Onions

If you’re like me, you go through around 5 pounds of onions a week.  NOT so my friend, who might buy an onion on a special occasion because she’s neither a cook or particularly fond of onions and only requires them for a recipe that requires them.  How to pick one onion out of the barrel at the store?  Well, obviously, look for an onion that is blemish free on the skin.  Beyond that, you can tell if it is fresh if the “rings” are more tightly packed, and this can be felt if the stem end is tight and firm.  If there’s any give, that means the onion has lost some moisture over time and the rings are, as a result, more loose.

Honor Thy Aunts and Uncles!

Honor Thy Aunts and Uncles!

I just returned from a fabu Research & Revivification adventure with girlfriends in Breckenridge Co.  It was wildflower season (Columbine to your left folks) and I felt truly zen working my glutes and calves where “the hills are alive”…but I also expected, as always, to bring back culinary inspiration and a new twist on something I found.  My girlfriends and I went to the grocery store and compromised on food for the condo, but I said I would be eating out more than they as I had to explore the local fare to excite my palate and continue to inspire my peeps.  Just.  Didn’t.  Happen.

I can disappointingly (and somehow at the same time gladly) say that the mountains, valleys, and kitchens in and around Breckenridge Co have nothing on our chefs and kitchens in the Ohio River Valley.  We’re all doing brussels sprouts one hundred different ways… and I myself have culinarily explored elk and bison etc. in as much depth as I saw on their menus.  Full disclaimer – Bear, not so much.  Even their trout is no more wondrous than what is prepared here.  So, I was a little down.

On our last night, we went back to Denver for the flight home the next day.  We ate at a recommended local restaurant that was fine, but that’s all.  I remarked, over Linguini con Vongole (yes, nothing more exciting than that on their menu) at my frustration and joked that the best thing I had during the whole trip was J’s family pie crust.  You see, on our FIRST day in Breckenridge we visited with family.  J kept telling us how special they were but…you know…they’re her FAMILY.  85 year old Aunt Ann and 85 year old Uncle Frank greeted us from their 3rd floor deck as we pulled up into their paradise.  I won’t bore you with the fantastic details of our visit/their house/their land, but I WILL tell you that their knowledge of the flora and fauna of their region is OUTSTANDING, and they took us on a hike that will remain in my memory forever.  Switzerland’s wildflowers have NOTHING on Colorado’s!   It was on this hike that I had the best food of my trip (with the exception of Aunt Ann and Uncle Frank’s table).  From Waxberry to Wild Parsley to Wild Roses, I traipsed behind Uncle Frank and let him identify and urge me to “taste!”.  My most delectable bite was Wild Lettuce.  It popped in my mouth and released cool fresh water.

When we returned from our hike, K and I left J to her family for the afternoon and went and did our own thing, promising to return for dinner.  When we did, the octogenarians had put out a spread of fresh veggies, lasagna (J’s mother’s recipe) and a rhubarb & strawberry crisp that they pulled from the YARD that afternoon while we were gone.    I don’t even LIKE dessert but the tart, fresh fruit and the sweet, crisp crust bowled me over.  NOTHING but 2 fruits, a sprinkle of sugar, and the crust recipe I’m so generously giving you here  and it was some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Perhaps because it was made with such reverence, appreciation and love for their land and the bounty it bestows if you just honor it.   Look how happy we were!!

A Note From Chef Lori

Labor Day and Rozzi’s famous fireworks are just around the corner…we’d love to party with you!  Whether it’s a picnic or pre “show” appetizers, book now – I only have two hands! 🙂

Click here to visit our website!

 

I’m Sweet on Sweet Onions!

Enjoy the Vidalia while you can…its harvesting seasons is short – but did you know that there are other types of sweet onions out there to enjoy?  The sweet onion is defined by its low sulfur content and higher water content than pungent onions.  Many consider the Vidalia king, but did you know the Bermuda onion is also a sweet onion?  How about Walla Walla from Washington State, or the Texas 1015 (also known as the Million Dollar Baby as it took just over one million dollars to research and develop it).  Others include Pecos, Sunbrero, Carzalia, and Sweetie Sweet, to name a few.   SC Sweets are from my home state of South Carolina, grown in the peanut belt.  When the sweet onions can be found, I make my Peach-Vidalia Relish.    If you ask real nicely, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering will stuff a chicken breast with Goat Cheese and drizzle a little relish on top (thank you Debby!)   Please enjoy this picture of it placed atop a Dauphinois Crostini!

Don’t Throw That Lemon Out!

lemons'nlimes

Citrus costs have skyrocketed.  At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering we use alot of citrus.  It’s a major flavoring agent and provides depth and background to many dishes.  It’s not cheap, though, so we save wherever and whenever we can.  Buying bags of lemons or limes instead of the one you need at a time can save well over 50% and you don’t have to waste a drop (or a curl).

You can zest your citrus and freeze it, and after it’s zested, you can squeeze all of the juice out into a bowl (and depending on what method you’re using you won’t even have any seeds to contend with!).  Keep a plastic ice tray for just such occasions and you will always have a measured supply of citrus on hand.  Each “cube” spot holds the juice of approximately one lemon or lime.  Fill your tray, freeze it, and pop them out into a baggie to keep in your freezer for easy, measured access.

If you want to know the best way to get maximum juice out of your citrus, you can search “lemon, citrus, or juice” at blog.lulasforlunch.com and a previous “how-to” will pop up!!  Now SMILE, sourpus!!  – Lula

Crystallized Honey

Does this ever happen to your honey?  Grainy, clumpy, not pretty…but there’s an easy fix or two…my favorite and seems to yield the best results:  NEVER let anything touch your honey.  Pour it into/onto a spoon or measuring device.  Crystallization is mostly caused by moisture, and next, bacteria (not necessarily bad stuff that will hurt you).  If you keep your honey moisture free you probably won’t have crystallization.  If you do, however, just put the whole jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.  That’ll do the trick.  You can use the microwave, on-and-“off”ing every few seconds and stirring, but that’s way more trouble!  Now, go enjoy a good cup of hot tea with some honey. – Lula

Instant Macaroons

Well…not really.   BUT….I have good news regarding egg whites.  You don’t need to throw them away when you’re separating eggs for the yolks in baking.  FREEZE THEM!  Yes, they thaw perfectly fine and you can then whip up your whites for meringue whenever you want!  YAY!  If you don’t have any on hand right now, please enjoy

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this pic of Fleuri’s (one of our faves in Charlottesville VA) Meringue and Puff Swan!

 

A Southern Fried 4th of July!

After a cooking party using a pressure cooker and beginning preparations for my 7 year “standing” appointment with my 4th of July clients, I began to reminisce about my grandmother and the roll food played in HER life – hence, mine.  I spent every summer with grandmomma and granddaddy and so, Wednesday night Baptist suppers, Sunday night suppers, picnics, and trips around the region brought expected AND unexpected food and memories.

My mind wanders (just ask Gordon) – I have to work hard to complete a verbal sentence because my brain is always way ahead of my mouth – and the pressure cooker at this party made me very nostalgic for grandmomma’s fried chicken.  They asked “how do you make FRIED chicken in a pressure cooker?” – I answered “I have no idea, but you might ask Colonel Sanders!” … I’ve previously mentioned that grandmommas fried chicken was the pre-curser to Kentucky Fried.  EVERY aforementioned event was graced with this chicken, mildly warm to room temperature, in a pyrex pan covered with a cloth.  So juicy, and yes, crispy!  Not all over – but all around the edges.  The rich, flavorful skin and juicy flesh totally made up for the for the “not so crispy” center…later on I would order Extra Crispy for a while, but then returned to the flavors and textures of my youth.

This reminiscence made me mention Fried Chicken to my client who is totally on board…so, Fried Chicken for the 4th it is!!  Along with Lula’s 5 Cheese Mac (sometimes 6), creamy and crunchy…and our Blueberry Florus Parfaits with Blueberries fresh and sweet  from Thistlehair Farm!

IF you’d like Lula’s Fried Chicken recipe (which is flavorful and crispy, but cast iron pan fried NOT pressure cooked) click here.  You can always get quick tips and tricks from Lula here .  What’s YOUR favorite Independence Day food?

 

Pineapple

How do you pick a pineapple in a store?  I always pluck out a center leaf – if it comes out quite easily the pineapple is ripe.  Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, though, I guess everyone else will do the same and when I get there, maybe that’s not such a good test anymore!!  So, I’ll smell it at the stem end.  The stronger and sweeter it smells (it should REALLY reek of pineapple), the riper it is.  If you really need a pineapple and they are all giving off only faint smells, buy it and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days till the aroma develops.  Then slice into that juicy bad boy!!  – Lula

Yummy, Dirty Leeks

Leeks are grown in sandy soil.  Most tutorials talk about slicing a leek lengthwise, removing the root and dark green portions, and rinsing the exposed portion under water.  This is appropriate if you’re grilling or roasting the halved leek as a dish in and of itself, but a much CLEANER and very easy way to clean leeks if they are an ingredient is to fill a bowl with cold water, slice off the root and dark green, cut the leak in half lengthwise, then lay the cut sides down on a cutting board and slice through the leeks at 1/4 to 1/2 inch intervals.  Dump the slices into the water and swoosh around with your hands, let them sit and settle, then gently lift out the floating leeks and see all of the dirt at the bottom of the bowl!    If you’re sauteeing you can just lay them on a towel or paper towels to drain; if they’re going into a soup or stew just dump them right in – the extra moisture won’t harm a thing.  Here’s to “clean eating”!  For more tips and tidbits you can subscribe to Lula’s blog here.

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