A perfect meal began, innocently enough, with two darling heads of Boston red-leaf lettuce. I couldn’t resist them, their beauty. The recipe for the “Pork and Enoki Mushroom Lettuce Wraps,” from Droolfactor, also includes minced meat and those incredible enoki mushrooms that my seven-year-old adores. But was I asking my youngster too much, to pick up quaint lettuce packages, taco-style, for dinner? Would I be dismissed, laughed at? Triumphantly, no! In fact, I couldn’t assemble these quickly enough, as they were gobbled with speedy enthusiasm…

I doubled the portions in this recipe, in order to make four servings. I used 1 lb. minced pork, and also tossed in an amount of minced turkey. Make sure to stir fry in sesame oil, to get that Chinese essence correct. I used my Dutch oven instead of a wok, however crazy that sounds (it worked). The canned bamboo shoots and water chestnuts add to the funky Chinese scent, giving flavor and snap. And then the sauce! It’s sweet, tangy, and right-on, with its toasted sesame oil. Make a double portion of this sauce, to dip other things into, later…

After avoiding so many precious “lettuce-leaf package” recipes, I won with this one. The salted chopped peanuts, with their own salt and sweetness, were also perfect, sprinkled on top.

I also made  “Spring Onion Pancakes,” from an oddly simple recipe at All Recipes. Just flour and water? How is this a pancake? I discovered that these are rather crackers, crispy and appealing. The sticky “dough” becomes soft and rollable on the floured board. These crackers might make you giggle with glee.

I made four servings (2 cups flour, etc.). I placed my crackers on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I made sure to drizzle a lot of olive oil over them. Now, remember that extra Chinese pork-wrap sauce from the recipe above? Well, dip these crispy crackers into it! Everyone will love you for it.

Ground Pork (1 lb.) = $5.10
Enoki Mushrooms (15.75 oz.) = $3.93
Canned Water Chestnuts (5 oz.) = .62¢
Canned Bamboo Shoots (5 oz.) = .65¢
Boston Red-Leaf Lettuce (2) = $1.95
Scallions (1 bunch) = .75¢

RECIPES: find perfect lettuce and take it from there; see how a simple cracker can improve your life
they may seem too precious, but this is a super-quick stir fry that fits into your lettuce leaf, then fits into your mouth; cracker dough needs 30 minutes to sit, then 20 minutes to bake
sesame oil, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and mirin bring sweetness and tanginess to your minced meat, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts, topped with ideal salted peanuts; who likes a crispy cracker? everyone!

Next time, I will immerse myself in the “Roast Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Leeks, and Bacon,” from the March 2012 issue of Fine Cooking. See it when you come back to my site soon.