Once again, my friend and author Heidi Bright (“Thriver Soup”) has offered such a simply written and informative piece that I am compelled to copy:
“Fresh, fragrant mandarins are precious, full of flavor, and full of power. The magic lies in their peels—which are quite edible and contain potent anti-cancer properties (see links below). Also called clementines and tangerines, these citrus fruits are fresh and sitting in grocery stores now.
If you have a high-speed blender, mix two whole mandarins (peel on) with a quarter cup cranberries (at this time of year, try frozen, not the packaged sugary snacks), a little raw honey and/or stevia, a quarter cup raw/soaked-in-salt-water pecans, and coconut butter. Blend. Mmmm! Add chia seeds if desired. Taste the fragrance, ingest the power.”
I would like to add my two cents worth: Wash your fruit with a scrubbing sponge and some dishwashing liquid if you intend to eat the skins – even organic can be sprayed with color – which doesn’t taste as good!
…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it! Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound). But hard? No. First, let’s talk about the benefits:
Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol, increase probiotic bacteria in the gut, and help maintain a healthy liver.
Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY. Need I tell you the health benefits?
Now, let’s talk facts:
The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers. See? (this one has flowered obviously)
A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom. It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.
You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them. Do this: choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe. Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes. Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side). If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred. Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like. If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping. Truly, you don’t really need anything. Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth. Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky. The heart will be your final reward. The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure. Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know! There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!
We’re talkin’ Rhubarb, here…known all over the US as “Pie Plant”. I first tasted rhubarb when my daddy began growing it in our back yard for my mother to make pies. He had grown up on Rhubarb Pie in Michigan and my mom had never heard of it!
Officially a vegetable, rhubarb has been treated as a fruit for centuries. I find it to be a very interesting vegetable because of all of its contradictions: used as a fruit but it’s a vegetable, its leaves are toxic (yes they will KILL you if you eat a bunch, or just make you really sick if you only eat one or two), and its root has been used medicinally for eons to cure several maladies, constipation for one!Chemicals in rhubarb have also been found to destroy leukemia cells and lung cancer cells. Go figure!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie comes to mind when rhubarb is brought up in conversation, but Lula has a base recipe for several lovely dishes using RASPBERRY Rhubarb. Enjoy this pic of our Raspberry Rhubarb Fool! You can ask for a derivation of this combination anytime from February thru July usually – or until we run out!!
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!
Yes, folks, this is an IQ test. Just kidding. I’m trying to say that Risotto is not a type of rice. Risotto is a specific PREPARATION of rice.
There are between 7 and 8 THOUSAND kinds of rice in the world, and many different ways to prepare it. Americans are used to long grain rice which tends cook drier and be less sticky (example Uncle Bens Long Grain Rice which is par-boiled to make it the LEAST sticky of all rice – fluffy and separated). Then there’s medium grain and short grain (Arborio is one type, usually used in risotto preparation)…in essence, the shorter the grain the more sticky the rice is (starch exposed).
Risotto is an Italian preparation which, in general, means sauteeing the rice in fat first, then adding liquid and constantly stirring to release as much starch as possible to make the end result creamy, and finishing with cheese or other dairy to make it even MORE creamy. Additions along the way such as meat, fish, vegetables are all options for every chef to make the dish his or her own.
Lula’s for Lunch..and More! Catering makes many different types of risotto. My favorite, I think, is a derivation of Risi e Bisi (an Italian Rice and Pea Stew) that I make with Asparagus and Shrimp in the spring. I use my brother’s Muscadine wine from his vineyard in North Carolina, Cane Creek, to deglaze the pan, and deepen and compliment the other flavors dancing around in the pan. This is a dish best ordered with service; I won’t serve it unless it’s perfect, which means JUST out of the pan!
In ancient Babylon, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead (fermented honey beverage) he could drink for a month after the wedding. Because their calendar was lunar or moon-based, this period of free mead was called the honey month or what we now call the “honeymoon.”
While we at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering don’t offer any mead beverage options, you really should try our Homemade Honey-Lavendar Iced Tea the next time you cater in!! – Lula
“Mothers are not short-order cooks. What’s on the table is what’s for dinner for the whole family. If you don’t like it, breakfast will be really good tomorrow.” -Cat Cora http://www.lulasforlunch.com serves really good breakfast today OR tomorrow!!!
You’re dying to know..you can’t fool Lula. What in the world ARE capers? Answer – capers, sometimes called caperberries, are the unopened, pickled flower buds of the trailing Capparis spinosa shrub that grows in desert regions. Most of these shrubs grow in the Sahara and surrounding regions. They can be found, however, in various climates that are dry and arid – southern France, for example, and any other place (Texas comes to mind) with similar climate.
There are 170 or so species, and we know they’ve been used in cuisine since around 600 BC. The younger the caper, the better. In France, gourmets pick the berries every two days off of the shrubs to ensure the best flavor. Capers are one of the primary ingredients in any “piccata” dish. Lula’s for Lunch..and More! Catering uses capers in our Chicken, Veal (it goes without saying free range!), Pork, and Salmon Piccatas, as well as in our TunaTapenade Salad and our Nicoise creations. You can find these selections at our Lula’s for Lunch website and order them any time – because capers come pickled they are not “seasonal” – though people tend to prefer light, refreshing piccatas throughout spring and summer. Which is happening now. Put a little piquancy in your life! Enjoy!
With Easter upon us it’s a fun time to find out answers to some of the questions we ask about eggs: *It takes a hen 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. Thirty minutes later, she starts all over again! *Eggshells have around 17,000 pores that can absorb flavors and odors. It’s best to store them in cartons to prevent absorbing these “outside influences”. This picture is of eggs from Gordon’s dad’s farm.
White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white earlobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red earlobes. Hens can produce EVERY color in between depending on their genetic color coding – to include baby blue, pink, orange, yellow, etc.!!
Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D. *Yolk color depends on the diet of the hen. Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light-colored feeds to enhance colors. Artificial color additives are not permitted. That’s why you can tell if a hen was fed a good diet or allowed to range freely, when the yolk is a deeper color. *Occasionally, a hen will produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg laying career. It is unusual, but not too rare, for a young hen to produce an egg with no yolk at all!
During the spring equinox, it is said that an egg will stand on its small end. Although some people have reported success, it is not known whether such results were due to the equinox or to the peculiarities of that particular egg.