It's my party

It's my birthday and it's gorgeous outside (which is quite a surprise since I almost jinxed myself), so I won't spend a lot of time waxing lyrical about these lovely little lettuce cups.  They are quite appropriate because I am heading to one of my favorite sushi places in Chicago tonight and they do amazing lettuce cups.  I've been going to Rise with my sister since they first opened and I was still living in London.  Any time I would fly in, I'd request that we went there for dinner the night I arrived.  There was something about the mix of a devilish martini and a few glasses of crisp white wine paired with sushi and jet lag that I couldn't get enough of.  

There are plenty of great sushi places in London, Zuma being my favorite, but you tend to have to pay a lot to get good quality.   I took my parents there, which was part of the "take parents to expensive restaurant that we cannot afford on our own plan" that we implemented on their many visits.  My Mom, who did not eat sushi, ordered lobster tempura with a kick-ass wasabi sauce for more money than should be allowed.  Over several glasses of saki, Martin, who was suffering from a very painful back, was still having a little trouble loosening up.  My Mom, "the pill pusher", as we liked to call her, fished out one of her prescription Vicodin and promptly persuaded Martin to take it.  There's something to be said about my Mom and Martin together- I think they both thought the other was rather hilarious.  Ten minutes later, Martin was feeling great, thanking my Mom, Pam, profusely and announcing that he felt "loosey goosey"-one of my all time favorite Pam and Marty memories.

So I'm not going to show you how to make sushi- I've taken a class, but I can't seem to get it right at home.  I think I'll leave it the chefs who train for years.  Back to these lettuce cups.  Rise's version is with chicken, and mine use beef- you could easily try both.  I swear these are easy, delicious delightful on a hot summers evening with a very cold glass of beer.

Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Cups
Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
few drops of fish sauce
4 green onions, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
handful of chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 iceberg lettuces

Head oil in the frying pan on medium heat and when warm, add the cumin, chopped chillies and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally- don't let them burn.  Add the beef and turn up the heat.  Break up the meat as you go with a wooden spoon or fork and cook thoroughly until no signs of pink remains- should take about 4 minutes.  Add the fish sauce (which does have a salty flavor).  Cook until the liquid has evaporated.  Off the heat, season with a little salt, stir in the green onions, zest and juice of the lime and most of the coriander.  

Turn into a bowl and sprinkle over the remaining coriander (cilantro).

Pull the leaves off the iceberg lettuce so they are small cups just waiting for the deliciously hot beef.  People can do these themselves while you crack open some beers.


  1. Happy b-day! Sorry we couldn't make it downtown this weekend. We'll celebrate soon. Andy

  2. Thanks bro in law! we'll be seeing you in a couple of weeks and we'll celebrate then. x

  3. Yum....those look DELISH!!! We have to do dinner again soon...it was a blast! xoxo