Labeling your Leftovers!

I don’t know HOW MANY times I’ve put leftovers in containers (you know the cottage cheese container that you feel really bad about just throwing away – SAVE OUR PLANET! – so you wash it and re-use it as many times as possible before it goes into recycling)…and said to myself “Self, you’re incredibly smart and quick and have the best memory; of COURSE you’re going to remember what’s in this container next month when you’re scrounging for a quick lunch”!

NOT.  So I started using folder labels to identify and date the food.  Didn’t work – labels fell off.  So I bought freezer labels but really resented how expensive they were.  So I bought myself a permanent black Sharpie and started writing stuff on the lids.  The lids got “full” (I’m really concerned about the environment).  THEN I saw a tip SOMEwhere I can’t remember – and I’m going to share it with you.  Buy a roll of blue painter’s tape at the hardware store.  Five bucks, you can tear pieces off with your hands – no need for scissors, it won’t fall off in the freezer, that five dollar investment will pay off for 5 YEARS,  and it’s easily removable when you need to switch labels.  There.  For more tips and tidbits subscribe here.

Keep your Guacamole GREEN!

I hate it when my beautiful avocado stuff starts to “turn” and gets dull and brown.   Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  has to make a pretty large volume upon occasion and sometimes it has to sit in the fridge for a couple of days – and there’s just not enough acid in the recipe to keep it in the “Kermit” family, SO…..I cover the surface with a thin film of WATER.  The guac is dense enough (and fatty enough!)  that it won’t absorb the water – so when I’m  ready to use it I just tilt the container and pour the water off and voila!  it’s just as vibrant as when I made it!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Merry Christmas!I miss my mom.  She hasn’t left this earth, but she’s not really here either – she has Alzheimer’s.  I would really like to feed my mom this Mother’s Day – she would love the menu (well…most of it, anyway…like these Deconstructed Truffled Deviled Eggs) and that’s saying something – she has never really even liked to eat!

Instead, I’d like to feed you.  The good news is that you can mix and match Lula’s selections from our Mother’s Day menu.  You can order for as few as 8 people on up.  And we deliver the day before with presentation instructions so it’s foolproof and you can take all of the credit if you want! 🙂  Click here to see the goodies from which you can choose!

A Note From Chef Lori

Here’s another offering on our Mother’s Day menu…Raspberry or Strawberry Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Dust – creamy, sweet, tart, cool…

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Does Gluten make your Tummy Hurt?

CHICKPEA BREAD!

Here are some alternative flours and how to use them:

Rice Flour is pretty high in protein and can provide the structure you want in baked goods, but make sure it is finely ground.  If you’ve bought a brown rice flour keep it in the fridge or freezer so it won’t go rancid – the germ and bran layer contains oil.

Nut Flours, when ground properly, simulate the grain of wheat flours but contain gluten producing proteins.  You can’t produce bread  or cake with these, but adding them to regular flour to lower the gluten content will make your finished product very tasty and tenderized.  You really want to store these in the freezer with their high oil content – they’re so expensive you don’t want them to go rancid!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses nut flours in a few of our pastry dishes.

Buckwheat Flour, even though the name contains the word wheat, isn’t wheat in any shape or form – it’s more closely related to rhubarb and sorrel!!  Protein is high – about 13%, and people make crepes and soba noodles with it, as well as the Russian pancake called blini.  Try , which can be made at your request with 100% buckwheat flour, or a combination of wheat flour & buckwheat – you get the same light texture but all of the fabulous flavor of buckwheat!

Chickpea, or garbanzo flour can be made from raw OR roasted beans.  It as a really high protein content at around 20% and can be used for bread and other savory gluten-free baking.

An Asparagus Primer

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Roast Beef w/Homemade Wasabi Creme

Spring has sprung and with it so has the asparagus!  Did you know asparagus is related to the lily?  You can get green, purple, and white asparagus for a lovely bouquet.  Don’t shave purple asparagus either – the fabulous color is only skin deep.  Purple asparagus contains about 20% more sugar than the other two, and less fiber, so it’s sweeter and more tender.

Store ALL of your asparagus upright (cut stalk down) in a little bit of water in the fridge – it’ll last much longer!  The next time you visit Lula’s website, or Lula’s Facebook Page, order our  refreshing Chilled Creamy Asparagus Soup,  our lovely Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart (or tartlettes if you’re having an appetizer party!) or our FABULOUS Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Roast Beef with our Homemade Wasabi Crème!

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff LAST Post – Sorghum

What a plant.  This stuff is kind of like hemp in its varied uses and value.  Look it up!  I will only concentrate on Sorghum SYRUP which comes from a native African grass.  Mostly made in the southeast and gulf states, every small batch and brand is different – owing probably to the soil and climate where the grass is grown.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves sorghum for its earthy, malty and molasses like flavors and odors – it contributes depth to recipes and creates that “what IS that flavor” question on the tip of your palate! It is a (no longer) secret ingredient in Lula’s Kentucky Black Bourbon Sauce and is key in our popular Sorghum, Cider and Sassafras Vinaigrette, gracing our Heirloom Beet Salad pictured above.

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 6

You don’t hear much about Golden Syrup outside of Great Britain,  and even there you’ll almost exclusively find the brand Lyle’s, but it is well loved across the pond.  It’s about 25% sweeter than sugar and is made from cane.  It has a butterscotch and toffee flavor.  the Brits like to use it in the flapjack, which is a bar cookie, not a pancake.  It IS great poured over pancakes however!!  It is also called “treacle“.  Ever heard of the movie “Brimstone and Treacle”?  If you’re a Sting fan you might want to check it out!

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 5 – Cane Syrup

Nothing more than simmered down pure cane juice, the inhabitants of Louisiana LOVE Cane Syrup as it’s the easiest liquid sugar for them to get – about half of the sugar cane in the US is grown in Louisiana.  Cane Syrup has a burnt caramel flavor, sometimes described as boozy.  Louisianans use it over sausage, biscuits, and in cakes like fruit and spice.  You should too!

BACK to the Sugar – Liquid, Part 4 – Agave

Agave Nectar is all the rage amongst naturalists these days…it comes from the Blue Agave succulent that grows mostly in Mexico, which also gives us tequila.   It can be used in baking and some folks prefer it – as it has a relatively neutral taste.    As with all liquid sugars in recipes, you want to reduce the other liquid in the recipe by one quarter.

Bienvenido a Puerto Rico!

SCRATCH. SEASONAL. LOCAL.

Bienvenido a Puerto Rico!

Merry Christmas!

TOP 12 LESSONS LEARNED IN PUERTO RICO – COURTESY OF DOS GRINGAS TOURS

12)   Manifesting in Puerto Rico is no different than string theory anywhere else.  Upgrade your rental car and hotel simply by believing you are royalty and acting as such.

11)   Rough looking campesinos in camouflage wielding machetes aren’t always scary: sometimes they’re there just to hack up your chicken or your pig before you eat it.

10)   Stalk the uniformed service staff when they get off shift.  They will lead you to the best food.

9)      “The Zika” is rarely contracted in winter – even though 2 mosquito bites yield chills and a fever.

8)      Chills and fever are most likely a severe allergic reaction to feral cats.

7)      Feral cats are to be revered from afar, VERY afar.
6)
If you WANT to spend $18.00 on Benadryl, go to La Farmacia.  If you’d like to spend that money on a souvenir or trinket (or roadside food), then get your Benadryl at Walgreens.

5)      Do NOT trust Siri to lead you to ANY destination through the mountains.  She will lead you to a crack house with guard dogs – some caged, some chained, some jumping wildly on your vehicle.

4)      Perform a Spanish Inquisition when ordering a salad.  Otherwise, you will get iceberg, a hothouse tomato, and an onion slice.  Avocado is always available for about $10.00 for 2 slices.  In short, fresh veggies are not Puerto Rico’s strong suit.

3)      You really need to like garlic.  If you don’t, learn to like garlic. It is often the only condiment available.

2)    You will not go to jail if you choose not to eat Mofongo, though it is implied that you will.

1)      Get in good with your rental car valet.  He will make your speeding ticket disappear.

There’s so much to DO in PR – sun, sand, sea for people like my traveling companion Michelle of Flourish Design, and food, drink, the outdoors and culture for me!   I have to go back because I missed some pretty awesome adventures.  The ones I DID experience I want to experience again (except the crack house).   The rainforest was beyond beautiful and serene, and a hike to the top amongst the clouds yielded a view of the Virgin Islands through cyan and cerulean waters.  Hiking makes you hungry though, and protein fits the bill.  Protein is job ONE in PR – a lot of pig and of course, seafood.   What I love about Puerto Rican meat is that it’s unadulterated.    Pure, charred, juicy, barky, rich MEAT.  Tender, fresh, briny, translucent, fall apart FISH.

A few plugs because they DESERVE it:

Casa Melaza was our host for a magnificent rum tutorial and tasting.  You can taste one or 20, but there are 3 organized tastings that they steer you toward – lower end “flavored” rums (think raspberry vodka), mid range white and amber rums, and rich, dark anejo rums.  Of COURSE I fell in love with the most expensive ones…  but the winner IS….drumroll please…. Don Q Anejo Reserva.  It is here that our wonderful informative host inspired me with his description of the Puerto Rican Palate to come up with my latest menu item:  The Don Trouble Slider.  Some of you have already had it – go ahead – tell everybody how delicious it is!!

Octopus Tostones at the 5 star Hotel Vanderbilt Octopus is very difficult to prepare for even an accomplished chef – its tendency to be tough overwhelms most expert hands.  Not at this restaurant!  I’ve never tasted such tender tentacles!!  The tostones themselves, twice fried unripe plantains with a dusting of cornmeal, were crispy yet tender at the same time.  Our bartender Pablo at the pool bar deserves a special mention because even though he works for tips, he did not have to be THAT helpful – with handwritten lists of out of the way unknown places for dancing, eating, and people watching.

Aqui Se Puede Bar – this hole in the wall means BUSINESS.  Any serious barfly (me) knows when they walk into a PUERTO RICAN bar and see 15 or so different scotches including Glenrothes that they’ve found the motherland.  I see you nodding.  You know who you are.  These folks dry their own fruit, make their own bitters and shrubs, and smoke your cocktail (if it calls for that) right in front of you.  My Don Q was unadulterated except with a huge block of clear ice that allowed it to chill ever so slightly without becoming diluted.

Ostra Cosa Bar & Restaurant – They don’t have a website, but they have a facebook page if you’re interested.  This was maybe the friendliest place I went all week (the anchovy pic is from here – and boy were they good).  By the time I left, I was family with the manager, his mom & dad, his aunt, and the owner.  The owner is the brother of a very famous singer, whose name I cannot remember (no it’s definitely not J-Lo).  This is in no way an aspersion on the famousness of the singer – it is a slam to my lack of latin music knowledge.

El Tenedor  – take a drive up into “central” Puerto Rico to this destination restaurant famous for its skirt steak.  Sometimes, simple is best, and they know how to grill a steak, with ONE MORE TIME a side of garlic sauce (this time some herbs are mixed in and it’s called chimichurri).  Housed in an old rum distillery, this place has been welcoming families from all OVER the island for decades.  Kind of a Sunday drive sort of thing.  They have a pet parrot that will flirt unmercifully with you!  I fell in love.

In short, I WILL be going back, hopefully sooner rather than later.  And I will drag Gordon even if it’s kicking and screaming.  He has no IDEA what he missed!

 

A Note From Chef Lori

 

 

 

 

 

With Easter and Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’d love to help you “eat in” this year – enjoy your family celebration in the comfort of your own home while we do the work…We’ll deliver the day before and you can take the credit!  Details here:

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