Imaginative meals can begin conveniently Entertaining: Store-bought plum sauce and roasted chicken slices are wrapped in flatbread and then grilled.


A good friend and fellow food professional told me recently that she has a new term for the way she cooks when entertaining today. She calls her style "creative convenience" cooking.

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"Well," she explained, "I create dishes using convenience products."

She continued by giving several examples. A quick lemon mousse can be assembled by combining store-bought lemon curd with whipped cream. Purchased pound cake can be sliced, mounded with fresh berries and ice cream, and offered as a fast version of strawberry shortcake. Prepared salsas make fine garnishes for grilled salmon or chicken. And, baked pizza shells certainly cut down on the time needed to prepare pizzas at home.

Looking through my files, I found that I also had recipes that fell into this category. One such dish, which I created several weeks ago, was for Grilled Wraps With Chicken, Ginger and Plum Sauce. These sandwiches, which can be prepared in no time at all, are made with flatbreads, either lavash or flour tortillas, that are spread with a thin layer of cream cheese, then with plum sauce. Chopped ginger and green onions are sprinkled over these layers, and finally, slices of roasted chicken and watercress sprigs are added before the breads are rolled up and grilled.

By buying plum sauce in the section where Asian condiments are sold at the market, and buying a roasted chicken at the rotisserie counter, I was able to assemble these wraps in much less time than if I had made a sauce from scratch or roasted a bird myself.

With summer here, there will be a steady flow of weekend guests at our house. These delicious grilled sandwiches will make a fine offering for lunch or a light supper along with salad as a side dish. For dessert, I could serve a bowl of fresh fruit and some cookies, either homemade (or if I run out of time) bought conveniently at a very good nearby bakery.

Grilled Wraps With Chicken, Ginger and Plum Sauce

Makes 4 servings

4 lavash sheets (about 9 by 11 inches) or 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) cream cheese, plus more if needed

1/2 cup plum sauce, plus more if needed (see note)

1/2 cup chopped green onions including 2 inches of green stems

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root

1 pound roasted chicken, preferably white meat, sliced (see note)

1 bunch watercress, cleaned and dried, with stems cut off and discarded

skewers or toothpicks

Place 1 lavash sheet on clean work surface. Spread with thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) cream cheese. Spread thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) plum sauce over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of green onions and 1/4 of ginger over plum sauce. Top with 1/4 of sliced chicken. Place enough watercress sprigs to form 1-inch-wide band across center of lavash. Roll up tightly and fasten wrap with skewer. Repeat to make 3 more wraps. (Wraps can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

When ready to grill wraps, prepare outdoor grill by oiling rack and arranging 4 to 5 inches from heat source or oil stove-top grill pan and place over medium heat. Grill wraps, turning several times until grill marks appear on all surfaces and they are hot inside, 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as time will vary with type of grill used and intensity of heat.

Cut each wrap diagonally into halves. Arrange cluster of watercress sprigs on serving plate and surround with sliced wraps. Serve warm.

Notes: Plum sauce is available in supermarket sections where soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce and other Asian ingredients are displayed.

Try to buy plain or lemon-roasted chicken. Avoid barbecued and highly spiced birds.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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