While I’m enjoying time with my family in Romania several of my favorite food bloggers (born outside US just like me) are sharing their culinary talents with you.
Today, I’d like you to welcome Christiane. She’s an Armenian, now living in Winston-Salem area.
She’s the mother of a beautiful girl, age 5.
On her blog, Taking on magazines, just like the blog name suggests, she cooks recipes from different magazines in her own kitchen with a kid underfoot, animals prowling the room, husband peering over shoulders as she describes herself. She explains the recipes so well and give you a couple of alternatives in case there’s something missing from your pantry.
Now, please say Hello to my friend Christiane.
Life takes weird turns and twists, does it not? Over fifteen years ago, AOL entered the world and my life changed. I met people online who became “friends,” even though I never met them. Eventually, some I did meet. One of those was my husband. We happened to live in the same town, but the first contact was through IM. Three years later, we were married. This summer we celebrated our tenth anniversary and even though I’m off AOL now, I’m grateful for the baby steps of social networking it created.
Now, the next phase of new “friends” that I’ve never met has arrived with the next phase of social networking; my blogging community. This group of women and men who share their lives and experiences through prose has developed into a family that cares. It’s really pretty cool.
So, when one of those family members asks if you would be willing to step into their little sphere for a while, it’s a bit like being asked if you want to read your older sibling’s diary. It’s an incredible honor, but it’s also a bit scary.
I’m so thrilled that Roxana asked me to step into her space for the day and share with you a bit of my heritage, especially the bit that centers around the kitchen. She and I are actually quite a bit closer than many would think. She is Romanian and I am Armenian; separated only by the Black Sea.
That being the case, how could I not do a dish that my grandmother taught my mother, who taught me. The fact that it was something I didn’t like at all when I was a child has no bearing on anything since children aren’t supposed to like vegetables; especially when those vegetables are cooked eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and green peppers.
In Turkish, “dolma” means a vegetable that is stuffed with a filling. A filling that is rolled in grape leaves (or cabbage) is called “sarma.” The filling usually consists of meat and rice. If you’ve been heading down the vegan road a while, just leave out the meat. I’m not headed that way, so I didn’t.
This is as close to my mother’s recipe as I can get. First, she has a strong French accent. Second, she doesn’t cook with measuring cups or spoons, but instead uses the palm of her hand and the pinch of this or that method. As with many things, this is even better the day after it’s made.
Just so you know, I love this dish now. My palate has evolved and I adore cooked tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. No, I didn’t include green peppers. There are something things that my palate may just never get used to. I’ve learned to accept that.
Choice of vegetables for stuffing; tomatoes, green, red or yellow green peppers, small eggplants, medium zucchini and yellow squash
1/2 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup short grain rice
1 small can tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Hollow out all of all the vegetables, leaving enough around the edges so they don’t collapse during cooking. If necessary, cut a small flat spot at the base the the vegetable will stand straight.
Put the vegetable pulp from hollowing them out in a food processor along with the chopped onion and parsley. Pulse a few times until combined and finely chopped. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
Add the beef, rice, 1/2 of the tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste and mix gently. Loosely stuff the filling into the vegetables. Stand the vegetables in a large stock pot. Add the rest of the tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to 4 cups of water. Whisk until well combined and slowly pour over the dolmas and down the sides so as not to disturb the stuffing. If necessary, add more water so the liquid covers about 2/3 of the vegetables.
Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the temperature to let it simmer until the rice is cooked, approximately 35 minutes. Let it rest a few minutes before serving.