The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Stuffed Grape Leaves-Vegetarian ورق عنب ملفوف ونباتية

Every family has its own stuffed grape leaves recipe. My mother always cooked it during Lent, but you can cook it and serve it at a room temperature as an appetizer or for picnics. It could last a few days in the refrigerator. 
If you are using fresh grape leaves from your garden, make sure to rinse them and put them in a bowl of hot water to wilt for 10 minutes. Drain them in the colander, and rinse them in cold water.
If you are using the grape leaves from a jar, remove leaves from the jar and rinse them and put in colander to drain.
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabian spice (combination of allspice, cinnamon and black pepper)
1 medium tomato, chopped
½ cup chopped dill weed (optional)
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup white rice
Juice of 2 lemons
In a skillet, heat oil and sauté the onions and garlic. Add salt and spices. Add chopped tomatoes, dill, and peas and stir. Add rice, pine nuts, raisins and tomato sauce and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (You can prepare filling the day before).
Remove the grape leaves from the jar, rinse them and put in a colander to drain. Arrange the leaves the top side down on the cutting board and spoon a tablespoon of the filling on the stem side of the leaf. Roll the leaf over the filling. Turn the sides of the leaf towards the center, and roll the leaf to the end.
Arrange in a deep pan. Pour 1 ½ cup of water and lemon juice over the grape leaves.  Place a heat proof plate on top of the leaves to keep them submerged while cooking. Bring to a boil covered, and reduce heat to a medium. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the rice grains are cooked.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bread on the Grill

I tried to bake bread on the gas grill when we lost electric power for a few days due to a storm. The result was excellent and decided to bake this bread early in the morning every weekend. I place the rolled out dough on a piece of foil and place the foil sheet on the preheated grill. You could preheat a pan on the grill and place the dough on the pan if you prefer.

You can bake this bread in a 450 degrees F. oven. If you have a gas oven, bake it on the bottom of the oven. For 3 minutes. When it puffs up, turn it to the other side and bake for 1 more minute.
Makes 8
3 cups all purpose bread flour (plus more for rolling)
1½ teaspoon salt
1 1/4  cup warm water (divided)

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
Put the yeast in 1/4 cup of water and add sugar and stir. When the yeast starts to bubble, add the flour, salt and olive oil and stir. Add the water and kneed it by hand to make soft dough. Place it in a greased bowl and cover. Leave it in a warm place to rise for one hour. You could make the dough in a food processor or a mixer. I prefer to use my hands.

Preheat the gas grill to medium high.
Punch down the dough and divide into small balls the size of a small apple. Place these balls on a floured board and cover with a towel to rise for 30 more minutes.

Roll out the ball of dough on a floured surface to make a flat (6-inches) in diameter circle. Place on a floured board and cover with a kitchen towel for 15 minutes.

Place the rolled out dough on foil and lay it on top of the grill. Close the cover of the grill and check the bread after 5 minutes. Flip the bread to the other side and bake for 1 more minute. Remove from the grill and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the Zaatar bread (Thyme bread), which is a Lebanese bread, drizzle olive oil over the flattened dough, and sprinkle zaatar mixture on top. Bake it as in the recipe above, but you should not flip it to the other side on the grill.

You can purchase the zaatar mixture from the Middle Eastern grocery store.