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
I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. On any given day from the first of May through the end of October Columbia is the Devil’s Armpit – but with record high’s the past few years and 100+ degrees in MAY, my father is spending a lot of time indoors. Nothing says “Father’s Day” like a big fat juicy steak for daddy – but this year I”m thinking maybe we could chill out with some variations on our traditional meat and potatoes. How about some Chilled Zucchini Cilantro Soup with Shrimp Garnish, a Black ‘n Bleu Steak Salad and a Loaded Baked Potato Salad to fill you up, and a cooling piece of Strawberry-Pistachio Trifle to end things? Even if it IS 100 degrees this menu is sure to fill your heart and soul and cool you off!
A Note From Chef Lori
Our kitchen will be closed for Father’s Day as I will be actually VISITING my daddy in the Devil’s Armpit before I head to Atlanta for a training session taping – also called Hell’s Kitchen – LITERALLY!!! PS…Ain’t this Loaded Baked Potato Salad PURTY?!?
Click here to visit our website! Lots of different Summer Salads to choose from!
White chocolate isn’t chocolate according to our government. Thats right – there are different definitions of chocolate all over the world. In OUR little corner of the world, the US, chocolate is only “real” when it contains only cocoa butter as its fat (except for up to 5% dairy butter to aid in emulsification). White “chocolate” contains vegetable fat, milk solids, sugar, and vanilla. Some of the finer labels contain some cocoa butter, but no cocoa solids at all.
The good news? White chocolate sets faster than dark. White chocolate also remains soft at room temperature. This makes it ideal for cakes and buttercreams. Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses white chocolate in some of our desserts – like our White Chocolate Cheesecake. In what recipe do YOU use white chocolate? Let us know at http://www.lulasforlunch.com/blog !
Happy Mother’s Day to all of my maternal peeps – whether your charge has a tail, or fur, or is destined to become President – I’ll just bet memories of YOU contain a bunch of food. On this, the 2nd mother’s day for me without my mom, I’d like to remember mom’s WEIRD relationship with food, which she mostly didn’t even like, except, well, potato sticks. Remember potato sticks that came (come) in a can? They can still be found in strange corners of strange stores…this was more often than not mom’s lunch – at 11:30 sharp, she sat at the kitchen table with her Tab and the can of sticks. Not surprising, since she ate dirt as a child! Sticks and dirt – no wonder she didn’t like to eat! If you know where to source Potato Sticks let me know – I love them too (in moderation, of course!).
Mom thought some things just tasted better if you stole them. Let me be clear: my mother did NOT consider it stealing. She was “performing a service” – the pears were obviously going to rot and the pecans were going to get stolen by the squirrels. My poor brother and sister (somehow I escaped this embarrassment) were hauled each summer and fall to farms that ran alongside the road with their pecan and pear trees hanging heavy, and spent the day picking, plucking, hiding and dodging. These pears, along with all of the other vegetables that were grown in our garden, were put up for use all winter long (which in SC lasts less than 4 months – the rest of the year the garden yielded). I never really cared for pear sauce, but it adorned the oatmeal I truly hated many mornings before school. Yum. Not. Never did I taste a canned vegetable until I went away to college. Even our okra (yuck) was frozen. To this day one can attend Irmo SC’s Annual Okra Strut.
More momentous for me was The Chitlin Strut – held annually (still) in Salley SC. Man, we South Carolinians know how to party. Salley has (had?) fabulous clothing outlets so the 1 hour drive was filled with anticipation for me as a teenager. The chitlins did not fill me at all, ever.
Speaking of offal, my mother had a (let’s put this kindly) mischievous streak. Once when in Italy, we were with a small group of 7 and dinner was cafeteria style. Items were labeled and one tray, labeled “Trippa” looked enticing to American eyes as it was laced with a fabulous marinara and provolone. Our companion was on mother’s last nerve so she elbowed me and winked, while (let’s call her Debra) oohed and aahed over the “Trippa” and asked mom what it was. Mother said “Tripe! It’s beef! It’s delicious! Try some!” So Debra did. I didn’t know what the joke was as I had yet to be introduced to offal of any kind other than the cow’s liver that my grandfather loved, my grandmother served, and made something else for me and herself. Turns out Debra thoroughly enjoyed the tripe until she was finished and my mother made sure to finish the explanation. Tripe is the stomach lining of the cow, and sometimes sheep.
Mom did love two things edible: fish and vegetables. We had a boat and daddy fluctuated between salt water and fresh water fish – almost always caught by daddy. A consequence of this was fish for breakfast. Not really so unusual down south – but most everybody I tell think it’s weird. To this day I eat fish for breakfast sometimes. Yum (for real this time!). Mom also loved shellfish – she loved to crab and did not mind (too much) the picking of the crabs, mostly because daddy was such a big help, which is a messy business. Every time we went near the beach we would haul back fresh shrimp and cleaning them mom DID mind. She would place newspapers on the floor between our breakfast room and the den where she could see the TV and watch her “stories”, and sit there and cuss (she was a champion) while she shelled and deveined what seemed like ENDLESS shrimp.
Thanks for allowing me this trip down mom’s food memory lane. It was fun! Click here to visit our website and check out our Mother’s Day Menu!
So I had a little adventure the other day, which went from mild annoyance to are you kidding me? to let’s just laugh about this…anyone who knows me, knows I can find the joy in any speck of food (except okra, cream of wheat, oatmeal and rutabagas) – from any greasy spoon to the most haute of cuisine.
On this day my car needed two new tires and a friend picked me up from Goodyear downtown (this is the only hint you’re going to get people!) to grab a bite and network for a bit. As she had her 4 year old in tow, we needed a pretty basic place so we chose an old, established downtown location that neither one of us had ever been to, because we both agreed that we loved greasy spoons.
I have a sixth sense. I’ve probably said it before. Not about everything, but about restaurants, quality, and service – I can feel it in the air from the second I cross the threshold. We should have turned and run when we stood outside and wondered if it was open because there were no lights on. However, there were about 6 cooks/servers behind the counter staring dully at us so we thought we’d try the door…which was open (it was 11AM and this is a breakfast/lunch joint). We walked in, asked if they were open, and received a “yes” and a tentative nod from someone else…so we asked if we could sit anywhere or only where there was light reflecting from the kitchen area. They told us they would turn on the lights wherever we wanted to sit – how accommodating!!! So, after trying to find a ray of sunlight and not succeeding, we picked a barren formica table, sat down and the lights flicked on for us (manually – let there be no confusion that ambient light found us through motion). OK, so we’ve gotten through table selection…NOW…
A woman reeking of smoke ambled up with two menus and we began to peruse. All kitchen eyes were gleaming dully in our direction. Hmmm…we had choices! You could get an omelet but not eggs. You could get bacon but only in an omelet or on a sandwich. If you order an omelet with bacon it comes with whole strips of bacon wrapped up in see through pre-fab from a carton scrambled egg product turned INTO an omelet by throwing the liquid on a grill so hot that the product seizes up into a solid, see through veil of egg which is then rolled around the bacon strips. You can get American cheese product or Swiss cheese product! You can also get ham! Oh, and you can get TOMATO! But not in an OMELET! You can get onion on a burger but you can’t have it in an omelet! “Honey, onions ain’t been on our menu in 15 years”. You can’t have anything else because nothing else is on the menu. No sir, no salad. You can get lettuce and tomato on a burger but not a salad. Two full pages of every combination of bread, cheese product, ham or bacon ( and there’s a burger and a DELUXE burger!!).
Woops, there’s “homemade” soup of the day, coleslaw and BBQ. Because I couldn’t get anything real, I thought I’d chance a cup of soup. “It only comes in one size honey” was the response. OK! I’ll take THAT size! It was the strangest greasiest thinnest “size” of chicken noodle soup I’d ever had, with a tang of tomato broth (or maybe it was just starting to go bad). I also got excited when I saw a fish sandwich (you can get lettuce and tomato on a fish sandwich but you can’t get American or Swiss cheese product – not that I would WANT that offering). WOOPS! Fish is only served on FRIDAY. Count fish out.
So my friend orders a bacon omelet because it comes with toast (white) and her little girl likes toast. I order a grilled ham and cheese because why not – let’s give this a whirl – I’m hungry. You can get grilled sandwiches here! Please refer to picture above for reference to a REAL Grilled Sandwich – Lula’s Grilled Bacon, Tomato and Gruyere. Let’s just say I ate the potato chips that came with it, just like I ate the saltines that came with my soup. Our four year old asked why she couldn’t have butter with her toast. Mom explained it came already buttered (you can’t explain to a 4 year old that the toast had been dipped in yellow food colored liquid oil already) – and the kid insisted on butter. So we motion over Ms. Virginia Slim and ask for butter. “We ain’t got butter but I’ll see what I can do”. She comes back with a soufflé (those little disposable cups you put your ketchup in at fast food chains) full of yellow food colored liquid oil. Our little angel didn’t understand. Frankly, neither did I, but hey – we’re on an adventure!
We’re quite ready to leave and try to do so. No credit cards accepted. No sign to that effect – not on the door, not on the menus. We’re cashless. I do not even HAVE a debit account. I have my trusty Visa and that’s all. My friend has a debit card but we’ll have to leave the restaurant to find a machine. NO CAN DO. We’re being held hostage. So I take out my driver’s license AND My Visa and give it to them to hold while we go in search of money. I ask her to take me back to Goodyear because I have some cash in my car (now you KNOW!!!) but I’m not sure if it’s enough. My tires are on and I’m good to go…but they won’t give me my keys because I don’t have my Visa to pay for the tires. I’ve been going to this Goodyear for over 20 YEARS and they’re holding my car hostage!
It all worked out but in the confusion my friend lost her wallet. We feel sure it found its way into the diner’s grease trap, sucked into their infinite hole of haplessness and misery. My reasons for withholding the name this charming eatery are twofold: 1) we foodservice slaves work very hard and I would never want someone slamming me if they had one bad experience (though my imagination is hard pressed to find a good experience here with their set menu – or lack thereof) and 2) I want you all guessing – please email me here if you think you know of the establishment about which I speak! If you do, then I’m sure we will share the laughter!
A Note From Chef Lori
In addition to the fabulous House Smoked Bourbon Salmon in the pic above, know that Lula’s Catering LOVES all kinds of fish and can cook any type any way you want (except deep fat fried, which we can do on premise if you prefer!) From the most delicious grouper prepared a variety of ways to our shellfish selections (just LOOK at our Bleu D’auvergne Encrusted Scallops with our Champagne-Lavender Sauce!), know that we’ve got your Fridays (or ANY day of the week) covered!
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You might remember a couple of years ago I wrote about an exhausting holiday season wherein my catering cart containing equipment and supplies for 150 fell over in the middle of a downtown street. I was amazed when elves descended upon me and cleaned everything up, neatly packing my vehicle before I could even say Joyeux Noel. Our recent visit to New Orleans brought in the new year with exactly the same joy multiplied by 100. I have never experienced a happier place in my life. This newsletter is so full of overflowing fantastic karma I’m sure it will last the year through, and I’m not even going to talk about the food that much!!
We begin with a broken lock on our condo (which was fabulous), so while the gents fooled with it and talked with our host over the phone we princesses simply walked to the corner bar/restaurant, The Governor (a whole 50 feet). I had to potty more than anything but I ordered a drink “to be nice”. Upon hearing our plight, the manager who was closing up shop, stayed open for us and when I offered my credit card for payment said simply “don’t worry about it – we’ve all got to stick together”.
Then there was Kendrick – our driver who happily took us on a $260.00 tour of the Ninth Ward and Hurricane Katrina damage and remembrances for the price of a Lyft ride. His explanations and stories were mesmerizing. From the owner of Old Arabi Marketplace (thank you Sharon!) who packed our antiques and then took them AND us to the package store in her own car, to the glass blower at Studio Inferno who took us in back to view her casting and then giving us a private tour of Mitchell Gaudet’s socially and politically charged works, the sheer happiness that exudes from this town is infectious. The people who went out of their way when just
seeing us looking lost, like Dover at the WWII Museum who took it upon himself to explain our best route (it’s an overwhelming place!), were so plentiful I cannot mention them all.
A thank you to Miss Yvonne of Yvonne LaFleur who HELD MY HAND throughout the entire store while trying to find what was just right (I’m so sorry the fox fur didn’t work out!). Oh! And thank you for the scarf lessons!
A special shout out to Nolan from Baggage Check at the Hotel Monteleone for warm generous hugs to both Gordon and me for no reason other than we were all loving life, and to Beniel from Haiti, who upon hearing that I liked his music, whipped out the CD and gave it to me when we got to the airport!!
NOW…a couple of musts if you haven’t found them yet: The Camellia Grille for the BBQ’d Shrimp Omelet and grits – Best omelet in my life (Joe yours is a close second), and plain grits that need NO SEASONING. Now you know I can make them as well as I can eat them, and I’m JUST SAYIN’… Also, Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits for a FANTASTIC courtyard jazz serenade with tapas, “pick your own daily cheeses and meats” antipasti, and of course, the WINE….and I can never overlook Commander’s Palace, always one of the best meals of my life. For downhome bayou gumbo that even I can eat (okra, yuck!) don’t miss Jacques-Imo’s and HEY! look this trio up and pay attention to the perfectly understated drummer: The Mark Weliky Trio. So much great food, great music, and great joy. I think it might all come back to “we’ve all got to stick together”!
A Note From Chef Lori
Baby it’s cold outside…don’t forget our fabulous soups and stews this season – great for lunch or dinner, and most can be “converted” to shot appetizers for your cocktail party!
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I have a ridiculously analytical mind, even though I look and sound like a dingbat much of the time. I catalogue perfect moments. There are few of them in our lifetime and I hold them dear.
A lovely perfect moment I remember was Christmas 1998…I had two stepchildren in the house and they were hard to buy for as my husband really had no idea what they wanted or needed. We didn’t have much money, but I wanted to get them what they WANTED – who wants a step mom who gives you clothes, right!? We got them a Sony whatchamacallit to plug into the TV and play games. They were ecstatic and I felt quite pleased with myself that we had really lit them up. I always encouraged them to read, and led by example – I was always reading some book or other, and so they each got a book as well. My husband was a sports and hunting nut so he got a magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated or Field & Stream or some suchness – I don’t remember – but I received a book I had asked for too! The tree was lit and glowing, the kids had cocoa, the adults had their Holiday Cheer, and before I knew it, with Christmas music playing ever so softly in the background we were silent. Simply silent. Each of our heads was buried in our respective “literature” and we were each absorbed and virtually motionless, the only sounds the soft music playing and the whoosh snap of a turning page. I happened to look up and catch this – I hate to say it – Norman Rockwell moment and I was PART of it…and I guess a dam of serotonin burst in my head because I was totally flooded with wellbeing, peace, and happiness, and I thought, “THIS is Christmas. THIS is Christmas.” I wish for you a perfect moment this holiday season as well! With love, Lula
A Note From Chef Lori
Our kitchen will be closed from December 24 thru January 5 in order to visit far away family this season. We look forward to literally serving you 🙂 in the new year!
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About Chef Lori
Chef Lori Pierce, owner of Lula’s, creates unique, boutique cuisine to impress your guests and clients in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area. Our custom recipes and menus delight an intimate gathering of 10, a celebration for 100, and anything in between.
At Lula’s, Love is ALWAYS our first ingredient!
Celery Root, that is!! Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks. It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)
Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel. Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you. The end product will be sweeter. The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes. It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews. Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!