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
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
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.
Wanna be fancy? Wanna “look” fancy at your next get together? Pick your vinegar: Apple Cider, White, Wine, or Rice …let’s stop there and keep it simple. Add 3 tablespoons fresh herb or mixture of herbs of your choice (mix a couple and make it a “house” vinegar”) for every quart of vinegar.
Don’t use ground herbs or spices because the vinegar will get cloudy. Store it at room temperature, with a lid on, making sure your herbs are covered in the vinegar. It will be ready in 24 hours, and after you use some, you can top it off again with the same original vinegar. Just make sure your herbs stay covered. If you’d like, you can remove the herbs after a couple of days. Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses our Tarragon Vinegar to make pickles that we put in several recipes ( see pic of our Baba Lula Ganoush garnished with them!)
Vinegar is a preservative, but it does have its limits. The word itself is derived from the French “vin aigre” meaning “sour wine”. Don’t use more than around 3 tablespoons of your herb mix per quart because too much foreign “matter” can result in food poisoning. Happy Creating!
Ever wonder why Easter Eggs are “Easter” eggs? For anyone marginally schooled in Christianity lamb is a given, borrowed from the Jewish Passover tradition (sacrifical lamb, Lamb of God, etc.), but spring lamb, ham, and eggs far predate Christianity.
Spring lamb is just coming to market at Easter and has been a celebratory menu item for eons across the world symbolizing new beginnings and rebirth. The pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian Europe and, hence, the bringing of ham to the table in springtime.
Pagan rites of spring brought the egg to the table. The egg is a symbol of rebirth, rejuvenation, and immortality. The early Christian calendar forbade the ingestion of eggs during lent, so everyone was really excited to eat them again when lent was over (Easter). Egg decorating has been around for thousands of years. Particularly intricate and beautiful designs come from central Europe.
Egg breads, particularly the hot cross bun, are very popular at Easter. Archeological evidence however, proves that the hot cross bun has been around since 79 C.E. at the ancient site of Herculaneum.
Whatever you bring to your Easter table, enjoy with family and friends and celebrate rebirth of all kinds!
The way you can squeeze every bit out of the tube…these days there are quite a few condiments in tubes that look a lot like toothpaste. Whatever you call it – the “toothpaste winder” or the “tube squeezer”, you can use it for the condiments just like you would on a tube of toothpaste! Frugal, anyone?!? For more tips and tidbits like these you can subscribe to Lula’s Blog here.
I love Rhubarb. Every year I make a big batch of Raspberry Rhubarb Preserves and use it in various applications till it’s all gone (usually end of summer). Sometimes though, I run across Green Rhubarb, and because I use it in savory applications as well, I researched a bit about this “twin” (think of it as a fraternal twin) – it only lacks the anthocyanin pigments which gives certain rhubarb its red hue. This pigment is flavorless so there’s no difference in taste between red and green rhubarb (sour!!).
…AND I’ll say it again…DANGER WILL ROBINSON!! Do not try to cook the leaves or eat them raw – they are not innocuous like beet greens – they are poisonous to the point of DEATH!!! If you’d like occasional tips, fun facts and cooking info click here!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Cabbage’s reputation has been transformed from peasant fare to superfood. It’s the new kale. With the “fermentation rage” going on, I thought it might be a great time to prime you on the varieties of cabbage.
If you believe everything you read about the health benefits of this brassica, you should be eating it every day. For a start, it’s high in vitamins A, B, C and K, full of fiber, iron and potassium and said to have cancer-preventing benefits. If that isn’t enough, it ranks as the vegetable with the fewest amount of calories or fat (at a mere 25 calories per 3.5 ounces.) Oh, and it’s cheap.
Cabbage is extremely versatile. You can use it in stir fries, sautés and braises, with meat, poultry, fish or all on its own — think corned beef, sauerkraut, kimchi, coleslaw, soups, braises, raw, pickled and more. You can find Lula’s tasty, beautiful appetizer (above) Brown Sugar Rubbed Pork Loin on Black Bread with Braised Cabbage and Apples here. You can stuff cabbage leaves or use them raw as a natural container for sautéed vegetables or meat.
Cabbage Varieties To Know
Green Cabbage – Green cabbage is the most basic and common of cabbages. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or slow-cook it in soups and stews to bring out its essential sweet nature. Look for heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size,) with tightly packed, moist looking leaves. Green cabbage can be used raw in slaws and salads and holds up to all kinds of assertive, strong flavors.
Red Cabbage – Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except, well, it’s red. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than the green ones but look for tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads like slaws or can easily be cooked. The rich color of red cabbage offers a concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, as well as antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
The only downside to red cabbage is that it can turns an odd blue color when cooked. Add vinegar or a touch of lemon juice when cooking to avoid blue food!
Savoy Cabbage – Savoy cabbage is also known as curly cabbage. With ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves, these cabbages are gorgeous and tasty. The tender leaves tend to be more loosely layered and less tightly packed than green or red cabbage, although it can be used in much the same way — raw in salads, stir-fried, braised or added to soups and stews. Because the leaves are so tender you can use this cabbage a wrap for rice dishes or stir fried meat.
Napa Cabbage – Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage, has a different look than other cabbages. It has long light-green leaves and white stalks that appears more lettuce-like with a mild flavor that has a bit of a spicy, almost peppery kick at the end. Great for pickles, kimchi, stir fries and salads.
Bok Choy – Bok choy has a mild flavor most often used in stir fries, but is delicious braised and used in simple preparations. The cabbage flavor is subtle.
No matter what type you buy, look for cabbage heads that are firm, shiny, feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. While you don’t want bruised or beaten-up vegetables, you can peel off and discard the outer leaves, so they need not be pristine.
Cabbage will keep best refrigerated, and will last several weeks. If you insert cabbage into your diet on a regular basis, the “rumble in your tummy” will dissipate in only a few days and the nutrition is worth it!
A Note From Chef Lori
A Valentine’s (or any other amour) appetizer – our Heart’s Afire 5-Spice Quail Breast in Puff Pastry with Wilted Winter Greens and Apricot Mustard.
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Next time you order iced tea and the waitress asks, “With Lemon?” do yourself a favor and say yes. If you make iced tea at home, a slice of orange will do almost the same good as the lemon, with a slice of lime coming in third.
Researches at Purdue University say adding the citrus slice helps you absorb far more of the antioxidants in tea, whether it’s green tea or black.
Citrus fruit is wonderful for you in many ways. Lula’s for Lunch… and More! Catering incorporates citrus fruit into MANY of our dishes, sometimes overtly, and sometimes you’ll never even know it’s there!