Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cajun Shrimp Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Rémoulade for Food 'N Flix January: Failure to Launch

This month's Food 'N Flix pick is the rom-com Failure to Launch  hosted by the fabulous Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures, who is hosting for the first time. (You can see her announcement post here.)

I saw Failure to Launch when it came out in 2006 (I am guessing on Netflix) and since then have caught various bits and chunks of it while flipping channels. I didn't want to buy a copy and since it was on cable, I scheduled it to record so I could watch it again, this time for food inspiration.

If you haven't yet seen it, Failure to Launch is definitely a chick-flick (not that there is anything wrong with that) ;-) with the pairing of Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, supported by Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Kathy Bates, and Terry Bradshaw. McConaughey is Tripp, a mid-30's guy, still living at home with his parents (Bates and Bradshaw). It's a common problem among their peer group and when they learn that one couple's son has "launched" out of the house due to the work of Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), they quickly hire her to get Tripp to move on with his life. Although Paula does this professionally, she and Tripp soon start developing feelings for each other--something neither one deals with well. Cooper and Bartha are Tripp's friends and Deschanel is Paula's roommate Kit. It's a bit silly, but good fun. (And, even if it wasn't fun, watching Bradley Cooper and Matthew McConaughey is no real hardship.

I have to explain about my dish inspiration and how I should know not to be guided by Wikipedia... ;-) I found Failure to Launch scheduled for DVR on January 12th. Meanwhile, while waiting to view it in order to do some actual planning this month (and not come in the day of the deadline), I wanted to refresh myself on the movie's setting. I looked at the film's summary on Wikipedia where it clearly states, "Tripp (Matthew McConaughey), a 35-year-old man, is still living with his parents Al (Terry Bradshaw) and Sue (Kathy Bates), in New Orleans." In thinking about the movie, I didn't really remember New Orleans or Creole/Cajun-style food being a big part of the film (which I thought was a shame given the setting), but it had been so long since I had seen or paid attention to it that it didn't concern me too much. I started thinking of Cajun food and seafood, given the whole "failure to launch" theme, and remembering that there was water and boats/sailing. So I had it in my head to make some Cajun-style shrimp and remoulade sauce unless something else really inspired me in my watching. 

Flash forward to viewing the film this weekend... it opens with a city view that although I didn't recognize it, just didn't seem like New Orleans from photos I had seen. OK, still not an issue. Then, I saw the scene where Tripp and friends are eating tacos and thought it would be fun to do a taco-fusion with my Cajun shrimp, using the remoulade as a taco sauce. Since I am cutting out grains (OK, gluten mainly), dairy, and sugar for a bit to test how it clears my lungs, and didn't want to make the effort to get gluten-free tortillas, I decided to use lettuce leaves for the shells. Dish done and decided in my head before the first fifteen minutes of the movie--which as it turns out never really names a setting at all but seems pretty clearly not New Orleans. Additional research said that it was set in Maryland and that scenes were filmed in "Annapolis; New Castle, Del.; Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Del; Leesburg, Ala.; and New Orleans, La" and a publicist for the film is quoted as saying, "although most of the filming will be in New Orleans the town the movie is set in is not identified and neither are the scenes that are shot locally" and "It's not set in New Orleans and it is not set in Alabama," it's kind of a generic Anytown USA."  So... very long story short--don't trust Wikipedia and then pretty much decide on your dish before sitting down to watch the actual movie.

Since my stomach was already set on Cajun-shrimp taco lettuce wraps and my stomach is usually a bully once it makes up its mind, we will just call my inspiration the New Orleans filming locations of the movie + the taco-eating scene and just enjoy these delicious and healthy wraps. ;-)  

Speaking of food inspiration, if I hadn't have been so decided, there was actually a surprising amount of food in the film to pick from, such as breakfasts of pancakes, eggs, bacon and oatmeal, the aforementioned tacos (with margaritas and guac), a barbecue with a "Guava Smasher" cocktail, inspired by a vacation in Hawaii, Starbucks and a plethora of cafe pastries, carrots and Power Bars ("Everybody loves chocolate."--except maybe chipmunks...), sushi and other dishes at a Japanese restaurant, Kahlúa and cream ("Guys who drink Kahlúa and cream are not power guys."), chips, a crab boil, beer, wine, and champagne, ice cream, sandwiches, the list goes on and on...

I kept these fusion taco wraps colorful and light with the base a combination of ingredients that you would find in/on a taco; lettuce (baby romaine and butter), purple cabbage, red pepper, avocado, and lime; topped with the Cajun-spiced shrimp and a creamy-tangy-slightly spicy rémoulade sauce to drizzle on top. I tossed the shrimp into an equal mix of Creole-spice mix, smoked paprika, white pepper and garlic powder, then quickly fried them in a little coconut oil, over high heat, until pink and cooked through. I like my rémoulade sauce with capers in it, but since I was using a squeeze bottle, I used the caper juice in the sauce and sprinkled the capers on top of the tacos as garnish. 

Rémoulade Sauce for Drizzling
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup of sauce)

1/3 cup mayonnaise or yogurt (I use Mayo vegan mayonnaise--usually the garlic one)
2 Tbsp creole mustard (or a good grainy mustard)
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tsp horseradish
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp caper juice (or pickle juice)
2 Tbsp almond milk or water + extra to thin 
Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients through caper juice into a blender and blend until smooth, adding enough milk or water to get it to a drizzling consistency. Taste and add Tabasco and salt and pepper as desired.

Notes/Results: Although the moral of my story is to not rely on Wikipedia for my movie info, I am really happy I did because these taco wraps were delicious! Like tacos and Cajun-shrimp had a baby. ;-) Lots of flavor--the warm, nicely spicy shrimp and sauce contrasting with the cool crisp veggies and creamy avocado. The tang of the rémoulade and the little bursts of briny caper and lime juice were the perfect compliment. Although I over-filled my lettuce leaves and they were ultra messy, they were well worth the napkins. Quick to make, colorful on the plate, healthy, and delicious, I will happily make these again.

But the best thing about re-watching Failure to Launch so closely for food inspiration? I never realized that I have the same pillow cover pattern as Paula and Kit (who do have one of the best movie apartments ever.) The movie set design in the top photo was done by Jeremy Conway Design. For my couch pillows (shown in the two bottom photos--notice Max posing in the corner), I had a designer locally, Isla Schmidt, who picked out a eclectic mix of patterns for my living room including this one. Fun huh?! ;-) 

The deadline for this Food 'N Flix is Thursday, January 28th and Amy will be rounding up all of the posts on her blog shortly after. If you missed this round and love food, films and foodie films, join us for February when we will be viewing the foreign foodie film The Lunch Box, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

***Giveaway Reminder***

If you are a book lover I have two Rafflecopter Giveaways going on right now--open to US and Canada addresses. 

Click on the links below to see my reviews and enter either or both!
The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan (fun foodie fictionEnds: 1/25/16

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (creepy psychological thriller about twins)  Ends 2/1/16



  1. I saw that movie a while back, very funny! That's a great shrimp taco you made, never do I think of using lettuce as the wrap part. Genius.

  2. Oh Wikipedia! How frustrating! But you picked such a great recipe! The shrimp & taco work perfectly with the film!

  3. Looks lovely. And sometimes, things are just meant to be eaten messily.

  4. I LOVE these cajun shrimp tacos on lettuce leaves. I think it works great with the food inspiration of the film. I am pinning this recipe to our Fish Friday Foodies board and sharing it with the group on facebook for inspiration. Thanks Deb.

  5. haha, despite the misleading wiki information, you definitely ended up with a perfect dish!

  6. Wow love that you still went with a Cajun recipe but what a story lol. And the dish looks awesome. I once saw a blanket I have on The Walking Dead and my coffee mug on a British show lol, I totally get the pillow sighting.


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