Hot Tea Weather

I love a good cup of herbal tea…”regular” tea gives me a headache.  Did you know herbal tea isn’t tea at all?  The technical term is “tisane” for any infusion with hot water of leaves, herbs, bark etc.,  that are NOT tea leaves. There is only one kind of tea: Camellia Sinensis.  The various names you like or hear have to do with place (where the leaves come from) or flavorings.  For instance, if you like Earl Grey, you’re probably enjoying the bergomot orange oil added to it.  Real tea comes in four types:  black (fermented), oolong (semi-fermented), green (unfermented) and white – traditionally only from buds not leaves, and sun dried to prevented further oxidation).  Lula’s famous Lavendar Honey Tea is made with fermented (black) decaffeinated tea and lavendar from our garden (as well as honey, of course!)  We combine the best of both worlds to bring you a unique and delightful flavor, which can be enjoyed cold OR hot!

Milk – What’s the Difference?

 

We all have our favorite “blend” – skim, 2% etc., and we know what we like to taste when drinking a big glass of ice cold milk.  BUT…can we just use whatever milk we have in the fridge to go into a recipe when it calls for milk?   Well, you can try…but not really… As with all cooking, science plays a big part – and the chemical makeup of fat milk vs. no fat milk does make a difference. 

 

When a recipe calls for just “milk” and doesn’t give you any direction, what to do? Just make sure there’s some fat in your milk.  I always have on hand skim milk because that’s what I like to drink (hormone and pesticide free, of course!).  I always have on hand half ‘n half because that’s what my beloved husband says I like in my coffee (yes it’s true…I have no idea what goes in my coffee – only Gordon does).  Since half ‘n half is half whole milk and half cream, it’s got plenty of fat  to make things taste dreamy, but more fat than we like on our hips.  Cutting it with no fat skim milk by ½ seems to keep my recipes rich, but not too fatty.  If you have 2% milk on hand at all times, I’d use that in its entirety as it has enough fat not to mess with a final recipe’s consistency.  Just don’t use all skim milk in recipes unless it is specifically called for because recipe developers count on the fat in conjunction with their other ingredients to create the final product consistency they intended upon. 

 

At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering we have many different recipes for the same thing – for instance, our fat FREE Smashed Potatoes (we throw a couple of secret ingredients in there to fool your tastebuds into thinking how rich they are) or our Cream Cheese Horseradish Smashed Potatoes which uses skim milk to keep the fat content down, but the cream cheese keeps the luscious mouth feel and taste UP.  So…if you want a lower fat version of something – just ask!!

 

 

Cucumbers and your BRAIN!

Lomi ala Lula – Jade Pearl Rice, Crushed Wasabi Peas

Did you know that cucumbers are BRAIN FOOD?!?  And the fresher they are (as in you’re growing them right now aren’t you?!?  are they coming out of your ears?!?) the more brain boost they pack?

Cucumbers are high in potassium which helps brain cells talk to each other.   When they talk to each other they maintain healthy connections and stay lubricated.   Potassium also helps you with that sunny disposition, and lack of it contributes to depression

Cukes also contain an anti-inflammatory plant compound called fisetin, which researchers are discovering helps to delay age related nerve cell decline in the brain. You can’t get more brainy than Lula’s for Lunch,,,and More! Catering ‘s  Lomi a’la Lula  –  Salmon and Cucumber in one genius WALLOP!!

It’s SEAFOOD Time!

 

Ruby Red Trout Skin

Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:

  •  Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times.  It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
  • If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
  • Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
  • It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp.  By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm.  Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
  • If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger.  Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood!  The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )

 

Your Nose Knows!

Smell is your most powerful sense. I don’t know about you, but I have been in the middle of nowhere, caught the scent of something, and it has brought back a memory I didn’t even know I had!

Recently, Gordon and I were drinking a bottle of wine, and as with all wines I find special, I was more into sticking my nose into it than tasting it. There is a special delight in anticipating the taste when the bouquet is so enticing. I take my time, inhaling sharply, inhaling slowly, swirling the glass thereby aerating the wine, inhaling again, sometimes repeating this process so many times that Gordon is frustrated and says TASTE IT already!   He wants to discuss what I find in my nose and in my mouth and compare it to his experience. Yet another joy of wine tasting.  Frequently we will open a bottle, pour a taste immediately, then let the bottle sit for 10 minutes, and taste again, let the bottle sit 20 minutes more, then taste again having lovely snooty discussions about the changes that have occurred.  And if you’re raising an eyebrow as to why I haven’t brought up decanting, let me tell you why decanting can be a lovely way to show off the color of a beautiful wine, and a lovely way to aerate an important wine if you’re drinking it immediately (not to mention showing off that fancy decanter). But if you have the time to let the wine sit and settle, do it my way. It’s way more fun.  And a lesser wine, sold for a premium price to an unsuspecting buyer, will fall totally flat after decanting.

This particular wine, a 2014 Cuttings from The Prisoner Wine Company, made me respond emotionally.  Sometimes I respond intellectually but this time, there was definitely a warm fuzzy safety elicited by the bouquet and I didn’t even struggle to figure it out.  I just went there and enjoyed it.  Then I tasted, and joy was definitely brought forth! The palette lived up to the nose in an extraordinary way, bringing forth complexities to be mulled over; reveled in.  I began trying to put words to my experience. Leather, I said. Fine Wool, I said. Cherries, I said. Tobacco, I said. GRANDADDY!! I said.  And joy was born. I was back in my grandfathers arms, in his lap on his armchair, with his pipe at the ready on the humidor side-table. He liked a cherry tobacco. He wore his business suit.  He had just come home from work and we were eager to snuggle.  Thank you, Cuttings, for the memory!

A Note From Chef Lori

Did you know that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering can work with your wine and pair your food? We do it all of the time! We also can provide your wine and match your food. Here’s a little tip for you!

Click here to visit our website!

A Beer Primer

Beer

I’m not a beer drinker.  There, I said it.  There are some beers that taste good to me, but in general, I don’t like the carbonation (I don’t drink pop either) and what it does to my ‘constitution”.  That being said, Cincinnati s a great beer town, and is becoming more  so every day with our new micro-breweries and pubs.  So, I thought, perhaps there are others out there who might like to know what they’re drinking, or talking about, when celebrating our city’s great tradition.  Here you go:

Beer (ALL beer – lager, ale, stout, bock, pilsener, porter, etc) is made from the same ingredients:  water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.  What makes a different taste, style, or type of beer is the addition of other ingredients, different types of yeast, and fermentation temperature.  Age also changes the flavor of beer.  So let’s touch on the 5 major “types” of beer and try and make sense of it:

ALE:    Ales are not aged, and are made with a yeast that floats to the top of the vat during fermentation.  They contain a little more alcohol than lagers.  They often have a hint of fruit in their flavor or aftertaste.  A type of ale is STOUT.  Darker and stronger than regular ale, a stout is brewed with toasted malt.

LAGER:  The yeast in lagers sinks to the bottom of the vat and is fermented slowly and at cool temperatures, and take one to six weeks to age.  Types of lager are:

PILSENER:  About a third fewer calories and about 20% less alcohol than regular lager.  Pale and golden, they are your “light” beers.

PORTER:  The stronger flavor of this lager comes from toasting the malt before brewing.  It is a  bit higher in alcohol content as well.

BOCK:  A dark German style of lager, bocks are traditionally spring beers, but these days they are brewed year round.  They are rich, and thicker (in Germany they are made by freezing the beer and taking off the top layer of ice to thicken it).  Bocks are brewed with roasted malts.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses beer in some of our recipes.  Try our Ballpark Casserole – our Brats and Metts are poached in beer before grilling.  Or, this fall, order our Cheddar-Ale Fondue, served with our Brats and Metts as well as our homemade German Salt Rye!  You can always order our Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from our Deli!  Cheers!

Tomato, ToMAHto

We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!

Eat the BLUE in that BERRY!

Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry-Floris Compote

OK, let’s get all sciency about blueberries.  Because it’s important.  Blueberries may just be the #1 Super Food…and we all need to take advantage of THAT!    Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Our bodies are incapable of producing several essential antioxidants, and you get a dose of all three of these when you eat a handful of blueberries:  Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and the mineral Manganese.
  2. Blueberries slow aging, fight disease, and provide the same bacteria blocking action that cranberries do to help prevent urinary tract infections.
  3. Compounds in blueberries help prevent all kinds of dementia.

Blueberries are available year round in the supermarket – no, they’re not as fabulous as going out and picking them yourself in July, but you have NO EXCUSE to not eat them year round and HELP YOU BE A BETTER YOU!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering utilizes blueberries in salads, barbeque sauces, and of course, desserts, to give you a few ideas…while you’re conjuring up your own please salivate to the picture of our Lemon Shortbread with Blueberry Floris Compote above!

BITTER Sweet … Don’t Let Them Fool You!

Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan.  I looked over past blogs to see if I’d  given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar.  Here’s why it’s important:  SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE.  Just like a narcotic.  It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop.  And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it.  Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:

*Fructose
*Sucrose
*Agave
*Dextrose
*Lactose
*Galactose
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Sorghum
*Stevia
*Treacle
*Sucanat
*Panela
*Evaporated Cane Juice
*Dextran
*Anhydrous Dextrose

 

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