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How to Feed a Mob

December 15, 1991|MINNIE BERNARDINO

In ample space under the broadest shade, A table richly spread in regal mode, With dishes piled and meats of noblest sort And savour--beasts of chase, or fowl of game, In pastry built, or from the spit, or boiled . . . And at a stately sideboard, by the wine That fragrant smell diffused . . . --John Milton, Paradise Regained

People may be what makes a great party, but it's the food that sparks the crowd.

What follows are party recipes for good eating: finger food for nibbling during those first nervous moments; a salad to refresh and keep the mood light; chicken, crisp and flavorful, to get the juices flowing; a soup kept warm on the fire; and a sweet ending.

What's great about these little eggrolls is that they can be prepared ahead and frozen. The disadvantage is that they have to be deep-fried at the last minute if you want them to be crisp.

During the September Fair at San Antonio Church in Anaheim Hills, my Filipino neighbors take turns frying batches of these lumpia, using electric skillets or woks. A week before the fair we get together to make the filling and roll it into the wrappers. Then we each take trays of lumpia home to freeze.

This is the recipe that I make at home, which uses ground beef. The church version, which uses pure ground pork, is given in the variation.\f7

CRISPY BEEF LUMPIA

2 pounds ground beef (or combination ground beef and pork)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped peeled carrots

1 1/4 cups finely chopped celery

3 tablespoons fish sauce

Salt, pepper

2 (16-ounce) packages frozen lumpia wrappers, thawed (thin eggroll wrappers available in Filipino or Chinese markets)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for deep-frying

Sweet-Sour Sauce

Crumble and brown ground beef in large skillet or wok. Remove excess fat. Stir in garlic and onions and stir-fry until tender. Add carrots, celery and fish sauce and cook 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer into colander to drain off any drippings (to prevent wrappers from getting soggy).

Place about 1 tablespoon meat filling in a thin strip across one triangular end of lumpia wrapper (about 2 inches from corner tip). Roll tightly halfway then fold in both sides, continue rolling toward other tip. Moisten corner edges with egg or water to seal. Place on large tray. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers. (May be covered and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen up to 1 week at this point.)

Heat oil to 375 degrees in deep-fryer or wok. Drop lumpia, few pieces at time, and fry until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Cut in halves or thirds with scissors and serve as appetizers with Sweet and Sour Sauce. Makes about 72 long rolls, 144 halves or 216 small lumpia, or about 25 servings.

Variation: Meat mixture (use all pork) may be mixed raw like meat loaf but add 2 eggs. Do not saute. Fill wrappers with raw mixture and fry as directed.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

2 tablespoons oil

1 clove garlic, minced, optional

1/4 cup catsup

Combine vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, salt, water, oil, garlic and catsup in small saucepan. Stir until smooth. Bring to boil, stirring. Simmer until thickened. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Each serving contains about:

150 calories; 288 mg sodium; 30 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 11 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; .19 gram fiber; 52% calories from fat.

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