OK, we’re here…it’s fall rapidly descending into holidays…so I thought I’d touch on some winter spices that everybody uses for BAKING…but since I’m not the Pastry Queen I’m going to talk a bit about nuance and savory cooking. Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices because it has such a nuanced flavor if you use the right amount that most people can’t tell it’s in there…it’s the big ole’ “What IS that flavor?!?” that I love to hear so much 🙂
Nutmeg was fought over (the islands that grew it) and considered so valuable that it was sterilized when it left an island so that it couldn’t re-seed or grow anywhere else. It comes from a tree that also produces mace (more on that next time). The DEATH penalty was enforced for anyone smuggling nutmeg. First the Portuguese and the Dutch battled over dominion. Then the Dutch and the English. I’m going to leave you with two fun facts:
1) The Island of Manhattan, then called New Amsterdam, is part of the United States because of a negotiation in 1667 ending this particular spice war.
2) Add a pinch of nutmeg whenever you use cream, milk, or eggs. No matter the recipe. You’ll thank me!
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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
I’ve got a tip for you when you leave for vacation. Put a half filled water bottle in the freezer on its side. Before you leave, set it upright. When you return, if the water is anything other than against and up one wall, you need to throw out your stuff! Make sense?!? You had an energy outage 🙁 If you love Lula’s sage ideas you can get them once a week here!
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!
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 !
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.
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?
works for more than the Doctor! Throw an apple in your potatoes and they’ll not produce gnarlyness for MUCH longer…and make sure not to store potatoes in the fridge! You can find all KINDS of tips and tidbits like these here.
Leeks are grown in sandy soil. Most tutorials talk about slicing a leek lengthwise, removing the root and dark green portions, and rinsing the exposed portion under water. This is appropriate if you’re grilling or roasting the halved leek as a dish in and of itself, but a much CLEANER and very easy way to clean leeks if they are an ingredient is to fill a bowl with cold water, slice off the root and dark green, cut the leak in half lengthwise, then lay the cut sides down on a cutting board and slice through the leeks at 1/4 to 1/2 inch intervals. Dump the slices into the water and swoosh around with your hands, let them sit and settle, then gently lift out the floating leeks and see all of the dirt at the bottom of the bowl! If you’re sauteeing you can just lay them on a towel or paper towels to drain; if they’re going into a soup or stew just dump them right in – the extra moisture won’t harm a thing. Here’s to “clean eating”! For more tips and tidbits you can subscribe to Lula’s blog here.
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!