Stuffed Grape Leaves (Armenian Sarma aka Dolmas) and Armenian Rice Salad

Traditional Armenian stuffed grape leaves (sarma) that my grandmother taught me to make

 

NOTE: You can make this recipe with grape leaves, cabbage, or swiss chard leaves.

Larry and I live in Sonoma County, California—the “Sonoma” of the internationally famous Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine region—so we live surrounded by miles of vineyards growing grapes. We watch them through the year as we drive past, going through their lifecycle from bare branches to green leaves, grapes, yellow leaves, and bare branches again.

The green leaves start appearing in April and by now, in early May, the leaves are big enough to make stuffed grape leaves, a tradition from my Armenian grandmother. This is the best time of year to make this popular appetizer because the leaves are fresh and tender. You can continue to make this throughout the summer until the leaves begin to give way to grapes. But you can continue to stuff other leaves that come into season when there are no longer grape leaves. Stuffed swiss chard leaves are my favorite after grape leaves.

Larry’s family has a grape vine that now has grape leaves too, so I couldn’t resist picking leaves to make stuffed grape leaves.


Frozen Fruit Water

 

We live in a climate known as “coastal” where it’s pretty termperate most of the year. We often wake up to foggy skies or the fog comes in late in the afternoon, but in the spring days are cool even during the sunny part of the day.

Last week suddenly it was HOT and I was unprepared for the dehydration. But I should have been ready. It was right at the change of season from Spring to Late Spring/Early Summer.

I really wanted to drink something cold and sweet but I didn’t want a soda or iced tea with any kind of sweetener.

What came to me was what I am calling “frozen fruit water.”

 


My Simply Scrumptious Saturday Sandwich From the Farmer’s Market


 
Larry and I just had to share this sandwich with you because we were enjoying it sooooo much!

All the ingredients except the mustard are from our own Sonoma County and even the mustard is from our home state California.

The bread is from an amazing local bakery called Revolution Bread which does not have a retail store but appears at two of the local farmer’s markets on the weekend. So I can get this bread on a Saturday or a Sunday. I am hoping the baker will allow me to come visit soon and write a post. He uses many ancient and unusual grains and mills the grain himself to make flour for bread. This baguette in the photo is made of purple barley (!)—oh-so-good and slightly lavender. We also had a molasses spice cookie made from this same purple barley and two other unusual grains, plus about ten spicy spices that gave this cookie such a depth of flavor. We love these cookies seem to be able to split one between us with no effect on blood sugar.
 


Chickpea Primavera


 
You probably have heard of, if not eaten, Pasta Primavera, primavera being borrowed from the Italian alla primavera which means “in the style of springtime.” Going back even further, prima is italian for prime or first, and vera comes from the Latin verus, which means “of spring.

Pasta Primavera is generally pasta, of course, with a mixture of vegetables in a light sauce, or simply sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Looking at recipes I see that today’s recipes call for vegetables that are not particularly “the first of spring,” so…

Here is my take on a primavera made with chickpeas (a nod to the italian) and actual vegetables of spring.
 


A Winter Citrus Salad That “Shines Like a Thousand Suns”


 
I subscribe to a number of newsletters about food for ideas but also to keep my eye on what’s going on in the food industry.

Just now when I saw an email come in with a subject line that said, “This Winter Citrus Salad Shines Like a Thousand Suns” I had to open it. And even though I don’t have time to make it because I’m packing up to be away for two weeks, I had to send it to you right away.

This is a recipe from Saveur magazine, which is one of my favorite magazines of all time. I have been devouring it from the first issue, but even if you don’t want to subscribe with a paid subscription, do sign up for their newsletter.

The whole objective of Saveur is to explore the authentic cuisines of the world and support their continuance by encouraging readers to cook these recipes. Originally all these foods were made from whole, local, and naturally organic (pre-pesticide) foods—though they also showcase recipes made with refined ingredients, such as breads and desserts—and authentic-type dishes creates by contemporary chefs. I have been inspired and educated by Saveur over the years. It is truly one of the foundations of my wholefood cuisine philosophy.
 


Chinese Asparagus with Mushrooms and Spring Onions

This is a perfect dish for this time of year when winter is departing and spring is arriving.

The depth of flavor from winter mushrooms pair perfectly with new shoots of spring asparagus.

In this dish, I’ve used the long green ends of green onions, as the Chinese do. I learned this from a lifetime of eating many meals in San Francisco’s Chinatown. At one time I walked through Chinatown to come home from work, so I had ample opportunity to stop for dinner.

Because I go to at least two farmer’s markets every weekend, right now I can get green onions with the whole length of the dark green shoot, instead of chopped off as they do in the supermarket. I enjoy including all of the shoots down to the pointed tips—every inch—and they have a flavor all their own.

This is quick and easy to make.