Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu themes - Philly Firecrackers

Dear Kate,

A couple of weeks ago I was working on the grocery list before heading out to the store.  As you know, this generally involves me pouring over a few cookbooks and saying repeatedly to anyone listening, "What should we have for dinner next week?"  My eyes glaze over as I flip through page after page of my cookbook collection or search my favorite recipe blogs and websites seeking inspiration.

This particular week I decided that one night I would make a Tex-Mex meal, including Spanish rice.  This decision created a new problem - my favorite Spanish rice recipe makes enough to feed a small Mexican village.  I toyed with the idea of reworking the recipe to reduce the quantity, but decided on another approach.  All the meals that week would be centered around the theme of Tex-Mex food, each meal sufficiently different to keep us from getting bored.  The rice reheats well and could be used more than once during the week.  With the decision made to have each meal be some variation on the Mexican food theme, planning meals was a breeze.

Mexican week being such a success, I followed up with Italian week.  Another hit and another easy week of meal planning.  Maybe I was onto something here.  Why not try again?  And thus, this week I debuted Sandwich week.  We had BBQ sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, veggie pita sandwiches and the finale was roast beef wraps.  There was enough variety to keep it from being monotonous and Sandwich week was another success.

I realize that you are a vegetarian and so may not be interested in roast beef wraps, a.k.a. Philly Firecrackers.  Nevertheless, you may find yourself called upon to provide sandwiches for a party or a school function and these are easy to make ahead.  And you never know, you might change your mind about eating meat or maybe marry a carnivore.  Therefore, you can expect to see plenty of non-vegetarian recipes posted in the future, just in case.

These sandwiches are best if you let them sit for 8 hours or so.  You can make them 24 hours ahead, although they get just a little soft by then.  Better to make them in the morning and have them for dinner, or the night before and have for lunch.  I wrap these up in dry waxed paper sheets I buy in bulk, which are surprisingly handy to have around the house.  You can also use regular waxed paper, parchment paper, or plastic wrap.

Philly Firecrackers
Adapted from Southern Living, month and year unknown :(

1/2 Cup sour cream (may use reduced fat)
1/2 Cup mayonnaise (may use reduced fat)
1 scallion, chopped finely
2 Tablespoons prepared  horseradish (I like Kraft Creamy Horseradish Spread)
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
8 (12-inch) flour tortillas
1 pound roast beef, sliced thin (24 slices) (Boar's Head Londonport is my favorite)
1 pound sharp cheddar deli slices, sliced thin (Land O Lakes Extra Sharp Cheddar is my favorite)
2 Cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1.  Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, scallion, horseradish, salt and pepper.  (May be made ahead and refrigerated covered for 1 to 2 of days.)

2.  Spread mixture on one tortilla, top with 3 slices of beef, 2 slices of cheese, and sprinkle with shredded lettuce.

3.  Roll up the tortilla, place on a sheet of dry waxed paper, 15x10 inches, and roll up.  Twist ends to look like a firecracker.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Chill 8 hours.

You may use a sheet of parchment wider than 15 inches, but if you use a narrower piece it will be hard to twist the ends.

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