About Gourmet Nun

There are actually two of us under the title of "Gourmet Nun!" One of us came at age 13, the other in her 30s. We have been sisters for 43 and 38 years respectively. One of use came with her mother (who felt called to this community), the other drove down in a red Carmen Ghia, leaving behind a job in a flower shop in Boston. Between us we have almost a century of cooking experience (that actually sounds kind of frightening!) having cooked since we were young. We have been in choir, wind ensemble, orchestra, painted, made quilts and both have been or are executive chefs in our events kitchen. We both love food; but especially the relationship between hospitality and the dining room, the Eucharistic table and the banquet table. Nothing makes either of us happier than a well-planned and well-executed meal that speaks of the love of God.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

“Who wants to take on care of the rhubarb patch?” This question went out a few days ago to the sisterhood from the sister in charge of our vegetable gardens. Before the day was over the question had been answered, the patch had been watered, and the fertilizing process begun.
We love our rhubarb patch. We love to watch it come into fruition producing its rich beautiful leaves and stems. We love to see it harvested and prepared for the many different ways we use it.

For this year’s Easter dinner various sisters volunteered to make a variety of very special desserts. There were several decadent chocolate wonders. There were tortes and trifles piled high with tantalizing toppings. There were brand new gourmet creations anyone of which could have taken a prize, and then there were a number of humble pies. So…which dessert do you think was most requested? You’re absolutely right. It was our old-fashioned, flavorful strawberry rhubarb pie. Unfortunately, some had to go without!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
SERVINGS
8 people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45-50mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
1 hr20 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
  2. For the pie crust: Combine the salt and flour together. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until it is about pea-size pieces.
  3. Add the water to the flour a little at a time using a fork to lightly mix it. Continue to add the water until the dough just comes together – don’t over work the dough or it will become tough.
  4. Shape the dough into a flat disk, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once it is ready divide the dough in half and roll out the bottom crust and place in a pie dish.
  5. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, and salt. Turn into the unbaked pie shell.
  6. Roll out the top crust and place over the filling. Crimp to seal edges and make a few slits along the top. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling.

Note: Rhubarb is tart. The strawberries provide sweetness but, depending on your taste, you might want to add more sugar.

Luscious Lemon Rolls

Spring is in the air, Eastertide is here and we are back with one of our newest, most favorite offerings for the season from our Monastic Bakeshop: Luscious Lemon Rolls. With that tangy, dreamy sweetness in every bite, you’ll think you have just tasted a bit of heaven. As we prepared our home for Easter morning, we also prepared these for our bakeshop and Convent. We had some help from the children in the community, too! We hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as we did!

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Luscious Lemon Rolls
SERVINGS
18-24rolls
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
rolls
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
2hrs
READY IN
2 1/2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To make dough, boil water and remove from heat. Add the butter, Crisco and stir until melted. Add sugar and salt and cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a large mixer with a dough hook, put the 1 cup very warm water and sprinkle the yeast over. Stir to dissolve. Add the butter-Crisco mixture to the yeast mixture. Add the eggs and mix.
  3. Cup by cup add the flour, stopping when the dough is just a wee bit sticky still to the touch. Set aside to a warm place to rise, covered with a towel, about 1 hr. or more.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a Cuisinart, grind together the sugar and candied lemon rind. Set aside w/ the softened butter.
  5. Make the frosting by whipping the butter first, add the powdered sugar slowly cup by cup alternately with the liquid and zest. Beat until creamy. Set aside until ready to frost.
To assemble:
  1. Divide the dough in half. Roll into two 12 x 8" rectangles. Spread with half the softened butter and then half the sugar/lemon mixture - spreading the filling right to the edges.
  2. Roll up jelly roll style, pinching the seam closed, and cut into 1" slices. Place rolls in generously buttered 8" round cake pans.
  3. Let rolls rise until doubled in size.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 min or until lightly browned and the center is cooked.
  5. Frost while still warm and eat immediately for the yummiest results!

Leg of Lamb with Anchovies (Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois)

When I was preparing for my first time to serve at Mount Tabor Center for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy, I knew that I needed to immerse myself in learning all I could about Tuscan cooking. Cooking “Italian” had always been one of my favorite methods, but come to find out, there are many different regions in Italy with vastly different cooking styles. I searched the internet for articles, recipes and cookbooks and came up with a real gem – The Twelve by Tessa Kiros, which is twelve months of Tuscan cooking. She organizes the book according to the months and the fruits, vegetables and meats that are available and in season. This is the great thing about Tuscany – there is what there is – you cook what is in season. You learn to appreciate and savor the flavors.

So, this cookbook became my bible of sorts and I cooked my way through it in the three months I was there, and then again, when I went back for another three months. Every recipe was unique, simple and thoughtful, not to mention the beautiful photography and lessons she taught about seasonal cooking.

So, as we were looking towards our grand opening, I knew that I needed a little help to put together truly Tuscan meals for such a special event. That’s when I started my correspondence with Tessa. She was happy to give me input, suggestions, and even serving ideas. It was a joy to learn from such a great master.

Her travels have taken her all over the world. She was born in London to a Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father. She has worked in restaurants and with families in London, Sydney, Mexico and Athens – and chose to work with people who really inspired her. They were mentors in her journey through the world of food. On a trip to Italy to study the language and food, she met her husband, and together they have two beautiful daughters.
In 2016 she won the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Book of the Year in food and travel.

Tessa is delighted to be sharing this recipe for Easter with us from her new cookbook ‘Provence to Pondicherry‘ published by Quadrille, Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois (Leg of Lamb with Anchovies). Photo courtesy of Manos Chadzikonstantis.

“I have such a lovely memory of eating this deep in the countryside one sunny day, under a huge tree that provided shade for the masses…It is good served with a potato gratin or a vegetable tian. Braised artichokes are also very good served either as as starter to this or one side.”

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Leg of Lamb with Anchovies
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
75minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, anchovies, rosemary and thyme leaves with 2 T. of the oil. Drizzle 3 T. of the oil into the base of a not too large roasting pan that will fit the lamb and tomatoes.
  2. Make 3 incisions, about 3/4 in. deep, on each side of the lamb. Stuff the herb mixture into the incisions and rub all over the lamb. Rub the surface with a little salt (not too much as the anchovies are salty) and a generous grinding of pepper, then put the lamb in the baking dish, presentation side down.
  3. Surround the lamb with the tomatoes. Lightly sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle with the last tablespoon of oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the lamb is golden and the tomatoes are starting to look gooey.
  4. Turn the lamb over, move the tomatoes around if necessary and check that nothing is burning. Add 1/2 c. of the wine, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast for a further 30 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining wine to ensure that the sauce around the lamb is jammy and tomatoes are not blackening and roast for a final 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how well done you want the lamb, and on the size of the leg of lamb. I like this dish with the meat cooked through, and with a jammy, gooey sauce.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb and tomatoes to a platter and serve warm.

West African Peanut Stew

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. After all, we are Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen, and these kitchens extend far and wide, all over the world. Tables that welcome the “Stranger as Christ”, kitchens that “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence taught, and communities that are built by hospitality, love and prayer. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity.

Mepkin Abbey is a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and were founded in 1098 in Citeaux, France, from which we get our name “Cistercian.” As Trappists we are a cloistered contemplative community, worshipping God by chanting the psalms daily and seeking God in silence and solitude. Mepkin Abbey was founded in 1949 from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, the first Trappist abbey in America founded in 1848 from France.

We have the tradition of eating simple meatless meals. The recipes in “Food for Thought” are chosen with the eye to healthy, easy to prepare meals that met the needs of our tradition and satisfy hard working monks. Good healthy food contributes to the mindfulness of God that we seek as we give thanks for all God has provided us.

Lent is a special time, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday our main meal consists of bread and water. And in the evenings the brothers share a time of sacred reading of the Lenten book they chose, which was given in ceremony to each one by Father Abbot.

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West African Peanut Stew
SERVINGS
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COOK TIME
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the stock, sweet potatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium low so the soup bubbles gently.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, kale, beans and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till potatoes and kale are tender.
  5. Stir in peanut butter and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.

To Order “Food for Thought”, call Mepkin Abbey at 843-761-8509, prompt #2, for the Gift Shop.

Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Leeks

Whole grains have firmly established a prominent place in today’s overall diet, and are continuing to grow in acceptance and popularity. Once a taste for them has been acquired, less textured, more refined grains often have less appeal. Years ago when I first sampled wild rice I was not at all eager to have it again. Last night when it was served for dinner, I immediately wanted a second helping.

During this time of Lent, when many people choose to eat less meat, and have simpler meals, it can be a good time to introduce more grains into the menu such as this flavorful combination of wild rice with mushrooms and leeks.

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Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Leeks
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1.5hrs
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1 hrs45 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add 5 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the wild rice.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the rice is tender. Drain well.
  4. Place the drained rice in a bowl, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the scallions, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.
  5. Slice mushrooms, cut up leeks to similar size as mushrooms.
  6. Sauté both in just enough olive oil to brown.
  7. Stir into rice. Add wine and heat all together till hot.
  8. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Healthy Granola, Homemade Yogurt and Fresh Berry Parfaits

Our monastery houses a dairy with two lovely Guernsey cows. We often have a surplus of milk, so one great thing we’ve learned how to do (with relatively little work or energy) is to make “crock pot yogurt.” I read about it, but didn’t really believe it would work until I actually tried it. It’s fabulous, easy, inexpensive to make, and tastes better than store-bought yogurt! We also make our own granola — you can purchase that through our gift shop, Priory Books and Gifts, or make your own. I’m not allowed to divulge our secret granola recipe, but will share one that I like equally as well. This breakfast dish is one we serve regularly to our guests at Bethany or those who come on retreat. Since we make our own yogurt, granola and jam, it really is a signature “home grown” go-to breakfast. You can easily make it yourself for a quick and healthy breakfast that’s full of protein.

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Granola, Yogurt and Berry Parfaits
SERVINGS
4parfaits
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
parfaits
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
15mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a glass or parfait dish, layer in the following order: 1/4 cup granola, 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup of mixed berries, 2 Tbsp warmed jam
  2. Repeat Layers