Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff LAST Post – Sorghum

What a plant.  This stuff is kind of like hemp in its varied uses and value.  Look it up!  I will only concentrate on Sorghum SYRUP which comes from a native African grass.  Mostly made in the southeast and gulf states, every small batch and brand is different – owing probably to the soil and climate where the grass is grown.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering loves sorghum for its earthy, malty and molasses like flavors and odors – it contributes depth to recipes and creates that “what IS that flavor” question on the tip of your palate! It is a (no longer) secret ingredient in Lula’s Kentucky Black Bourbon Sauce and is key in our popular Sorghum, Cider and Sassafras Vinaigrette, gracing our Heirloom Beet Salad pictured above.

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 6

You don’t hear much about Golden Syrup outside of Great Britain,  and even there you’ll almost exclusively find the brand Lyle’s, but it is well loved across the pond.  It’s about 25% sweeter than sugar and is made from cane.  It has a butterscotch and toffee flavor.  the Brits like to use it in the flapjack, which is a bar cookie, not a pancake.  It IS great poured over pancakes however!!  It is also called “treacle“.  Ever heard of the movie “Brimstone and Treacle”?  If you’re a Sting fan you might want to check it out!

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 5 – Cane Syrup

Nothing more than simmered down pure cane juice, the inhabitants of Louisiana LOVE Cane Syrup as it’s the easiest liquid sugar for them to get – about half of the sugar cane in the US is grown in Louisiana.  Cane Syrup has a burnt caramel flavor, sometimes described as boozy.  Louisianans use it over sausage, biscuits, and in cakes like fruit and spice.  You should too!

BACK to the Sugar – Liquid, Part 4 – Agave

Agave Nectar is all the rage amongst naturalists these days…it comes from the Blue Agave succulent that grows mostly in Mexico, which also gives us tequila.   It can be used in baking and some folks prefer it – as it has a relatively neutral taste.    As with all liquid sugars in recipes, you want to reduce the other liquid in the recipe by one quarter.

Bienvenido a Puerto Rico!

SCRATCH. SEASONAL. LOCAL.

Bienvenido a Puerto Rico!

Merry Christmas!

TOP 12 LESSONS LEARNED IN PUERTO RICO – COURTESY OF DOS GRINGAS TOURS

12)   Manifesting in Puerto Rico is no different than string theory anywhere else.  Upgrade your rental car and hotel simply by believing you are royalty and acting as such.

11)   Rough looking campesinos in camouflage wielding machetes aren’t always scary: sometimes they’re there just to hack up your chicken or your pig before you eat it.

10)   Stalk the uniformed service staff when they get off shift.  They will lead you to the best food.

9)      “The Zika” is rarely contracted in winter – even though 2 mosquito bites yield chills and a fever.

8)      Chills and fever are most likely a severe allergic reaction to feral cats.

7)      Feral cats are to be revered from afar, VERY afar.
6)
If you WANT to spend $18.00 on Benadryl, go to La Farmacia.  If you’d like to spend that money on a souvenir or trinket (or roadside food), then get your Benadryl at Walgreens.

5)      Do NOT trust Siri to lead you to ANY destination through the mountains.  She will lead you to a crack house with guard dogs – some caged, some chained, some jumping wildly on your vehicle.

4)      Perform a Spanish Inquisition when ordering a salad.  Otherwise, you will get iceberg, a hothouse tomato, and an onion slice.  Avocado is always available for about $10.00 for 2 slices.  In short, fresh veggies are not Puerto Rico’s strong suit.

3)      You really need to like garlic.  If you don’t, learn to like garlic. It is often the only condiment available.

2)    You will not go to jail if you choose not to eat Mofongo, though it is implied that you will.

1)      Get in good with your rental car valet.  He will make your speeding ticket disappear.

There’s so much to DO in PR – sun, sand, sea for people like my traveling companion Michelle of Flourish Design, and food, drink, the outdoors and culture for me!   I have to go back because I missed some pretty awesome adventures.  The ones I DID experience I want to experience again (except the crack house).   The rainforest was beyond beautiful and serene, and a hike to the top amongst the clouds yielded a view of the Virgin Islands through cyan and cerulean waters.  Hiking makes you hungry though, and protein fits the bill.  Protein is job ONE in PR – a lot of pig and of course, seafood.   What I love about Puerto Rican meat is that it’s unadulterated.    Pure, charred, juicy, barky, rich MEAT.  Tender, fresh, briny, translucent, fall apart FISH.

A few plugs because they DESERVE it:

Casa Melaza was our host for a magnificent rum tutorial and tasting.  You can taste one or 20, but there are 3 organized tastings that they steer you toward – lower end “flavored” rums (think raspberry vodka), mid range white and amber rums, and rich, dark anejo rums.  Of COURSE I fell in love with the most expensive ones…  but the winner IS….drumroll please…. Don Q Anejo Reserva.  It is here that our wonderful informative host inspired me with his description of the Puerto Rican Palate to come up with my latest menu item:  The Don Trouble Slider.  Some of you have already had it – go ahead – tell everybody how delicious it is!!

Octopus Tostones at the 5 star Hotel Vanderbilt Octopus is very difficult to prepare for even an accomplished chef – its tendency to be tough overwhelms most expert hands.  Not at this restaurant!  I’ve never tasted such tender tentacles!!  The tostones themselves, twice fried unripe plantains with a dusting of cornmeal, were crispy yet tender at the same time.  Our bartender Pablo at the pool bar deserves a special mention because even though he works for tips, he did not have to be THAT helpful – with handwritten lists of out of the way unknown places for dancing, eating, and people watching.

Aqui Se Puede Bar – this hole in the wall means BUSINESS.  Any serious barfly (me) knows when they walk into a PUERTO RICAN bar and see 15 or so different scotches including Glenrothes that they’ve found the motherland.  I see you nodding.  You know who you are.  These folks dry their own fruit, make their own bitters and shrubs, and smoke your cocktail (if it calls for that) right in front of you.  My Don Q was unadulterated except with a huge block of clear ice that allowed it to chill ever so slightly without becoming diluted.

Ostra Cosa Bar & Restaurant – They don’t have a website, but they have a facebook page if you’re interested.  This was maybe the friendliest place I went all week (the anchovy pic is from here – and boy were they good).  By the time I left, I was family with the manager, his mom & dad, his aunt, and the owner.  The owner is the brother of a very famous singer, whose name I cannot remember (no it’s definitely not J-Lo).  This is in no way an aspersion on the famousness of the singer – it is a slam to my lack of latin music knowledge.

El Tenedor  – take a drive up into “central” Puerto Rico to this destination restaurant famous for its skirt steak.  Sometimes, simple is best, and they know how to grill a steak, with ONE MORE TIME a side of garlic sauce (this time some herbs are mixed in and it’s called chimichurri).  Housed in an old rum distillery, this place has been welcoming families from all OVER the island for decades.  Kind of a Sunday drive sort of thing.  They have a pet parrot that will flirt unmercifully with you!  I fell in love.

In short, I WILL be going back, hopefully sooner rather than later.  And I will drag Gordon even if it’s kicking and screaming.  He has no IDEA what he missed!

 

A Note From Chef Lori

 

 

 

 

 

With Easter and Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’d love to help you “eat in” this year – enjoy your family celebration in the comfort of your own home while we do the work…We’ll deliver the day before and you can take the credit!  Details here:

Click here to visit our website.

 

 

 

It IS Easy Being Green (Again)!

‘Tis the month of leprochauns and we’d like to celebrate.  Take 10% off  any delivery during the week of Saint Patty’s Day (3-13/3-17/17)  when you order any of these items: 

Green Eggs & Ham (Quiche, Scramble, Deviled or Burritos)

Chicken Penne Pesto

Split Pea Soup

Creamy Avocado Soup

Caesar Salad Bites

Spinach Puffs

Crispy Tuscan Kale

Pistachio Cupcakes

 www.lulasforlunch.com

859-360-0251

Lula’s Sugar Series – The Wet Stuff Part 3 – Maple Syrup

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!  “Pancake Syrup” is not Maple Syrup.  Pancake syrup is most likely the dark corn syrup we talked about last week.  If you want your pancakes to taste amazing stay away from “Pancake Syrup” and stick to real, expensive, Maple Syrup.  The good news: you don’t have to turn your pancakes into “pancake-maple soup” to enjoy the unctuous benefits of Maple Syrup.  A light drizzle will sweeten and enhance your pancake batter delightfully.  So you’re spending the same amount of money anyway.  Here’s why:

Maple syrup is no more than the sap of the maple tree siphoned off, then boiled down from 40 gallons of sap to ONE gallon of syrup.  During this process the sap caramelizes, giving maple syrup its lovely golden to amber color.

This is how maple syrup is graded – by its color – denoting the amount of caramelization.  Grade A comes in Dark Amber or Light Amber, and Grade B is the strongest and darkest, which Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering likes to use for cooking.  We are also not opposed to using maple syrup in cocktails – ask for one to be made at your next cocktail party!  Lula is religious about finding all ingredients that work well with whiskies. Also, for your next Brunch be SURE to ask for Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s  Homemade Maple-Vanilla Yogurt.

Liquid Sweetness Part 2 – Corn Syrup

Yuck.  Well, maybe not so much…in that corn syrup will not crystallize.  If you read my article “The Transparency of Pecan Pie” you’ll get even deeper into this subject.  Did you know that corn syrup – a highly refined product from corn starch – is only 65% as sweet as white sugar?  But it doesn’t turn frostings and pies and candies grainy so it’s a decent ingredient for this sort of stuff.  The only difference between light corn syrup and dark corn syrup is caramel coloring.  Can you tell I’m a fan?

Unconditional Love!

Joe Cool

February is the month of love and I’d like to celebrate the life of one of my great true loves, my pug Oscar.  We lost Oscar on January 14 after sixteen and a half remarkably joyous years – much longer than pugs are expected to live.  I’m sure it was love that kept him alive.  In fact, Oscar had at least 9 lives, and one of his nicknames was “the energizer bunny”.  Nothing could kill him or keep him down – not ingesting an entire turkey net with metal clamps at both ends, not eating an entire block of rat poison (yes I was TOO a good mommy!), nor a myriad of other things, some much less savory than these that we will not detail here.  Oscar and I were soulmates – both terribly hedonistic and putting pleasure above all else.  Just as I would wither on the vine without loving touch so would my son and pal, who demanded massages on a daily, neigh, hourly basis.   During his last years the massage had to be gentler and kept to his upper quadrant as his poor hind legs were a bit too tender from arthritis.  He always needed to be “touching”.

Oscar was as stubborn as me, or I guess more so, because he usually won.  I’ve often said it’s a great thing for me that he was born with such a lovely temperament because had he been anything more than cutely ornery I would have been in terrible trouble.  He taught me a really big lesson regarding the battles vs the war.  He also gave me the greatest gift – one that I was perfectly petrified I would never have since I couldn’t have children – the gift of unconditional love. 

 I’ve never known a more expressive face, human or otherwise, and we had multitudes of conversations – me with my words, and he with his eyes, mouth, and ears, and tail, and feet, and neck, and yes, even his voice.  People often commented “how can he be so comical and so regal at the same time?”   He was so social all of his life (to put it mildly; another nickname was “ho”) – he went virtually everywhere with me the first 2 years, ALL stores (except grocery as I found out it wasn’t allowed).  He has been to doctor’s offices, mechanics, hardware stores – in fact Beck’s Hardware in Walnut Hills cried with me the week Oscar died.  He was beloved by so many – often his welfare was asked after before mine.  Even at the end of his life when he was blind and deaf, once he caught a whiff of someone new in the house he found his way to them to greet them.

Oscar had the worst breath on the planet.  Some of that had to do with the fact that he was attacked by a Jack Russell Terrier and had to have his whole right jaw stitched up, and he never completely healed.  As destroyed as he was, he gave kisses to the vets and techs who helped him that night.  As a result, he started losing teeth on that side, and some in front, and his tongue lolled out all of the time.  When he was asleep and that tongue was sticking out I swear I could have eaten him with a spoon.

There is not a soul on the planet that was more interested in food in all of its components than Oscar.  I know I know, dogs all love anything to eat, but Oscar was different (of course).  He was a gourmand.   His absolute favorite was crispy salmon skin, and he loved a good cup of coffee with cream and sugar.  Sadly Oscar was born into a litter that was not kept with its mother for very long, and food was tossed loosely into a playpen for the puppies to fight over.  As a result Oscar’s only issue was coming from a culture of “fear of not enough” – like so many of us come from – and he, like we, manifested his perceived lack in mysterious ways.  One of Gordon’s favorite Oscar food stories revolves around a T-Bone steak.  Oscar weighed 20 pounds.  A T-Bone was about half as big as he was.  We thought he’d enjoy gnawing on the bone.  What could it hurt, right?  A gift we thought!  So we put him in the front yard and gave him his bone.  He immediately took the long end of the T and swallowed it.  No, he didn’t choke…he just kept trying to get the wide end of the T into his mouth and down his gullet.  We, in quick hysteria, rushed to him to save him from sure suffocation, but he would have NONE OF IT.  Growling and biting down and digging in he demanded to be left alone to HIS bone as he hacked and chewed and hacked and chomped…and as Gordon RIPPED the bone from his throat that tail just started wagging like “who, me?  C’mon…whatdya have to go and take it from me for?!?”  and immediately the love was restored.  Always, love restored.   That tail wagged so hard it hit both sides of his head.   It’ll never be goodbye my boy – you’ll always be with me, unconditionally loved.

Get your BUZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz On! Liquid Sweetness Part 1

Now we begin our foray into the liquid sugar realm, starting with honey.  EVERYONE knows about honey – and I will refrain from diverging onto the windy path of ecology and how the bees, by producing honey from whatever region in whatever flavor, help feed the world by their pollination.  I’ll just say this one thing PROTECT THE BEES PLEEEESE!!!

Honey is the worlds oldest known sweetener, and its flavor varies all over the world depending upon what nectar the bees have been feeding on, including something as weird as the flowering buckwheat plant.  Lavender honey is one of my favorites, but then again all things lavender please me greatly!  Have you ever had eucalyptus honey?!?   Respond to this blog and let me know the most unusual honey you’ve ever had – I’m curious!!  You can liquefy crystallized honey by microwaving it in 10 second increments until it liquefies (if you can get it out of the jar to begin with!).

 

In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!