After much delay, I am finally getting around to posting the third (and final) part of my blog series: Do-Ahead Party for a Crowd – Easy Appetizer Menu. I had been waiting for an occasion to make the final recipe, and I could not have found a happier one – our youngest son’s wedding.
A WEDDING AND A WOMBAT
Our son Nick just married a beautiful and oh-so-nice woman, Jean. The wedding was an intimate affair, so uniquely Nick and Jean, in a beautiful Michigan setting. The ceremony was set next to a lake with the reception a few steps away on a wooded hillside. The reception — simple and elegant – included champagne and a cold buffet menu designed by the bride and prepared by close family members. Among my contributions were the Asian Rolls in my Easy Appetizer Menu. This easy appetizer was well suited for the occasion as the bucolic setting offered a lake, trees, and rolling hills but no kitchen. No problem. Asian Rolls could be prepared ahead, wrapped, chilled in a portable cooler and sliced at service time. So, once made, I was able to forget about them and focus on the wedding.
I am a happy person, but I cry at weddings, graduations, funerals and the national anthem – without exception. Yet, I was determined to keep my cool at Nick and Jean’s wedding. After all, I had to help set up the reception buffet, and it is difficult to do that though a veil of tears. I had been under control all day — even as the bride and groom walked down the aisle. However, I lost it when, during the ceremony, they shared the story of Wally.
Who was Wally? Wally was Nick’s ever-present companion as a young child – the cutest stuffed wombat one could imagine. As Nick outgrew the “stuffed animal” age, Wally transitioned to a football. He was always around and available for a quick game of “Wally toss”. Sometimes I would lose my patience with Wally as he would occasionally come sailing through the kitchen nearly landing in a pot of soup. But our Aussie friend was part of the family and you soon learned to work around him. That was until Nick left home, after which I never thought about Wally.
At the wedding ceremony, I learned, for the first time, about Wally’s later years. Nick kept Wally — even after leaving home. When he became serious about Jean, he entrusted her with Wally, his life-long possession – a message to her about her importance in his life. So, Jean was Wally’s caretaker until the day of the wedding, when he took on yet another role — a symbol of their union. To emphasize this honor, Wally, “carrying” the rings, was, in turn, carried by Nick’s 3-year-old nephew, Miles, the ring bearer (Note: Miles thought his job was actually the ring “buryer”, so we kept a close watch on him). Nick and Jean now wear the rings delivered (not buried) by Wally and Miles, and they share Wally as they will share so much else in the years ahead. I think the story of Wally is not yet finished.
Now, if this wasn’t enough to make a mother cry, I can’t imagine what would. So from the beginning of the Wally story to the time to cut the Asian Rolls, tears were flowing. Good thing unwrapping and slicing the Asian Rolls is so easy that it could be accomplished with blurred vision.
This Asian Roll recipe was adapted from Martin Yan’s book: The Well-Seasoned Wok. While I haven’t seen his TV shows, I have read many of Yan’s cook books and was lucky to see an in-person demo by this talented Chinese chef a few years ago at the Chicago NRA Show. He retains the best elements of Chinese cooking while creating recipes that are easy to prepare, delicious and creative.
In this recipe, Yan uses Mexican flour tortillas as a wrap for Asian food, and the two cuisines come together seamlessly. I’ ve made additional changes by substituting Italian prosciutto for Chinese BBQ pork because it is easier, rolls better and adds comparable flavor. So, I have expanded Yan’s Asian/Mexican creation to one that is Asian/Mexican/Italian.
The Easy Appetizer Menu and most of the recipes can be found in Part 1, the recipe for Lime-Cumin Chicken Salad in Wonton Cups can be found in Part 2 and the final recipe for Asian Rolls follows. That completes this menu.
Adapted from Martin Yan’s “The Well-Seasoned Wok”
Serving Size: 18
Yield: 6 rolls
1 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cream cheese
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ginger, fresh, minced
6 tortillas, flour, 10 inch, plain or spinach (for color)
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in traditional thin slices
6 ounces mushrooms, shiitake
1 cucumber, peeled, sliced, seeds removed
1 onion, red, peeled and very thinly sliced
1. With processor running, drop clove of garlic in food tube and blend until minced. You must put the garlic in first so it bounces around and minces fine. Add cream cheese and blend. Add the next five ingredients and blend. This cream cheese blend provides the “glue” for the rolls as well as much of the flavor. So, feel free to adjust to your liking. It should have a mix of sweet/spicy. If you like more sweet, add more hoisin; for more spice, add extra chili oil.
On a work board, lay out the tortilla. Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mix on the tortilla.
Lay a thin slice of prosciutto on cream cheese blend across the center of the tortilla circle.
3. Place a row of each vegetable on the tortilla on the edge nearest you (some will spill onto the prosciutto). By keeping most of the vegetables on the cream cheese blend, the vegetables will stick to the roll.
4. Start to roll the tortilla from the end nearest you. Roll it as tight as possible. Trim ends and wrap the entire roll in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator until service. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour to blend flavors and textures (tortillas will soften). You can prepare almost anytime on the day of service, but I find a few hours is optimal. Storing too long can make the tortillas a bit too soft.
5. Shortly before serving, remove tortilla roll. Slice about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and lay rolls flat-side-down on a plate. Garnish with greens or other vegetables. Best served immediately after slicing.
Note: Six rolls sliced into 9 pieces each = 54 pieces. At 3 pieces per person, that is 18 servings. Depending on how many appetizers you are serving, you may want to increase/decrease the number of pieces per person.