I’m a bit excited really.IMG_6175 Couldn’t see or get to the strawberries because of the growth of the raspberries. A bit of jute, a couple of bamboo stakes, some judicious trimming and its back in control in there.IMG_6178 As I was collecting the trimmings to go into the compost I realised I was about to waste a great resource-vine leaves. Fresh, organically grown and no blemishes at all. Gold! I will use these to make some dolmades and there will be enough to preserve a few as well. Glad I came to my senses before they hit the compost!IMG_6204

Not this year birdies! These blueberry plants are about 7 years old and I think we’ve picked about 10 fruit at the most. We have however been tagged as an easy target for the birds who love them. Not any more, tonight I covered several with my exclusion bags in the hope they will ripen and we will reap the rewards.IMG_6220 IMG_6236Today is remembrance day in Australia, a time to reflect and remember our soldiers from all the wartime conflicts we have sadly been involved in. The Flanders poppy is a symbol of remembrance day developing from its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, this vivid red flower has become synonymous with great loss of life in war.

I didn’t plant that variety but I did grow from Diggers seed “Poppy Ladybird” and it’s very pretty as well as fitting to watch and reflect on remembrance day.Ladybird Poppy

Lest we  forget.

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