Pumpkin seeds are one smart snack. They’re rich in zinc, a mineral vital for memory and thinking skills. They’re also packed with magnesium, a mineral that fights inflammation and contributes to the creation of new brain cells.
In addition, pumpkin seeds contain a hefty amount of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to the good-mood chemical serotonin. As if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that may slow brain aging. At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering , we toast our pumpkin seeds and use them in many salads as well as garnish entrees for a satisfying crunch! This picture is of our Citrus Avocado Salad. Now, drool!
There are many grains out there to try; and not all alternatives to wheat are gluten free – here’s a primer on many of them, broken down by gluten free (a must for celiacs) and lower gluten (tolerated by many with gluten allergies) – we’ll discuss Lower Gluten next time.
Millet – high in fiber, mild flavor. Wild Rice – actually a grass found around fresh water. Amaranth – A seed and a COMPLETE protein (think filet mignon!) Sorghum – highly absorbent for sauces/dressings Black/Forbidden Rice-resembles wild rice but cooks more quickly and colors broth/sauce a deep brown-red. One of Lula’s faves! Oats – watch out that these come from a “Certified GF” mfg. Quinoa – another COMPLETE protein. Teff – 1/100th the size of a kernel of wheat! Buckwheat – another of Lula’s faves…try our crepes! Corn – try Silver Queen or any sweet white – amazing!
Hope this helps on your next grocery store adventure! More tips and tidbits like this can be found if you subscribe here.
OK, so you went to the store on Wednesday after work for the dinner you’re throwing on Saturday (Soccer Thurs, Basebal Fri, Ballet Sat morning – UGH…) !! Saturday rolls around and the broccoli and carrots you bought are just FINE, but your lovely lettuce leaves are drab and wilted. Perk it UP, no worries! Tear your lettuce into the size you want it and throw it into a bath of iced water (cubes from freezer + half water. Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes and BAM! (thank you, Emeril) perky, ready for ACTION lettuce! Lift it out and place on a tea towel, gently roll it up to relieve the lettuce of its extra moisture, and lubricate with the dressing of your choice!! Happy crunching! BTW if you’ve heard somewhere that a bit of vinegar in the water helps, don’t do it. Makes the lettuce taste “off”. More tips and tidbits can be found weekly here.
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!
By weight, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and more expensive than many precious metals…this is due to the fact that saffron must be hand harvested from a special fall crocus flower. Each crocus flower only produces 3 stigmas (strands of saffron), and it takes over a quarter million strands to produce a pound!
Saffron has been around multi-tasking since about 1000 BC – as I wrote in a previous post – it used to be scattered on the floor of gathering halls and theatres in Greece and Rome to help cover the “scent” of humans :). Other uses are medicinal – as with most yellow and red foods, it’s really good for you!
As far as food goes…saffron is prized for its honey-hay like flavor and aroma, and of course, the golden yellow color it produces with just a pinch into any sauce, rice, soup, etc. Buy your saffron in tiny amounts in whole stamen form. The ground stuff isn’t nearly as good as it has more stuff from the flower to make it weigh more. If you just can’t bring yourself to spend the $$ when a recipe calls for saffron, try substituting turmeric (VERY good for you).
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses saffron in bread, soups, stews, risottos like our Saffron and Orchid Petal Risotto, and even desserts! Have you tried saffron in a dish? Tell us how you liked it here !
Wanna be fancy? Wanna “look” fancy at your next get together? Pick your vinegar: Apple Cider, White, Wine, or Rice …let’s stop there and keep it simple. Add 3 tablespoons fresh herb or mixture of herbs of your choice (mix a couple and make it a “house” vinegar”) for every quart of vinegar.
Don’t use ground herbs or spices because the vinegar will get cloudy. Store it at room temperature, with a lid on, making sure your herbs are covered in the vinegar. It will be ready in 24 hours, and after you use some, you can top it off again with the same original vinegar. Just make sure your herbs stay covered. If you’d like, you can remove the herbs after a couple of days. Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses our Tarragon Vinegar to make pickles that we put in several recipes ( see pic of our Baba Lula Ganoush garnished with them!)
Vinegar is a preservative, but it does have its limits. The word itself is derived from the French “vin aigre” meaning “sour wine”. Don’t use more than around 3 tablespoons of your herb mix per quart because too much foreign “matter” can result in food poisoning. Happy Creating!
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 TunaTapenade 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!
Ever wonder why Easter Eggs are “Easter” eggs? For anyone marginally schooled in Christianity lamb is a given, borrowed from the Jewish Passover tradition (sacrifical lamb, Lamb of God, etc.), but spring lamb, ham, and eggs far predate Christianity.
Spring lamb is just coming to market at Easter and has been a celebratory menu item for eons across the world symbolizing new beginnings and rebirth. The pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian Europe and, hence, the bringing of ham to the table in springtime.
Pagan rites of spring brought the egg to the table. The egg is a symbol of rebirth, rejuvenation, and immortality. The early Christian calendar forbade the ingestion of eggs during lent, so everyone was really excited to eat them again when lent was over (Easter). Egg decorating has been around for thousands of years. Particularly intricate and beautiful designs come from central Europe.
Egg breads, particularly the hot cross bun, are very popular at Easter. Archeological evidence however, proves that the hot cross bun has been around since 79 C.E. at the ancient site of Herculaneum.
Whatever you bring to your Easter table, enjoy with family and friends and celebrate rebirth of all kinds!
Every year around this time I publish something about asparagus – it’s in season and cheap and always delicious – whether it’s thick or thin. “Diameter” of the asparagus has nothing to do with its age in season, it has to do with the age of the plant. A thin spear in February for example, if left on the plant, will not grow into a thicker spear in March.
A thinner spear indicates a young PLANT, and vice versa. Both are equally sweet and tender after snapping off the woody bottoms (or shaving them as I sometimes do for presentation). Thin is better for steaming and stir frying (quickly, now!), and thick is better for grilling/roasting. We love to serve our “medium stalked” asparagus grilled with our Feta Jalapeno Dipping Sauce pictured here. Did you know it is also perfectly acceptable to eat asparagus with your hands? The Viking in me loves this. 🙂
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!