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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!

Doughnut Muffins

There are lots of aspects to chimney repair—including snack provision!

We are so fortunate to have creative, able-bodied Brothers who can handle challenging construction and repair projects!  The chimney in our Guest House has shown signs of disintegration—not surprising with years of winter and summer storms.  And with COVID-19 lockdown, with no guests or retreats—a very unusual time for us—what better time for chimney repair!  As we watched out the window, scaffolding going up, platforms, bins to receive old bricks, cement mixing, with dogs roaming around looking on, it was a given that we would supply snacks.  This Doughnut Muffin recipe was an experiment, and the idea of dipping the hot muffins in melted butter and then rolling in cinnamon sugar was very appealing to me, and by the looks of the empty plate, it was to everyone else as well!

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Doughnut Muffins
SERVINGS
12
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
30minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

Instructions
  1. Set oven at 350 degrees
  2. In an electric mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; blend in eggs, one at a time.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  4. Mix together alternately wet and dry ingredients until well combined, but without over mixing.
  5. Grease and flour standard size muffin tin.
  6. Scoop enough batter (about ½ cup or # 16 ice-cream scoop) to reach rim of cup
  7. Bake until firm, about 30”
To Finish
  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon
  2. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, dip them in melted butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking - See the original recipe at finecooking.com

Vietnamese Shrimp and Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

As our State is starting to reopen the economy, part of me is going to miss this “time at home.” I’ve realized how much I’ve recognized, appreciated and enjoyed the simple things of life so much more over these last couple months.  I was emailing a few of my other monastic friends across the country and we have similar stories.  We’ve spent more time just being, praying the offices on behalf of the world, quieting ourselves down and trying to listen more to His voice. I hope I don’t lose what I’ve gained from this experience!  I’ve also had time to do some festive cooking. This weekend I decided that our travel ban didn’t refer to in house international cuisine. So, here’s a yummy, fresh and healthy recipe that can be used to cool you down on a hot summer’s day.  If you’re a vegan, substitute the shrimp with some red pepper or thinly julienned beet. It will be just as delicious.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Vietnamese Shrimp and Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
5minutes
PREP TIME
1hour, 15 minutes
READY IN
1hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

Prepare the Peanut Sauce
  1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Thin with warm water if desired. This recipe will make more peanut sauce than you need, so store in a clean jar in the refrigerator for another use.
Spring Rolls
  1. Take one rice paper wrapper and dip it into warm water in a pie plate for 10 seconds to wet it and make pliable. Lay the wrapper down on a clean work surface (wooden cutting board works great here)and smooth it out with your damp hand.
  2. Take a leaf of lettuce and tear it into large 5-inch pieces and place it along the bottom half of the wrapper (see image) Place some rice noodles on top of the lettuce followed by a couple thin slices of avocado. Place a few carrots and cucumbers beside the lettuce, 2 pieces of scallion (or more) and then your shrimp sliced in half across the middle, pink side down. If desired, add some mint, basil or cilantro.
  3. To roll, gently fold over the left and right sides of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Then fold the bottom part of the wrapper over the filling and gently but tightly roll up the spring roll, burrito style. Repeat steps 1 to 3
  4. Chill until ready to use. Serve with peanut sauce or another favorite dipping sauce

Spring! Kale and Chickpea Grain Bowl

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. This catch phrase from a British advertisement in the 1950’s aptly describes this week’s blog: a kale and chickpea grain bowl with a bright shot of lemon! Fresh and easily put together, this decidedly spring recipe reflects the changes in the gardens around our community: a riot of daffodils in the orchard, brave pansies and primroses blooming despite residual winter chill, delicate cherry blossoms and lush magnolias are all in force. These blooms never fail to inspire hope each year and the promise of better days ahead.

 

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Spring! Kale and Chickpea Grain Bowl
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
30minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Drain chickpeas and pat dry with paper towels. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high. Add chickpeas and carrots. Cook until chickpeas are browned.
  2. Add kale and cover to cook until kale is slightly wilted and carrots are tender.
  3. Add chickpea mixture, parsley, salt, and pepper to quinoa.
  4. To make dressing, process guacamole, olive oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, and turmeric in a food processor until smooth.
  5. To serve, divide salad into bowls, drizzle with dressing and garnish with fresh lemon

Lockdown Lunch – Potato Soup

It never ceases to amaze me how, no matter what the circumstance, the Holy Spirit is aware and always provides.  A couple of weeks ago, I had driven home from a rehab facility with my sister, who was recovering from surgery. Because of Covid-19 and the possibility of exposure at the Rehab facility, we both went on a 2-week quarantine.  We had all kinds of food options available to enjoy, but my recovering sister basically wanted homemade soups! After having gone through zucchini, butternut squash, vegetable, chicken—I was running out of ideas, until I spotted a few potatoes in a basket. That’s it! And after picking more chives in the back yard for a garnish, we sat down to a delicious lockdown lunch!  

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Lockdown Lunch
SERVINGS
2
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20
PREP TIME
20
READY IN
40

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sauté onion and celery until soft and translucent; set aside
  2. Add chopped potatoes to chicken broth in sauce pan, and boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 12 minutes
  3. After cooling for a few minutes, spoon the potatoes into a blender, carefully pouring in some of the hot broth and adding the onion and celery.
  4. When thoroughly blended, pour back into sauce pan. It should be fairly thick at this point. (If it seems a little too thin before adding milk, boil for a few minutes until thickened.) Then add milk or cream to desired consistency.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Blend in ¼ cup of sour cream
  7. Garnish with the rest of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and chopped chives

One-pot Chicken Curry

The idea of a one-pot meal has always appealed to me. The fact that a whole meal can be prepared and everything you need for sustenance is in one pot? Magical. The absence of extra dishes piling up on the counters during meal prep also doesn’t hurt, either.

During a quarantine-inspired cleaning frenzy, I came across a cookbook that was given to us as a gift, “Cook It In Your Dutch Oven.” This tried-and-true kitchen essential from the clever folks at America’s Test Kitchen is an absolute treasure. This dish-defying cookbook was a welcome find, with recipes for one-pot meals, bread (bread!) and other side accompaniments. This week’s blog is adapted from the recipe for Classic Chicken Curry. I hope you give it a try! 

Don’t have a Dutch oven? No problem! Swap it out for a soup or stock pot, slow-cooker crock pot or any heavy deep pot you have in the kitchen. For this recipe, I used a cast iron pot. 

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One-pot Chicken Curry
Adapted from Cook It In Your Dutch Oven, an America’s Test Kitchen publication
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
40minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven or pot of choice on medium heat. Add curry powder, optional spices (if desired), salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add chicken and water to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and reduce heat to low until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 22 minutes. Turn the chicken halfway through cooking. When done, remove from pot and let cool.
  4. Add potatoes to pot with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until just fork tender. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. While potatoes are cooking, shred chicken into roughly 2 inch pieces with a fork and set aside.
  6. Once potatoes are cooked, stir in chicken and peas until just warmed through. Turn off the heat and add yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

*As curry is a blend of spices, I like to add an extra pinch of my favorites: turmeric and cumin. These can be found in traditional curry blends and I like to play these up a little more. Feel free to omit, or try your own variation based on your tastes. 

A Burst of Italian Flavor – Old World Eggplant Parmigiana

I never expect to see shiny, plump and beautiful eggplant in the grocery store until mid/late summer, but we’ve gotten lucky this year as a booming crop became readily available in our local market (unlike the empty paper towel and toilet paper shelves!) Since this is one of my favorite summer comfort foods, I thought I’d share and old world recipe with you. (If you want to skip a step and use purchased tomato sauce, that’s a great time saving option.)

You might ask why you need to soak your eggplant in salt water first.  This does two things: it draws out any of the bitter juices that can be found in older eggplant and tightens up the flesh, making the eggplant less likely to soak up too much oil when you are frying them. This recipe will make 2 – 9×13″ pans. Since it can be a bit time consuming to make, it enables you to put one pan away in the freezer for another time.

Andiamo a Mangiare!

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Rating: 5
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Old World Eggplant Parmigiana
SERVINGS
12
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
2hours
READY IN
3hours

Ingredients

Instructions

Prepare the Sauce and Eggplant
  1. Wash eggplant. Remove the top and bottom from the eggplant and slice across into 1/2" rounds (no need to peel) Submerge in a large bowl of cold water with 3 Tbsp Salt. Put a plate across the top of the bowl to keep the eggplant submerged. Let soak 30 min to 1 hr.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In a medium pot on top of the stove, heat the oil and add diced onion and a teaspoon of sugar. Cook over low heat until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Add the torn basil leaves, oregano and garlic. Continue cooking for another minute, watching that the garlic doesn't burn. Add the the salt and pepper and the tomatoes and the remaining sugar, if desired.
  4. Continue cooking over low heat until the flavors meld. Let simmer 30 min. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Drain eggplant and dry on paper towels
  6. Mix together the Flour, salt and pepper on one plate. In a second large shallow bowl or pie plate, beat the eggs together.
  7. One at a time, dip the eggplant in the seasoned flour and then in the beaten eggs
  8. Heat oil in a large skillet or fry pan
  9. Fry the eggplants until golden on one side and then turn to continue frying on the other side. Remove to a paper lined sheet pan.
  10. When all the eggplant are fried, you are ready to assemble!
Assemble
  1. Spray two 9X13" pan with PAM spray
  2. Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of each pan
  3. Lightly sprinkle with the grated pecorino romano cheese
  4. Layer the eggplant slices - touching but not overlapping
  5. Sprinkle grated mozzarella over
  6. Lightly sprinkle with grated pecorino romano cheese
  7. Continue layering in this order: Sauce Eggplant Pecorino Romano Mozzarella Sauce Eggplant Pecorino Romano Sprinkle Chopped Parsley Mozzarella End with Sauc
  8. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 min. Let rest 10-15 min.