Category Archives: Anytime

Labeling your Leftovers!

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.

Keep your Guacamole GREEN!

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!

Does Gluten make your Tummy Hurt?

CHICKPEA BREAD!

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.

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff LAST Post – Sorghum

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.

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 5 – Cane Syrup

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!

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 3 – Maple Syrup

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!  “Pancake Syrup” is not Maple Syrup.  Pancake syrup is most likely the dark corn syrup we talked about last week.  If you want your pancakes to taste amazing stay away from “Pancake Syrup” and stick to real, expensive, Maple Syrup.  The good news: you don’t have to turn your pancakes into “pancake-maple soup” to enjoy the unctuous benefits of Maple Syrup.  A light drizzle will sweeten and enhance your pancake batter delightfully.  So you’re spending the same amount of money anyway.  Here’s why:

Maple syrup is no more than the sap of the maple tree siphoned off, then boiled down from 40 gallons of sap to ONE gallon of syrup.  During this process the sap caramelizes, giving maple syrup its lovely golden to amber color.

This is how maple syrup is graded – by its color – denoting the amount of caramelization.  Grade A comes in Dark Amber or Light Amber, and Grade B is the strongest and darkest, which Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering likes to use for cooking.  We are also not opposed to using maple syrup in cocktails – ask for one to be made at your next cocktail party!  Lula is religious about finding all ingredients that work well with whiskies. Also, for your next Brunch be SURE to ask for Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s  Homemade Maple-Vanilla Yogurt.

Liquid Sweetness Part 2 – Corn Syrup

Yuck.  Well, maybe not so much…in that corn syrup will not crystallize.  If you read my article “The Transparency of Pecan Pie” you’ll get even deeper into this subject.  Did you know that corn syrup – a highly refined product from corn starch – is only 65% as sweet as white sugar?  But it doesn’t turn frostings and pies and candies grainy so it’s a decent ingredient for this sort of stuff.  The only difference between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup is caramel coloring.  Can you tell I’m a fan?

Get your BUZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz On! Liquid Sweetness Part 1

Now we begin our foray into the liquid sugar realm, starting with honey.  EVERYONE knows about honey – and I will refrain from diverging onto the windy path of ecology and how the bees, by producing honey from whatever region in whatever flavor, help feed the world by their pollination.  I’ll just say this one thing PROTECT THE BEES PLEEEESE!!!

Honey is the worlds oldest known sweetener, and its flavor varies all over the world depending upon what nectar the bees have been feeding on, including something as weird as the flowering buckwheat plant.  Lavender honey is one of my favorites, but then again all things lavender please me greatly!  Have you ever had eucalyptus honey?!?   Respond to this blog and let me know the most unusual honey you’ve ever had – I’m curious!!  You can liquefy crystallized honey by microwaving it in 10 second increments until it liquefies (if you can get it out of the jar to begin with!).

 

BLOCK SUGAR! Sweet Sweet Sugar, Dry, Part 4

This stuff is plain weird to me.  Please let me know if you’ve used it.  I’m going to have to find some just to say I’m familiar with it!  Block sugar comes from either the juice of sugar cane or the sap of the palm tree.  The first place I’m going to look is in one of our local Indian markets where it will be called “Jaggery” or “gur”.  If I can’t find it there I’ll head to the taqueria where I’m told it will also be sold under the name “piloncillo”.  The juice is boiled and poured into molds where it hardens and then you pick off a “cube” or “shard” and throw it into your coffee to melt, or rub it over toast.  It can also be used in baking but you have to melt it first with another liquid ingredient.  There’s not much Lula doesn’t know in the food realm but this will be a new experience!!  I LOVE it when I learn while I teach!!

Sugar Primer Dry Part 3 – “Confectionally YOURS”

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Orange-Creme Ganash

Confectioner’s Sugar, also called 10-X, is nothing more than granulated white sugar that has been finely ground to 10 times smaller than its original crystal size, and then cornstarch is added to prevent clumping.  This sugar is prized for its “dissolvability” and is used in candy and icing applications Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering makes a FABulous Citrus White Chocolate Ganache using 10-X – enjoy this pic of our 7-Spice Cake with the ganache drizzled all over it.

Did you know you can make your own confectioner’s sugar?  Simply put one cup of granulated sugar in a blender (NO…not a food processor – it doesn’t work!!) with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch added, and blend away for exactly 3 minutes.  Poof!  You’ve magically whipped up your own 10-X!!  Give yourself a smooch.