Since the 1970’s, we have prepared hundreds (if not thousands!) of meals here at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, and at our mission house, Villa Via Sacra, in Barga, Italy. We believe that food nourishes body, soul, and spirit, and that even the simplest meal, prepared with love, can change your life. At the heart of our call to kitchen and table lie the words of Saint Benedict: “Welcome all as Christ.” This premise has led us on many culinary adventures, which we now gladly share with you!
On a recent pilgrimage to Israel, I encountered the cultural phenomenon that is the traditional Israeli breakfast: Fresh vegetable salads, an abundance of fruit, creamy bowls of hummus, smoky eggplant baba ghanouj, borekas, and pastries of every description. The pièce de résistance, however, was the warm and savory shakshouka. Featuring delicately poached eggs, spices and vibrant herbs, I knew I needed to make this when I returned home.
Fun to say (shak-SHOO-kah) and even more fun to prepare, this delicious souvenir from the Holy Land warms me from the inside out!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Warm the oil in an oven-safe skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook until the onions are translucent.
Add garlic, tomato paste, cumin, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes with their juices and cilantro. Stir, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make a well near the edge of the pan with the back of a spoon and crack the egg into it. Spoon a bit of the tomato mixture over the whites to contain the egg. Repeat with remaining eggs, and season with salt and pepper.
Put the skillet to the oven and bake for 8–12 minutes, checking often after 8 minutes. Cook until the egg whites are an opaque white and the yolks have risen a little but are still soft.
Take the hot skillet out and place on a heat-safe surface. Garnish with fresh cilantro or a crumble of feta and enjoy!
The change of season is such a lovely time. The air is crisp, the trees are turning brilliant shades of reds and orange, leaves are piling on the ground, and pumpkins greet us on every doorstep. Walking through our community, and seeing these sights, I am inspired to pull these all into one big pot of wonderfulness. The magic that greets you when a delicious bowl of steaming soup appears in front of you is one of community and love.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil baking sheet. Place squash, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake until squash is very soft, about 50 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, remove peel from squash; discard peel.
While the squash is cooking, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Mix in onion, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick. Cover pot and cook until onion is tender, about 15 minutes, stir occasionally so that your onion does not burn but is slightly golden and caramelized.
Add the cooked squash and 4 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Take out the cinnamon stick but reserve.
Working in batches, purée soup in blender (or use an immersion blender.) Return soup to pot with the cinnamon stick. If desired, add heavy cream and/or half and half to thin it out to your desired consistency or add more chicken broth. Add the maple syrup to taste. If desired, include a bit of ground cinnamon to taste.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Bring to simmer and ladle into bowls and serve.
(Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate.)
I’m always intrigued as to what makes a quiche top notch—which in general, mine are not. But after playing around with a number of recipes, I came up with one that hit the mark; and I think the secret really is the number of eggs—more than I’ve generally used. The rich, creamy cheese custard with a crunchy crust is a winner. With a nice Caesar salad and crusty bread, it makes for a delicious lunch, especially during these nippy days of Fall!
When end-of-summer kale comes in by the armload from the garden, “kale soup” becomes a familiar sounding menu option. But can’t we make it really different and flavorful for our guests, as the chill of Autumn sets in? And so it develops: browned Italian sausage chunks, lots of fresh thyme, a splash of white wine, potatoes and cannellini beans. Delicious served with a salad of fresh sliced pears, toasted almonds, and shavings of Parmesan Cheese and a basket of warm dill bread!
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Kale, Sausage and Cannellini Bean Soup - A Special Autumn Treat
Our community looks forward to autumn for many reasons, but chief among them is harvesting fruit from our orchards: apples, pears, stone fruit, and grapes from the vines. The abundance is truly something to be grateful for as we compare the delicate spring blossoms to the bountiful fall harvest that we enjoy into the first frosts of winter…an annual miracle!
Recently, we tried this simple recipe for our supper as a twist on the classic avocado toast–this time with sun-ripened pears and fresh ricotta with milk from our cows. Drizzled with honey, this may well become another reason to look forward to autumn.
Oops! We apologize to our readers who received this new recipe via email with the subject line: Tortellini Salad.
It’s so easy to slip into being comfortable with the familiar, which can apply to just about everything, including cooking! “Lunch for guests tomorrow? How about ham and cheese paninis, chips, and a nice cup of soup. No wait—I’m on auto-pilot!” So it goes until the Holy Spirit gets involved—something refreshingly different—He does it again. Tortellini salad came to mind, with pesto, sunflower seeds, black olives, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese—and whatever else you might want to add: fresh spinach, basil, artichoke hearts, pieces of ham or salami. It makes for a delicious lunch and a nice change from the more traditional!