OK, week two of “fall/winter” spices…I’m going to continue where I left off and discuss MACE – which is simply the thin, apricot colored, lacy outer layer of the nutmeg seed. Since there’s not as much of it, it has always been way more expensive. It resembles nutmeg in scent and flavor but is more delicate. Once again, this spice can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well as sweet.
At the height of its popularity the Dutch ruled the spice trade, and one year (1770) production exceeded demand by a year’s supply and the whole lot was BURNED – making Amsterdam the best scented city of all time! Fun Fact: Most American hot dog manufactures include mace in their recipe!! And NOW Lula is going to give away a closely guarded secret..put a dash in your BBQ sauces (think my Kentucky Black Bourbon…) YUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuum. Hit here for more tips and tricks! With love, Lula
OK, we’re here…it’s fall rapidly descending into holidays…so I thought I’d touch on some winter spices that everybody uses for BAKING…but since I’m not the Pastry Queen I’m going to talk a bit about nuance and savory cooking. Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices because it has such a nuanced flavor if you use the right amount that most people can’t tell it’s in there…it’s the big ole’ “What IS that flavor?!?” that I love to hear so much 🙂
Nutmeg was fought over (the islands that grew it) and considered so valuable that it was sterilized when it left an island so that it couldn’t re-seed or grow anywhere else. It comes from a tree that also produces mace (more on that next time). The DEATH penalty was enforced for anyone smuggling nutmeg. First the Portuguese and the Dutch battled over dominion. Then the Dutch and the English. I’m going to leave you with two fun facts:
1) The Island of Manhattan, then called New Amsterdam, is part of the United States because of a negotiation in 1667 ending this particular spice war.
2) Add a pinch of nutmeg whenever you use cream, milk, or eggs. No matter the recipe. You’ll thank me!
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Native to South America, the quinoa seed comes in 3 different varieties, and I like them all – particularly together. Sometimes its hard to find the blend though, and when I can’t I’ll settle for red.
White quinoa is the most plentiful; it is the largest and has a nutty vegetal flavor and the softest texture of the three. Red is next in size and is crunchier because it has an outer seed coat that makes it even nuttier (any reason, you think, why this would be my fave?!?) Black is the tiniest and the crunchies with an even thicker seed coat.
The reason I personally like to mix them is because the white explodes and is fluffiest, the red has the best flavor and texture (to me – this is personal folks!), and the black will virtually always remain crunchy. Interesting flavors and textures always make for a more delicious meal! Lula’s Catering makes soups and stews with quinoa as well as entrée salads and side dishes. It’s packed with nutrition and is gluten free … a real winner! For more tips & tidbits from Lula you can always go here – just type in your key word question and I’ll probably have some sort of answer!! With love, Lula
Did you know you can treat any squash seeds the same as pepitas (pumpkin seeds)? Do just what you would do with the pumpkin- separate the seeds from the pulp, put in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Get creative with your seasonings! Cinnamon and sugar, or Rosemary & sea salt … the combinations are endless!! For more mouthwatering pics visit here !
Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.
In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging. At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch! This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad. Now, drool!
There are many grains out there to try; and not all alternatives to wheat are gluten free – here’s a primer on many of them, broken down by gluten free (a must for celiacs) and lower gluten (tolerated by many with gluten allergies) – we’ll discuss Lower Gluten next time.
Millet – high in fiber, mild flavor. Wild Rice – actually a grass found around fresh water. Amaranth – A seed and a COMPLETE protein (think filet mignon!) Sorghum – highly absorbent for sauces/dressings Black/Forbidden Rice-resembles wild rice but cooks more quickly and colors broth/sauce a deep brown-red. One of Lula’s faves! Oats – watch out that these come from a “Certified GF” mfg. Quinoa – another COMPLETE protein. Teff – 1/100th the size of a kernel of wheat! Buckwheat – another of Lula’s faves…try our crepes! Corn – try Silver Queen or any sweet white – amazing!
Hope this helps on your next grocery store adventure! More tips and tidbits like this can be found if you subscribe here.
OK, so you went to the store on Wednesday after work for the dinner you’re throwing on Saturday (Soccer Thurs, Basebal Fri, Ballet Sat morning – UGH…) !! Saturday rolls around and the broccoli and carrots you bought are just FINE, but your lovely lettuce leaves are drab and wilted. Perk it UP, no worries! Tear your lettuce into the size you want it and throw it into a bath of iced water (cubes from freezer + half water. Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes and BAM! (thank you, Emeril) perky, ready for ACTION lettuce! Lift it out and place on a tea towel, gently roll it up to relieve the lettuce of its extra moisture, and lubricate with the dressing of your choice!! Happy crunching! BTW if you’ve heard somewhere that a bit of vinegar in the water helps, don’t do it. Makes the lettuce taste “off”. More tips and tidbits can be found weekly here.
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.
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
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!