Tag Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

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 .

 

MAD for Mace!

OK, week two of “fall/winter” spices…I’m going to continue where I left off and discuss MACE – which is simply the thin, apricot colored, lacy outer layer of the nutmeg seed.  Since there’s not as much of it, it has always been way more expensive.  It resembles nutmeg in scent and flavor but is more delicate.   Once again, this spice can be used in a variety of savory recipes as well as sweet.

At the height of its popularity the Dutch ruled the spice trade, and one year (1770) production exceeded demand by a year’s supply and the whole lot was BURNED – making Amsterdam the best scented city of all time!  Fun Fact:  Most American hot dog manufactures include mace in their recipe!!  And NOW Lula is going to give away a closely guarded secret..put a dash in your BBQ sauces (think my Kentucky Black Bourbon…) YUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuum.  Hit here for more tips and tricks!  With love, Lula

I am a NUT for Nutmeg!

OK, we’re here…it’s fall rapidly descending into holidays…so I thought I’d touch on some winter spices that everybody uses for BAKING…but since I’m not the Pastry Queen I’m going to talk a bit about nuance and savory cooking.  Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices because it has such a nuanced flavor if you use the right amount that most people can’t tell it’s in there…it’s the big ole’ “What IS that flavor?!?” that I love to hear so much 🙂

Nutmeg was fought over (the islands that grew it) and considered so valuable that it was sterilized when it left an island so that it couldn’t re-seed or grow anywhere else.  It comes from a tree that also produces mace (more on that next time) The DEATH penalty was enforced for anyone smuggling nutmeg.  First the Portuguese and the Dutch battled over dominion.  Then the Dutch and the English.   I’m going to leave you with two fun facts:

1)   The Island of Manhattan, then called New Amsterdam, is part of the United States because of a negotiation in 1667 ending this particular spice war.

2)    Add a pinch of nutmeg whenever you use cream, milk, or eggs.  No matter the recipe.  You’ll thank me!

For more tips and tricks you can subscribe here for some weekly wisdom!

Pumpkin Packs a Punch!

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!

The Holy Grain Grail Part 2, and Watch Lula on Channel 9 at 10AM!

OK, before we get to the grain…it’s Organic Harvest Month! Tune in to ABC Channel 9 (WCPO) at 10AM today and learn different ways to celebrate from Lula!  Now…on to some MORE good stuff:

Fun, tasty other Grains that do contain some gluten:

Rye Berries – Low Gluten, one of my faves.  LOVES me some rye and pumpernickel breads!

Wheat Berries – This is the whole kernel with bran and germ intact.  Chewy, sweet, and nutty.

Barley – eat this hull-less or hulled, but not pearled – it contains more bran that way.

Farro – This is an ancient wheat grain that is great in salad and soup – you can even make “farroto” with it – in place of risotto … it’s very creamy when the starch releases!

Freekeh (or Farika)  – This is smoked or roasted under-ripe wheat that makes an EXCELLENT alternative tabbouleh.

Spelt – This is a fun one – used in ALOT of our breads.  Spelt has a smooth shiny outer layer that stays intact when cooked.  Think Sautes.

There!  Get your HEALTHY grain on!  For more tips and tidbits click here .

The Holy Grain Grail Part I

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.

GLUTEN FREE

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.

 

Viagra for Lettuce!

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.

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!

The Value of Saffron

 macrosaffron_flower

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 !