Category Archives: Summer

Daddy’s “Pie Plant”

raspberry-rhubarb-fool-2

We’re talkin’ Rhubarb, here…known all over the US as “Pie Plant”.  I first tasted rhubarb when my daddy began growing it in our back yard for my mother to make pies.  He had grown up on Rhubarb Pie in Michigan and my mom had never heard of it!

Officially a vegetable, rhubarb has been treated as a fruit for centuries.  I find it to be a very interesting vegetable because of all of its contradictions:  used as a fruit but it’s a vegetable, its leaves are toxic (yes they will KILL you if you eat a bunch, or just make you really sick if you only eat one or two), and its root has been used medicinally for eons to cure several maladies, constipation for one!Chemicals in rhubarb have also been found to destroy leukemia cells and lung cancer cells.  Go figure!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie comes to mind when rhubarb is brought up in conversation, but Lula has a base recipe for several lovely dishes using RASPBERRY Rhubarb.  Enjoy this pic of our Raspberry Rhubarb Fool!  You can ask for a derivation of this combination anytime from February thru July usually – or until we run out!!

I’m Sweet on Sweet Onions!

App Peach Vidalia and Brie Crostini

Enjoy the Vidalia while you can…its harvesting seasons is short – but did you know that there are other types of sweet onions out there to enjoy?  The sweet onion is defined by its low sulfur content and higher water content than pungent onions.  Many consider the Vidalia king, but did you know the Bermuda onion is also a sweet onion?  How about Walla Walla from Washington State, or the Texas 1015 (also known as the Million Dollar Baby as it took just over one million dollars to research and develop it).  Others include Pecos, Sunbrero, Carzalia, and Sweetie Sweet, to name a few.   SC Sweets are from my home state of South Carolina, grown in the peanut belt.  When the sweet onions can be found, I make my Peach-Vidalia Relish.    If you ask real nicely, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering will stuff a chicken breast with Goat Cheese and drizzle a little relish on top (thank you Debby!)   Please enjoy this picture of it placed atop a Dauphinois Crostini!

What’s YOUR favorite Basil?

Lula's Caprese Crostini

I tend to “decorate” with herbs…I have such a beautiful garden and it’s so easy to pluck a few varieties both flowering and non flowering.   Since it’s almost basil season I’d love to alert you to  a couple of GORGEOUS varieties of Basil that are purple instead of green!  The Purple Ruffles variety has leaves that look like a 1970’s handkerchief skirt.  The “Red Rubin variety has pink flowers!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering makes our Caprese Crostini with Genovese Pesto, garnished with Lime Basil, two OTHER varieties!

What ROTS in your Refrigerator?

Lavendar! '13

or…how to NOT waste herbs…

Many of you don’t have the luxury of snipping what you need out of your own herb garden and have to resort to supermarket packages of herbs.  Your recipe might call for a tablespoon of freshly minced basil and then what to do with that pretty full package?  Let me tell you…

Chiffonade it all (it’s not good to “chop” on delicate basil more than once).  If you need help with “chiffonade” email me here .  Keep an extra ice tray on hand for tasks such as this.  Put a teaspoon (or tablespoon or whatever you wish) of your herb into the ice cube pockets, cover them with olive oil, and freeze.  Once they’re hard you can dump them into a freezer bag, label the bag, and have “fresh” herbs for months to come!!  Yay, YOU!  Yay, #lulasforlunch !

Which Mint is Which Mint?

Drink Minted Lemon-Limeade

When a recipe calls for mint, what kind are they talking about?  There’s peppermint, there’s water mint, there’s spearmint…you’re probably getting spearmint from your grocer and it’s fine to put into any recipe calling for mint.  Peppermint is harder to find – you may have to end up growing it if you’re a mint connoisseur and really want some. Peppermint tends to be more pungent and peppery and is a bit less “delicate”  and usually used in candies and teas.  At any rate, don’t sweat it – just use whatever they’re selling if it’s an ingredient in a savory dish.    When it comes to a Mint Julep, spearmint is what is used to make the drink.  Just sayin’.  Mint is a lovely accompaniment and refreshing element to many beverages, like Lula’s Minted Lemon-Limeade pictured here.  SIP…AHHHHH…

A Beer Primer

Beer

I’m not a beer drinker.  There, I said it.  There are some beers that taste good to me, but in general, I don’t like the carbonation (I don’t drink pop either) and what it does to my ‘constitution”.  That being said, Cincinnati s a great beer town, and is becoming more  so every day with our new micro-breweries and pubs.  So, I thought, perhaps there are others out there who might like to know what they’re drinking, or talking about, when celebrating our city’s great tradition.  Here you go:

Beer (ALL beer – lager, ale, stout, bock, pilsener, porter, etc) is made from the same ingredients:  water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.  What makes a different taste, style, or type of beer is the addition of other ingredients, different types of yeast, and fermentation temperature.  Age also changes the flavor of beer.  So let’s touch on the 5 major “types” of beer and try and make sense of it:

ALE:    Ales are not aged, and are made with a yeast that floats to the top of the vat during fermentation.  They contain a little more alcohol than lagers.  They often have a hint of fruit in their flavor or aftertaste.  A type of ale is STOUT.  Darker and stronger than regular ale, a stout is brewed with toasted malt.

LAGER:  The yeast in lagers sinks to the bottom of the vat and is fermented slowly and at cool temperatures, and take one to six weeks to age.  Types of lager are:

PILSENER:  About a third fewer calories and about 20% less alcohol than regular lager.  Pale and golden, they are your “light” beers.

PORTER:  The stronger flavor of this lager comes from toasting the malt before brewing.  It is a  bit higher in alcohol content as well.

BOCK:  A dark German style of lager, bocks are traditionally spring beers, but these days they are brewed year round.  They are rich, and thicker (in Germany they are made by freezing the beer and taking off the top layer of ice to thicken it).  Bocks are brewed with roasted malts.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses beer in some of our recipes.  Try our Ballpark Casserole – our Brats and Metts are poached in beer before grilling.  Or, this fall, order our Cheddar-Ale Fondue, served with our Brats and Metts as well as our homemade German Salt Rye!  You can always order our Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from our Deli!  Cheers!

Baba-Lula Ganoush! Or….The Mystery of Eggplant Unfolds

macro eggplant2app Baba Lula Ganoush

Above, to the left: many different eggplants!  Above, to the right: Baba-Lula Ganoush, made from eggplant, with Lula’s housemade Tarragon Pickles and Red Pepper Brunois.  A tasty “Arabian” dish…made tastier by picking the right eggplant.

Pick small, young ones.  Old wive’s tales say pick the “male” , which can be denoted by looking at the bottom end and picking the one with the “outie (round) vs. the “innie” (oval).  Really, the trick is picking small, glossy, heavy fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit).  The younger the fruit, the less seeds, which can be bitter. The younger the fruit, the thinner the skin, which can be bitter as it gets older.

FUN FACTS

  •  Way back when (we’re talking millennia) eggplants used to only be white.  The oval, hanging fruit resembled goose eggs – hence the name.  Another popular name today in many other countries is Aubergine.
  • Eggplant has many relatives – it’s in the nightshade family, but it’s also related to tobacco, and contains nicotine!  Eating a serving of eggplant is somewhat akin to being in the presence of secondhand smoke for one cigarette.
  • Eggplant is relatively low in things bad for you, and also relatively low in things good for you!  It absorbs liquid, both fat and non, well, and is a really good substitute for animal protein in vegan meals as it has a “meaty” quality when prepared for this purpose.  Just make sure you get the bulk of your protein elsewhere.
  • If you want your eggplant to absorb LESS of whatever you’re cooking it with, slice it, salt it, and let it sit for 10-20 minutes.  Just know that you have to use it immediately, as eggplant browns very quickly when exposed to oxygen.

If you’d like to order Baba-Lula Ganoush for your next party, just click here and go to Best Selling Bites.

It’s SEAFOOD Time!

 

Ruby Red Trout Skin

Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:

  •  Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times.  It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
  • If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
  • Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
  • It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp.  By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm.  Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
  • If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger.  Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood!  The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )

 

What is Mead? Honeymoon Food!

 

Any upcoming nuptials this Spring or Summer?
 

In ancient Babylon, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead (fermented honey beverage) he could drink for a month after the wedding. Because their calendar was lunar or moon-based, this period of free mead was called the honey month or what we now call the “honeymoon.”

While we at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering don’t offer any mead beverage options, you really should try our Homemade Honey-Lavendar Iced Tea the next time you cater in!! – Lula

Tomato, ToMAHto


We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s “Caprese Crostini” for your viewing pleasure…