OK – so we all know raw chicken is yucky, right? Instead of using 2 sets of tongs and platters to “separate” the salmonella from the fabulousness (Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s fabulous Tico Chicken pictured above) , try wrapping aluminum foil around your tong ends and layering your platter with foil, do your marinating and transferring to the grill…then when the chicken exterior is getting done, whip off the foil on both apparati (great word, right?!? – I made it up!) and continue using them to transfer your cooked chicken to your clean platter! Lula is now bowing for the applause…
You’re dying to know..you can’t fool Lula. What in the world ARE capers? Answer – capers, sometimes called caperberries, are the unopened, pickled flower buds of the trailing Capparis spinosa shrub that grows in desert regions. Most of these shrubs grow in the Sahara and surrounding regions. They can be found, however, in various climates that are dry and arid – southern France, for example, and any other place (Texas comes to mind) with similar climate.
There are 170 or so species, and we know they’ve been used in cuisine since around 600 BC. The younger the caper, the better. In France, gourmets pick the berries every two days off of the shrubs to ensure the best flavor. Capers are one of the primary ingredients in any “piccata” dish. Lula’s for Lunch..and More! Catering uses capers in our Chicken, Veal (it goes without saying free range!), Pork, and Salmon Piccatas, as well as in our Tuna Tapenade Salad and our Nicoise creations. You can find these selections at our Lula’s for Lunch website and order them any time – because capers come pickled they are not “seasonal” – though people tend to prefer light, refreshing piccatas throughout spring and summer. Which is happening now. Put a little piquancy in your life! Enjoy!
OK, odd title I know. But if it piqued your interest, look at the entire menu here:
Despair with Crystallized Ginger, Chicken Smothered in Grief, Hopelessness Covered in Paprika, and Dill-Encrusted Misery !!
If this menu tickled your funny bone, check out a book that is not at ALL about food called “Trailer Trash, with a Girl’s Name” here written by our very own Cincinnati Native Stacey Roberts. I laughed out loud on EVERY page. It made me think, in particular, of the couple of dishes I just KNOW we can all relate to – when our mother repeatedly made some dish that we hated but everytime we said we hated it, she said “But you LOVE Creamed Cabbage!” – this is the particular dish I remember most hatefully and yuckily. I would love to hear your fond reminiscences of whatever your mother (or father for that matter) made that you had to choke down. Of course, we at Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering never make ANYTHING that you don’t LOVE!!!! HAPPY MEMORY LANE, EVERYONE!
This time of year I get nostalgic – visiting the department stores and grocery stores, seeing all of the “back to school” specials on clothes, backpacks, supplies, etc., and it makes me remember the school cafeteria. In my case, fondly. I come from the deep south in the 60’s, and processed food was just beginning to reach our area by the time I entered high school – in our district, that meant 9th grade. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I have fond memories of the lunch ladies and the goodies they prepared in elementary school. I wonder just how lucky I am if anybody else remembers school lunches with affection. I was a very picky eater (believe it or not) up until 9th grade, then a growth spurt changed all that and I ate everything that wasn’t nailed down for a couple of years (joining the tennis team didn’t hurt the appetite).
In elementary and middle school (6-8th grade for you “junior highschoolers”), we had lunch ladies that cooked from the heart. The regulations weren’t so strict that they couldn’t bring in overages from their gardens and farms and put them to good use, and fresh produce, not canned, was standard delivery. Our food was mostly fresh in the spring and fall months, and BBQ’d chicken was the highlight of my week. South Carolina BBQ (on Lula’s for Lunch and More! Catering ‘s Menu today, by the way, was taught to me by the lunch ladies. Not that they took me into the kitchen or anything, but I guess I was born with a contemplative and studious palate, and I was dissecting foodstuffs and their effect on my tastebuds even at the tender age of 6. I knew we were having BBQ’d chicken before the clock struck 10AM. I could smell it in the classroom – the warm, pungent mustard and vinegar mixed with honey and spices. I don’t know how they did it but they actually managed to get a crust on that mass produced chicken – I always hoped when they handed me my tray that it would be the tray with the blackest chicken skin! I still love char to this day – who doesn’t? It is a devilish trick that carcinogens taste sooo good. Don’t you think? I also fondly remember the little 4oz cardboard “cups” of ice cream, and though I always chose white milk, I always ate CHOCOLATE ice cream!
I’d love to know what YOUR favorite food memory from the school cafeteria is- chime in! In the meantime, Lula wishes for you lovely food experiences that create fabulous memories.
Do you occasionally run across a recipe telling you to use brined chicken or turkey? Sometimes the cookbook just assumes you know what you’re doing…but I find that if I understand the “why” – then I can apply the “how” to many different situations. So, what is brining? Definition: The insertion of salty water into protein by osmosis and diffusion. Less boring: Brining is salted water that completely covers a piece of meat and over time enters the meat molecules, Nature likes to “make things even” (what goes up must come down, right?) – and osmosis tries to even out the water molecules outside of the meat (alot) with the water molecules inside the meat (not so many). There is very little sodium and chloride (salt) inside a protein cell, so the same thing happens with the dissolved salt in the water – nature pushes it through to make things balanced inside and outside of the protein. Science doesn’t even completely understand why, but the result is protein cells that are able to hold on to more water, making them softer and slightly swollen, more tender, and more seasoned. A general rule of thumb is one cup of kosher salt to one gallon of water.
If you’re not sure how much water to use, put your protein in a ziplock bag, and fill the bag till the protein is completely covered. Then dump the water accumulated in the bag into a (really large) measuring cup, and add the salt according to how much water there is. I like to add sugar as well – it balances the salt – about 1/4 whatever the amount of salt I added. Swish it all around till its dissolved, add your meat, and throw it in the fridge for a day (or two, or three) – all depending on how big your protein is. A couple of chicken breasts only need a few hours; a 10# turkey will take 2-3 days. Obviously, your more tender proteins like a good steak don’t need this process. We’re talking about drier cuts here – chicken breast, whole chickens, turkeys, pork loins etc (the stuff that doesn’t have much fat). If you have any questions while on your brining odyssey, you can always email me a http://www.lulasforlunch.com Here’s to lovin low-cal lean cuts! – Lula