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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!

Simple Summery Soup

One beautiful June day, our guests wanted to eat lunch on the patio, and something simple and summery seemed appropriate. I decided on a chicken salad plate featuring chilled zucchini soup. With fresh dill and a small dollop of sour cream, it was a real hit!

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Simple Summery Soup
SERVINGS
2-3servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1/2hr (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut up onion and zucchini into random size chunks and simmer in chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover, until very soft and tender
  2. Cool for a few minutes, then place in blender with 2 Tablespoons of sour cream and blend until well mixed, adding more sour cream if desired
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Refrigerate until well chilled; serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill

Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce Parfait

“Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”

Well, I certainly hope not, because this has been the best year yet for our rhubarb patches. Never have they produced so much fruit and never have we tried so many new rhubarb recipes. We’ve had many more compliments and requests for more rhubarb in any form we’ve made it!

Personally, I don’t think anything can top a lovely dish of plain rhubarb or strawberry rhubarb sauce for the finishing touch on a favorite meal. Make it now while the fruit is available, and freeze a good amount for when it’s not.

A favorite breakfast we often serve for those on retreat (or sisters!), is a strawberry rhubarb parfait made with our own yogurt, and topped with homemade granola. By the way, rhubarb is chock full of nutritional value which many people do not know!

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Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce Parfait
SERVINGS
5parfaits
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
parfaits
COOK TIME
10mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
20mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, orange juice, cornstarch, and vanilla in a large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Add strawberries and rhubarb, reducing heat and cook together stirring occasionally, until tender (5--10 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat and mash the cooked berries with a fork.
  5. Serve in a parfait glass, layering yogurt, sauce and granola as desired.

This sauce is also a treat served warm over vanilla ice cream!

Crispy Coconut Cookies

Today is Springtime at its best on Cape Cod— robins chirping, rabbits and squirrels scampering about, flowers blooming everywhere.

Put’s me in the mood to try a fresh new cookie recipe, and I have indeed found one! Crunchy, rich, with added coconut and a bit of almond flavoring—I ended up making a second batch, as I know they’ll be needed for upcoming events.

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Crispy Coconut Cookies
SERVINGS
3dozen (approx. 40 cookies)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen (approx. 40 cookies)
COOK TIME
12-15mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients just until blended. Add the coconut and mix well but don't over beat.
  5. Form into balls, a little larger than walnut size, roll in sugar, flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake for 15 minutes or until just barely golden around the edges.

Mirepoix

For years, I just naturally began preparing many meals by chopping and sautéing together a combination of onions,celery and carrots. I never realized, in those teenage years, that I was employing a basic cooking technique, producing what is often referred to in the culinary world as the “All powerful Culinary Trio.” This homey trio of ingredients is absolutely essential for flavorful soups, sauces and gravies.

Recently, I added chopped potatoes to the mixture and that, along with a serving of fresh spinach and several succulent slices of roast lamb (excellent in the Spring) resulted in a most flavorful and satisfying meal. You might want to give it a try.

“All Powerful Culinary Trio” otherwise known as Mirepoix

Mirepoix can be used in a variety of ways—namely in stocks and sauces. To make a stock (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) one pound of Mirepoix will season roughly one gallon of liquid.

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Mirepoix
SERVINGS
1pound
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pound
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake

For years, rhubarb has long been one of my favorite fruits. Always a bit of a wild child in the fruit family (since most people don’t have any idea what to do with it), I’ve loved it since I was a kid and always looked forward to my mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie – which I deemed ‘the best!’ When we moved to New England back in 1981, my great grandmother (who embodied Tasha Tudor) gave us her heirloom rhubarb plant to take with us. After 37 years, it’s still thriving in my mother’s garden!

This Mother’s Day, I decided to ‘pay it forward’ with a pie for mom and then my creative juices got going when, after delivering the pie, I left with a huge bag of freshly picked rhubarb from Grandma’s plant! So, next came this old fashioned pudding cake. Eaten warm, straight out of the dish, or with a squirt of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, it is melt-in-your-mouth goodness that will keep you going back for more. Super simple and quick to make, it’s the perfect go-to dessert for company or to make for your family after a long day. It can be made gluten free as well. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
40-45mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
55-60mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cover the bottom of a buttered glass 8 or 9 inch square pan with rhubarb and strawberries.
  2. Mix 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, extracts, milk and flour together and pour over fruit. Mix remaining sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over mixture in pan. Pour boiling water over the top- this will create a wonderful pudding around the fruit in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or bubbly and golden.
  4. You can see that the sugar topping creates a glaze on the top of the cake, something like a creme brulee, as well as creating the pudding at the bottom. Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream or whipped cream, or let it cool a bit, slice and invert on your plate to show off the pudding. You may also substitute a gluten free flour blend for the flour - you may need to adjust the cooking time.

Vegetarian Frittata

This week we continue with vegetarian recommendations, and this one is gluten free as well. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a good friend of ours from “Across the Pond.” While our guest was not strictly vegetarian, we planned meals that were loaded with fresh produce and light on meat–and this vegetarian Frittata fit the bill!

Loaded with sauteed vegetables including a fistful of baby spinach, this dish is as versatile as you need it to be, easily adaptable for the breakfast, lunch or brunch table. A mini cast iron pan worked well as an individual serving and looked light-as-air still hot from the oven. Topped with cheese and garden chive, this just might make another appearance on our guest table this spring and summer!

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Vegetarian Frittata
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler and heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet*
  2. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the bell pepper and zucchini cooking until tender.
  3. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and egg whites, adding the salt and pepper and pour into the pan with the vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat and stir until vegetables and eggs are combined. Keep over heat until the egg has set on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and remove the pan from the heat and finish under the broiler. Cook under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.
  7. Garnish with fresh chive and serve immediately.

Get creative! Not only can this dish feature at breakfast, lunch and brunch, you can add or substitute other vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes and fresh herbs.

*We used a mini 6" cast iron pan in our preparation. If serving more people, a 10" skillet works well.