Category Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

Quinoa – The Red White and Black Of It

Native to South America, the quinoa seed comes in 3 different varieties, and I like them all – particularly together.  Sometimes its hard to find the blend though, and when I can’t I’ll settle for red.

White quinoa is the most plentiful; it is the largest and has a nutty vegetal flavor and the softest texture of the three.  Red is next in size and is crunchier because it has an outer seed coat that makes it even nuttier (any reason, you think, why this would be my fave?!?)  Black is the tiniest and the crunchies with an even thicker seed coat.

The reason I personally like to mix them is because the white explodes and is fluffiest, the red has the best flavor and texture (to me – this is personal folks!), and the black will virtually always remain crunchy.  Interesting flavors and textures always make for a more delicious meal!  Lula’s Catering makes soups and stews with quinoa as well as entrée salads and side dishes.  It’s packed with nutrition and is gluten free … a real winner!  For more tips & tidbits from Lula you can always go here – just type in your key word question and I’ll probably have some sort of answer!!  With love, Lula

You’d Better Get Used to Seaweed!

It might be a major diet component in the coming decades…but for NOW, we’re just going to discuss Kombu – a dried kelp that contains “umami” (specifically glutamic acid but what do you care?!?).  If you missed that post look it up!

Kombu is used in Japanese (and my) cooking to enhance umami in many dishes – it can be found in Asian markets and these days quite a few grocery stores in dried form.  Kombu is also a vegetarian source of the brain function enhancing Omega 3 fatty acid.

Just drop one 2×2 square per quart of liquid into soups and stews (think vegetable soup, tomato sauce) and pull it out when the liquid begins to simmer.  You don’t want to forget it-  bitter compounds form at a full boil.  But you WILL add that indefinable “what is IN this that makes it so rich and tasty?!?” vibe if you pull it out at the simmer!  If you liked this tidbit you can get one weekly here!

Seasoned Squash Seeds = Savory or Sweet Snacks!

Lula’s ABC Soup (Apple, Butternut Squash & Curry)

Did you know you can treat any squash seeds the same as pepitas (pumpkin seeds)?  Do just what you would do with the pumpkin- separate the seeds from the pulp, put in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Get creative with your seasonings!  Cinnamon and sugar, or Rosemary & sea salt … the combinations are endless!!  For more mouthwatering pics visit here !

Another “Brainy” Food – the PINEAPPLE!

Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke.  Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!

The Holy Grain Grail Part 2, and Watch Lula on Channel 9 at 10AM!

OK, before we get to the grain…it’s Organic Harvest Month! Tune in to ABC Channel 9 (WCPO) at 10AM today and learn different ways to celebrate from Lula!  Now…on to some MORE good stuff:

Fun, tasty other Grains that do contain some gluten:

Rye Berries – Low Gluten, one of my faves.  LOVES me some rye and pumpernickel breads!

Wheat Berries – This is the whole kernel with bran and germ intact.  Chewy, sweet, and nutty.

Barley – eat this hull-less or hulled, but not pearled – it contains more bran that way.

Farro – This is an ancient wheat grain that is great in salad and soup – you can even make “farroto” with it – in place of risotto … it’s very creamy when the starch releases!

Freekeh (or Farika)  – This is smoked or roasted under-ripe wheat that makes an EXCELLENT alternative tabbouleh.

Spelt – This is a fun one – used in ALOT of our breads.  Spelt has a smooth shiny outer layer that stays intact when cooked.  Think Sautes.

There!  Get your HEALTHY grain on!  For more tips and tidbits click here .

Viagra for Lettuce!

OK, so you went to the store on Wednesday after work for the dinner you’re throwing on Saturday (Soccer Thurs, Basebal Fri, Ballet Sat morning – UGH…)  !!  Saturday rolls around and the broccoli and carrots you bought are just FINE, but your lovely lettuce leaves are drab and wilted.  Perk it UP, no worries!   Tear your lettuce into the size you want it and throw it into a bath of iced water (cubes from freezer + half water.  Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes and BAM! (thank you, Emeril) perky, ready for ACTION lettuce!  Lift it out and place on a tea towel, gently roll it up to relieve the lettuce of its extra moisture, and lubricate with the dressing of your choice!!  Happy crunching!   BTW if you’ve heard somewhere that a bit of vinegar in the water helps, don’t do it.  Makes the lettuce taste “off”.   More tips and tidbits can be found weekly here.

A Southern Fried 4th of July!

After a cooking party using a pressure cooker and beginning preparations for my 7 year “standing” appointment with my 4th of July clients, I began to reminisce about my grandmother and the roll food played in HER life – hence, mine.  I spent every summer with grandmomma and granddaddy and so, Wednesday night Baptist suppers, Sunday night suppers, picnics, and trips around the region brought expected AND unexpected food and memories.

My mind wanders (just ask Gordon) – I have to work hard to complete a verbal sentence because my brain is always way ahead of my mouth – and the pressure cooker at this party made me very nostalgic for grandmomma’s fried chicken.  They asked “how do you make FRIED chicken in a pressure cooker?” – I answered “I have no idea, but you might ask Colonel Sanders!” … I’ve previously mentioned that grandmommas fried chicken was the pre-curser to Kentucky Fried.  EVERY aforementioned event was graced with this chicken, mildly warm to room temperature, in a pyrex pan covered with a cloth.  So juicy, and yes, crispy!  Not all over – but all around the edges.  The rich, flavorful skin and juicy flesh totally made up for the for the “not so crispy” center…later on I would order Extra Crispy for a while, but then returned to the flavors and textures of my youth.

This reminiscence made me mention Fried Chicken to my client who is totally on board…so, Fried Chicken for the 4th it is!!  Along with Lula’s 5 Cheese Mac (sometimes 6), creamy and crunchy…and our Blueberry Florus Parfaits with Blueberries fresh and sweet  from Thistlehair Farm!

IF you’d like Lula’s Fried Chicken recipe (which is flavorful and crispy, but cast iron pan fried NOT pressure cooked) click here.  You can always get quick tips and tricks from Lula here .  What’s YOUR favorite Independence Day food?

 

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!