Category Archives: Food

Milk – What’s the Difference?

 

We all have our favorite “blend” – skim, 2% etc., and we know what we like to taste when drinking a big glass of ice cold milk.  BUT…can we just use whatever milk we have in the fridge to go into a recipe when it calls for milk?   Well, you can try…but not really… As with all cooking, science plays a big part – and the chemical makeup of fat milk vs. no fat milk does make a difference. 

 

When a recipe calls for just “milk” and doesn’t give you any direction, what to do? Just make sure there’s some fat in your milk.  I always have on hand skim milk because that’s what I like to drink (hormone and pesticide free, of course!).  I always have on hand half ‘n half because that’s what my beloved husband says I like in my coffee (yes it’s true…I have no idea what goes in my coffee – only Gordon does).  Since half ‘n half is half whole milk and half cream, it’s got plenty of fat  to make things taste dreamy, but more fat than we like on our hips.  Cutting it with no fat skim milk by ½ seems to keep my recipes rich, but not too fatty.  If you have 2% milk on hand at all times, I’d use that in its entirety as it has enough fat not to mess with a final recipe’s consistency.  Just don’t use all skim milk in recipes unless it is specifically called for because recipe developers count on the fat in conjunction with their other ingredients to create the final product consistency they intended upon. 

 

At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering we have many different recipes for the same thing – for instance, our fat FREE Smashed Potatoes (we throw a couple of secret ingredients in there to fool your tastebuds into thinking how rich they are) or our Cream Cheese Horseradish Smashed Potatoes which uses skim milk to keep the fat content down, but the cream cheese keeps the luscious mouth feel and taste UP.  So…if you want a lower fat version of something – just ask!!

 

 

It’s SEAFOOD Time!

 

Ruby Red Trout Skin

Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:

  •  Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times.  It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
  • If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
  • Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
  • It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp.  By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm.  Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
  • If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger.  Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood!  The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )

 

Tomato, ToMAHto

We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!

You’re a PEACH!

Biting into a fresh, sweet, juicy peach is one of summer’s greatest pleasures.  But did you know that peaches are also a superstar in the nutrition department?

They’re low in calories, contain only a negligible amount of fat and are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Also, despite peaches’ sweet flavor, they’re relatively low in sugar compared to many other fruits, and their robust fiber content helps minimize any quick spikes in blood sugar.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves utilizing the peach in the summer – we love to pair it with lavender, and almond, as well as make salsa and chutney, and let’s not forget CHAMPAGNE!!  You’re looking at our Peach-Lavender Parfait and our Homemade Olive Oil Crostini topped with Brie and our Peach-Vidalia Relish.

Disclaimer:  The first two paragraphs are stolen DIRECTLY from the Sam’s Club Newsletter this month!!

The Almond as Dessert

 

Recently, a friend called me in despair because she couldn’t get her cookie recipe right.  I asked about her ingredient list and she told me she had used Marzipan as the recipe had called for Almond Paste.  Mystery solved!  Though they are both made from almonds, they are DEFINITELY not interchangeable. 

 

Almond Paste is made (check the label) from almonds (first on the label if it’s a decent almond paste) and some sugar or sugar product  and cooked till creamy then canned.  Marzipan is value added almond paste – the added value being more sugar.  It’s stiffer, and much sweeter, and used more to decorate and make candy rather than in baked goods.  So there you have it – if you love almonds (and dessert), try some recipes with either of these two ingredients!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you a VERY satisfied sweet tooth!

 

 

Dry Sugar Part 5 – Demerara

A light brown, partially refined raw sugar, Demerara originally was called so because it actually came from Demerara – once a colony that has now become the country of Guyana.  The sugar has large crystals and is somewhat brown in color, but there are no additives.  It is crunchy with a warm caramel flavor.  It is an excellent topping for baked goods – it won’t break down and melt during the baking process.

Demerara has become so popular that it is now produced in many other countries, and is generically referred to as “turbinado” which is more of a descriptor of the PROCESS, rather than a type of sugar.    The terms are pretty much interchangeable.  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses demerara A LOT in many applications…because it’s DEEEELICIOUS!

Sweet Potato or Yam, Ma’am?

Tis the season…and Oh, the drama!  Which is it?  They are NOT related, and another fun fact, the sweet potato isn’t even related to the potato!  First, let’s scientifically (but not TOO scientifically) differentiate:

Sweet Potato:    Originated in Central/South America.  A relative in the Morning Glory family.  Skin a plethora of colors.  Flesh a plethora of colors – the lighter the starchier.   The bad news is…you can never tell the color of the flesh until after you buy them!

Yam:        Originated (and 95% still comes from) Africa/Asia.  A member of the Lily family.   Mostly soft fleshed.  Can grow to over 100 pounds!  Sweet Potatoes are frequently mislabeled in the US because African Americans called them Yams as they resembled them.  Yams are hard to get in the US.  You’d have to go to an international market.  You WILL see sweet potatoes labeled as yams in grocery stores.  But if you look closely, they are also labeled sweet potatoes, because it’s the law.  A wonderful use of sweet potatoes, on the menu now at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering is our Roasted Sweet Potato Salad! You can order as a side with your lunch or entree at www.lulasforlunch.com  Yummy Yummy!!

Those Crazy Gourds

It’s butternut squash season… a few hints and tips:  Choose one that’s “dusty” looking – shiny means it was picked too soon.  DID YOU KNOW…uncut squash can last up to 3 months at room temperature?!?!?  This is, obviously uncut and skin on.  So if you like it, stock up!  You can be eating squash in February/March when it’s all gone from the store!!  Butternut squash lends itself to both sweet and savory preparations.  One of my favorites (surprise) is soup – with sage. Lula wishes you heady gourdy delight!