Monday, May 19, 2014
Asian Lettuce Wraps
I never expected to find a savory FIVE on a blog specializing in sweets. My Secret Recipe Club assignment came and I immediately clicked on the link. And, I saw sweets on sweets on sweets. Argh! What was I going to make? It was May 1st. At o'dark thirty on May 10th we were heading south. First to Nashville, TN to do a couple of client reviews. Then, down the Natchez Trace. Followed by one and a half play days in New Orleans. Followed by three days of NPC conference. And, home through Memphis to see some dear friends. Arriving Monday night, May 20th. Almost 24 hours AFTER my post is due. Better get my tookus in gear, eh? Hunt for a savory recipe that'd work. By the time I got done I had Asian Lettuce Wraps, Frito Chili Pie, Chicken Gnocchi Soup, and Funeral Potatoes.
How to decide? Connie LOVES Fritos. There used to be a chili parlor downtown named Charlie and Barney's. Their specialty was chili with Fritos and grated cheddar. I'd only eaten it once. Connie, dozens of times. Now, when we walk past what used to be Charlie and Barney's he always bemoans their demise. This was my opportunity to bring a bit of that taste back. But, I love the lettuce wraps at PF Changs. I've never tried to make them myself. And, Connie loves gnocchi. He's not fond of soup but maybe if I combined the two... I decided the Funeral Potatoes were an indulgence at this point and bought the ingredients for the other three dishes.
On top of all of the Secret Recipe Club frivolity, there's Nancy and Roy's party on Saturday. I'm in charge of a couple of appetizers and a dessert. Yeah, I know I could've chosen one of Heather's sweets. But, MANY months (ok, over a year ago,) I found a recipe for Payday Bars on another Secret Recipe Club blog. I've wanted to make them ever since. Since we just don't do sweets around here, this is my opportunity. Appetizers? What's better than pickle dip? Umm, not much. It's the bomb. And, yes, I got it from a Secret Recipe Club blog called Melissas-Cuisine. I'm also going to do my friend Betsy's Mexicorn Dip. And, La Brea Tar Pit Chicken Wings. I should've gotten two trays of wings because those things are always inhaled. But, there will be tons of other food there so nobody will go hungry. Me? I'll have a plate of Nancy's German Potato Salad. The best version of that I've EVER had. She always sends me home with leftovers. Now, that's a true friend!
Did I mention that on top of everything else I've been hungry for Aunt Bebe's Bean Bowl? The ingredients for that went on the list too.
We left the office before five. I know, don't faint, we really did. First to Sam's. Then to Marsh. I made two lists - outside of the aisles and inside. We divided and conquered. In two hours we were home with the car unloaded and a glass of wine in hand. I chopped and Connie opened cans. Two saucepans with half ground turkey and half ground beef were cooking away on the stove. Prep work was done for Saturday's festivities. The chili for the Frito Pie was simmering away, ready for Friday night before we go see Les Miserables at Civic Theatre. The meat for the Asian Lettuce Wraps was just about done. Connie's beloved Boston Bruins played at 7:30. It was 7:10. We'd left the office at 4:30 and could actually sit down at the dining room table and eat dinner before the game. YAY!
The head of lettuce went in one bowl. The filling in another. Candles were lit. Game on. Connie says, "Wow, this is something I used to love to eat at PF Changs." I laughed and agreed. So, what would you give them? He says a four maybe a five. No, a five. I was going through the same thing. What finally made this dish a five was the fact that I'd not change a thing. They were just perfect as is. Not only was the flavor great, but these were super easy to make. And, in our case, they had all pantry ingredients.
Now, you're probably wondering where in the world I found these wonderful things? You can click here to see Heather's recipe: Asian Lettuce Wraps. Her blog is itsyummytomytummy. I wish I could tell you a lot about Heather but she doesn't share a bunch about herself in her profile. She's got two kids. And, I think they live in the Midwest. And, she makes some killer lettuce wraps :-)
Asian Lettuce Wraps
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 - 1 1/2 c shredded carrots
1 - 1/1/2 c finely diced mushrooms
1/2 c finely diced onion
2 T minced garlic
1 small can diced water chestnuts
1 t red pepper flakes (the original recipe called for 1 T but I'm a baby when it comes to heat)
2 T soy sauce
1/4 c hoisin sauce
1 t sesame oil
In a medium saucepan, brown the beef, turkey and onion.
When it's almost cooked through, add in the mushrooms and carrots. When everything is done, add the balance of the ingredients. Simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Serve the filling in lettuce leaves.