Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

This was my third attempt at making dolmades over the past year or so and I am happy to report success at last.  I have always loved these ever since Uncle Tom and Aunt Evie introduced them to us, but could never quite get it right.  We were at the West Side Market on Saturday and they were charging $7.00 for a half dozen of them so I said… sam hell… I can make those for much less and much better to boot.

Fennel….our new favorite vegetable that makes everything taste good:  (made a risotto on Saturday w fennel, shitakes, cremini and sausage… awesome).

pine nuts.  an essential ingredient in dolmades:

The slightly cooked mixture of onion, fennel, rice, parsley, dill and mint:

rolling them up…

Not the most beautiful things… and they are a lot of work…but they sure taste good.

Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)

Recipe 99% from Tyler Florence on after looking at lots of recipes.  I also learned from watching quite a few YouTube videos of Greek Grandmas dolmades techniques.


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 T. finely chopped dill leaves
  • 1 T. finely chopped mint (or 1 t. dried)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar grape leaves, rinsed and drained – the big jar
  • 2 lemons, juiced


To make the filling, coat a large saute pan with 1/4 cup of the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and lemon zest and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and rice, saute for 2 minutes, stirring to coat. Pour in just 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Scrape the parboiled rice mixture into a bowl and add the dill, mint and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Pat dry with paper towels.  The leaves are all really packed tight in the jar.  I found it easiest to separate them by submerging them in water.

To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar – it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.

Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide deep skillet, seam-side down in a single layer. Pour the remaining cup of broth, remaining olive oil, and the lemon juice over the dolmades, the liquid should reach halfway up the rolls, add some water if necessary. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Mary Jo Boyd

In roasting pan, place:

  • 2 butternut squash, split, seeded, cavity-side up
  • 1 acorn squash, split, seeded, cavity side up
  • 2 sweet potatoes, halved, upside down
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise
  • 1 huge onion, in chunks
  • 4-6 shallots
  • 4-6 large carrots
  • 1 T butter, divided among squash halves
  • 1 T brown sugar, sprinkled on butter
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth

Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 2 – 2.5 hours at 325-350.

In stock pot, place

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 4 – 6 large celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Braise slowly, stirring often for 15-20 minutes.

Cool roasted vegetables slightly, scoop from their shells and add to pot along with cooking liquid, leeks, etc.  Add about 10 cups of chicken broth, 1+ cups of white wine, ginger and pepper and cumin to taste.  Cook slowly for 30-45 minutes to blend flavors.  Puree in batches and add

French Onion Soup

We have tried different versions throughout the years and this one is good.  The Campbell’s condensed beef broth is good.  If you are feeling flush use gruyere cheese instead of swiss – it makes a big difference.

  • 4 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 T. margarine or butter
  • 2 cans CONDENSED beef broth
  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1/8 t. thyme
  • 4 slices French bread, ¾ – 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cover and cook onion in margarine in 3 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 – 30 minutes or longer until brown and cooked way way down.  Add beef broth, water, bay leaf, thyme and pepper.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set oven to broil.  Place bread slices on cookie sheet and broil until golden brown.  Repeat for other side.  Place bread in oven proof bowls.  Add broth; top with Swiss cheese, sprinkle with parmesan.  Place bowls on cookie sheet.  Broil w/cheese 5 inches from heat until golden brown. 1-2 minutes

Black Bean Soup

We’ve searched long and hard for a good black bean soup recipe and we think this is the one.  It’s the easiest one also.  Go figure.

Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon

2 servings

  • 2 15 oz. Can black beans
  • ¼ cup diced red onion, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 t. chopped pickled jalapeno slices, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 t. cider or wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • ½ t. chili powder
  • 1 T. sour cream for garnish

Pour canned beans along with liquid into medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients, except for garnish, and mix.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, adding water if necessary or until it is a s thick as you like.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with red onion, jalapeno slices, and sour cream arranged carefully in center of soup.

(Nutrition analysis per serving: calories, 362; fat, 5 grams; calories from fat, 11 percent.)

Baked Onion and Cream Soup

New Basics

  • 6 large onions, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2 heads garlic cloves, separated and peeled
  • 5 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 ½ t. dried thyme
  • 1 t. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 t. salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley, chopped for garnish

1.  Preheat the oven to 350.
2.  Place the onions and garlic in a shallow roasting pan, and add 3 cups of the chicken stock.. Sprinkle with the thyme, pepper, and coarse salt.  Dot with the butter.
3.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 ½ hours.  Stir once or twice while baking.
4.  Remove the pan from the oven and puree the onions and garlic with the liquid, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth.  With the motor on, gradually add the remaining 2 cups stock and the cream.  Pour the soup into a large saucepan.
5.  Adjust the seasonings and slowly heat through.  Do not allow the soup to boil.  Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 portions

Italian Potatoes

  • 4 large (or 6 medium) Russet potatoes
  • ½ cup fine, toasted bread crumbs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ t. oregano
  • 1-1 ½ t. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ – ¾ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350

Peel and cut potatoes lengthwise into wedges (about 6-8 per potato) and drop into a bowl of cold water

Combine bread crumbs and grated cheese.  Do not dry the wedges before coating them well with the crumb mixture.  Place them in a shallow, 9 x 13-inch baking dish, sprinkling any remaining crumbs on top.

Top potatoes with sliced tomatoes and onion rings.  Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper.  Drizzle with oil just before baking.

Bake, uncovered, 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until potatoes are brown but still retain some crunchiness