Greetings from Lula! When slicing, dicing, etc. on your cutting board, turn your knife OVER and use the blunt edge to “scrape” ingredients into the pot or bowl or whatever…this increases your knife’s life immeasurably, and you have to hone or sharpen only half as much! Happy chopping, Lula
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!!
Apparently I’m kind of obsessed with sugar, which is odd since I’m not a real sweets fan. I looked over past blogs to see if I’d given this information before and I haven’t, so I think you’ll appreciate all of the names on labels that really mean sugar. Here’s why it’s important: SUGAR IS PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE. Just like a narcotic. It affects dopamine receptors and causes the brain to behave as if it’s reacting to a narcotic pleasure loop. And sadly, almost anything “white” has hidden sugar in it. Here are most of the names you will find on the back (or FRONT!) of a food label that mean SUGAR:
*High-fructose corn syrup(we all knew that didn't we?)*Xylitol
*Evaporated Cane Juice
Seriously – I’d like some information here. I didn’t even like to EAT (except bread and butter and canned peaches if my granddaddy hand fed me) until I was 9 years old. I used to hide what I didn’t like in my toybox or under the living room sofa until the smell elicited the hairbrush on my fanny. Once that growth spurt hit though, I could barely be satisfied though there were a handful of things I did not like, and continue to not care for to this day…okra, oatmeal, cream of wheat, oysters, and something else I can’t think of at the moment. I also have never cared for mayonnaise or avocado, UNTIL a few years ago when my tastebuds changed and now I adore both. Weird how that happens, huh? Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering even has a homemade Avocado Mayonnaise that I make for sandwiches and garnish!! What did YOU not like that you like now? Can you explain why? Let me know RIGHT HERE!
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!
I don’t know HOW MANY times I’ve put leftovers in containers (you know the cottage cheese container that you feel really bad about just throwing away – SAVE OUR PLANET! – so you wash it and re-use it as many times as possible before it goes into recycling)…and said to myself “Self, you’re incredibly smart and quick and have the best memory; of COURSE you’re going to remember what’s in this container next month when you’re scrounging for a quick lunch”!
NOT. So I started using folder labels to identify and date the food. Didn’t work – labels fell off. So I bought freezer labels but really resented how expensive they were. So I bought myself a permanent black Sharpie and started writing stuff on the lids. The lids got “full” (I’m really concerned about the environment). THEN I saw a tip SOMEwhere I can’t remember – and I’m going to share it with you. Buy a roll of blue painter’s tape at the hardware store. Five bucks, you can tear pieces off with your hands – no need for scissors, it won’t fall off in the freezer, that five dollar investment will pay off for 5 YEARS, and it’s easily removable when you need to switch labels. There. For more tips and tidbits subscribe here.
I hate it when my beautiful avocado stuff starts to “turn” and gets dull and brown. Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering has to make a pretty large volume upon occasion and sometimes it has to sit in the fridge for a couple of days – and there’s just not enough acid in the recipe to keep it in the “Kermit” family, SO…..I cover the surface with a thin film of WATER. The guac is dense enough (and fatty enough!) that it won’t absorb the water – so when I’m ready to use it I just tilt the container and pour the water off and voila! it’s just as vibrant as when I made it!
Here are some alternative flours and how to use them:
Rice Flour is pretty high in protein and can provide the structure you want in baked goods, but make sure it is finely ground. If you’ve bought a brown rice flour keep it in the fridge or freezer so it won’t go rancid – the germ and bran layer contains oil.
Nut Flours, when ground properly, simulate the grain of wheat flours but contain gluten producing proteins. You can’t produce bread or cake with these, but adding them to regular flour to lower the gluten content will make your finished product very tasty and tenderized. You really want to store these in the freezer with their high oil content – they’re so expensive you don’t want them to go rancid! Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses nut flours in a few of our pastry dishes.
Buckwheat Flour, even though the name contains the word wheat, isn’t wheat in any shape or form – it’s more closely related to rhubarb and sorrel!! Protein is high – about 13%, and people make crepes and soba noodles with it, as well as the Russian pancake called blini. Try , which can be made at your request with 100% buckwheat flour, or a combination of wheat flour & buckwheat – you get the same light texture but all of the fabulous flavor of buckwheat!
Chickpea, or garbanzo flour can be made from raw OR roasted beans. It as a really high protein content at around 20% and can be used for bread and other savory gluten-free baking.
What a plant. This stuff is kind of like hemp in its varied uses and value. Look it up! I will only concentrate on Sorghum SYRUP which comes from a native African grass. Mostly made in the southeast and gulf states, every small batch and brand is different – owing probably to the soil and climate where the grass is grown.
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves sorghum for its earthy, malty and molasses like flavors and odors – it contributes depth to recipes and creates that “what IS that flavor” question on the tip of your palate! It is a (no longer) secret ingredient in Lula’s Kentucky Black Bourbon Sauce and is key in our popular Sorghum, Cider and Sassafras Vinaigrette, gracing our Heirloom Beet Salad pictured above.
Nothing more than simmered down pure cane juice, the inhabitants of Louisiana LOVE Cane Syrup as it’s the easiest liquid sugar for them to get – about half of the sugar cane in the US is grown in Louisiana. Cane Syrup has a burnt caramel flavor, sometimes described as boozy. Louisianans use it over sausage, biscuits, and in cakes like fruit and spice. You should too!