Category Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

Easter Traditions: Lamb, Eggs, and Ham (Green or Not!)

 

Lula’s Deconstructed Truffled Deviled Eggs

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!

Some Lent Learnin’

Entree Curried TilapiaLula’s Curried Tilapia

So, for lots of us (and the grocery stores) fish is in store for the next few weeks – and I want to give you a helpful tip to keep your at home fish from being tough and dry.

Fish (any kind) contains ALOT of water and has a very loose protein structure that makes cooking fish a delicate process.  You just don’t want to over cook fish, because fish, more than any other protein, has dramatic “carry-over” cooking.

What is carry over cooking?  Well…you follow instructions when roasting meet to “let it rest” to re-absorb juices, right?  Well, it’s also finishing the cooking process right there on the counter.  That’s why most cookbooks/instructions tell you that medium rare is 130 degress…but they tell you to pull your meat from the heat at 125 degrees.

Same for fish, and funnily enough, when you cook your fish at a higher temperature, the carry over cooking is much more dramatic (ex. salmon at 250 degrees reaching a 125 temp will raise another 7 or so degrees sitting on the counter for 5 minutes, but salmon cooked at 450 degrees to 125 will raise another 27 degrees after 5 minutes!!  SO…..UNDERCOOK your fish at a LOW temperature and let it rest just like you do meat, and you’ll have moist, flaky, perfectly done fish!!  You’re welcome.  -Lula

It’s Rhubarb Season!

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!

Let’s Ramp it Up!

 Lula will be foraging in the Red River Gorge this weekend for these lovely delicacies…a bit early but hey!  we’ve got Global Warming!!  Ramps are also called Wild Leek, Wild Garlic, and/or Ramson, and are a member of the onion family that sprouts in early spring in woodlands all over the world.  Bulbs AND leaves can be used raw or cooked.  To me, they are reminiscent of a blend of chive and garlic.  Yummy!!  So…you’ll be finding them all over fun menus where creative chefs dwell – and you won’t need to ask “what’s this?!?” – Lula has already educated you!!  For more fun tips like this one, subscribe to my blog here .

Happy Valentine’s Day! Is Cabbage the New Kale?

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.

Click here to visit our website!

 

New Orleans Here We Come!

After these two hands have completed the nourishment of 195 souls this week, Gordon and I are off to New Orleans for some R&R (by now you should know that means Research and Revivification!).

Our friends Joe and Joanna (The Duke and Duchess of New Windsor – New York, that is… 🙂 ) are meeting us and we’re staying in a Fabulous condo in the French Quarter. We’ll be sightseeing, eating and drinking our way from the 9th Ward to Tulane, and all the way to Vacherie and back.

If you have a favorite haunt, watering hole, restaurant or attraction that you think I must not miss, please let me know here!  And quickly!  Flight leaves on Sunday, and the Royal “We” has decreed there will be no flight issues!

That’s BALONEY!

REPRINTED FROM Southern Living – Meghan Overdeep

Few lunchmeats leave us with more questions than the classic bologna. It’s perfectly round, impossibly pink, and as synonymous with brown bag lunches as juice boxes. But for something so common, most Americans know very little about bologna’s origin.

While we’re not going to get into the exact ingredients used to make the homogenous meat (mostly pork), we do want to explore another bologna mystery: why it’s pronounced “baloney” and not “bo-lo-nya.”

Not surprisingly, the answer takes us to Italy. In particular, to the northern town of Bologna (bo-lo-nya), where mortadella, bologna’s kissing cousin, was born. Mortadella is traditional cured sausage made from ground pork. The bologna we know and love was derived from mortadella.

So that clears up how it got its name. As for how we came to pronounce it the way we do, we turn to a recent HuffPost investigation.

Linguist Mark Liberman’s theory is that our bizarre pronunciation follows the pattern of Italian words ending in -ia (Italia, Sicilia, and Lombardia), which took on -y endings in English (Italy, Sicily and Lombardy).

“My hypothesis would be that it’s an instance of the old pattern,” Liberman told HuffPost. “But it’s ‘Bologna’ not ‘Bolognia’, right?”

Others believe that it could have sprung from Italians’ penchant for shortening and altering words like “prosciut” for “prosciutto” and “mozz” or “mozzarel” for “mozzarella.”

Lexicographer and Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer told HuffPost that he agrees with Liberman’s theory. “It’s clear that the sausage was called that from the mid-19th century, and I’m sure that was a time when other Italian place names were getting anglicized in that way,” he noted.

By the 1920s, people were using “baloney” (or boloney) to describe non-food-related things. According to HuffPost, writer Harry Charles Witwer referred to a big clumsy boxer as “a boloney” in 1920. It wasn’t long before it was being used as a slang term within the larger world of sports.

“It was at a time when sportswriters in particular were looking for funny words to describe these lumbering boxers,” Zimmer told HuffPost. “And whatever connection they were making to the sausage ? whether it was that they had sausage for brains or they kind of looked like big sausages ? it served its purpose as a funny-sounding word.”

And then somewhere along the line, the “funny-sounding word” took on the definition we use it for today: nonsense.

So, there you have it. As for the exact details regarding how the funny-looking meat got it’s funny-sounding name, we may never know. We’re just sure glad it did.

Lula’s Note:  One of my favorite sandwiches is the Muffaletta – an Italian sandwich containing mortadella.  If you want to try a good mortadella go to The Farmstand Café in Union KY – they have a fabu free range mortadella sandwich!  And if you ever want mortadella on your Antipasti Platter from Lula’s … just ask – we’re happy to customize!

A Nashville Birthday Part 2

Day two of my birthday celebration begins with coffee in bed courtesy of my most wonderful husband Gordon, while Susan and Michael, recently retired, got up at 6AM and waited.  Don’t blame me – they had the schedule beforehand and could have done any number of things.  We scedattled (first time I’ve written this word instead of just speaking it – I don’t believe it really exists)  (wait!  There’s google!  Yes it DOES exist!)  Did anyone see the Google monopoly expose on 60 Minutes last week?  But I digress…  🙂 OK, let’s try this again…

We scedattled off to The Loveless Café, our longest drive the WHOLE trip – of 30 minutes, to this most wonderful old-timey motel that had been turned into a smokehouse, a gift shop, and a restaurant.  Their numerous awards do not lie.  Everybody gets a picture underneath their 1950’s neon sign, lit up day and night.  We chose the cutouts (above).  Everyone was so thrilled with their food – G had catfish for breakfast which we agreed was the best catfish we’ve ever had…I even liked their tartar sauce which was NOT Frisch’s 🙂  … or mine… and I had possibly the best grits I’ve ever had (and my brother agreed).  This is a tough one because I make the best grits I’ve ever had, and many others say the same thing about MINE.  These were plain, not like mine, but their texture was heavenly.  I’ve never had someone else’s grits that did not need butter.  The Loveless is famous for their biscuits, and here I have to depart from the common folk.  Sue me, whip me, call me bad names, but Bojangles “chain” biscuits have them (and everybody else) beat in my book when it comes to biscuits.  Their country ham was to die for.  They age it on premise.  Susan had a pimiento cheese and country ham biscuit which she loved – I tasted it and did not think the pimiento cheese came close to Wallace Station – but that really is a matter of taste.  It’s the “experience” here…do not miss.  Oh!  And the best sweet tea I ever drank!  (Sorry daddy).

After unabashedly sticking our butts out, crouching down into the cutout, and begging some stranger to take our pic, we headed off to Belle Meade – a horse breeding plantation, where to this day most Triple Crown winners owe their bloodline to Bonnie Scotland.  I’ve never sought out plantations north or west of Virginia, but this is one not to be missed.  It contains a Dairy, Train Station, Mill and Blacksmith Shop, Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, and the Horse Sale Barn as well as the “big house” – and the requisite gift shop and ice cream parlor.

They very interestingly had the front parlor set up to show how a wake would be celebrated – to denote all of the premature deaths occurring at that time (cholera, measles, TB, etc) that are completely preventable today.  It is an open wicker bench to lay the body on, with space underneath for a block of ice to hold decay at bay while getting people to the event.  The body is held there for numerous days to insure the person is in fact really dead.  Sometimes they’re just really ill and climb out of it (literally) – this is why it’s called a WAKE!!!  Best piece of information I got all day!!!  Just the sort of gruesomeness that turns me on.

Last but not least, Belle Meade has a winery…we tasted 6 wines and I asked for more so got tastes of two sparklings as well (my favorite, as well as the Vidal Blanc which seems to grow very well in this region and the hands that make the wine are QUITE comfortable with the grape.

This wasn’t enough for us so we headed home to clean up and change for an early dinner at 5th and Taylor – our most hoity toity dinner of the trip.  Really cool digs “warehouse style”, a GREAT glass of Pinot Noir, great service and wonderful food made me pleased with this reservation.  I had two appetizers: Duck Pate and accoutrement, as well as a Tomato Pie.  I didn’t know it would be the size of an individual pan pizza (think Uno’s) – so I had one piece and brought the rest “home” (another great reason to Air B&B!)  Susan had THE BEST Roasted Chicken I’ve ever had EXCEPT Gordon’s.  My brother had a burger that was so damned big he liked his other burger the next night better because it was more “well proportioned”!!

THEN…we Lyfted to The Ryman Auditorium for Larry Gatlin and Friends…who turned out to be Crystal Gayle that night.  She hasn’t lost it.  I’m not very happy with Larry – he did not respond to my request to play “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’” – a song I’ve been in love with since I was 11 years old when it came out.  I highly recommend you U Tube or whatever this song from his early years.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  The Ryman is a bucket list item I have now crossed off.  Amazing space.  Hallowed ground.  They search everything and both my brother and husband had knives on them – they were REQUIRED to throw them AWAY.  My brother had the presence of mind to hide his on top of a column, Gordon showed his badge and asked that they keep it for him, they said NO.  Not a happy man.  They were a security company vs. Nashville Police so the badge may have done more harm than good??   Regardless…NOT a happy man.  We then made it home, and COLLAPSED.  This might be my favorite day of my birthday trip.

A Nashville Birthday in 5 Parts!

57 is starting out pretty darned well.  An on-time departure on Wednesday 19h put us in Versailles KY after an incredibly lovely “horse farm detour”, for a taste of a restaurant I have been looking forward to for a couple of years.  This might be my favorite day of my “birthday trip” to Nashville – I guess the anticipation of what was to come and our first meal out of the door being fantastic contributed.  Wallace Station did NOT disappoint – GO THERE if you can!  In fact, it’s really not far and worth a drive in the country as its own destination.

Located in an old general store in an old railroad town, Wallace Station served me one of the best sandwiches I have ever had – Hot Country Ham and Pimento Cheese, panini pressed.  I’m pretty finicky about both my ham AND my pimento cheese, so high praise indeed.  My side was Bean Soup with Cornbread.  Of course I make the best cornbread in the world, but this was a close second.   Gordon got a cold sandwich and I’ve gotta tell you I was so into mine that I have no idea what he got, but he loved it.  Next time, if I can resist a re-order, I’ll get the Inside Out Hot Brown.  Don’t expect fancy; and relax about the flies.  Don’t miss their bakery case either – we were too full but had to order a lemon bar (about 5×5”) and a savory scone to go because why not?   These were enjoyed in our fabulous “home” in Nashville’s Germantown a couple of days later, because when we met my brother and his wife lo and behold she had made me a fabulous birthday cake – Butter Pecan Coconut!!  SOooooo moist!  So, lunch at 11, cake at 4, and Skull’s Rainbow Room at 6:30 for some more fabu dinner (swordfish) and jazz.   We’re too freakin’ old to be able to wait or the 11PM Burlesque Show; maybe next time I’ll force some caffeine…. And so the pounds begin.  Tune in next week for day 2.

You Want To Get To The ROOT Of The Matter, Don’t You?

Celery Root, that is!!  Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks.  It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)

Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel.  Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you.  The end product will be sweeter.  The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes.  It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews.  Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!