Monday, October 27, 2008

November Royal Foodie Joust

Acorn squash, orange and sage. At first glance, the ingredients seem easy enough--three fall flavors that should effortlessly complement each other. But when I started to tackle this month's Royal Foodie Joust, my first, I realized the task at hand was a little harder than I had imagined.

My first instinct was to make a souffle. Then I thought of a creamy soup. But as visions of Thanksgiving fare danced through my head, I ultimately settled on these acorn squash rings brushed with an orange-sage butter and filled with an apple and sausage stuffing. It's a great dish that can easily be done with or without the sausage and makes for an elegant side dish on any fall dinner table. I'm already planning a slightly different version to take the place of traditional stuffing at our own Thanksgiving feast.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, this blog's Nona (Godmother), Ivy of Kopiaste, passed on to me this award which I am extremely thankful for:

I'd like to pass this award on to all the blogs I've been trying to keep up with as they are all so deserving of it!

Sausage & Apple-Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Orange and Sage Butter
Makes 4 servings

5 tablespoons butter
4 to 5 sage leaves, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 an orange
1 pound sausage, casings removed
4 shallots, chopped
2 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, diced
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 large acorn squash, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch-thick rings, seeded
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan and stir in sage and orange zest and set aside. Heat skillet and when hot toss pine nuts in and toast until fragrant and golden. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Brown sausage in hot skillet, all the while breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove sausage to a bowl. Add shallots to skillet along with last tablespoon of butter and saute until soft. Add apples, broth and orange juice. Saute until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat, stir in sausage and season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet. Place squash on baking sheet and brush each ring with orange and sage butter, sprinkling with salt and pepper to taste. Place filling in center of each ring. Drizzle with remaining orange and sage butter. Cover loosely with foil and bake until squash is tender about 35 minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shepherd's Pie ... with a Twist

Comfort food is, without a doubt, a necessity during fall and winter. There's nothing more satisfying than a warm stew, a hearty soup or a savory pie. As we turned on the heat in our home the other day, I finally settled into cold weather mode and got to thinking about which comfort foods need to make their way to our dinner table from here on out.

Pastitsio, moussaka, hmmm ... then my thoughts turned to a post I read a couple of weeks ago on Giff and Lisl's The Constables' Larder in which the duo featured their favorite comfort food, the almighty Shepherd's Pie. I'd eaten a few versions of this hearty dish for lunch in a couple of Irish pubs and restaurants in Manhattan while I still worked full-time, but it's been a good five years since. So I decided it was time to try my hand at shepherd's pie.

Now, this is my own version of this versatile dish so you can change up the seasonings, substitute different vegetables (every version I had in the past included just peas and carrots between the beef and mashed potatoes) and add anything you like to the potato topping. I'd like to think I added a Greek touch to this delectable dish, using some cinnamon to season the ground beef, some nutmeg and grated Kefalotyri cheese to flavor the potatoes and a layer of sauteed yellow squash sandwiched between the two.

Be sure to visit Giff and Lisl's blog to read up on their version of Shepherd's Pie, which I will personally try the minute I get some good bacon and a bottle of Worcestershire sauce on my next run to the market.

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6

Potato Topping:
5 or 6 potatoes, peeled and halved
3/4 to 1 cup half & half (or milk)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Kefalotyri
Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 large carrots, diced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste

2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch thick rounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain, return to pot and heat for a minute or so to allow some liquid to evaporate. Add the butter and mash until smooth. Stir in half & half, nutmeg, Kefalotyri, salt and pepper. (I used more towards a cup of half & half as I wanted the mashed potatoes a little loose so that they wouldn't dry up too much during baking.)

While the potatoes are boiling, make the beef filling. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add ground beef. Once the beef has browned, add the onion, butter, cinnamon sticks, carrot and tomato paste. Cook until the carrot is somewhat tender, about 15 minutes (if the beef mixture seems a bit dry add some water or stock). Season with salt and pepper.

Saute the yellow squash, seasoned with salt and pepper, in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until browned on each side.

Place beef filling in the bottom of a pie plate or casserole. Layer with the slices of yellow squash. Top with the mashed potatoes, being careful to evenly distribute the potatoes without mixing with the meat or squash (bring the potatoes all the way to the edge of your dish to seal the "pie").

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes then place under the broiler to slightly brown the mashed potato topping. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cupcakes ... and an Award

Ever since becoming a mother I naturally have a thing for cupcakes. Every birthday, every holiday, every occasion, (you get the picture) I try to whip up a batch and decorate them to the best of my ability. I always get ahead of myself of course, so the decorating doesn't always come out as I've imagined in my over-achieving mind, but somehow I get the job done.

This past weekend, a very good friend of ours celebrated her daughter's 4th birthday and I put together these sweet treats for her party. This "cake" recipe is extremely moist and the frosting, although made with so much butter, is amazingly light. I tried a ton of recipes out when I first began my cupcake forays, but this quickly became my favorite and a basic recipe I've used time and time again.

And speaking of sweet treats, ever-so kind Teresa of Mexican-American Border Cooking bestowed upon me this blog award the other day:

Thank you so, so much Teresa!

From the second I began reading your blog, I understood what an amazing person you are. Your posts are witty, entertaining and informative and I enjoy reading every one of them. Thank you again, not only for this award, but for sharing so much of yourself with all your readers and warmly welcoming us each and every time we stop by.

Cupcakes with Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Makes 18 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup milk

2 sticks butter, softened
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl (I used a stand mixer) combine softened butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add vanilla. Turn mixer to low and stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/2 the milk, alternating between the two until done (beginning and ending with the dry).

Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (I'd say about 18 minutes or so). Remove from oven and let cool a couple of minutes in the tin. Remove from tin, place on a wire rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a bowl, cream butter and stir in vanilla. Bring about two inches of water to boil in a large saucepan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl of egg whites over the saucepan with simmering water and whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar seems dissolved (about 5 minutes or so).

Immediately place the bowl under the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high until stiff. Slowly add the butter, then beat again on medium high until the frosting is smooth and creamy. **(After mixing in the butter for a minute or so, the mixture will curdle--just keep beating it on high speed! It will become a thick, smooth frosting after a few minutes.)

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost as desired. (Since these were for a little girl's birthday, I added some whimsical royal icing decorations that you can make simply by beating an egg white and confectioner's sugar or by using a ready-made meringue powder--said to be safer for children and pregnant women--beaten with some water/lemon juice. Pipe your decorations onto wax paper and let dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours before using.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Latin Cravings

I've had a craving for Latin food lately. It set in when I began reading the blog Bren's FlaNboyant Eats after Brenda so kindly visited my own blog and left a few kind words.

So the other night, I decided chicken was on the menu and what better way to make it than with some Latin flair. I browsed through Bren's blog and came across her post on Pollo Asado and decided that was the recipe. It was a last minute decision so I was missing the mojo criollo and the packet of Sazon Bren's recipe called for but managed to improvise making a mixture of lemon, lime, cumin, oregano, basil, salt and pepper to compensate for the mojo criollo and a combination of turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to fill in for the Sazon. Oh, and as the kids had already eaten peas and carrots with their lunch I just added some black beans to the rice as opposed to the vegetables Bren had included.

The dish turned out really great but I made sure to stock the pantry with those missing ingredients so I can easily bring some Latin flavors to our meals any time. If you haven't already been following this fiery foodie's tales from her vibrant kitchen, I strongly suggest you visit with Bren soon.

Pollo Asado
Serves 4

4 split chicken breasts, skin on
1 large red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

Combine the lemon juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Toss chicken with sliced onion, minced garlic and 1/2 of the lemon/lime mixture and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

Remove chicken from marinade, reserving the liquid and onions. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown chicken. Once browned on all sides, add wine and de-glaze the skillet. Add remainder of lemon/lime mixture, the reserved onions and any liquid from the marinade. Cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, spooning sauce over chicken every so often during cooking.

Yellow Rice

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups white rice
3 cups water
Black Beans

In a large saucepan heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until onion is softened. Add the tomato and seasonings and cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add rice and saute for another minute, then add water, stir until well combined and bring to a boil. Lower heat to low, cover and simmer rice for about 20 to 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Once cooked, let sit for five minutes then fluff with fork and stir in black beans (I used canned black beans which I rinsed under cold water and drained).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kounoupidokeftedes (Cauliflower Fritters) with a Caper Cream Sauce

Oddly enough the inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook which is actually a compilation of Greek monastic recipes from the Iera Moni Tatarni in Evrytania, a prefecture of Central Greece. Two summers ago while visiting my husband's family in Agrinio, his aunt--an avid cook--knowing that I love the kitchen as much as she does, gave me this book, among a number of others, as a gift.

Now, to be completely honest, I returned from my trip and kind of set the book aside thinking there wouldn't be much to interest me in it. I stumbled upon it the other day while looking through my pantry for a candle to light and I started thumbing through it.

The recipes, I admit, are simple in terms of ingredients just as you would expect a monastic diet to be. Few herbs, and no spices, are used to flavor dishes. Yet there is a plethora of recipes; from artichokes paired with tahini, to cauliflower souffle, to crab legs "yiahni," to bacalao croquettes and tuna with wild greens. Not to mention that there are so many recipes documented here that one can make while abiding by the fasting requirements during the forty days of Lent.

Having just bought some cauliflower earlier in the day, I decided to use a recipe the book featured on kounoupidokeftedes (cauliflower fritters) as inspiration for the appetizer below. The original recipe called simply for cauliflower, eggs, flour, cheese, salt and pepper. I added some parsley (I suspect using tarragon may also bode well as it complements the capers in the sauce) and substituted fresh bread crumbs for the flour in the original list of ingredients to bind the mixture. Once fried I served these with a caper cream sauce that paired well with the mild flavor of the cauliflower.

Kounoupidokeftedes (Cauliflower Fritters)
Makes 12 to 15 Fritters

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed until tender
2 eggs
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/3 cup flour for dredging
Olive oil

Mash the steamed cauliflower. Mix in the eggs, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be quite soft.
Combine flour with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Heat about 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet.
Form the cauliflower mixture into rounds and dredge in the flour/breadcrumb mix. Immediately add to the hot oil and fry until golden.
Serve hot alongside or topped with the warm caper cream sauce.

Caper Cream Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 cup sherry
3/4 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add the minced garlic and the capers and saute over medium heat until fragrant. Add the sherry and boil until reduced. Stir in the half and half and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lovely Lentils

Lentils in my household are usually used in a common lentil soup made by Greeks that varies slightly from family to family. I usually combine the lentils with plenty of finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaf, olive oil, tomato paste, water or vegetable broth and a splash of vinegar once done to make a hearty soup my children thankfully gulp down. During the cooler months of fall, winter and early spring this soup is a weekly staple which I turn into a meal alongside plenty of bread, some Feta, lots of olives and maybe a little melitzanosalata (eggplant spread) or other dip.

The other night I was in a no meat kind of mood and was just about to begin preparing my fakes (that's Greek for lentils, pronounced fah-KES) when I decided I wasn't in a "soupy" kind of mood either. I remembered some friends of mine who come from Cyprus usually make their fakes along the same lines I do (only without the celery and carrot) with the addition of rice. So I started to look up some Cypriot recipes using lentils and rice and through my browsing learnt that this dish is known as Moukentra in Cyprus (Ivy of Kopiaste will obviously know more about this, so correct me if I am wrong Ivy!) but I couldn't find a solid recipe to use as a starting point. I believe it is probably made differently across the island, with coriander used in most cases to primarily flavor the dish.

I did find that a staple of Lebanese cuisine is Mujaddara, lentils and rice topped with caramelized onions. I was extremely intrigued by all the spices the varying Lebanese recipes called for and went on to adapt one to my liking. The cinnamon, cumin and allspice in this dish were so amazingly fragrant while cooking -- they really set the stage for what I found to be a very satisfying meal.

Lebanese Inspired Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions
Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup rice
3 large onions, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a saucepan; add the one large onion chopped and the minced garlic and cook until soft. Add the cumin, cinnamon and allspice and sauté a minute more. Add lentils and saute another minute. Stir in the broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the rice along with the water and return to boil. Simmer, again covered, until the rice and lentils are done, about 20 minutes or so.

Saute the 3 onions that have been sliced in a couple of tablespoons olive oil until a deep golden color, 18 to 20 minutes. Top individual servings of lentils and rice with caramelized onions and serve.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eggplant and Pasta

I had one too many eggplants in my refrigerator last week and after making melitzanosalata (eggplant spread) with the more traditional small purple eggplants my neighbor gave me straight from his yard, I decided to use the two white eggplants I'd bought from a farm stand to make this pasta dish. I used it here layered between pasta and tomato sauce. It was easy, quick (would have been quicker had I had a batch of the tomato sauce on hand) and made for great leftovers.

The white eggplant was a pleasant surprise: a much less bitter type of eggplant than its dark purple cousin. I have to admit though that my favorite are the Sicilian eggplants I sometimes find which have an amazingly sweet flavor. You can use any eggplant here, of course, and alter the herbs and type of pasta to your liking.

I'm submitting this dish to this week's Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.
Kali Orexi!

Baked Eggplant and Pasta
Serves 6

2 white eggplants, about 1 pound each
1 pound penne
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds and place on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with additional olive oil, salt and pepper and bake until tender and golden.

Cook the penne in the boiling water until almost done; about 5 minutes. Drain and toss with 3/4 cup of tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Add about 1/3 cup tomato sauce to the dish and top with half the bread crumbs. Layer half the penne and then top with half of the eggplant slices. Add about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half the grated cheese and chopped parsley. Repeat with the remaining tomato sauce, bread crumbs, pasta, eggplant, cheese, and parsley, topping with an additional drizzle of olive oil.

Bake until golden.

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of dried basil
1 carrot, shredded
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic, cooking until soft. Add the herbs and carrot and cook until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring often; add sugar. Lower the heat and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. (I used half of this recipe for the above pasta dish and stored the remaining sauce in the freezer for future use.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

An Apple a Day ...

Apple season is in full swing here in New York, the second largest apple producing state in America. My husband and I took the kids apple picking Upstate a couple of weeks ago and they had a ball. Our “Fall” outing was trumped by 85-degree-plus weather but we had some great photo ops among the pumpkins, the kids enjoyed a pony ride and my husband had the pleasure of picking 25 pounds of apples.

We were able to gather what is my favorite of all apples, the McIntosh. The McIntosh is the most widely produced apple in New York State. Personally, I love its sweet yet slightly tart flavor and prefer it over any other apple. Being we picked more than we could possibly eat before they over-ripened, I set to work in the kitchen and used any apple recipe I could think of.

Apple Crisp
Serves 4 to 6

5-6 McIntosh apples, sliced
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
Splash of orange juice

Heat oven to 375° F. Toss apples with 2 tablespoons of flour and arrange in a greased baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Bake until topping is golden brown and apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve warm topped with ice cream.

Apple Pie
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

6 - 8 McIntosh apples
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut shortening into flour until mixture is combined and resembles peas. Combine egg, water and vinegar together to blend and stir into flour mixture with fork until all of the mixture is moistened. Divide dough in half and shape each into a ball. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough for 15 minutes.
Dust rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll dough out on plastic wrap to a circle about 1-inch larger than upside down 8-inch pie plate. Invert pie plate on dough and carefully turn plate with dough over; lightly press dough into plate.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel, core and slice apples. Combine with sugar, flour and cinnamon. Place mixture in pie shell. Place second dough round on top and form to the edges of the pie plate. Cut slits in the top crust. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until crust is golden.

(My crust didn't exactly "look" perfect ... I'd like to think it was rustic.)


Apple Filled Crepes with Caramel Walnut Sauce
Makes about 8 Crepes

Apple Filling
6 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook until apples are tender.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring until the mixture is a deep caramel color and looks like syrup, about 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the cream (it will bubble up) and continue to cook for another minute. Stir in walnuts.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten
3/4 cup milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, salt sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the butter to form a thin batter. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I used a crepe maker otherwise heat a heavy 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat. If using skillet, brush with a light coating of butter. Dip crepe maker into batter or ladle a small amount of batter into skillet, tilting to evenly distribute. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and the top begins to look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully remove crepe and cover loosely with waxed paper to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Phylla from Kalymnos

My family comes from a relatively small island in Greece’s Dodecanese known as Kalymnos. It’s a fairly dry island with rugged cliffs famous for rock-climbing. And those cliffs are latent with thyme which makes for a distinctly sweet aroma across the entire island—at least that’s how I see it. The thyme also makes for amazing honey, which I love and smuggle (shhh ...) back to the States every chance I get (but that’ll be the topic of a later post).

Personally, I think Kalymnos is the most beautiful island I have ever been to (Biased? Me? You think?!). Kalymnians are quite proud of their roots and take pleasure in keeping family traditions alive. The island enjoys some tourism, but is relatively unspoiled. Over the years, many Kalymnians have immigrated to various countries, a great majority, however, to America and Australia in particular. I personally have many a cousin in Australia, a place I unfortunately have never been. No matter where Kalymnians find themselves, however, they’ve managed to keep fellow island immigrants, traditions and customary dishes close to their hearts.

Grape leaves stuffed with ground beef and rice is a traditional dish on the island of Kalymnos and were always a staple in my Giagia’s (that’s Greek for grandmother) cooking repertoire. Whereas the rest of Greece refers to similarly stuffed grape leaves as “Dolmades”, Kalymnians have simply named this dish “Phylla”, the Greek word for leaves. Growing up, a typical Sunday dinner for us included my Giagia’s Phylla, pastichio, pot roast (our nod to an American classic), stewed peas and mashed potatoes. The sight, smell and taste of any of these dishes bring about a flood of memories for me.

I’d like to submit this recipe for Phylla, my beloved Giagia’s, to Ivy of Kopiaste and Val of More Than Burnt Toast for their World Food Day event. Everyone, everywhere should enjoy a warm family meal that symbolizes so much more than sustenance and this is my virtual contribution. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I.

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Ground Meat and Rice (Phylla)
1 ½ pounds of a combination of ground beef, veal and pork
5 tablespoons rice
1 large onion
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons (left aside) diced tomatoes with their juices
Salt and pepper to taste
1 16-ounce jar brine-packed grape leaves, rinsed and drained
2 ½ cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a food processor pulse the onion until finely chopped. In a large bowl, combine the meat, onion, tomato, rice, salt and pepper and mix well.
Layer some grape leaves and the 3 tablespoons diced tomato in the bottom of a large pot.
Place one grape leaf vein side up with the stem towards you. Cut the stem with a scissors. Place a rounded tablespoonful of the filling near the stem. Fold the two sides of the leaf over the filing and then fold the bottom and top towards the middle to create a small square “package.” Place stuffed grape leaves seam side down on the layered grape leaves and tomato in the pot. Continue with remaining filling and leaves, packing them relatively tightly in the pot.
Pour stock and oil over the stuffed grape leaves. If there are any leaves left over, layer them on top. Set an inverted heatproof plate over the leaves so as to prevent them from unrolling. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low, simmering for 30 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.