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.

Gluten Free Golden Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Looking for the perfect game day snack? How about warm and yummy Fried Mozzarella Sticks. For some reason, I always thought these to be a daunting task until I served them at several Christmas occasions that we catered. In reality, they were quite simple and fun, even when serving for twenty-five guests. I decided to try a gluten-free version so that everyone could enjoy them. They came out more golden and beautiful than the regular ones! Take time to prep them well and give them a good freeze and you’ll be happy with the results. (See tip below for other uses for this recipe.) For that next Big Game, consider trying these out with your favorite marinara sauce.

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Gluten Free Golden Fried Mozzarella Sticks
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut mozzarella into 3 x½" pieces. Place gluten-free flour in a shallow dish and add some salt and pepper to season. Whisk eggs and milk in another shallow dish. Put 1/2 gluten-free breadcrumbs (or panko) in a third shallow dish (refilling dish as needed with crumbs).
  2. Working with one piece of mozzarella at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. (Tip: Keep one hand clean to transfer from one dish to the next to avoid clumping or keep a bowl of water handy to dip into a bowl between dipping) Repeat steps for a second coating. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mozzarella. Transfer rack with mozzarella to freezer and freeze at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  3. Using a fry-daddy or a large pot pour in oil to come 2" up sides. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches (don't overcrowd the pan!), fry mozzarella, occasionally turning, until golden brown and crisp, 2–2½ minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt while still hot. Serve with Marinara Sauce.

**Tip: This is a basic "dredging" technique that can be used for chicken, veal or pork cutlets as well. Simply follow the same steps going from seasoned flour to egg/milk mixture to panko or bread crumbs and fry. Delicious!

Roasted Garden Turnip with Bacon and Scallions

I’ve come to sing the praises of the famous Eastham Turnip: legendary bulbous taproots that some Cape Codders value even more than turkey at Thanksgiving! Whether one prefers them boiled, roasted and buttered the old fashioned way or chooses to have them roasted with bacon and scallions in a more upscale manner, their distinctive flavor is almost always addictive!

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Roasted Garden Turnip with Bacon and Scallions
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put whole turnips into a shallow baking pan with an inch of water. Salt the water beforehand if desired.
  2. Cover the pan and bake the turnips until they begin to soften and the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  3. Spread slices of bacon and scallions over the turnips and cook uncovered until the turnips are soft and the bacon is crisp.
  4. Remove turnips, bacon and scallions and serve as a tasty side dish with your meal!

Apricot Butter Cookies

Tonight, our Convent was humming with Christmas cheer as we readied our home for Christmas. Some wrapped presents to send to families, other Sisters spent time catching up with old friends as they penned their lovely cards. In the kitchen, we turned on Bing Crosby and poured over old fashioned family recipes as we pondered which cookies we would make this year. The royal icing was prepared and crispy butter cookies were being decorated with sprinkles covering every surface. I remembered a cookie that I hadn’t baked in years and a favorite to be sure. In fact, you won’t find this anywhere else on the internet, at least I couldn’t. Cut from an old magazine, pressed onto an index card and covered in plastic, this shows how treasured this recipe is. Sometimes baking can restore wonderful memories of times past and other times it just puts a smile on your face, honey in your belly and much joy for the adventures ahead. I love Christmas. The beauty, the magic and most of all the precious gift that is awaiting us in the form of a little baby on Christmas morning.

May the season of light be yours this year. Blessed Christmas!

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Apricot Butter Cookies
SERVINGS
32cookies
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
cookies
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
1 1/2hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, sugar and water and simmer for 15-18 min. or until the liquid is reduced by half and add the rum or brandy. Let the mixture cool slightly and in a food processor or blender, puree it.
  2. Make the shortbread cookie dough. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate standing mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg, beating the mixture until it is well combined. Slowly, add the flour mixture in stages and mix until just combined, but don't over mix or your shortbread will be tough.
  3. Form the dough into a log, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hr. Divide the log into 4 pieces.
  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place the dough in plastic wrap and roll into an 8 inch long rope - place on a parchment covered sheet pan and make a canal down the center with your finger so the log becomes a 8 x 2" rectangle with a channel in the middle.
  5. Spread the apricot puree in the canals.
  6. Bake the cookie sticks in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 min. until the edges are slightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a rack and let them cool.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients and add just enough water to make a thick but pour-able icing - you want it to be on the thick side.
  9. If desired, transfer the glaze to a squeeze bottle or piping bag and drizzle the icing over the cookies.
  10. Cut the rectangles diagonally into 1" strips.
  11. The cookies will keep in the freezer or in an airtight container for 1 week.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Old Fashioned Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

Christmas wouldn’t be “Christmas” without at least a sprinkling of homemade food gifts. However I was not too excited when a sister suggested our making apple butter as one of our gifts to give this year. That is, not until I came down into the convent kitchen early one morning and sampled a “Trial Run” of butter which had been making itself in our slow cooker all night while we had all been fast asleep.

As I ate my last bite of hot buttered toast topped with this delectable wonder I was convinced that this was the perfect “homemade” gift for us to give this Christmas. My only concern being would there be enough left by Christmas eve to give away to others?

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Old Fashioned Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
SERVINGS
4pints
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pints
COOK TIME
12hours (or overnight)
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
12 1/2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a separate bowl mix sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and salt. Combine with apples and mix well.
  2. Cook in slow cooker on low for 10 hours stirring occasionally. The apple mixture will become thick and dark brown.
  3. Uncover and add vanilla. Continue cooking uncovered on low for 2 hours.
  4. Remove from slow cooker and blend using an immersion blender, food processor or a countertop blender and puree the apple butter until completely smooth.
  5. Transfer the mixture into containers or your choice.
  6. Top your favorite toasted bread or muffin with fresh apple butter and enjoy with a steaming mug of tea or coffee for a simple morning treat!

NOTE: This can be frozen or stored up to 2 weeks covered in the
refrigerator.

St. Lucia Bread

Since St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is just around the corner on December 13th, we thought we’d share this special Swedish bread with you – fantastic for the Holidays. The celebration of the day comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. “St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.” (see note below**)

December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day. It is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Thus, the wreath of bread dotted with candied “berries.” If you’d like you can also add small candles to the cake as well for a more festive look.

** read more at https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/sweden.shtml

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St. Lucia Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
20-25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2-3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
  2. Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
  4. Add salt and saffron
  5. Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
  6. Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
  7. One cup at a time, add the flour and mix well after each addition. Stop adding the flour when the dough starts pulling away from the side of the bowl. Adding more flour if necessary.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
  9. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 hr. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough, if you want to work with it later).
  10. Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
  11. Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
  12. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
  13. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
  14. Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
  15. Bake for about 20-25 min or until the loaf feels firm to the touch. If you would like to use a thermometer, the internal temperature should read about 190 degrees.
  16. While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
  17. Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Every year we rejoice with the abundant harvest of home-grown vegetables, stone fruit, apples and herbs from our gardens and this year is no exception! Last week’s Thanksgiving table featured leeks and other produce from our soil for which we are truly grateful.

This year brought plentiful squash of several varieties: butternut, spaghetti squash, and of course, acorn squash. Roasted, steamed or stuffed, this yearly addition to our table is always welcome. If you’re planning a meatless meal–or cooking for a vegetarian friend or family member–consider today’s recipe and feel free to substitute ingredients and spices to suit your preferences. Thank God from whom all blessings flow!

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Stuffed Acorn Squash
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
1 hr10 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
1 hr30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place butternut squash in a large bowl with 3 TBSP of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until all the squash is coated and put on a baking sheet 1 layer deep for roasting and set aside.
  3. Cut the acorn squash in half width-wise and scoop out the seeds. Set the acorn squash on a baking sheet, brush with oil.
  4. Place all the pans of squash in the oven and roast for 1 hour until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  5. As the squash is roasting, combine Israeli couscous, spices, and herbs in a large bowl.
  6. Add remaining olive oil to coat and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the roasted butternut squash to couscous mixture and gently toss to distribute evenly in the bowl.
  8. Spoon the couscous and butternut squash into the bottom half of the acorn squash, and top with parmesan cheese (optional). Add the tops of the acorn squash and place on a platter of your choosing and enjoy!