Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cooking With Us - E15 - Grape Leaf Casserole

Γεια σας!!
or Yassas! 
I love you, a bushel and a peck!

This 'Cooking With Us' Episode is exactly a year old! 

(As is evidenced by my hair color!)

I never finished it back then because I didn't like the ending.
Since then we've had plenty of odd endings to our show, so I thought - what the heck!

Watch it, read about it, and then make it!  (Just don't use too much lemon juice!)

It really is fairly simple, and absolutely delicious!

Per usual - UpRez, Full Screen, and share!
Photos, the recipe, and the transcript follow :)

And here is what you will end up with:

Trust me, it's scrumptious!

After snuggling Brigly while you wait for your better half to get home,
you are ready to rock n roll on your Grape Leaf Casserole!

You'll start by using about 5 oz of grape leaves.

It doesn't hurt to have a really silly sidekick... or two ;)

Place grape leaves in boiling water for two minutes...

Remove and rinse them.

As you can see, some are really huge!

Once you've done this with all the leaves you'll need, lay them flat and set them aside.

Preheat your oven to 350.
(I had a better pic but liked my silly face in this one ;)

Oh you've seen this one - but it's necessary to chop up a cup of parsley.

And a large white onion.

Coat your skillet with olive oil...

And add your onion, cooking until brown.

Now add in 2 1/2 cups of water...
And switch to a wok b/c the skillet was too small for the job ;)

Add 1/2 cup of brown rice...

And quite a lot of beef. Ours was 93% lean.
Cover and let it cook for 20-30 minutes.

Your water should have mostly cooked out, and your mixture should look like this.

Turn off the heat, and add 2 cups of low-sodium tomato juice.

As well as your cup of parsley.

Also add in one cup of raisins (or dried currants if you prefer).

Mix it all up good, adding salt and pepper to taste.

You will also want to add lemon juice - but don't add as much as we did!
A little goes a long way!

Now coat the bottom and sides of your casserole dish with olive oil.

And layer in your first layer of grape leaves.
You want to be sure to cover the bottom, sides, and have some coming up the top as they will help to keep it covered and cohesive - at least in theory ;)

Now, ladle in your first layer of the meat, rice, raisin, and onion mixture.

Cover this layer with more grape leaves.

Now, add in your second and final layer of your filling.

And cover it all with grape leaves, pulling the side leaves over.

You can rub olive oil on the top, but I've noticed that it can char it, so this time I used Pam.

Into your 350 degree oven it goes, to cook for 20-30 more minutes.

When you take it out, it should look like this.
Believe me, it was way more charred on previous attempts! :)

Now you can attempt to cut it up, but it's pretty pointless.
Just scoop it out and into bowls :)

At this point, it should smell and taste amazing!!

But your husband will correctly note you guys added too much lemon (so don't do that!)

Feel free to pout for a moment, as you worked really hard on this!
And make sure you don't mess it up next time!

And when worse comes to worse, snuggle your poor puppy.

Or, you know, make him dance. ;)

But really gang, do try this!!
It really is delicious, and has turned out right 2/3 times we made it.
Darn you, lemon juice!!
Also, it's pretty easy, healthy, and down right delicious!



- 5 oz grape leaves
(boil for 2 minutes, drain, rinse, lay flat)

- chop up one large onion
- chop up one cup parsley

Add olive oil to a pan or wok, brown your onion.
Add in 2 1/2 cups of water
Add in 1/2 cup brown rice (we like instant)
Add in a fair amount of lean beef

Cook covered for 20-30 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Add in 2 cups low sodium tomato juice
Add in 1 cup parsley
Add in 1 cup raisins (or dry currants)

Salt and pepper to taste.


Preheat oven to 350

Prep a casserole dish by coating the bottom and sides with olive oil.
Layer one layer  of grape leaves on the bottoms and up the sides.
Layer in your meat mixture.
Cover this with another layer of grape leaves.
Add in one more layer of meat mixture.
Cover this completely with grape leaves, trying to leave no gaps.

Spray the top of your leaves with pam or coat with olive oil.

Put your dish in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

When done, cut into pieces if possible. Otherwise, scoop into bowls and enjoy.


"All I know couldn't stop."

Normally when we cook we listen to music, and we can't do that because... many reasons, 'cause of cutting, and copyright infringement.

This is Brigly, you saw him in the last video.

And thanks for joining us for Cooking With Us...

Yessus, or however you say Hello in Greek.

We are going to make a grape leaf casserole today. And umm.. if you guys don't know this yet, my husband is Greek.  And a lot of Middle Eastern cultures actually stuff grape leaves.

Ok mom, don't complain, I know this is not a casserole pot, but it works the same way for what we need it to do.

I don't know, I'm not gonna count each grape leaf, I'm gonna say you probably need about half of this size jar... which is 10 oz.

We're using Bertoli olive oil, and I'm not even going to go into the fact that olive oil isn't really olive oil.

The recipe calls for one large onion, but we usually use two medium sized... Well, it's a vegetarian recipe so it calls for one cup of brown rice. 

But we use a half a cup because we're gonna add beef to it. We use instant rice 'cause Iike instant rice and it's faster.

And um then it calls for two cups of low sodium tomato sauce, which we will use all of that.

One cup chopped parsley, and it calls for a cup of dried currants or raisins. We're gonna use raisins 'cause that's what Theron grew up with and that's what he likes.. so... raisins!

Lemon juice, you're gonna need some lemon juice.

These grape leaves have been preserved in salt and stuff so the first thing you're gonna want to do is dip them in boiling water for two minutes.

I don't know about you, but for me, if somethings going to be in boiling water for two minutes, it's not really dipping, it's: You put it in, you wait two minutes, you take it out.
So we're gonna do that now.

If you think about it, it's kind of awesome to use grape leaves - first of all they are extremely tasty, probably healthy in some way, but also I mean, wine's awesome, and you're using another part of the plant! So... it's not going to waste.

I'm a neophyte, I don't know much about grape leaves, so I just want to make sure I'm doing it right... so it takes longer but...

Brigly's sleeping in the Brigly sac.
Not sleeping.
He was.

So now we're taking some of the grape leaves out, the first set, just to rinse off.

Once you've drained and rinsed your grape leaves, you set them aside... And worry about everything else.

Hopefully you've started to preheat your oven to 350 degrees, cause that's what we're going to need to be at for the baking segment which will take 30 to 40 more minutes.

We need one cup of parsley so...

I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck.

The first thing you do, once you've cut up your onion - we actually had pretty large onions so we used one and a half.. um.. you use olive oil, and we're gonna put it in a large skillet.

However much, whatever... Is that normal?  That's plenty.

We're gonna put the onions into the olive oil and we're gonna let it cook until it's brown.

Theron loves onions.

The next thing you normally do would be to add 2 1/2 cups of water.

No a half cup of rice.

That's a half cup.

This is a lot of beef. It's way more than we probably need. it's 93% lean. And we're gonna put it in there with the rice and everything else, and it's gonna cook for quite sometime, 30-40 minutes.

We've sauteed the onions, we've added the rice, water, and beef, and we're supposed to bring it to a boil and once it's boils we reduce it and cover it with... a lid or a sauce pan 'cause that's what we have.

Once your mixture begins to look like this, i.e. there's not so much water left, you can remove from the heat, and your gonna add in the rest of your ingredients.

You'll need two cups of tomato juice. Perfect.

Smells good.

Then you add in the parsley.

One cup, of chopped parsley.

One cup of raisins, yeah.

In French it's "raisin sec" 'cause 'raisin' is their word for grape, so what it means is dry grape.

But once it soaks up all this goodness, it becomes like fat with the flavors of the food that you're cooking. That's what makes it really amazing and tasty.

Obviously you mix this evenly together. It's no longer cooking, it's just, the heat that's coming of it is residual.

That's quite a bit actually.

Ok now we're ready to make our casserole, finally.

And what we do is we layer the bottom with some olive oil.
And you want to get it all over the bottom and the sides, cause leaves are gonna go up all over the sides and eventually top this dish... Cause it's going to go in multiple layers.

So the bottom start layering with grape leaves.

Once you've got your tomato juice and everything together in your wok, or pan if you have a big pan, you add as much pepper and salt as you want.

We're putting in the first layer of the insides of the casserole.

Smells really good.

Now you layer in your second and last bit of uh, the um, meat mixture.... and cover it with grape leaves.

Well this is basically how it should look when it's done.

It says to, you know, brush olive oil on top of it, and we've done it the little oven, and we've done it in the large oven, and every time, we've ended up with the grape leaves on top being really charred.

Everything else was great but I don't really like the crunchiness of the top so... Olive, wouldn't you think olive oil makes something crunchier? Cause it makes it cook faster, right?

No? I dunno, what do you think?

I don't know.

Alright so I'm gonna put a little bit of... Where's the Pam?

Just a little bit.

And we'll see what happens.

It's a test.

So now we're gonna cook it for about thirty minutes, at 350, which it's already preheated to.

Here's our casserole. It doesn't look as burnt as normal.

Oh it's much better than putting the olive oil on top, it's cutting like for reals.

Do you have something between a casserole and just a sludge pot of food?  That's yummylicious, so...

It's gonna be a very different casserole than anything you've ever had, trust me, and we've made this...This is the third time we've ever made it, so it's not like we've made it a ton of times, but...

Let's my husband over here to taste it, and we'll see what the expert says, since he's Greek.

I'm the expert.

You're the expert.

It smells delicious!

It's less sweet than normal....
I feel like normally it's super sweet and you know, and you love getting a bite of the grape leaves because that just gives you... that


savory, sour....

It's good, but we used too much lemon... so we're gonna do it again.

Still good, still healthy...

Ah, we gotta do it again.... Aw I dressed cute and everything!!!

It was so good the first time.

This may have been cooking with us?
Too much lemon!

Brigly wants to know what kind of food you want to see featured on our next podcast.

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