La Cucina Italiana

I absolutely relish the food and wine pairings that have become a monthly tradition with a group of some of the classiest chics I know. April’s event was nothing less than perfect. As we continue to expand on the concept, the task of  finding a new and unique pairing becomes more and more challenging.

Leslie’s offering, Asian Chicken (or turkey) Lettuce wraps, were a dead-ringer for P.F. Chang’s version. She shared this recipe with me. I recently made my own attempt at recreating the famous dish.  My version included water chestnuts and mushrooms and a pouring sauce which I enjoyed. A Google search will net you an endless list of this highly coveted recipe if you want to make your own at home. Let me know what works best for you.

Here’s what you’ll need for Leslie’s version:

  • Ground turkey or chicken
  • Olive oil
  • About a cup of chopped peppers and onions
  • Crunchy bean sprouts
  • Chopped cashews
  • Iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves

For the sauce you will need:

  • 3 parts soy sauce
  • 1.5 parts teriyaki sauce
  • 1 dash of sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of red chili sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic

(Note from Leslie: should make about ¾ of a cup – sorry I’m an eye baller ! : )

Sauté the peppers and onions in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add the ground meat and break it up as it cooks. Once the meat is cooked, add the sauce and crunchy bean sprouts. Let it all heat up for a few more minutes, top with chopped cashews and serve the chicken mixture wrapped in the lettuce leaves. She paired her dish with a 2010 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano IGP Red.

Breanna’s contribution was a delightful and delicious Spring Vegetable and Goat Cheese Dip paired with a 2011 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc. I’m not always a fan of goat cheese, but the citrus fruits paired just right with the mint, chives and lemon zest in the dip and I couldn’t get enough of the combination.

Our lovely host Chiara regaled us with a titillating Tagliatelle with Asaparagus from La Cucina Italian Magazine which paired perfectly with a 2009 Muscadet by Domaine de la Pepiere.

Personally, I was not all that thrilled with my choice for the last gathering. The Baked Nutella Wontons, paired with an Izidro Madeira Port from Portugal were easy and relatively decadent. After making these twice and leaving them in longer than the recommended five to six minutes on both occasions, I will likely give them another shot being sure to keep a close eye on the timer.

The meal was made complete with homemade herb bread from Chiara’s father. As always, the food, wine and company were out of this world. Why go to old Italy when you have a host like Chiara!

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