Grape Leaves, Chicken Soulvaki with Tzatziki
by Christine Adams
When I was growing up, YooHoo Annie lived across the street. Thanks to YooHoo, I was lucky enough to discover many different foods. Grape leaves were the way to my heart and attention in her kitchen. I had forgotten about the little piece of paper she had stowed in my pocket, and that I stuffed in a catch-all bedroom drawer. I wish I had remembered, because I wouldn't have had to suffer through many inedible store bought "dolmades".
Then, one day I had to figure out a way to use something called dill pollen. What the hell is this? I pulled out every cookbook I had and not one recipe or idea for dill pollen. As I was putting things back, a shoe box caught my attention and I opened it. As I was going through some long ago photos, a little piece of paper stuck out, and there it was. YooHoo Annie's voice in the background telling me to make them.
Well, make them I did, all excited and hungry, fingers and everything else crossed that I would do her proud. When I posted that I had made them, and that I had Annie's cooking mojo in me that day, Leslie, another neighbor, was cheering me on. I also found out on that day that Annie had passed and was probably chasing whoever she could yelling "YooHoo" as everyone that could hear her scattered. I guess I just want to say, thank you Ann...
To make the Grape Leaves:
1 jar grape vine leaves
1 cup white rice
3 Tablespoons currants
1 medium onion
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small jar pine nuts (about 1/4 cup), toasted
1 1/2 Tablespoons mint, minced
1 Tablespoon parsley, minced
2 teaspoons Marx Foods Dill Pollen
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oiljuice from 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
Prepare rice, cooking until firm but not soft, about 10 minutes; drain and set aside. Rinse grape leaves under cold water and soak for 30 minutes; drain and with a cloth towel pat dry. Trim off the stems, they don't soften and are not enjoyable to eat. Save any ripped or ugly leaves to line the bottom of the pot.
In a large bowl, mix well the rice, currants, onion, olive oil, pine nuts, mint, parsley, dill pollen, salt and pepper. Place leaf, vein down, and fill with a spoonful of rice mixture. Fold bottom up and then the sides, rolling up to enclose. If you rip one, use another leaf to wrap over the tear...it's all good.
Place the reserved leaves in the pan, making sure to cover the bottom. Drizzle some of the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Place the rolled grape leaves in a tight layer, and top with the remaining oil, the lemon juice, and the stock. Place a plate on top to stop the leaves from moving around.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 50 minutes.
I like to eat them warm or cold. They are perfect with a salad or a pita sandwich. Whichever way you decide to have them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
To make the Tzatziki:
1 medium cucumber, chopped small or grated
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
8 cracks black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Marx Foods Dill Pollen
2-3 Tablespoons mint, minced
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and chill for 2 hours. You can let the cucumber drain for 1 hour after chopping or grating, if desired.
To make the Chicken Soulvaki:
1 pound chicken breast, trimmed well and sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine, or white if desired
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cloves garlic minced fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
In a large Ziplock, combine all, mixing well to coat. Marinate for 2 hours or overnight. You can broil or use a grill pan. Lightly oil your pan and grill about 4-5 minutes per side. The honey gives it a nice char and flavor.