April 1, 2024
April 2024: On the Light Side
April 2024: On the Light Side
Cracking Up in the Kitchen

We understand you may be a little curious about the acronym “LCA” gracing our website and signatures. We are here to unravel the enigma. LCA, in all its cheeky glory, stands for “Laughing Culinary Artists.” Yes, you read that right – we’re not just about gourmet delights; we’re also seasoned jokesters in the kitchen!
We believe in keeping things light and fun. In fact, we’re cracking jokes every time we crack an egg! We’re all about bringing joy to the table, and we hope it translates through our dishes. Our kitchen is a place where culinary creativity meets comedic flair – we even encourage chefs who have stand-up comic experience to spice up our cooking sessions. After all, we love a good cheesy joke as we ham it up in the kitchen!
But wait, before you start thinking we’re all yolk and no substance, it’s time to reveal the punchline. April Fool’s! While we certainly appreciate a good laugh, the real story behind LCA is slightly different. LCA actually stands for “Leading Caterers of America,” a prestigious group that we are honored to be a part of from its beginnings.
Leading Caterers of America brings together top-tier catering companies from across the nation, each renowned for their exceptional service, culinary expertise, and commitment to excellence. We partner together to share best practices and commit to continual growth to enhance our services internally and externally.
If you’d like to learn more about Leading Caterers of America and what sets us apart, click here. And remember, while we take our membership in the LCA to heart, we’ll always be Laughing Culinary Artists, infusing every dish with a dash of humor and a whole lot of passion. Because life’s too short not to savor every moment – and every bite – with a smile.

Southeast Asia Shareables  Khanom Krok
Craveable.  These Thai coconut custard pancakes are the intersection of goodness and awesome. Sweet with a touch of palm sugar, savory  topped with green onions, their crisp exterior meets a custard interior. The stands are easy to spot in the night markets because there is often a gathering of customers patiently waiting for them to be flipped, hot out of their cast iron molds.
Gluten and dairy-free, the pancake batter contains rice flour, jasmine rice, coconut milk, shredded coconut and salt. Two batters are poured one after another into the indentations of multiple large cast iron pans similar to the Danish aebeliskiver pancake mold. The molds are heated by the charcoal and then the pancakes are served mouth burning hot, sometimes plain, or topped with green onion, pumpkin, taro root or corn. Perfectly constructed, the inner layer of the khanom kr0k is a creamy coconut pudding which is nestled inside the caramelized outer shell and simply perfect. 

Butterfly Pea Flower
Blue drinks, hot and cold are the norm in Thailand thanks to blue butterfly pea flowers which are native to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. The flowers are also known as Asian Pigeon Wings and Darwin Pea.  Enjoyed throughout the area as a tea with beneficial health properties, the flowers when steeped produce a brilliant blue hue and if lemon is added, morph into purple. The flavor is subtle, so it is often paired with other ingredients. Bartenders love the bold color, lyrical name and its color shifting ability. Chefs use it as an accent on a salad plate or to make a safe food dye, natural blue being a challenge in the food world. How enchanting to relax with an icy glass of “Unspoken Paradise”, yuzu puree, orange, pomegranate, sparkling water and butterfly pea. Chok dee!  

Secrets to the Best Vietnamese Dipping Sauce or Five Finger Sauce as taught by Chef Tan Viet Luong
The five fingers equal the 5 ingredients, salty, sour, sweet, no flavor and spices.  The first four are the same measure and the spices are to taste.
In Vietnam, the salty equals fish sauce, but feel free to use soy sauce, etc.
We used sugar for the sweet but any sweetener works.
Squeezing kumquats for the sour was a revelation for me. Perfect acidity. Again, all sour fruits and vinegars are interchangeable.
The no flavor, no color is water. 
Add a pinch of chili and garlic for the spice.
And like a good vinaigrette, once the ratio is understood, the possibilities are endless

Tom Kha Gai
I hope my grandmother isn’t listening but tom kha gai is a strong contender for my favorite chicken soup.  Kha means galangal, which is sometimes called Thai ginger because its appearance is similar but its flavor profile is different and gai refers to the chicken. The broth is a beautiful balance of spicy, sour, salty from the fish sauce and rich from the coconut milk. Lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, Thai chilis, mushrooms and a healthy dose of palm sugar round out the flavors.
  Spring GleaningMany people use springtime as an opportunity for spring cleaning, washing windows, putting away winter clothes, dusting the bookshelf. We would like to heartily recommend a new tradition of Spring Gleaning. Here’s the beginning of our list:

See the movie The Taste of Things
Review the The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
Make Thai Curry Paste using a mortar and pestle
Visit Bold Fork Books, a cookbook and home-goods store in Washington, D.C.
Plan an afternoon of crafting wooden kitchen utensils at Station North Tool Library-no prior experience necessary.
Walk a path at Cylburn Arboretum and attend a class like Companion Plants for your garden
And if you haven’t already, sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture)
From Our Library, Harriet’s Book Picks: Zaytinya by José Andrés
Zaytinya, José Andrés’ latest cookbook is a compilation of recipes from his restaurant of the same name. The name is inspired by the Turkish word for olive oil, zeytinyagu.  The cookbook, like the restaurant is based on the cuisines of Turkey, Lebanon and Greece. The chef recounts his research abroad and locally to understand the evolution and nuances of these foodways and their crossings and how their location on the spice and trading routes further enriched the superlative local ingredients.
Andrés credits his friends and mentors for introducing him to the traditional dishes of this rich sector of the culinary world. Aglaia Kremezi, Greek cooking expert and author, in particular had a profound influence and eventually, assumes the role of “Greek grandmother”.  Andrés felt a natural kinship with the flavors that reminded him of his roots in Spain. Olive oil, citrus, rice and abundant offerings from the sea was the lexicon of ingredients that was already his mother tongue. He and his team developed the recipes for Zaytinya respecting the deep-seated traditions while reimagining them in a new form.
The recipes begin with the fundamentals and progress through the traditional courses of a meal.  They are uncomplicated and accompanied by helpful illustrations.  I can’t wait to try my hand at pide, a Turkish bread recently introduced to me by one of our chefs, carrot fritters with pistachio sauce and Turkish coffee chocolate cake. This cuisine is made for sharing, so dig in.

From our Kitchen: Lemon Rosemary Shortbread
Chef Courtney Peoples

Growing up, shortbread cookies were my all-time favorite. I love the simplicity of a rich buttery cookie with a tender crumb. It wasn’t until I discovered the endless possibilities of flavors that I became so excited to produce my most ideal shortbread for spring. I particularly love this lemon and rosemary variation because the citrusy notes  combine so well with the earthy touch of rosemary and makes me want to enjoy these treats with a lovely cup of jasmine tea. This type of shortbread is very delicate with just the right amount of flavor and personality. I can just imagine them on the table at a tea party or brunch. To me, the rosemary in this recipe is not as pungent as one may anticipate. When it bakes in the oven, the aroma is so inviting that it will certainly draw all to the kitchen asking “What is that smell?!” I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe just as much as I enjoyed crafting it! 


2 cups butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon extract
1 lemon, zested
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 sprig fresh chopped rosemary (1 Tbsp)


1. In a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, extracts and zest of lemon zest until light and fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, measure all-purpose flour, cornstarch, salt and chopped rosemary.

3. Turn off mixer and add dry ingredients to the butter mixture. 

4. Slowly begin to mix until dough is well combined. 

5. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Press down into a slab and refrigerate overnight.

6. On a clean surface, dust with flour and begin to roll shortbread to 1/4 inch thickness.

7. Using a cookie cutter, cut desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. 

8. If desired, sprinkle with sugar

9. In 300 degree oven, bake cookies until slightly golden brown around the edges, 5-8 minutes. 

10. Cool completely and enjoy! Click here to print the recipe.