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photos by gluttonforlife

2.9.12 Bundles of Joy

The other day, when trawling the aisles of a favorite ethnic market in my quest for inspiring ingredients, I came across a package of brined grape leaves in the refrigerator section. It has long been my intention to try my hand at stuffing these, part of the tradition of dolma, the stuffed vegetable dishes prevalent in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and surrounding regions such as Russia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central and South Asia. In addition to grape leaves, onion, zucchini, eggplant, tomato and peppers are also stuffed with either a meat filling (lamb, beef or pork) or a rice- or grain-based mixture that often includes dried fruit and/or nuts. This summer I plucked handfuls of grape leaves off the vines at River Brook Farm, carefully blanched, rolled and tied them, then placed them in the freezer chest in our basement where they now languish, buried somewhere beneath the bags of golden raspberries, jars of shrimp stock and legs of goat. So I was quite pleased to find the ready-packaged alternative.
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Tagged — pomegranate
Cut-1-790-xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.31.12 Pomnipotent

A much heralded character throughout history, the virtues of the pomegranate are extolled in the Koran, the Book of Exodus and Homer's Hymns. Punica granatum has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times and continues to be popular amongst the antioxidant-slurping, fountain-of-youth-seekers of modern day. It's in season now in the Northern Hemisphere and widely available in supermarkets and Korean delis near you. The name comes from the Latin for "seeded apple" and, indeed, its leathery red shell breaks apart to reveal a spongy web nestling a treasure trove of glittering garnet jewels. So glorious is this fruit that the ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed for the pomegranate during Moorish reign. The flavor is most often a combination of sweet and tart, with a mouth-puckering quality from the tannins contained in the juice of the aril, as the watery part surrounding the seed is called. These have a slight crunch to them and a hint of bitterness that adds to the complex flavor of this fruit, as delicious eaten out of hand as it is mixed fresh into salads, cooked in stews, or rendered into syrup to flavor all manner of drinks and traditional dishes from the Middle East.
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Tagged — pomegranate
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