Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lettuce Wraps and Vegetarian Spring Rolls

Often when I'm sitting on the couch making out the menus for the week I get a little carried away. I find that planning out meals before grocery shopping helps a lot in organizing life; if things get busy there will always be the ingredients for that nights meal without a trip to the store so we eat out less. But then there is my over ambitious menu selections. The other night I had planned on making lettuce wraps, which sounded easy enough and then a new recipe for spring rolls. It wasn't complicated, but there was a lot of chopping and dicing and sauteing which took a while. Despite how long the preparation ending up being, it was so delicious. A lot like the lettuce wraps you find at PF Changs.

Paula Dean once said to do your prep the night before. Actually, wouldn't it be a great idea to spend a few hours on a Sunday, chopping up onions, vegetables and doing other prep for the week that can be stored in containers in the fridge? That way, week day meals would be a cinch. I don't know if that sounds like a super fun Sunday, but maybe if I put on some music, had a glass of wine and enlisted help if might not be so bad. If I ever get the motivation I will try that.

One more thing-- I read the best tip about caramelizing onions in Food Network Magazine. Instead of sauteing onions in oil like traditional methods, heat a nonstick pan to medium and saute them dry. They caramelize ten times faster! Just be careful not to get the pan too hot so it doesn't burn. I never would have thought of that but it works.


Gypsy Slow Down


The lettuce wraps are from Rachel Ray's website. I missed the part where the chicken was supposed to be ground, so I put chicken breasts in the food processor and ground them myself which turned out fine. 

Satay Lettuce Wraps 

1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/4 pounds chicken 
 Pepper
 1/4 pound  mushrooms, chopped 
 1 bunch scallions, chopped or thinly sliced
  3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger root,  finely chopped
 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter 
1/2 cup chicken stock
 1/4 cup Tamari (dark soy sauce) 
 A few dashes of hot pepper sauce 
1 small head iceberg lettuce, core removed and head quartered 

In a large skillet, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes; season with pepper. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and ginger; toss for 2 minutes. Push the ingredients to the side of the pan and add the peanut butter to the center to melt. Whisk in the chicken stock and hot sauce. Stir in the peanuts. 

Spoon the satay into a serving bowl or individual bowls. Serve the lettuce wedges alongside. Scoop the satay mixture into lettuce leaves to wrap up as you eat.


Vegetarian Baked Spring Rolls

Gypsy Slow Down 

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, grated
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 red chili, minced, oe 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (omit if you prefer very mild spring rolls)
1/2 cup shredded or finely chopped cabbage
4-6 shiitake mushrooms, cut into matchstick pieces
1/2 cup grated carrots
3 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
Juice from one half of a lime
4 tablespoons soy sauce or to taste
1 pkg. spring roll wrappers 

For baking:

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add onions and saute until browned (or saute them dry and add oil for next step). Add garlic, ginger, and chilli. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). 
Add cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots As you stir-fry, add the soy sauce and lime juice. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
Do a taste test for salt, adding 1 Tbsp. more soy sauce if not salty enough.
To assemble rolls, soak a wrapper in warm water until soft. Place the spring roll wrapper on a clean working surface. Put one heaping tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper (if using large wrappers, you will need more). For tips on how to use spring rolls, click hereSprinkle some of the fresh coriander and basil over the filling before folding them into rolls. The skinnier you roll them, the better they stay together. Place on large baking sheet and brush each roll with oil mixture. Bake for ten minutes. Flip rolls over, brushing other side with oil and bake for ten more minutes. Serve with soy sauce mixed with peanut butter and wasabi. Don't forget lime slices.


Gypsy Slow Down
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