Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a grain, often mistaken for containing gluten due to its name, buckwheat. In fact, buckwheat is not a wheat at all, which come from grass plants like other cereal grains. Buckwheat is a flowering, broadleaf annual related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. The buckwheat we consume are seeds from that plant. It’s packed with a variety of nutrients necessary if you’re on a vegan/vegetarian diet. Medical News Today states one cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains:

  • 5.68 g protein
  • 1.04 g  fat
  • 33.5 g carbohydrate
  • 4.5 g fiber
  • 148 milligrams (mg) potassium
  • 118 mg phosphorous
  • 86 mg magnesium
  • 12 mg calcium
  • 1.34 mg iron

If you’d like to learn more about buckwheat or how to grow your own crop, check out Grow Journey.

HOW TO COOK BUCKWHEAT GROATS

  • 1 cup organic raw buckwheat
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 TSP sea salt
  • 1 TBSP chopped parsley (Curley or flat leaf)

Orange Creamsicle New York Style Cheesecake

One of my absolute favorite desserts ever since I discovered its existence in college (YES, can you believe my mom never baked this for us kids?!) is NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE. Yum, yum, and YUM.  I remember my first few cheesecake flops years ago. The process seemed to daunting and foreign to me. Fast forward many moons and seasons…I now know why my cheesecake endeavors all tasted like “quichecakes” rather than cheesecake. Meh, live and learn. 🙂

I found a recipe on the side of a bulk cheesecake box purchased from Costco and thought I’d give it a try. I thought it was perfectly creamy and easy. The following recipe is the one I modified ~ making a crustless cheesecake, with a hint of lemon. If you’d like to try the original recipe found on the box, scroll all the way to the bottom. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 (8 ounce) packages full fat cream cheese ~ room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 2 TBSP orange zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil to make it waterproof.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add sugar and mix.
  3. Scrape down the bowl; add Greek yogurt, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add eggs to mixer one at a time, mixing thoroughly on low speed.
  5. Scrape down the bowl add salt and lemon zest.
  6. Mix on low until well combined.
  7. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.
  8. Bake in a water bath at 325°F for 60-90 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Original “New York Style Cheesecake” Recipe

CRUST

  • 1 cup graham crackers crumbs
  • 2 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter. ~ melted
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sugar

FILLING

  • 6 (8 ounces) packages full fat cream cheese ~ room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 2 TBSP lemon zest

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil to make it waterproof.
  2. Butter the bottom of pan.
  3. In mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix well. Press into bottom of pan.
  4. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add sugar and mix.
  5. Scrape down the bowl; add sour cream, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Add eggs to mixer one at a time, mixing thoroughly on low speed.
  7. Scrape down the bowl add rest of ingredients.
  8. Mix on low until well combined.
  9. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.
  10. Bake in a water bath at 325°F for 60-90 minutes until the cake sets.
  11. Remove from oven and chill completely before serving.

Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Veggie Stew

I grew up eating lots of eggplant, thanks to my parents’ prolific organic home “Garden of Eatin’!” A dear friend of mine, a sweet Greek lady by the name of Vicki, introduced me to eggplant tomato stew years ago and I loved it from the start! She passed away at a very young age late November 2019, just days shy of her December birthday. I cannot find the recipe Vicki gave me, but I was able to modify this recipe from memory, and the help of similar recipes I found online. I hope you enjoy it!
NOTE: The stew tastes much better the following day, if you can refrigerate it overnight. Otherwise, allow a few hours before serving warm, and garnished with fresh chopped parsley. I serve this with toasted or pan-friend polenta cakes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggplants ~ peeled alternately lengthways (leave skin on every other section), sliced in halves or quarters, tops removed
  • 2 large red bell peppers ~ sliced in halves, tops and seeds removed
  • 2 large zucchinis ~ slided in halves, tops removed
  • 1 large yellow onion ~ peeled, diced
  • 3-4 organic roma tomatoes ~ cut into chunks
  • 1 can (16 ounce) garbanzo beans ~ rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 ounce) stewed organic tomatoes
  • 1 container (32 ounce) broth ~ I use vegetable
  • olive oil
  • sea salt ~ to taste
    fresh ground black pepper ~ to taste
    pinch cane sugar
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh oregano
  • fresh curly parsley ~ I like a giant handful of parsley (even before chopping)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Roast the eggplant, bells, and zucchini on the top rack at 450°F for 10 minutes each side. When they are done, set aside for a few minutes to cool down.
  2. While the veggies roast, heat some oil in a large stainless steel pot and sauté the onions until golden and aromatic. Cut the roasted veggies into chunks. If still warm, hold them with tongs in one hand, and cut with the other.
  3. Add the broth, garbanzo, roasted veggies, fresh and stewed tomatoes, and 3/4 of the chopped parsley, into the pot. Bring it to a boil for about 2 minutes.
  4. Lower heat, season to taste, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes with lid slightly askew.
  5. Remove from burner. Serve warm, garnished with freshly chopped parsley, with a side of polenta cakes.

Butter to Oil Conversion Chart

Recently when I was formulating my own recipe for cornbread, it dawned on me that all these years, I have heard that you can simply replace oil for butter, on an equal 1:1 ratio. I did some more digging and was convinced by Bob Mills that is not actually the case at all! In fact, a 1:1 ratio in some case may end up with greasy and oil results. Of course, you are the Chef in your own kitchen, so you be the judge of what works best for your recipe!

Source 1

Source 2

BUTTER OIL
1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 1/4 teaspoons
2 tablespoons 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup 1/4 cup
1/2cup 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3cup 1/2 cup
3/4cup 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup 3/4 cup

Sour Cream Cornbread

F81279CE-19D1-444A-8378-2978015C55AF

I am extremely excited to share a NEW PROJECT I’ve been working on: Luluesque Recipe DigiCards!  You can save them right to your phone; no need to bookmark my recipe blog page or wait for glitchy internet to pull up this recipe post. One of the finished products is on this post — scroll all the way to the bottom for the recipe digicard. Simply save the recipe to your device in the “Luluesque” Folder…wait, what do you mean you don’t have a folder saved just for me??? 😉

PREP

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Lightly grease 9×13 baking dish with avocado oil

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups organic cornmeal (HEART HEALTH: supplement some with ground flaxseed)
  • 1 cup organic all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup organic rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups organic fine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon seasalt
  • 2 cups organic sour cream (HEART HEALTH: replace with non-fat plain Greek yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup avocado oil
  • 3 large organic eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Gently fold in sour cream, oil, and eggs with a spatula until the batter is evenly mixed (do not overmix). Our goal is to get out the clumps of ingredients.
  2. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Gently slide the dish from side to side on the counter, to even out the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted fork comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.

Luluesque Recipe DigiCards_Sour Cream Cornbread-01

 

Homemade Fig Jam

HOMEMADE FIG JAM

It’s summertime, which means all the fig trees in my area are full of ripening fruit! Figs are flowering shrubs that belong in the mulberry family. They do not bear flowers on branches; the fruit we see are actually inverted flowers! If you slice a fig open, you’ll see all the little “petals” on the inside. The flower matures and eventually forms little edible seeds, which gives figs its crunch when you bite into one.

According to Brittanica, there are approximaltey 900 species of figs and the “fig wasp” is responsible for pollinating most of the world’s figs! And often the female wasps don’t make it to the correct flower (male) to lay her eggs, thus dies inside the female fig. SO, yes, there is a possibility we are getting some insect protein as we consume figs. Want to learn more? Here’s an educational article and video about the relationship of figs and their pollinators: LINK.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds figs (purple or green) ~ stems removed and figs coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  In a large saucepan, toss the figs together with the sugar and allow to sit for about 15 minutes, until the figs become juicy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  2. Add the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. The fruit should be soft and the jam should slide down the spoon in heavy drops.
  3. Allow the jam to cool to room temperature, then spoon them to mason jars and store in the refrigerator. These should last up to 3 months. They can also be frozen and thawed overnight in the refrigerator for later use.

Croatian Style Radishes

I was recently on an adventure in Croatia and visited a park that had been on my must-see list for about 20 years. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world that i have ever seen! It is Croatia’s first and largest national park of the country’s seven parks. The park was instated into the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage List in 1979.

We booked AirBnB accommodations in a village about five minutes away and was famished by the time we had arrived after a day of sightseeing along the way. We asked around about dining options and the restaurant at Plitvice National Park was decidedly a fantastic choice! My dinner consisted of fine local Croatian offerings: white wine, grilled trout, salad topped with finely shaved pickled red cabbage, and stewed carrots and green beans, served with a basket of a dense but amazingly moist bread with sir (pronounced seer) cheese.  The stewed carrots were soft and buttery, seasoned to perfection. I have no earthly idea how the chef cooked that dish, but this is my take on it—with a Lulu twist of course! Enjoy! 🙂

On another note, like the unknown wine region of Switzerland (YES, there is one, and it’s gorgeous!), Croatia does not export their wines! You must enjoy their creations there and buy some to bring home.

Croatian Words

While you’re reading this post and possibly going to attempt this recipe, you should try to learn some basic Croatian food words. It’s one of the most difficult languages I’ve ever had to learn for my travels, but it’s quite challenging but fun! I learned that the language uses few  vowels in their words. Instead, the uses of accent marks over some letters create some of the sounds that would otherwise have been created with vowels. Quite minimalist! 🙂

  • molim = please/you’re welcome
  • Dubro Jutro = good morning!
  • hvala = thank you
  • kruh = bread
  • sir = cheese
  • butter = maslac
  • radish = rotkvica
  • mrvka = carrot
  • salata = salad
  • grilled fish = riba na zaru
  • trout = pastrva
  • wine = vino
  • coffee = kava; coffee with milk = kava s mlijekom
  • water = voda

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 bunches organic red radishes ~ ends and tops (leave 1/4 of the green stems) removed, radishes cut into halves or quarters
  • 1 cup organic baby carrots ~ cut into sections of two or three
  • 1 pint sunflower sprouts
  • Splash of white wine ~ I used chardonnay
  • Sea salt ~ to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a stainless steel pot, heat the butter on medium heat until melted. Add the carrots, sauté for a few minutes then allow to cook for about 3 minutes, covered.
  2. Turn up the heat slightly and add a splash of white wine. Immediately add radishes and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. Be sure to stir occasionally so that nothing burns. Add more butter and/or wine if needed. Your root veggies should be soft and tender.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over a bed of sunflower sprouts. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a sprout.

Jicama Mango Salsa Fresca

Jicama Mango Salsa Fresca

My mama used to give me chilled slices of jicama when I was a kid. Back then, I used to pronounce it “jee-ka-muh”—only as an adult did I learn that I had been butchering this sweet juicy tuber’s name. I had no idea it was a latin name, thus should be pronounced “hick-uh-muh.”

If you follow my blog, then you may already know that I don’t like to drone on and on about my boring life. Instead, I like to share the interesting facts about ingredients for each recipe, be it nutritional value, how the produce got its name, etc. 

Jicama (Pachyrhizus Erosus), also called Mexican turnip, Chinese turnip, is a native Mexican vine that belongs to the legume family! Each vine can climb as high as 14-20 feet tall with gorgeous flowers of white or blue, and the edible tuberous tap roots are what we eat. However, everything else on the plant above ground is toxic, so take precaution if you decide to grow this in your garden. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seed pods all contain rotenone, a colorless, odorless broad spectrum insecticide/pesticide that naturally occurs in some plants, such as the jicama. It takes roughly 9 months from seed to harvest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium jicama (about 1 pound) ~ diced
  • 2 small Ataúlfo mangos ~ diced
  • 1 medium shallot ~ finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano ~ finely diced
  • 1 cup organic cilantro leaves ~ chopped
  • juice of 3 medium limes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly ground sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare all your ingredients. Combine all the ingredient in a large mixing bowl and gently mix with a spatula.
  2. Serve chilled with fish tacos, topped on salads, or with chips. Enjoy! 🙂

Haricot Vert Tofu Crumble

Haricot Vert Tofu Crumble

If you are a huge green bean monster, you will fall in love with haricot vert and never look back. Haricot vert is French for “green bean” (Haricot=bean; vert=green) and the variety is slender and far more tender than the American variety you see in the grocery store. This recipe makes enough for two entrées or a splendid side dish for your next dinner party.

Allumette vs. Batonnet vs. Julienne vs. Matchstick

There is not a strong difference between these four techniques of cutting vegetables into thin even strips, but each technique varies in measurements. This helps the vegetables cook evenly and also delivers a nice presentation to the dish. (Measurements below are courtesy of The Spruce, one of my favorite websites.)

  • allumette measures 1/4 inch × 1/4 inch × 2 1/2 to 3 inches; sometimes referred to as the “matchstick cut”
  • batonnet measures 1/2 inch × 1/2 inch × 2 1/2 to 3 inches; “rectagular stick,” like a fat French fry
  • fine julienne measures 1/16 inch × 1/16 inch × 2 inches
  • julienne measures 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 1/2 inches; it is the allumette, cut once more, lengthwise

NOTES

Always try to use organic ingredients when possible. The grocery bill can add up quickly and not all produce are covered in harmful pesticides. As a general rule, I follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 list.


INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound package Haricot Vert
  • 1 medium carrot ~ julienned
  • 5 garlic cloves ~ thin slices
  • 1/2-1 block organic tofu, firm ~ all liquid pressed out, crumbled into desired size (see how-to notes in instructions)
  • white wine (I use chardonnay)
  • cooking oil
  • veggie seasoning ~ to taste
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • black pepper ~ to taste
  • red pepper flakes ~ optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove all the liquid from the tofu block by hand-squeezing or weighing down the tofu with a heavy object on top. Sometimes I use a mortar (“bowl” part of the mortar-and-pestle combo). Crumble to desired size and set aside.
  2. In a large stainless steel pan, heat some oil on medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic slices until aromatic and golden-brown. Add the beans and carrots and cook the beans for about 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
  3. Splash a little wine into the pan and quickly cover with a lid. The wine creates steam, which helps cook the beans. Check the beans periodically. When the veggies are cooked to the desired texture, add sea salt, black pepper and other spices that you desire. Gently mix in the crumbled tofu with a spatula.
  4. Serve hot, garnish with red pepper flakes.