Citrus Juice

If you follow these two steps, you will almost double the volume of juice you get out of  lemons, limes, oranges, grapepfruit and the like.  First, pop them in the microwave.  One fruit for 15 seconds.  Each add’l fruit gets 5 more seconds.   Then, place them on the counter or cutting board and putting the force of your “elbow grease” behind them, roll them around a bit.  You’ll be amazed at the amount of juice you’ll get!  Lula uses citrus in a myriad of recipes…Pork Loin with Peach Mango Salsa,  and Salmon Piccata are two.  Go to www.lulasforlunch.com  and guess which menu items contain citrus…there are several on our Breakfasty/Brunchy menu alone!!! – Lula

Tomato Paste RULES!

Fresh fresh fresh…my )(*$)#&(.  Chefs have been using tomato paste (and making it – but YOU don’t do THAT please!) to enhance everything from seafood to beef dishes to sauces for millenia.  Tomato reduction contains umami!  We all have recipes in our collection that call for a teaspoon or a tablespoon of tomato paste.

What to DO with the other 4 ounces (or 10 depending on the can you get?  It comes in tubes now that will store in the fridge for forever, but you pay a premium.  Lula’s Catering ‘s method is – buy a can.  Put a piece of waxed paper or a pastry sheet on a cookie tray, dollop the whole can out in tablespoons on the paper, throw the sheet in the freezer for a few hours, pop it out, bag it up, and throw it in the freezer to have at the ready for the next YEAR.    You’re welcome! For weekly tips and tidbits to help you in the kitchen you can go HERE.

Goodbye My Bad Ass Gentle Giant

Daddy joined mom right before the holidays and the world is less without him.  The first time I remember my daddy (I come from a blended family) I was 6, and sent to spend the night with him at his house to play with my soon to be new brother Gerry.  I hardly knew this man but immediately he felt safe and kind.  At 6 years old what stood out to me was dinner – and how unlike in my house, Gerry was not made to eat his peas if he didn’t want to!  I was jealous.  That soon changed, as under mom’s roof we all belonged to the “clean plate club” whether we considered “the plate” edible or not.

A quiet man with a dry sense of humor, daddy (now on my birth certificate via adoption) was a great provider and source of stability.  He and mom did have their rows though, and you could always tell when, if the silence was deafening and Wendy’s came home in a bag for dinner.  Daddy’s humor did NOT extend to practical jokes (when performed on HIM) as mom soon found out when, their first April Fools Day together, she made pancakes with cardboard in the middle of them.  Bless her heart she thought that was going to be so funny, and I believe I witnessed daddy’s long gray face for the first time that day … this was a face that over the years we all knew to quietly back away from…few and far between, but when he blew, he BLEW!  One time, mom was “on strike” and was not at home for dinner, so I thought I might help and make hamburgers.   Daddy loves beef – I’ll make him feel good, right?!?  I quickly learned, when daddy threw the burgers across the room, that he doesn’t like creativity in his mix.  No onion, garlic, worchestershire, etc., – as the years wore on and my culinary skills developed, I had to be careful not to get too fancy on daddy’s “meat and potato” mentality.  A rare steak with the blood poured over the baked potato, and he’s in heaven, thank you very much!  Later in life daddy would develop an interest in cooking; we shared bread recipes and I was able to give him a few cooking tools that helped.  Yay!  Christmas solved!

With four kids in the house and daddy being a Navy man, special times with him were few and far between.   A couple of special “daddy/daughter” outings stand out in my mind when mom was sick and they had tickets to see, wait for it, how old are you??, Fred Waring, and another time Roger Williams (does the song “Autumn Leaves” ring a bell?)  I was seven years old, and I got to wear mom’s MINK STOLE! which I have in my closet right now, waiting for my brilliance to figure out a way to update it.  Any thoughts?  While I don’t buy real fur now, I see no reason not to repurpose this for sentimental reasons.
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Another daddy/daughter adventure was learning to drive.  I will be forever grateful that I learned on daddy’s Datsun 4 speed pickup truck.  Now, there’s not a vehicle on the road I couldn’t drive (though some might argue how safely).  Over a 3 month period I was getting lifeguard certification and the trips to and from the pool put daddy and me in the car, him extremely patient and kind every time I ripped his gears apart, and always ready to drop into Burger King for my favorite, The Whaler.  This is when I became the “Burger Queen”.  To this day I declare my sovereignty whenever I bestow the BK with my presence (every couple of years or so on a road trip) by demanding a crown, and announcing to whomever will listen that I “AM THE BURGER QUEEN!”  Gordon just adores it when I do this.  Not.  Remember those teenage years when you could not eat ENOUGH and none of it showed up on you anywhere?!?  Ahh…sweet memories…

We weren’t rich and most celebrations were spent at Red Lobster, but occasionally, VERY occasionally, we went to mom and dad’s favorite spot, the Elite Epicurean.  Now closed, this Greek white tablecloth restaurant was where I was introduced to tyropita, a greek cheese pastry.  Tyropita became one of the great loves of my life (go figure – it’s cheesy FOOD).  On Lula’s menu now is a derivation I have created from the more popular and well known Spanakopita, and I call it Spanyropita!!  Healthier than Tyropita, but cheesier than Spanakopita, it is the best of both worlds.

Daddy and I didn’t have much in common; his talents lay in his handiwork – he built furniture for our house, a harpsichord for my mom, and even a small replica OF our house in the back yard to house my mother’s music studio and his shop – this all from the foundation to the roof.  People were constantly in awe of his talents.

My talents lay in the arts – piano, singing, dance – and my first discovery of a Tuna Melt happened when daddy drove me 3.5 hours to Atlanta for a piano audition (it was the audition that landed me in Cincinnati on scholarship to CCM!).  I couldn’t eat BEFORE the audition – too nervous – but I was ravenous after, and prior to hitting the 3.5 hour trail home we ate in the Rich’s Dept. Store restaurant.  I have been a fan ever since of the Tuna Melt.  Naturally, Lula’s makes a better one than anyone else because of our fantastic Tuna Tapenade salad and our use of high quality cheddar!

Daddy also loved boats and we always had one.  We spent hours/days on the Mahvelous Mahgie (named after, you guessed it – my mother) – a 3 decked “cabin cruiser” docked at Lake Murray for the better part of my childhood and young adulthood.  Late in high school daddy converted it to a deep sea fishing boat and we dined on Wahoo quite a bit (look it up!).  Wahoo could be so “steaky” that we frequently had it with tomato sauce!  Later, daddy would discover a passion for sailing, and he traded in the Mahvelous Mahgie for the Shoo Fly, and spent literally the rest of his days winning or placing in regattas.  While I loved sailing, some of my fondest memories are of anchoring near our favorite Lake Murray beaches, swimming and splashing all day, and Dinty Moore Stew or Chef Boyardee Beefaroni being slapped out of a can into a cup for lunch.

Much later, when daddy’s brother died, daddy inherited his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and though my mother was worried about safety issues, daddy did develop a love for riding.  When my brother moved back to be near him in his old age, my crazy father got back on a new Harley and joined the local “gang” (of do-gooders who ride for charity) and became the revered and loved oldest member of “Harley Haven”.  He kept passing out though, so we convinced him that a trike would be best from now on.  Yes, Harley Davidson makes trikes.  Yes, they sound as obnoxious as the 2 wheeled version. 🙂
So who do we have here – a tall, quiet man, an excellent provider and confidant who races sailboats, bakes bread, builds furniture and rides motorcycles (all well into his eighties I might add)?  A bad ass gentle giant, that’s who.  My daddy.

 

A Note From Chef Lori

Don’t forget to check out Lula’s recipe for Winter Greens Lasagna in the latest issue of Edible Ohio Valley!

Click here to visit our website!

Subtly Cinnamon

Sweet Potato-Bourbon Shortbread w.Maple Pecan Streusel

EVERYBODY knows about cinnamon, right?!?  I guess you know that there are two types of cinnamon – both are the bark of trees.   There is the Cassia tree, and there is the Ceylon tree.

Volatile oils give cinnamon its strength.  Ceylon Cinnamon has the lowest volatile oil content (1-2%) and is the preferred cinnamon in Europe and Mexico.  In my opinion, it has more complexity and finesse than Cassia Cinnamon, which is much more in your “face” with volatile oils ranging from 3-7% depending on its originating terroir.    Lula’s Sweet Potato-Bourbon Shortbread with Maple Pecan Streusal, among many other desserts AND savory dishes, contains Ceylon Cinnamon, and sometimes you don’t even know!!

Korintje Cinnamon from Indonesia is the flavor most recognized by American palates as it is the most readily available in our supermarkets.  For fun, seek out China Tung Hing Cassia Cinnamon – you’ll notice it has a bigger “bite” in recipes, and a subtly different flavor from what you’re used to.

What you might NOT be familiar with, are Cassia BUDS.  They are precious and hard to find – resembling a clove in appearance, though perfect and pink.  Obviously, they are the bud of a cassia tree before it flowers – can you imagine the flavor of flowering cinnamon?!?  These buds are prized, and laid in the sun to dry.  They are used in pickling recipes, meat marinades and yummy warm holiday drinks.  Happy Hunting – and if you find some let Lula know!!  For more info like this you can get weekly click HERE!

Cloves – From Cigarettes to Spice Cake!

OK folks, back to “winter” spices…though the clove is also a fantastic home remedy for toothaches all year long…did you know dentists used to prescribe sucking on a whole clove to alleviate toothaches?  Oil of clove is a numbing agent.  Cloves are also extremely popular in cigarettes … but DON’T!! 🙂  You can get cloves ground ( a little dab’ll do ya – enough clove in your spice cake and you’ll FEEL the numbing!!), or you can get cloves whole.

This is another spice that you could be put to death for in the mid 1600’s – planting OR trading cloves was a capital offense, and cloves are also a critical ingredient in French cuisine – you can’t make a stock without studding a whole onion with cloves and throwing it in!!

Here’s the most fun fact of all … back in the day when people didn’t bathe very often and STANK, cloves were a favorite ingredient in pomander balls (the usually metal balls with holes that one stuffed with aromatics and hung from their belt (men) or dangled from their wrist (women) to hide the ODOR…  ahhh… the things you learn when armchair traveling with Lula…for more tips, tidbits and fun on a weekly basis you can sign up HERE.

Dessert-Pumpkin-Spice-Cake-w-Orange-Creme-Ganash-300x224

Cloves – From Cigarettes to Spice Cake!

Lula’s Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

OK folks, back to “winter” spices…though the clove is also a fantastic home remedy for toothaches all year long…did you know dentists used to prescribe sucking on a whole clove to alleviate toothaches?  Oil of clove is a numbing agent.  Cloves are also extremely popular in cigarettes … but DON’T!! 🙂  You can get cloves ground ( a little dab’ll do ya – enough clove in your spice cake and you’ll FEEL the numbing!!), or you can get cloves whole.

This is another spice that you could be put to death for in the mid 1600’s – planting OR trading cloves was a capital offense, and cloves are also a critical ingredient in French cuisine – you can’t make a stock without studding a whole onion with cloves and throwing it in!!

Here’s the most fun fact of all … back in the day when people didn’t bathe very often and STANK, cloves were a favorite ingredient in pomander balls (the usually metal balls with holes that one stuffed with aromatics and hung from their belt (men) or dangled from their wrist (women) to hide the ODOR…  ahhh… the things you learn when armchair traveling with Lula…for more tips, tidbits and fun on a weekly basis you can sign up HERE.

 

HOW MANY SPICES ARE IN ALLSPICE?

Just one! Allspice is the dried berry of a tree that grows all over the tropical Americas – called Pimenta Dioica. The berry is historically called allspice because it tastes like a combination of several spices, especially cloves. Clove can be a VERY strong spice both in aroma and taste (oil of clove is used as a numbing agent).   So when you want a hint of clove with a complex flavor, try allspice!!

Allspice is traditionally used in stuff like fruitcakes and plum puddings; Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses allspice in many savory applications as well as sweet. If you have a favorite use of allspice, let us know at http://lulasforlunch.com/blog .

 

MAD for Mace!

OK, week two of “fall/winter” spices…I’m going to continue where I left off and discuss MACE – which is simply the thin, apricot colored, lacy outer layer of the nutmeg seed.  Since there’s not as much of it, it has always been way more expensive.  It resembles nutmeg in scent and flavor but is more delicate.   Once again, this spice can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well as sweet.

At the height of its popularity the Dutch ruled the spice trade, and one year (1770) production exceeded demand by a year’s supply and the whole lot was BURNED – making Amsterdam the best scented city of all time!  Fun Fact:  Most American hot dog manufactures include mace in their recipe!!  And NOW Lula is going to give away a closely guarded secret..put a dash in your BBQ sauces (think my Kentucky Black Bourbon…) YUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuum.  Hit here for more tips and tricks!  With love, Lula

In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!