One of my favorite food bloggers, Annie of Annie’s Eats, reached out to a few of us fellow bloggers about having a virtual holiday party. When you meet so many great people online that share your love of food, it really is a tragedy that you’re too far away to invite most of them to share in your real-life holiday get togethers, isn’t it? So, of course I was on board with a virtual eating extravaganza! The six us (Annie, Kelsey, Nikki, Josie, Tara, and myself) decided to host our own little shindig via our blogs.
Two of us tackled appetizers, two made cocktails, and two made desserts. I decided on an appetizer for my contribution. No way I was touching dessert in the presence of some dessert goddesses! :)
I went with a Greek appetizer of dolmades, which are stuffed grape leaves. They can be stuffed with meat or made vegetarian, with just rice and herbs, which is what I did here. If you want, you can make these with avgolelmono sauce (similar to my favorite meal ever, lahanodolmades), or just serve them as-is. The great thing about serving these as appetizers is that they’re great at any temperature. In fact, I just eat the leftovers straight from the fridge. I used to not be the biggest fan of stuffed grape leaves, but I’ve since turned over a new leaf (ba dum ching!) and now I really enjoy them.
Annie from Annie Eats made these absolutely gorgeous candy cane macarons. I’m such a sucker for anything minty during the holidays. Oh, who am I kidding, I couldn’t resist these any time of year.
Josie from Pink Parsley shared these awesome looking creme puffs loaded with raspberry pastry cream. I’m a bit of a creme puff fanatic and I’m pretty sure that if we were together for real, there would be none of these left after I polished them off.
Of course we needed some boozy beverages to wash down our delicious eats.
Tara from Smells Like Home brought these lovely cranberry-lime bellinis. I looove the combination of cranberry and lime. I also love booze. Like, a lot. Tara even made a virgin version of these to share.
And finally, Kelsey at Apple a Day made these gorgeous sparkling pepper berry cocktails. So festive! I have no doubt that with the unique peppery twist of these cocktails they are really complex and delicious.
I had a lot of fun throwing this virtual get together with such a great group of bloggers. I hope you visit all of their blogs and check out these (and other) fabulous recipes! And, of course, I wish you some wonderful holiday parties, virtual or otherwise, this time of year.
Makes about 25
6-8 oz. jarred grape leaves (about 25 leaves)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup rice
2/3 cup broth + additional for cooking dolmades
3 Tbsp. chopped dill
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
avgolemono sauce (optional)
Additional lemon wedges for serving
Cook the grape leaves in a large pot of boiling water for 5 or 6 minutes, or until pliable. Drain and cut off any tough stems.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the rice and stir until slightly toasted and coated in the oil. Stir in 2/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth and the juice of half a lemon. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the broth has been absorbed by the rice. Off the heat, stir in the dill and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place a grape leaf on your work surface, dull side up, with the stem at the bottom. Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of the rice mixture at the bottom of a grape leaf. Fold up the bottom of the leaf, fold in each side, and then roll up, cigar style. Place in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Continue doing this with the remaining grape leaves, placing the rolled dolmades in a single layer on the bottom of the Dutch oven, if possible, layering in concentric circles if necessary.
Add enough broth to come up about 2/3 of the way of the dolmades.* Squeeze in the juice from the other half of the lemon. Then, slice the lemon and place the lemon slices on top of the dolmades. Put an inverted plate over the dolmades (to keep them from coming up and unraveling). Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the Dutch oven, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the dolmades are tender and the rice is cooked.
Make the avgolemono sauce, if using.
*If you plan on making avgolemono sauce, you will want to add enough liquid to come just above the top of the dolmades.