Blend your way into FBC2016: Lamb and Mushroom Dolmades by Joybilee Farm

Despite the contest coming to a close, we still have some submissions to share that made it in under the wire. These tasty appetizers are all contenders to for our Appetizer Spotlight at the sold out 2016 Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. Today is the last day to get entries in. Follow along this week as we share the final entries.

Today, Chris of Joybilee Farm shares these tasty flavour packets; Lamb and Mushroom Dolmades.

An Appy with History 
Alexander the Great is credited with the invention of the dolma, an easy make-ahead journey food for his troops. Dolmades are little meat packets rolled up in grape leaves. Traditionally made with lamb and rice, this recipe borrows the flavours of everyone’s favourite fair food – the gyro, and captures it in a tiny packet, that’s just 3 bites of amazing flavour.
The lamb is blended with mushrooms which add moisture, flavour, and nutrition while cutting some of the fat. Mushrooms make these better than traditional dolmades.
These are gluten-free, paleo, and can be used as an appetizer or a main course.
Lamb and Mushroom Dolmades
Yield 3 ½ dozen dolmades; Serves 15 for appetizers or 4 for main course
I pint jar of fermented grape leaves (about 50 to 60 leaves)
500 grams of ground lamb
300 grams of mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion
½ sweet pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
¼ cup hazelnuts, chopped, toasted
2 tbsp. mint leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, cored and finely chopped
¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced
To make fermented grape leaves:
1. Pickled grape leaves can be found at Mediterranean markets, but you can also make them easily at home if you have access to unsprayed grape vines. They take only minutes to prepare and two or three days before they are ready.
2. Fermented grape leaves will keep stored in glass jars in the fridge for 12 months, without further processing. To make fermented grape leaves, harvest the tender fresh grape leaves from the vines, anytime during the summer months. Grape vines continue growing all season long so it does not damage the plant to remove part of the vines. Take the largest leaves that grow near the tendrils, about the 4th to 8th leaves from the end of the vine. You’ll need 50 to 60 leaves for one pint jar.
3. Remove the stem with a sharp knife, without cutting into the leaf.  Wash the leaves well in cold water. Drain.
4. Stack the leaves, one on top of the other, back side down, in stacks of 10 to 12 leaves.  Roll each stack in a bundle, rolling the leaves from right to left.  Tie each bundle with undyed, unbleached, cotton, linen, or hemp string.
5. Place each roll of leaves in a wide mouth, pint jar. Pour brined water (2 tsp. sea salt plus 1 ½ cups of cold, filtered water) over the top of the grape leaves. Add 2 tbsp. of whey or starter culture from a successful ferment.
6. Fold up two to 4 grape leaves and place them in the mouth of the jar, over top of the rolled grape leaves. Place a fermentation weight over this, ensuring that the liquid comes up over the top of the glass weight in the jar. Place a fermentation lock in place, if desired. If you don’t have a fermentation lock, place a screw band lid on the jar, but only loosely attach it.
7. Grape leaves ferment quickly. Sometimes they are done in 24 to 48 hours, depending on ambient temperatures. The leaves are ready to use as soon as the leaves turn from bright green to olive green. The brine will have a slightly sour taste, like fresh pickles.
8. Fermented grape leaves will keep in the fridge for up to a year.
Filling for the lamb dolmades:
1. Wash and thinly slice the mushrooms. Chop them to the same consistency as your ground meat, using the chopper blade of a food processor. Set aside.
2. Chop the onion, finely. Deseed the sweet pepper and chop finely. Press the garlic cloves.
Sauté the mushrooms, onion, sweet pepper, and garlic cloves in olive oil in a heavy skillet, until the mushrooms are dry and fragrant.
3. Drain the preserved lemon. Chop finely, saving the brine and lemon juice.  Set aside.
Chop the hazelnuts coarsely. Briefly toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet to bring out the flavour. Set aside.
4. In a bowl, add the lamb, mint leaves, jalapeno pepper, and parsley. Mix well. Stir in the preserved lemon, hazelnuts, and mushroom mixture. Mix to thoroughly combine.
To assemble the dolmades:
1. Remove the grape leaves from the jar. Remove the string and unroll a bundle of grape leaves.
Lay a grape leaf, vein side up on a board. Place a small amount of the lamb mixture in the centre of the grape leaf. Tuck the bottom and sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll the leaf from the stem end to the tip, making a tight packet.
2. Repeat for the other leaves.
3. Place lemon slices in the bottom of a dutch oven or casserole dish. Lay the assembled dolmades, seam side down in the dish. Dolmades can overlap in the dish. Cover with more lemon slices and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
4. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until the juices in the pan begin to bubble.
5. Dolmades can be served hot, at room temperature, or chilled.
How to Serve Dolmades:
1. Serve dolmades chilled or warm, with a tzatziki dipping sauce, peach salsa, or honey mustard.
2. Dolmades can be made ahead and frozen. To use remove the number that you need from the freezer, and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 2 hours.
Serves 4 as a main course or 12 as an appetizer 
Thanks to all the FBC Members who joined the Appetizer Spotlight competition with their own blended recipe!




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