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!
As my mother tells it, I requested a chocolate mousse cake for my fifth birthday–and 30 years later it remains a favorite! This recipe appeals to my coffee-loving adult tastes, but with a kid friendly ingredient: Marshmallows.
Skipping the fuss of egg whites and gelatin used in other mousse recipes, this dessert can be prepared in minutes as a final touch to any festive gathering this holiday season. Enjoy!
I’ve had my eye on this recipe for quite a while now and decided to whip it up for Thanksgiving. I added a bit of orange zest to the original recipe because I love the combination of those flavors. The pie is like a little jewel, bursting with flavor and color. Sweet and tart at the same time. The curd on its own would be wonderful in many other ways as well. I hope you enjoy it this Holiday season. Blessed Advent!*
Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs or place in a ziplock bag and crush with a meat hammer. (this should be a heaping cup) Add the pecans and sugar and process again until everything is finely ground (or finely chopped the pecans and add to the fine crumbs with the sugar.) Add the butter and combine.
Pat the crust into a 9 inch pie plate, and up the sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Put the cranberries, 1 cup of the sugar, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer the cranberries, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until they've popped and the mixture is quite thick. Let cool slightly and then puree until completely smooth (I did this in a blender)
Whisk the puree, the eggs, yolks, salt, lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar together in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, this will take about 10 minutes or so. It can burn easily, so keep a good eye on the mixture and don’t keep your heat too high.
Push the curd through a mesh strainer, using the back of a spoon to get it all through.
Let the curd cool for a few minutes and add the room temperature butter in, bit by bit, while you stir to melt it. Add the mandarin zest.
Pour the curd into the pie crust and smooth out evenly. Chill the pie until it is firm, about 2 hours or so.
Decorate with sugared cranberries if you like. To make sugared cranberries, roll damp cranberries in granulated sugar and let dry.
It’s too easy to lose track of the origin of some of the many wonderful recipes that we all love–but have no idea where they came from!
One of our Sisters, known for her love for cooking and her creative culinary skills, has a great intro to one of her favorite recipes… that lives on to this day!
“My mother, who came to this country as a young girl, first obtained a job doing housework for a wealthy family on 5th Ave, N.Y. The lady of the house had a special liking for a tall, moist, three-layered cake from a nearby bakery—with a creamy custard filling, generous swirls of maple-flavored frosting and lavishly sprinkled with finely chopped walnuts. My mother soon cultivated a taste for this culinary wonder also—and developed her own recipe for the cake by taste and instinct.”
And now, through the years, it’s been passed on to us, with modifications and adjustments, and continues to be the quintessential dessert for the right occasion.
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!