Category Archives: Summer

It’s fRESH sALMON SEASON!

Lula’s Maple-Bourbon Salmon

If you’re lucky you’ve gotten ‘hold of some fresh King, Sockeye or Coho recently, and I have a tip for you regarding those “prickly” pin bones. If you bought whole, pull out a mixing bowl. If you bought portions, pull out a cereal bowl. Invert either bowl and lay the salmon skin side down over the bowl. Yes, you WANT THE SKIN on wild salmon!! It’s LOADED with nutrients, and delicious when crisped. Email me if you don’t know how to do that.

The pin bones should be presenting themselves with this stretch. Take eyebrow tweezers (some use pliers I prefer tweezers) to the pin bones and gently pull. Easy peazy!

What is Mead? HONEYMOON Food!

Any upcoming nuptials this  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 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

 

 

I’m Sweet on Sweet Onions!

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!

Yummy, Dirty Leeks

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.

Mulberries are Here!

Please enjoy another post about deliciousness and nutrition from my friend Heidi Bright :

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, The mulberry bush. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush so early in the morning.

-English nursery rhyme

I grew up hearing this song and assumed mulberries grew on bushes, like raspberries and blueberries.

Nope. They grow on trees. My sister and I discovered this two summers ago on Long Island, where we saw a man picking what looked like long raspberries off a tree. A tree? What was he eating?  Mulberries.

Oh, we crammed our mouths with their luscious juiciness until we couldn’t reach any more. So sweet, so ripe, and no exterior seeds.

This past week my friend Laura and I took a walk and she identified a mulberry tree. I didn’t know they grew in the Cincinnati area. We filled a bag with what we could reach.

When we met again, she arrived holding a bag filled with fresh, ripe mulberries she had picked. What a treat! And then we found more. I’m in mulberry heaven.

Fortunately, mulberries have great nutritional value. According to https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html, they can improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, build bone tissues, boost the immune system, prevent certain cancers, slow down the aging process, decrease blood pressure, protect eyes, and improve metabolism.

That’s a pretty nice list of benefits. Makes me want to go ‘round a mulberry tree and pick more. Just need a ladder to catch those ones up high…

Thriver Soup Ingredient: To find mulberries, check your local farmers’ markets or look for dried varieties in stores. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/mulberries.html includes nutrition facts. Research on “Composition of anthocyanins in mulberry and their antioxidant activity” Look up effects of mulberry extracts before considering using them.

The Sodom of Sodium (get it?!?)

I don’t know about you, but my body retains more sodium (and everything else) in summer rather than the cooler months when our metabolisms run at a faster rate.  Your body NEEDS sodium – you cannot live without it.  BUT you really shouldn’t consume more than 1500 milligrams per day or it can turn into a BAD thing.  Sodium can go by a number of names, including salt, sodium benzoate, disodium or monosodium glutamate. .  Read labels and be aware!  To help you, here are some foods high in sodium, and below THAT are some alternatives.

  • Foods that are pickled (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !! like the Tarragon Sherry pickles in the pic above
  • Foods that are smoked  (unless they come from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ) !!  like the Smoked Trout in the pic above
  • Condiments, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, cocktail sauce and ketchup
  • Prepared salad dressing (Lula’s are homemade so no worries!)
  • Foods served in a broth or with au jus
  • Some cereals
  • Meat, poultry or seafood that has been enhanced with a sodium solution (virtually ALL pre-cut, prepackaged protein)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Processed cheeses, such as American
  • Spice mixes that have salt in them

Citrus is one of my favorite ways to enhance flavor.  Also, don’t forget that many prepared foods now come in low and no sodium varieties – always buy these, and add the extra tidbit of salt you may desire, OR,  here are some more ways to use spices and herbs in place of sodium:

  • Basil: Fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails
  • Chives: Salads, sauces, soups, lean meat dishes, vegetables
  • Cinnamon: Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
  • Curry powder: Lean meats (especially lamb), veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup, mayonnaise
  • Dill: Fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, lamb, chicken, fish
  • Garlic (not garlic salt): Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Ginger: Chicken, fruits
  • Mustard (dry): Lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mayonnaise, sauces
  • Nutmeg: Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meat loaf, toast, veal, pudding, ANYTHING with cream in it – savory OR sweet
  • Onion powder (not onion salt): Lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups
  • Paprika: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Parsley: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Peppermint extract: Puddings, fruits
  • Rosemary: Chicken, veal, lean meat loaf, lean beef, lean pork, sauces, stuffings, potatoes, peas, lima beans
  • Sage: Lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions, lean pork
  • Thyme: Lean meats (especially veal and lean pork), sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads
  • Turmeric: Lean meats, fish, sauces, rice

AND…the #1 way to reduce sodium in your diet – DON’T PUT SALT ON THE DINNER TABLE!  I’ve gotta tell ya’ – NOTHING is more insulting to a cook than salting something before you’ve tasted it!

Here’s to your health, and your joy! -Lula

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…

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!

Artie Chokes 2 for a Dollar!

Zucchini and Artichoke Frittata

…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it!  Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound).  But hard?  No.  First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
  • Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol,  increase probiotic bacteria in the gut,  and help maintain a healthy liver.
  • Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
  • You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY.  Need I tell you the health benefits?

Now, let’s talk facts:

  • The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers.  See? (this one has flowered obviously)

  • A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom.  It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
  • The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.

You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them.  Do this:  choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe.  Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes.  Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side).  If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred.  Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like.  If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping.  Truly, you don’t really need anything.  Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth.  Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky.  The heart will be your final reward.  The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure.   Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know!  There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!

Cucumbers and your BRAIN!

Lomi ala Lula – Jade Pearl Rice, Crushed Wasabi Peas

Did you know that cucumbers are BRAIN FOOD?!?  And the fresher they are (as in you’re growing them right now aren’t you?!?  are they coming out of your ears?!?) the more brain boost they pack?

Cucumbers are high in potassium which helps brain cells talk to each other.   When they talk to each other they maintain healthy connections and stay lubricated.   Potassium also helps you with that sunny disposition, and lack of it contributes to depression

Cukes also contain an anti-inflammatory plant compound called fisetin, which researchers are discovering helps to delay age related nerve cell decline in the brain. You can’t get more brainy than Lula’s for Lunch,,,and More! Catering ‘s  Lomi a’la Lula  –  Salmon and Cucumber in one genius WALLOP!!