Stuffed Grape Leaves

Now is the time for confession. As a son of the

South and, at one time located some 26 miles

from a grocery store and, at least a hundred miles

from a retail outlet stocking preserved grape

leaves, I once resorted to poached kudzu leaves.

And I can tell you that not only were they edible,

our guests never had a clue. But I would recommend

that you find a middle eastern supplier or a vineyard

where you can pick a few dozen leaves and simmer

them in salt water for five minutes.

½ pound of ground lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two

½ cup of long grain basmati rice, uncooked

1 teaspoon of fresh oregano, minced

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons of fresh garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt to taste

Grape leaves

2 lemons, thinly sliced

Combine the mixture and place one teaspoonful in the middle of

each leaf, rolling it up and turning the edges of the leaves inward.

Place in a steamer basket, or pack tightly on a bed of loose leaves

in a boiler, and add water just to cover. Cover with slices of one

lemon. Steam, or gently simmer for thirty to forty five minutes until

rice is cooked. Arrange on a plate with slices of the other lemon

on top and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

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Little Lamb Leaves

This is a light approach to the use of lamb as an appetizer

and is an especially flavorful combination of a succulent

meat and citrus. The chopped and seared lamb may be

rolled in your choice of iceberg,  boston, or other leaf lettuces.

Alternatively, try it mounded on romaine or radicchio leaves.

1 pound of lean lamb, cubed

1 small red onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 orange, juiced and zested

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of mint jelly

3 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted

Brown the lamb in olive oil, adding the onion and garlic until transparent.

Pour in fruit juices and zest, vinegar, and mint jelly. Stir well, cover, and

cook on low heat until liquid disappears. Let cool to room temperature

and roll in leaves.