I’m Nuts for Coconuts

coconut 1

The thing about coconut is that you either love it or hate it, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Used to be coconut was that “exotic” ingredient that made its appearance only in a cake or candy bar or cookie. Sure making macaroons (not the French kind) always required that you buy a bag or two but ethnic dishes aside, until a few years ago the idea of coconut water was laughable, now, it’s the hottest item in the specialty water market place.

Early New World Spanish explorers discovering the coconut in their exploration called the strange round object that fell from trees coco, which translated means “monkey face”. I suppose those three indentations on that hairy nut does sort of resembles a monkey head but really when the coconut was brought back to Europe it became a source for many and varied products. Just to be accurate, a coconut is actually the fruit of the coconut palm and is a drupe, not a nut at all. A drupe is a seed consisting of an outer hard shell

The coconut is a multi talented food source and it provides a form of meat, juice, milk, and oil to countries around the world. It’s also a rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies have shown that the coconut is one of the best foods around.

Today, coconut is considered a wonder food. There are lots and lots of coconut products available on grocery shelves these days. Shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, really coconut everything and knowing what you’re getting and how to use it is key to making the most of your coconut experience. The dried coconut is obviously used in all kind of dishes. The coconut oil and coconut milk (which come from flesh of the coconut) are used in cooking baking, cooking and frying and coconut oil is also used in the manufacturing of soap and cosmetics. Coconut water is the hot new product in the flavored water aisle these days and not to be ignored the husks and leaves are used for making furniture and other house hold items.

So, it’s obvious that the past bad rep surrounding the coconut has been debunked. Now that you know exactly how versatile every little part of the coconut is, go get some and use these fun and delicious recipes to become acquainted. Who knows, maybe it will become you new favorite ingredient.

 coconut 3 soup

COCONUT VODKA PASTA SAUCE

 

1/2 cup oil

1 large onions, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 to 3 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup vodka

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 14-Ounce can coconut milk

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Cork screw or bow tie pasta cooked al dente, kept warm

 

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic and celery in the oil until softened and just beginning to take on a brown color. De-glaze with the vodka, stir well, and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes (with the juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook 20 more minutes. Using an immersion blender or food process. Puree slightly, leaving some chunks. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve immediately with the cooked pasta or cool and refrigerate or freeze. Makes About 2 Quarts

 

My file, source unknown

 

THAI CHICKEN SOUP

 

1 lb pkg. fettuccini noodles

4 heaping tablespoons shredded coconut, unsweetened, toasted

6 cups chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green chili, seeded, finely sliced

2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce (more to taste)

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (use a food processor)

1/2 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, optional

3 green onions, sliced

 

Place the dry noodles in a large bowl. Pour room temperature water over the noodles and let them soak for 10 to 15 minute. (They will be al dente in about 15 minutes). Drain and rinse and then divide them between 8 bowls)

 

Bring the broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Reduce to medium heat and add the turmeric, chili powder, garlic, and chili. Mix to combine, cook 2 minutes and then add the chicken. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken pieces are all cooked. Reduce heat to a simmer and add fish sauce, ground peanuts, and coconut milk. Cook for 1 minute more and remove from heat. Add the lime juice, mix to combine and then spoon the soup over the noodles in the 8 bowls. To serves, top each bowl with the chopped cilantro, green onion, and toasted coconut. Serves 8

 

Modified from yummly.com

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COCONUT SHRIMP CURRY

 

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 cup red bell peppers, sliced thinly

1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds raw shrimp

2 cups light coconut milk from a can

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

salt to taste

cooked rice for 6 to 8

 

In a large skillet heat the oil and saute the onion, red pepper, and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Cook for 1minute. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 2 minutes.

Add in the shrimp, bump up the heat to medium and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Stir the mixture into shrimp mixture, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve either on individual plates or on a platter. To serve sprinkle the chopped cilantro and peanuts on top. Serves 8.

 

Modified from about.com

 coconut 4 cake

COCONUT CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND COCONUT DRIZZLE

I love this recipe, I found it in Bon Appetite and have been making it ever since

 

Cake:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars broken into small pieces, divided

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

 

Drizzle:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk**

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in the unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, butter, and orange peel and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.

 

Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, (tent with sheet of foil if cake is browning too quickly) 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

 

In a bowl combine the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla and mix to combine, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

Place the cake on a serving platter and then drizzle the glaze over the top. Cool cake completely on platter. This is great with vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.

Modified from Bon Appétit January 2010

COCONUT HONEY SALMON

 

1 1/2 cups butter

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flaked coconut

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a saucepan combine the honey, brown, sugar, and coconut. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Cool the mixture slightly and pour it into a 9X13 glass pan. Place the salmon in the pan and then flip it once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flip the filets and refrigerate for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the salmon in the dish, and spoon some of the marinade over the top, making sure to get some of the coconut on the top. Season with just a little salt and pepper. Bake 25 minutes in the oven, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the salmon is flaked easily with a fork. Serves 4

Submitted by Eleanor Razon Toronto Canada

 

© Eileen Goltz coconut 13

 

Skinny Recipes for Spring or HELP I Need to Loose 30 lbs.

                                   SPRING HAS SPRUNG

             HEMS ARE ON THE RISE,

              WILL SOMEONE PLEASE, PLEASE

             TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO MY THIGHS

and hips and stomach and all the other parts of me that seem to have spread out so much over these last couple of months.

            It never fails, just say the words “cold weather” or big bulky wool sweaters to me and I start eating like a nuclear winter is just around the corner. My body seems to equate the changing into my winter wardrobe with putting on a few extra layers of blubber, (not unlike my cousin, the polar bear) to ward off all that cold cold icky snowy weather.

             I realize now that the warm weather is really here to stay that it may be too late for me to change my food “intake”. You know what I mean. If the food is “in” my house I “take” it and stuff it in my mouth. I’ve got to find a way to take off 30 pounds in the next 4 weeks before it’s officially time to pull out the tank tops and sunscreen . At this point, the odds of me buying a new swimsuit in this century are very slim (another word I’m not so fond of).

             Forget about all those New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, we’re out of time. Let’s concentrate on what we can accomplish in the next few months by taking the fat (and calories) out of our diet. (That’s diet as a Noun not as a Verb).

            To get us started here are a few fun and fast recipes that have been reduced to as few calories as I can manage without the taste being compromised. So try these “thin delights”, the only thing you have to lose is weight.

SKINNY SKINS

6 medium potatoes, baked

1 tablespoon melted margarine

1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt or low fat/no fat sour cream

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat to 375. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the center and leave about 1/8 inch shell. Mix the butter, yogurt and basil, oregano thyme together and brush it generously on the potato skins. Sprinkle the skins with the sesame seeds. Place the skins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 min. or until they are crunchy and brown. Cut in half lengthwise and serve hot. Serves 6.

Submitted by Lois Rose Glenview IL

CHICKEN AND ORANGE SALAD

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon orange zest

3 green onions, sliced thin

3 cups cooked white meat of chicken, diced

2 medium oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

salad greens

salt/pepper are optional

chow mein or rice noodles

Place the chicken in a self closing plastic bag. Add the chicken broth, vinegar, orange peel and onions. Close and shake to mix. Mix in the water chestnuts and orange slices. Close and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Place the salad greens on a serving plate and spoon the chicken salad on top, making sure not to pour too much of the marinade over it. Sprinkle the chow mein or rice noodles on top. Serves 4.

MUSHROOM PITA PIZZA

4 pita breads

4 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced and separate into rings

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup chopped red pepper

4 teaspoon dried basil

2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425. Split each pita bread so that you have a total of 8 rounds. Place rounds, cut side up, on ungreased cookie sheet. Arrange mushrooms, peppers and onions on top. Sprinkle with basil and cheeses. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut each round into 6 pieces. Serves 4

SPICY VEGETABLE DIP

2 cup low fat, small curd cottage cheese

4 tablespoon skim milk

2 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon curry powder

Place cottage cheese, milk and lemon juice into a blender or food processor. Process for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides process again until the mixture is smooth. Add the mustard, onion powder and curry powder. Cover and pulse for 30 seconds or until everything is combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 3 days. Serve with raw vegetables or pita triangles. Makes 2 cups

SPINACH AND RICE CASSEROLE

1 1/2 cups brown rice

3 cups chicken broth

1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained

2 red or green bell peppers, chopped

1 large onion, diced

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup low fat milk

3 tablespoons flour

2 cup shredded low fat pepper Jack cheese, divided

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels

4 ounces low fat cream cheese (or Neufchatel)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Preheat oven to 375. In a saucepan bring the broth to a simmer. Add in the rice, spinach, bell peppers, onion, and salt. Cover and cook at a simmer 20 to 30 minutes.  Uncover a continue cooking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 more minutes. In another saucepan whisk together the milk and flour. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set the mixture aside.. When the rice is done, stir in the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8

Passionate Pineapple

There is always the problem of what to bring as a hostess gift when you’ve been invited to share a meal with friends. A Waterford vase with flowers is obviously too over the top and book, while nice is problematic in that my taste (murder mystery eclectic and veering towards who lopped off Colonel  Mustards head in the library)  is probably not what’s on your must read list. A bottle of good wine is better but in my mind I always want to bring something just a little bit different so I bring wine AND fruit. My favorite fruit of choice is the pineapple. In fact, in tropical climates pineapples are a symbol of home hospitality and are often given as housewarming gifts, holiday gifts, get well gifts, or just about any other special occasion where a gift would be appropriate.

There are three basic types of pineapple available to us consumers: the smooth cayenne (the most popular and readily available), the red Spanish, and the sugar loaf. All are loaded with fiber vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. Pineapples are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene. You should look for large fruits and let them sit at room temperature for a few days before using them. This isn’t to ripen them (they don’t ripen any further after they are picked) but rather to allow it to soften and become juicer. Don’t let them sit too long, however, as they can start to ferment and rot rather quickly. Color doesn’t matter; the bestest of the best pineapples are firm, plump and have a sweet obvious pineapple aroma. The one test I like best is to pick up the pineapple and smell the bottom of it. If it smells like fresh pineapple its ready, if it has no smell, it’s not ripe yet, pass on it; and if it smells like wine or has a slightly overblown odor, it’s over ripe and may have already started to ferment and spoil.

While some may opt for getting a pre cut pineapple from the store the best way to enjoy your pineapple is to cut it just before you want to use it. There are two schools of thought regarding the peeling of a pineapple, you can peel it then cut it or cut it then peel it. In my opinion, neither is better it is truly a matter of personal choice. Regardless of which way you choose to peel it you need to cut off the leafy crown (unless you’re planning on using the shell with the crown as a decoration). Know that there will be some waste as the skin is difficult to remove without cutting away some of the fruit.

 

Basic pineapple cutting

1. Chop off the crown of the pineapple about a 1/2 inch below the crown.

2. Cut off about 1/2 inch off the bottom.

3. Flip the pineapple over in a bowl and let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the juices flow through the fruit before cutting

4 Cut the pineapple into quarters

5. Cut out the center core of each quarter (I like to eat the core but most people toss it)

6. Cut away skin of pineapple

7. Slice the quarters into chunks or slices.

The pineapple is so versatile that the fruit can be eaten as is or topped with yogurt, or broiled and topped with brown sugar and nuts, used as an ingredient in a salad dressing, a marinade, a main course or even in a dessert like the classic pineapple upside-down cake. Whatever your pineapple motis oporandi is the following recipes will make your “gift” one that’s never returned.

 NOTE: If fresh pineapple is too expensive or not readily available you can use the canned in its own juice kind for the following recipes.

CUCUMBER PINEAPPLE SALAD

2 seedless cucumbers coarsely chopped

1 onion red, diced fine

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice 

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

1 tablespoon sugar 

1/4 teaspoon chili sauce style

2 tablespoons mint fresh, chopped (optional)

Cut cucumber lengthwise in quarters. Slice each quarter into 1/4 inch slices. Peel pineapple and cut into quarters. Remove core. Cut each quarter in half and slice into 1/2 inch slices.

Combine cucumber, pineapple, onion and parsley leaves in a bowl. In another bowl, combine lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar and chili sauce. Pour over salad and toss together. Serve on a platter. Serves 6 to 8.

Submitted by Randi Percelle St. Louis MO

PINEAPPLE SALAD WITH HONEY DRESSING

2 to 3 cups bite size pineapple chunks

2 to 3 cups bite size cantaloupe chunks

1 to 2 cups seedless grapes

2 cups strawberries sliced

1 cup blackberries or blueberries or raspberries

Honey Dressing

1/2 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon prepared dry mustard

1 teaspoon paprika 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/2 cup honey 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1/4 cup rice wine or apple cider vinegar 

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon onion, grated

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds 

In a large bowl combine the fruit toss gently. Cover and refrigerate. In a blender combine the sugar mustard, paprika, salt, hone, lemon juice and vinegar. Blend until combine and then slowly add the oil while the blender is on. Pour the dressing into a bowl and add the onion, celery seed and poppy seeds. Mix to combine, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serves spoon the dressing over the fruit and toss to combine. Serves 6 to 8

You can serve this over salad greens

PINEAPPLE TARTS WITH HAAGEN-DAZS ® PINEAPPLE COCONUT ICE CREAM

1   fresh pineapple

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (from 17.3-oz. pkg.)

Topping:

1 teaspoon butter

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 cup mango, dice

1 cup pineapple chunks (reserved from whole pineapple)

1 carton (14 fl. oz.) Haagen-Dazs® Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream

 Cut whole pineapple into 1-inch slices. Core centers from each slice to create rings. Set aside four whole rings, cut up remaining rings into small 1/4-inch chunks. Measure 1 cup of chunks for relish garnish, set aside. (Any remaining pineapple may be used as desired.)

Heat oven to 425. In 10-inch skillet melt butter; add brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil; add pineapple rings and chunks. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until pineapple is light golden brown. Remove from heat. In 13×9-inch pan, place pineapple rings allowing space between each ring. Pour brown sugar mixture over top of pineapple.

Unfold pastry, cut into four equal squares (pastry cutter may be used to create decorative edge). Pierce pastry all over with fork. Place pastry squares over each ring in pan. Bake at 425. for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add remaining relish ingredients; gently stir until sugar is melted and fruit is just warmed. Remove from heat.

To serve; remove each pastry from pan, inverting onto serving plates. Place spoonful of relish on top each tart and top with 1 large scoop (1/2 cup) ice cream. Serve slightly warm. Serves 4

Modified from Haagen-Dazs web site

PINEAPPLE ORANGE FREEZE

1 orange peeled and sectioned

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 banana

1 1/2 cup of orange juice

1 cup of ice

In a blender combine the ice and juice and blend until slushy. Add the banana, orange and pineapple. Blend until smooth and serve. Makes 2 servings

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN SALAD

2 lbs, cooked chicken (you can use turkey) (I use leftovers)

1 to 2 cups diced pineapple

3 or 4 stalks celery, sliced

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup toasted pecans

In a large bowl combine the chicken, pineapple and celery and mix to combine. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, milk, celery salt and pepper. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken and toss to combine. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle the pecans over top just before serving. Serves 6

Submitted by Charlotte Janovski Chicago IL

UPSIDE DOWN PINEAPPLE CUPCAKES

1 pineapple cut into chunks, drained, save the juice (you won’t need to use all the pineapple)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cupcake Batter:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice or milk or water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a nonstick muffin pan with vegetable spray. Place the pineapple chunks paper towels to drain it completely.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and melted butter. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin pan cups. Arrange the pineapple chunks decoratively on top of the sugar mixture but only just cover the bottom; don’t put too much pineapple in each one. Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer blend together the butter, sugar and pineapple juice, beating for 2 minutes until smooth. Beat in the egg until combine and then add the flour and baking powder, Mix to combine. Spoon the batter over the fruit in the muffin pan, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the pan for 5 minutes, then place a wire rack on top of the muffin pan and invert. Let the pan stay on top of the cupcakes for about 15 seconds to make sure that they release from the pan. Remove the pan and let cool completely on the rack. Makes 12.

Modified from bigoven.com

Wrap Up Your Old Recipes. Try Lettuce Wraps

 

One of the toughest tasks during the entertaining  is to come up with recipes for appi- teasers  that aren’t the same old same old  fish, soup or salad. While tradition has its place sometimes you just need to think outside the preverbal recipe box and re imagine what you might like to serve to start out a special meal.

            This year, for a first course let’s try lettuce wraps. Delicious, simple, easy to make ahead of time, really beautiful to see and most importantly, they’re different. The following recipes have all been taste tested and have passed my personal “yes I’d serve these to my mother” 5 point check list. Some of the ingredients are a little more difficult to find  but I can suggest that you try the specialty sections or your grocery store or if you keep kosher, the internet and sites like www.kosher.com and www.mykoshermarket.com.

NOTE: If you can’t find kosher certified fish sauce or the rice wine I suggest you use the SoyVey products (ie  Teriyaki sauce) instead. You can always use a kosher certified Thai peanut sauce in a pinch.

LETTUCE WRAPPED SMOKED TROUT (fish)

2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cucumber peeled, cut into matchsticks

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup thinly sliced red peppers, (you can use 1 jalapeno and the rest red bell)  

2 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

2 cups skinless smoked trout fillets, broken into bite-size pieces

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup whole mint leaves

1/2 cup small whole fresh basil leaves

16 small to medium inner leaves of romaine lettuce (from about 2 hearts of romaine)

1/3 cup (about) sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup finely chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

Place the carrot and cucumber pieces in large bowl. Add green onions, peppers, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce; let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

Add trout pieces and tomatoes to the vegetables and mix to combine. Drain the mixture and then return the mixture to the bowl; add in the mint and basil and toss to combine. Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter. Divide trout salad among lettuce leaves. Drizzle sweet chili sauce over each salad and sprinkle with peanuts.

CHICKEN AND AVOCADO LETTUCE WRAPS (meat)
 
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or white wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon wasabi paste (see note)
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley
4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1/2 cup 1/4-inch-cubes peeled jicama
2 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3 cups shredded chicken
12 to 16 butter lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
 
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, kosher salt and wasabi paste. Add the parsley, green onions and jicama;
toss to coat. Gently stir in avocados. Divide the avocado salsa and shredded chicken among the lettuce leaves. Top each with toasted sesame seeds and serve 3 to 4 wraps per person. Serves 4.
 
Note: Find Wasabi paste in most supermarkets in the Asian foods aisle or with other sushi ingredients, or at an Asian market.
 

COPY CAT P. F. CHANG’S CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS (meat)

This recipe is from Todd Wilbur and Top Secret Recipes

3 tablespoons oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup water chestnut

2/3 cup mushroom

3 tablespoons chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4-5 leaves iceberg lettuce

Special Sauce

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot mustard

2 teaspoons water

1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.

Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.

Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you’re ready to serve. Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well. Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Sauté chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool. Keep oil in the pan, keep hot. As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are. With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce” cups”. top with” Special Sauce”. Makes 4 appetizer servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

SPICY THAI PINEAPPLE LETTUCE WRAPS (fish)
 

2 limes, juiced (about 1⁄4 cup)

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons chili paste

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 cups roasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped.

2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)

12 Bibb lettuce leaves (about 1 head)

3 cups fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks

Kosher salt
Whisk the lime juice, sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the peanuts and cilantro and stir until combined. When ready to serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter. Put about 1⁄4 cup of pineapple in each leaf and season with salt to taste. Top the pineapple with the nut mixture. Serves 4.

VEGETARIAN LETTUCE WRAPS (pareve)
1 head Iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 red chili – 1 de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion or 2 small shallots diced
1/2 cup extra firm tofu cut into thin slices
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
4 green onions sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Cut off stem of iceberg lettuce and separate the leaves and place in a bowl of ice cubes so that they become cold and crisp. Heat oil in a wok or a large frying pan.

Add garlic, ginger, red chilies and shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the tofu, carrot, cabbage and spring onion and stir fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lime juice and soy sauce. Add the bean sprout and stir fry for a minute and remove from heat. Take a whole lettuce leaf and place 2 or 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with fresh basil. Add roasted peanuts (optional) Make into a wrap and enjoy.

BEEF TERIYAKI LETTUCE WRAP (meat)

1/2 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/4 teaspoon hot chili oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Iceberg lettuce leaves, crisped in ice water, drained
2  cups shredded cabbage (store bought is fine)

2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup green onions, sliced

In a skillet over medium high heat sauté ground beef and garlic; remove from heat, add Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, hot chili oil and sesame oil; taste for seasoning.  Can be made ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.  

When ready to serve reheat the mixture; put drained lettuce leaves on a serving platter; cabbage in a bowl with serving tongs; rice in a bowl and onions in another small bowl.  Allow each person to make their own wrap and adding more hot seasoning according to their taste. Serve with sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

KOREAN BEEF LETTUCE WRAPS (meat)

Partially freeze the beef to make slicing thinly easier (to make it really simple, get your butcher to slice for you!) make certain to squeeze out any moisture in the beef before starting this recipe. These are delicious and simple to make

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce (optional or to taste, add in for extra heat, or use dried chili peppers)

7 green onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 lbs steaks (cut across the grain into very thin slices, no more than 1/8-inch thick)

2 tablespoons oil

chopped green onion, for sprinkling

1 large lettuce leaf (or use any soft lettuce leaves such as butter lettuce)

cooked white rice

In a bowl stir together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, ginger and 4 tablespoons sesame seeds; mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the steak and toss to coat; marinade 20 minutes at room temperature. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until JUST smoking, then add in the steak slices in one layer, saute the slices turning occasionally until browned and cooked through (this should take about 4 to 5 minutes, you will most likely have to cook the beef in batches, depending on how large your skillet is). Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with green onions and remaining 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Serve the lettuce leaves on the side and roll the beef in the leaves. Serve with cooked rice. Makes 6 to 8 appetizer servings

MOCK CRAB AND MANGO LETTUCE WRAPS (fish)

8 ounces mock crab meat

1 ripe mango, peeled, pit removed, and diced into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup diced jicama (peel, then dice)

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

3 green onions, white and part of the green, finely chopped

10 leaves Boston lettuce, washed and dried well (other lettuce can be substituted, but Boston lettuce works particularly well)

Orange Sesame Sauce:

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup orange-flavored yogurt

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl combine the mock crab, mango, jicama, cilantro, and green onions and toss to blend well. Fill each lettuce leaf with about 1/3 cup (or slightly heaping 1/4 cup) of the mixture. In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, orange yogurt, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper until smooth. Drizzle a tablespoon of the citrus sauce over the mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve. 5 appetizer servings (about 2 wraps each)