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.
“Old Cape Cod”…home of the Cod, home of the Oyster, the Quohog and the Clam. Home of the Beach Plum and Rose Hip, and also of the Cranberry, now at the very peak of its season!
I am fortunate to have lived here for many years, and one of my most favorite sights in the late fall is that of the bright afternoon sun shining on the cranberry bogs, catching their sparkle….like beautiful gems or jewels reflecting the light as they wait to be harvested. Over my years here I have accumulated quite a collection of typical Cape Cod recipes. One of my favorites is this beautiful Cape Cod Cranberry Torte, lovely looking, luscious tasting — at any time of the year, but particularly at this snowy, winter season.
This is a guest blog from one of our Swedish Sisters
This year, it was possible to make these Swedish pepparkakor cookies a little earlier than usual. It makes me happy, and helps me remember for a moment where I came from, and that God is in charge of all the little things in our lives. It is my great-grandmother’s recipe from Tidaholm, Sweden. I don’t know why it is that cookies have become a tradition around the season of Christmas in particular, except for the fact of celebrating the most important birthday of all!! But these little cookies, for me, have always been a part of that celebration, with their trinity of spices that scent the kitchen when baked . . cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not to mention, the smiles that come to people’s faces every single time!
Gift giving for Sisters can present a bit of a challenge since we aren’t able to simply just “go shopping” at any time. As a result, many handcrafted items and homemade food gifts are produced especially around Christmas time. Last night the convent kitchen was a veritable hub of gift making!
At the baking end of the room one sister was shaping cranberry shortbread cookies. At the stove another was cooking up the filling for egg rolls. At the opposite end of the room yet another was mixing up ingredients for her mothers’ favorite dessert, Tiramisu. After a recent visit to Italy her mother had as she herself put it “fallen in love” “with all things Italian” and this dessert was one of those things. Although not what would have occurred to me as a Christmas gift, it had made such a hit with her when she received it on her birthday, I know this will be no less thrilling to her at this special holiday.
Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon-colored and let cool.
Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.
Fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside.
Mix the espresso (or strong coffee) and coffee liquor together. Dip the lady fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet.
Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish.
Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.
Repeat process with another layer of lady fingers add another layer of cream.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight and dust with cocoa before serving.
This past week, we did a pot-luck lunch at Paraclete Press to celebrate the season and get our company decorated for Christmas. Several of us brought crock pots of goodness to the table – each excited to try someone else’s creation. I think this one received the most ooh’s and aaah’s, as it was completely emptied by the end of lunch and given back to me, clean as a whistle as if begging for more. This is such a great recipe – so easy to make the night before, let the crock pot do the magic during the night and finish it off in the morning. This is a perfect recipe to pull out over the holidays when you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family. Blessed Advent!
Add diced potatoes, diced onion, minced garlic, 10 slices of chopped cooked bacon, parsley and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 6-8 hours on low or on high for 3-4 hours, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Once the soup has cooked, make the béchamel sauce. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt, whisk in the flour until completely combined and gradually add in the half and half or heavy cream (or milk, whatever you prefer). Whisk until smooth. Over low heat, let the mixture cook until it starts to simmer, stirring occasionally.
Immediately add the béchamel to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Using a potato masher, mash about 3/4 of the potatoes until you reach the desired consistency for your soup.
Stir in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup sour cream. Stir well, until fully combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning, adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you want to thin the soup a bit, you can add more milk, cream or chicken broth. Continue cooking the soup on low for 30 minutes or on high for 15 minutes. Serve warm with the toppings of your choice.
Optional Toppings: chopped scallions or chives, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and bacon
One of my favorite meals to make is breakfast. In our guest house, breakfast is a veritable feast and a pleasure for the eyes. Our latest twist on puff pancakes (or dutch babies) made their debut on a cold fall morning. There’s nothing like bringing a little sunshine to the table to brighten up one’s day. Surprise your loved one with this easy breakfast made for two!
Rate this recipe!
Mini Puff Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Blueberries
Add eggs, flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest to a blender and blend until smooth.
Place butter in two heavy cast iron skillets (5-6" in width) (or one large skillet) and place in the oven until butter has melted. Pour half the batter into each pan, return them to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pancakes are puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake five minutes longer.
Remove pancakes from oven, serve individually if using mini skillets, or cut larger dutch baby into wedges and top with a spoonful or two of lemon curd and blueberries and a dusting of confectioners sugar. If desired, garnish with lemon slices and a sprig of fresh mint.
Our Gregorian Chant Retreat has just come to a close today, ending on a very positive and productive note, with a number of first timers wanting to return! Always a rewarding finale to any retreat.
In addition to the new faces in attendance were a number of new menus that brought many sincere compliments from the eaters. One of the new dishes was this warm autumn salad, featuring golden roasted butternut squash topped with smooth soft goat cheese.