Lula’s Latest Luncheon Adventure

So I had a little adventure the other day, which went from mild annoyance to are you kidding me? to let’s just laugh about this…anyone who knows me, knows I can find the joy in any speck of food (except okra, cream of wheat, oatmeal and rutabagas) – from any greasy spoon to the most haute of cuisine.

On this day my car needed two new tires and a friend picked me up from Goodyear downtown (this is the only hint you’re going to get people!) to grab a bite and network for a bit.  As she had her 4 year old in tow, we needed a pretty basic place so we chose an old, established downtown location that neither one of us had ever been to, because we both agreed that we loved greasy spoons.

I have a sixth sense.  I’ve probably said it before.  Not about everything, but about restaurants, quality, and service – I can feel it in the air from the second I cross the threshold.  We should have turned and run when we stood outside and wondered if it was open because there were no lights on.  However, there were about 6 cooks/servers behind the counter staring dully at us so we thought we’d try the door…which was open (it was 11AM and this is a breakfast/lunch joint).  We walked in, asked if they were open, and received a “yes” and a tentative nod from someone else…so we asked if we could sit anywhere or only where there was light reflecting from the kitchen area.  They told us they would turn on the lights wherever we wanted to sit – how accommodating!!!  So, after trying to find a ray of sunlight and not succeeding, we picked a barren formica table, sat down and the lights flicked on for us (manually – let there be no confusion that ambient light found us through motion).  OK, so we’ve gotten through table selection…NOW…

A woman reeking of smoke ambled up with two menus and we began to peruse.  All kitchen eyes were gleaming dully in our direction.  Hmmm…we had choices!  You could get an omelet but not eggs.  You could get bacon but only in an omelet or on a sandwich.  If you order an omelet with bacon it comes with whole strips of bacon wrapped up in see through pre-fab from a carton scrambled egg product turned INTO an omelet by throwing the liquid on a grill so hot that the product seizes up into a solid, see through veil of egg which is then rolled around the bacon strips.  You can get American cheese product or Swiss cheese product!  You can also get ham!  Oh, and you can get TOMATO! But not in an OMELET!  You can get onion on a burger but you can’t have it in an omelet!  “Honey, onions ain’t been on our menu in 15 years”.   You can’t have anything else because nothing else is on the menu.  No sir, no salad.  You can get lettuce and tomato on a burger but not a salad.  Two full pages of every combination of bread, cheese product, ham or bacon ( and there’s a burger and a DELUXE burger!!).

Woops, there’s “homemade” soup of the day, coleslaw and BBQ. Because I couldn’t get anything real, I thought I’d chance a cup of soup. “It only comes in one size honey” was the response.  OK!  I’ll take THAT size!  It was the strangest greasiest thinnest “size” of chicken noodle soup I’d ever had, with a tang of tomato broth (or maybe it was just starting to go bad).  I also got excited when I saw a fish sandwich (you can get lettuce and tomato on a fish sandwich but you can’t get American or Swiss cheese product – not that I would WANT that offering).  WOOPS!  Fish is only served on FRIDAY.  Count fish out.

So my friend orders a bacon omelet because it comes with toast (white) and her little girl likes toast.  I order a grilled ham and cheese because why not – let’s give this a whirl – I’m hungry.  You can get grilled sandwiches here!  Please refer to picture above for reference to a REAL Grilled Sandwich  – Lula’s Grilled Bacon, Tomato and Gruyere.  Let’s just say I ate the potato chips that came with it, just like I ate the saltines that came with my soup.  Our four year old asked why she couldn’t have butter with her toast.  Mom explained it came already buttered (you can’t explain to a 4 year old that the toast had been dipped in yellow food colored liquid oil already) – and the kid insisted on butter.  So we motion over Ms. Virginia Slim and ask for butter.  “We ain’t got butter but I’ll see what I can do”.  She comes back with a soufflé (those little disposable cups you put your ketchup in at fast food chains) full of yellow food colored liquid oil.  Our little angel didn’t understand.  Frankly, neither did I, but hey – we’re on an adventure!

We’re quite ready to leave and try to do so.  No credit cards accepted.  No sign to that effect – not on the door, not on the menus.  We’re cashless.  I do not even HAVE a debit account.  I have my trusty Visa and that’s all.  My friend has a debit card but we’ll have to leave the restaurant to find a machine.  NO CAN DO.  We’re being held hostage.  So I take out my driver’s license AND My Visa and give it to them to hold while we go in search of money.  I ask her to take me back to Goodyear because I have some cash in my car (now you KNOW!!!) but I’m not sure if it’s enough.  My tires are on and I’m good to go…but they won’t give me my keys because I don’t have my Visa to pay for the tires.  I’ve been going to this Goodyear for over 20 YEARS and they’re holding my car hostage!

It all worked out but in the confusion my friend lost her wallet.  We feel sure it found its way into the diner’s grease trap, sucked into their infinite hole of haplessness and misery.  My reasons for withholding the name this charming eatery are twofold: 1) we foodservice slaves work very hard and I would never want someone slamming me if they had one bad experience (though my imagination is hard pressed to find a good experience here with their set menu – or lack thereof) and 2) I want you all guessing – please email me here if you think you know of the establishment about which I speak!  If you do, then I’m sure we will share the laughter!

A Note From Chef Lori

In addition to the fabulous House Smoked Bourbon Salmon in the pic above, know that Lula’s Catering LOVES all kinds of fish and can cook any type any way you want (except deep fat fried, which we can do on premise if you prefer!)  From the most delicious grouper prepared a variety of ways to our shellfish selections (just LOOK at our Bleu D’auvergne Encrusted Scallops with our Champagne-Lavender Sauce!), know that we’ve got your Fridays (or ANY day of the week) covered!

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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!

Let’s Ramp it Up!

 Lula will be foraging in the Red River Gorge this weekend for these lovely delicacies…a bit early but hey!  we’ve got Global Warming!!  Ramps are also called Wild Leek, Wild Garlic, and/or Ramson, and are a member of the onion family that sprouts in early spring in woodlands all over the world.  Bulbs AND leaves can be used raw or cooked.  To me, they are reminiscent of a blend of chive and garlic.  Yummy!!  So…you’ll be finding them all over fun menus where creative chefs dwell – and you won’t need to ask “what’s this?!?” – Lula has already educated you!!  For more fun tips like this one, subscribe to my blog here .

Happy Valentine’s Day! Is Cabbage the New Kale?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cabbage’s reputation has been transformed from peasant fare to superfood. It’s the new kale.    With the “fermentation rage” going on, I thought it might be a great time to prime you on the varieties of cabbage.

If you believe everything you read about the health benefits of this brassica, you should be eating it every day. For a start, it’s high in vitamins A, B, C and K, full of fiber, iron and potassium and said to have cancer-preventing benefits. If that isn’t enough, it ranks as the vegetable with the fewest amount of calories or fat (at a mere 25 calories per 3.5 ounces.) Oh, and it’s cheap.

Cabbage is extremely versatile. You can use it in stir fries, sautés and braises, with meat, poultry, fish or all on its own — think corned beef, sauerkraut, kimchi, coleslaw, soups, braises, raw, pickled and more.   You can find Lula’s tasty, beautiful appetizer (above) Brown Sugar Rubbed Pork Loin on Black Bread with Braised Cabbage and Apples here.  You can stuff cabbage leaves or use them raw as a natural container for sautéed vegetables or meat.

Cabbage Varieties To Know

Green Cabbage – Green cabbage is the most basic and common of cabbages. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or slow-cook it in soups and stews to bring out its essential sweet nature. Look for heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size,) with tightly packed, moist looking leaves. Green cabbage can be used raw in slaws and salads and holds up to all kinds of assertive, strong flavors.

Red Cabbage – Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except, well, it’s red. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than the green ones but look for tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads like slaws or can easily be cooked. The rich color of red cabbage offers a concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, as well as antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties.

The only downside to red cabbage is that it can turns an odd blue color when cooked. Add vinegar or a touch of lemon juice when cooking to avoid blue food!

Savoy Cabbage – Savoy cabbage is also known as curly cabbage. With ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves, these cabbages are gorgeous and tasty. The tender leaves tend to be more loosely layered and less tightly packed than green or red cabbage, although it can be used in much the same way — raw in salads, stir-fried, braised or added to soups and stews. Because the leaves are so tender you can use this cabbage a wrap for rice dishes or stir fried meat.

Napa Cabbage – Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage, has a different look than other cabbages. It has long light-green leaves and white stalks that appears more lettuce-like with a mild flavor that has a bit of a spicy, almost peppery kick at the end. Great for pickles, kimchi, stir fries and salads.

Bok Choy – Bok choy has a mild flavor most often used in stir fries, but is delicious braised and used in simple preparations. The cabbage flavor is subtle.

No matter what type you buy, look for cabbage heads that are firm, shiny, feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. While you don’t want bruised or beaten-up vegetables, you can peel off and discard the outer leaves, so they need not be pristine.

Cabbage will keep best refrigerated, and will last several weeks.   If you insert cabbage into your diet on a regular basis, the “rumble in your tummy” will dissipate in only a few days and the nutrition is worth it!

A Note From Chef Lori

A Valentine’s (or any other amour) appetizer – our Heart’s Afire 5-Spice Quail Breast in Puff Pastry with Wilted Winter Greens and Apricot Mustard.

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A Slice of Lemon, Please

Next time you order iced tea and the waitress asks, “With Lemon?” do yourself a favor and say yes.  If you make iced tea at home, a slice of orange will do almost the same good as the lemon, with a slice of lime coming in third.

Researches at Purdue University say adding the citrus slice helps you absorb far more of the antioxidants in tea, whether it’s green tea or black.

Citrus fruit is wonderful for you in many ways.  Lula’s for Lunch… and More! Catering incorporates citrus fruit into MANY of our dishes, sometimes overtly, and sometimes you’ll never even know it’s there!

lemons'nlimes

Happy New Year! The Kindness of Strangers Part Deux

You might remember a couple of years ago I wrote about an exhausting holiday season wherein my catering cart containing equipment and supplies for 150 fell over in the middle of a downtown street.  I was amazed when elves descended upon me and cleaned everything up, neatly packing my vehicle before I could even say Joyeux Noel.  Our recent visit to New Orleans brought in the new year with exactly the same joy multiplied by 100.  I have never experienced a happier place in my life.  This newsletter is so full of overflowing fantastic karma I’m sure it will last the year through, and I’m not even going to talk about the food that much!!

We begin with a broken lock on our condo (which was fabulous), so while the gents fooled with it and talked with our host over the phone we princesses simply walked to the corner bar/restaurant, The Governor (a whole 50 feet).   I had to potty more than anything but I ordered a drink “to be nice”.  Upon hearing our plight, the manager who was closing up shop, stayed open for us and when I offered my credit card for payment said simply “don’t worry about it – we’ve all got to stick together”.

Then there was Kendrick – our driver who happily took us on a $260.00 tour of the Ninth Ward and Hurricane Katrina damage and remembrances for the price of a Lyft ride.  His explanations and stories were mesmerizing.  From the owner of Old Arabi Marketplace (thank you Sharon!) who packed our antiques and then took them AND us to the package store in her own car, to the glass blower at Studio Inferno who took us in back to view her casting and then giving us a private tour of Mitchell Gaudet’s socially and politically charged works, the sheer happiness that exudes from this town is infectious.  The people who went out of their way when just
seeing us looking lost, like Dover at the WWII Museum who took it upon himself to explain our best route (it’s an overwhelming place!), were so plentiful I cannot mention them all.

A thank you to Miss Yvonne of Yvonne LaFleur who HELD MY HAND throughout the entire store while trying to find what was just right (I’m so sorry the fox fur didn’t work out!).  Oh!  And thank you for the scarf lessons!

A special shout out to Nolan from Baggage Check at the Hotel Monteleone for warm generous hugs to both Gordon and me for no reason other than we were all loving life, and to Beniel from Haiti, who upon hearing that I liked his music, whipped out the CD and gave it to me when we got to the airport!!

NOW…a couple of musts if you haven’t found them yet:  The Camellia Grille for the BBQ’d Shrimp Omelet and grits – Best omelet in my life (Joe yours is a close second), and plain grits that need NO SEASONING.  Now you know I can make them as well as I can eat them, and I’m JUST SAYIN’…  Also, Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits for a FANTASTIC courtyard jazz serenade with tapas, “pick your own daily cheeses and meats” antipasti, and of course, the WINE….and I can never overlook Commander’s Palace, always one of the best meals of my life.  For downhome bayou gumbo that even I can eat (okra, yuck!) don’t miss Jacques-Imo’s and HEY! look this trio up and pay attention to the perfectly understated drummer:  The Mark Weliky Trio.  So much great food, great music, and great joy.  I think it might all come back to “we’ve all got to stick together”!

A Note From Chef Lori

Baby it’s cold outside…don’t forget our fabulous soups and stews this season – great for lunch or dinner, and most can be “converted” to shot appetizers for your cocktail party!

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New Orleans Here We Come!

After these two hands have completed the nourishment of 195 souls this week, Gordon and I are off to New Orleans for some R&R (by now you should know that means Research and Revivification!).

Our friends Joe and Joanna (The Duke and Duchess of New Windsor – New York, that is… 🙂 ) are meeting us and we’re staying in a Fabulous condo in the French Quarter. We’ll be sightseeing, eating and drinking our way from the 9th Ward to Tulane, and all the way to Vacherie and back.

If you have a favorite haunt, watering hole, restaurant or attraction that you think I must not miss, please let me know here!  And quickly!  Flight leaves on Sunday, and the Royal “We” has decreed there will be no flight issues!

Some Lentil Learnin’

10,000 years and counting…they must be good, right?  And they’re an absolute POWERHOUSE of nutrition!  Lentils contain the highest protein content of any vegetable other than soybeans (negligably higher)…fat free…cholesterol free…higher in folate than any other non-fortified food…and a really good source of iron (make sure you eat the lentils with Vitamin C foods so you get maximum absorbtion of the iron: tomatoes, green bell peppers, etc).

Simmer (bubbles JUST breaking the surface – I call it “smiling”) your lentils without salt – as salt toughens the skin.  Add the salt at the end to taste.  One part lentils to 3 parts liquid is a good place to start if you want maximum absorption.  The Red Chief tends to be my favorite, as it gets mushy and I like to puree it for a “fine” soup, but beware, they turn yellow, they are not red after they’re cooked!  Golden Lentils cook more quickly if you’re short on time.  French green lentils (Lentille du Puy) contain less starch so they’re firmer when they’re  cooked.  Brown lentils are cheap and easy to find.  They take alot longer to cook though – around 45 minutes because they have tougher skins.  These days, though, you can find multiple varieties of lentils in almost any grocery store!!

That’s BALONEY!

REPRINTED FROM Southern Living – Meghan Overdeep

Few lunchmeats leave us with more questions than the classic bologna. It’s perfectly round, impossibly pink, and as synonymous with brown bag lunches as juice boxes. But for something so common, most Americans know very little about bologna’s origin.

While we’re not going to get into the exact ingredients used to make the homogenous meat (mostly pork), we do want to explore another bologna mystery: why it’s pronounced “baloney” and not “bo-lo-nya.”

Not surprisingly, the answer takes us to Italy. In particular, to the northern town of Bologna (bo-lo-nya), where mortadella, bologna’s kissing cousin, was born. Mortadella is traditional cured sausage made from ground pork. The bologna we know and love was derived from mortadella.

So that clears up how it got its name. As for how we came to pronounce it the way we do, we turn to a recent HuffPost investigation.

Linguist Mark Liberman’s theory is that our bizarre pronunciation follows the pattern of Italian words ending in -ia (Italia, Sicilia, and Lombardia), which took on -y endings in English (Italy, Sicily and Lombardy).

“My hypothesis would be that it’s an instance of the old pattern,” Liberman told HuffPost. “But it’s ‘Bologna’ not ‘Bolognia’, right?”

Others believe that it could have sprung from Italians’ penchant for shortening and altering words like “prosciut” for “prosciutto” and “mozz” or “mozzarel” for “mozzarella.”

Lexicographer and Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer told HuffPost that he agrees with Liberman’s theory. “It’s clear that the sausage was called that from the mid-19th century, and I’m sure that was a time when other Italian place names were getting anglicized in that way,” he noted.

By the 1920s, people were using “baloney” (or boloney) to describe non-food-related things. According to HuffPost, writer Harry Charles Witwer referred to a big clumsy boxer as “a boloney” in 1920. It wasn’t long before it was being used as a slang term within the larger world of sports.

“It was at a time when sportswriters in particular were looking for funny words to describe these lumbering boxers,” Zimmer told HuffPost. “And whatever connection they were making to the sausage ? whether it was that they had sausage for brains or they kind of looked like big sausages ? it served its purpose as a funny-sounding word.”

And then somewhere along the line, the “funny-sounding word” took on the definition we use it for today: nonsense.

So, there you have it. As for the exact details regarding how the funny-looking meat got it’s funny-sounding name, we may never know. We’re just sure glad it did.

Lula’s Note:  One of my favorite sandwiches is the Muffaletta – an Italian sandwich containing mortadella.  If you want to try a good mortadella go to The Farmstand Café in Union KY – they have a fabu free range mortadella sandwich!  And if you ever want mortadella on your Antipasti Platter from Lula’s … just ask – we’re happy to customize!

HOW MANY SPICES ARE IN ALLSPICE?

Just one! Allspice is the dried berry of a tree that grows all over the tropical Americas – called Pimenta Dioica. The berry is historically called allspice because it tastes like a combination of several spices, especially cloves. Clove can be a VERY strong spice both in aroma and taste (oil of clove is used as a numbing agent).   So when you want a hint of clove with a complex flavor, try allspice!!

Allspice is traditionally used in stuff like fruitcakes and plum puddings; Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses allspice in many savory applications as well as sweet. If you have a favorite use of allspice, let us know at http://lulasforlunch.com/blog .

 

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