The final New Year's Eve post! Be sure to read them all.
Dolmas (p. 82). I will never be able to see the word "dolma" without immediately following it up in my head with "a giant pain in the ass". Rachel made the lion's share of these dolmas--I'll admit it--but I'm counting them off because I was standing next to her helping the whole time. I made about six other dishes in the time she was actively working on these stupid things. They took at least 4 hours, most of it active time.
The first step of dolma-making is soaking the grape leaves in water, separating each leaf. This took almost an hour--there were a LOT of leaves in those jars:
After soaking the leaves and changing the water twice (to remove the salt), the leaves had to be dried. Rachel's solution for this was to rip up paper towels. This took at least a half hour more--maybe more:
We made the mixture for the middle--lamb, onion (twice as much onion as lamb!), parsley, dill, and rice (we used brown rice instead of white). It didn't seem like much meat--this would be a good recipe to stretch meat.
The mixture was combined:
The mixture was then wrapped in the grape leaf like a little envelope:
And they were layered into a big pot, drizzled in olive oil, and covered in beef broth:
The whole mixture was then cooked. These pictures are depressing to even look at--apparently, neither Rachel nor I like dolmas very well. I don't think there was anything wrong with TJOC's recipe, per se, but neither one of us is a big fan of lamb and the grape leaves were really tough. Plus, there were a lot of onions in the mixture. A LOT of onions--and I don't really like onions. So they took forever and the dolmas were definitely our least favorite dish of the night. I think Rachel may have mentioned that they tasted a bit like feet smell, which I know is an appetizing thought. Oddly, my mother thought they were tasty, but then again, she eats cold chicken livers (to be seen in a future post).
Rachel, her fiance, and myself are all Iowa State University alumni--and our Cyclones finally managed to make it into a bowl game (and they won!). So, obviously, the game was on (although Rachel and I barely left the kitchen during the game--fine with me, I don't like watching sports). We thought it would be nice to have a meal during the game, since it started at 5 pm. We settled on Vegetarian chili (p. 254).
We cooked onion, red and green bell peppers, carrots, and garlic in a little olive oil.
So pretty! We added jalapenos, chili powder, cumin (freshly ground!), tomatoes (canned from Rachel's mom's garden!), and multiple kinds of beans (kidney, Great Northern, and black), as well as tomato juice to the veggie mixture:
The whole thing was cooked for almost an hour. It was really good! Hearty and flavorful with a really good mix of flavors! I like my chili to have a lot of tomatoes and a lot of beans, so it was right up my alley. That being said, most of the people at the party like their chili to include one additional ingredient--meat.
Yes, we added meat to the vegetarian chili:
Even more delicious! It was a big hit although it made a LOT of chili. We doubled the recipe but probably didn't need to--Rachel had a TON of chili left over.
All in all, it was a very fun party and I really enjoyed cooking for so many people! I hope to do it again.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone has a truly excellent 2010. Any resolutions?