Like a good Armenian girl, I made a platter of stuffed grape leaves for Christmas dinner at my mother’s house. Now I’m not a braggart by nature, but allow me to stray momentarily from my normally humble self and announce to everyone that my grape leaves this year kicked ass!!!! I’m so proud of myself 🙂 I’ve made them many times before, but this batch – the Christmas 2008 batch – will go down in Hajian family history as truly memorable. Everyone gobbled them up and voiced their enthusiastic acclaim for my culinary skills. I’m so happy!
Armenian style (or Lebanese style) grape leaves are not a dish you can just “whip up” in 20 minutes. You have to chop 7 cups of onions, combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl, mix thoroughly, and then plant yourself at the kitchen table and neatly hand roll each grape leaf like a mini cigar. My filling came out incredible. Yay! White rice, onions, pine nuts, currants, fresh chopped parsley and dill, olive oil, lemon juice – yum. Place them all in a large cooking dish, fill with water, and cook in the oven for an hour and a half. Let cool on the counter. Serve with lemon wedges.
Now I ask you all, does this filling not look exquisite and delicious?
Some people (wimps) pre-cook the rice before filling the leaves. I don’t. Some people go easy on the currants (horrors!). Everybody has their own methods and preferences. But I am bound to the traditional old world Armenian recipe of my ancestors, and I wouldn’t want my grandmother to turn over in her grave at any corrupted grape leaf preparation on my part.
By the way, you know those canned grape leaves you can buy in middle eastern food stores? SUCK. Really suck. Tastless, soggy, a waste of time.
I hope everyone had, or is still having, a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate. I’ll be back in a jiffy, blogging about art and art modeling as usual. Lots of great stuff on the way – artists, muses, paintings, drawings, etc. In the meantime, I love you all!