Sunday, 6 September 2015

Vine Leaves

When I took on my allotment a few years ago, it was a vineyard. A Jesmond vineyard, that I presume never made it to the bottling stage, but I may be doing them a diservice. I kept quite a few of the vines at first, but as I've managed to get it under control and needed more space to actually grow stuff they have had to make way; so I'm now down to just one run of vines. They produce grapes, little sweet white ones, I should probably find out more, but there isn't enough to actually do anything with so we just snack on them when they are ready.

This year it has gone a bit wild, a vine on steroids, taking over paths and walkways; what with the overgrown apple trees it is becoming a bit difficult to actually get into the allotment. So I pruned it back, probably at totally the wrong time of year, but I do actually need to use the path... and I was just going to leave the long lovely bright green stems to wilt, when I realised I might actually be able to do something with them...

So I have brined them, carefully removing each leaf from the vine, I think I had about 100. I made a brine with one part salt to three parts water, boiled it up. I made about a litre to fill a large kilner jar. I then gently folded each leaf and layered them up inside a sterilised jar, then poured over the hot brine. I had to weight them down by putting a ramekin inside the jar as they floated to the top in the brine. You can see them slowly change from a bright green to a rich olive green colour as the heat wilts them.

I haven't used any of them yet so this is a bit of an open ended recipe... I have read that they lend a delicate lemony flavour to whatever you stuff them with. Elizabeth David uses them quite often in her book 'Mediterranean Food', so I'll start with her advice, always a good place to start I find... She bakes mushrooms and garlic in them, which sounds simple and delicious.

I would like to try a traditional dolmades; a recipe I have found where you wrap lamp rump in the leaves which you then steam, another lamb recipe where you wrap kofta in the leaves then bake in a rich tomato sauce. I think fish would be nice steamed in them perhaps, monkfish perhaps, or a whole mackerel? You can use the very young leaves in salads, I have read of them being used to scoop up tabbouleh salad, but it might be a bit late in the summer to get the tiny fresh thin young leaves.

I'll do some experimenting and let you know...

1 comment:

  1. I would never have thought to do this- if I had vines. But my neighbour has vines rampantly poking out of the greenhouse so I may ask to pick some to try this out. How long do they need to be in the brine for, or is it a trial and error experiment?


Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x