In a large saute pan over medium high heat, heat 1/4-cup olive oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and pine nuts and saute for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the rice, salt, raisins, mint and juice of 1 lemon to the bowl with the onion mixture and mix well. Set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer. Remove the grape leaves from the jar and drop them in batches of 4 or 5 into the hot water. Quickly remove them from the water and spread flat on a towel-lined work surface. Cut the stem from each grape leaf, as needed. (NOTE: Fresh grape leaves also need to be blanched for 1/2 minute.)
To assemble the dolmades, place 1 grape leaf on the work surface, dull side (or underside) of the leaf up. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem (bottom) end up over the filling, fold the sides toward the filling in the center, then roll up the leaf into a small cylindrical package, being careful not to fold too tightly, as the rice will expand during cooking.
Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven or wide saute pan, seam side down. Combine the remaining cup of olive oil and juice of 1 lemon, and pour over the dolmades. Cover with a heavy plate or baking dish and add water to cover to the level of the plate. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 1 hour, or until rice is tender.
Serve at room temperature, with Kicked Up Tzatziki as a dipping sauce.
Kicked Up Tzatziki Sauce:
Yield:1 1/2 cups
In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
Yield:About 2/3 cup
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Recipe from New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.