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.

Fairy Tale Eggplant Fans

This lovely and simple dish can be made with any size of eggplant! The inspiration for this dish came from a Facebook recipe video (with Russian directions) shared on Facebook by Peter Jermihov, the conductor for the recently released All Night Vigil, a collaborative recording between our choir, Gloriæ Dei Cantores, and members of three additional choirs. Facebook and Pinterest offer a wonderful way to connect with friends and to find recipes from different countries and cultures.

At this time of year, our garden is bursting with mini eggplants. Earlier in the season at planting time we received a donation of seeds for this specialty vegetable and it has indeed been a bumper crop. This dish can be prepared with a single eggplant for a personal size serving, or in a cast iron or ovenproof dish for a family as you see below. You may enjoy watching the video below which offers three additional ways to serve eggplant. Although the directions are in Russian, the pictures are universal! Once you have made the dish, you may want to share your picture with your Facebook fans and friends!

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Fairy Tale Eggplant Fans
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Starting at the thin end of the eggplant, slice each eggplant into 5 or more slices, leaving the eggplant connected at the top, to make a ‘fan.’
  3. Place several tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the skillet or dish and arrange the eggplant in a pinwheel pattern (see photo!).
  4. Slice buffalo or regular mozzarella thinly and place between each eggplant slice.
  5. Slice tomato thinly and add that to the mozzarella between each eggplant slice.
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper over whole dish. Fresh basil (chop or chiffonade) can be added here if desired.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over the dish.
  8. Sprinkle shredded parmesan over entire dish.
  9. Bake at 400 for 15 - 25 minutes or until eggplant is soft and cooked through.

Garden Herb Focaccia Bread

It was 45 minutes till dinnertime, and we were in pretty good shape toward getting the meal completed and served on time (barring any unforeseen circumstances). No sooner had I had this thought, than one of our number spoke up excitedly and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to add fresh baked bread to the dinner?”

“Oh NO!” was my immediate response.

Provide fresh baked bread for 63 people in 45 minutes! I felt like one of the disciples when Jesus told them to feed the hungry multitude with one little boy’s lunch! However, knowing this sister as well as I did, I knew it was no use trying to discourage her from making this happen; once her heart was set on something, nothing was apt to change it, so no one even tried. The result? Fresh baked bread in less than 45 minutes, beautifully golden on the outside and perfectly textured and filled with fresh garden herbs inside…a miracle for all!

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Garden Herb Focaccia Bread
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
35mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water; do not stir.
  3. Let stand 1-2 minutes or until the surface becomes bubbly.
  4. While yeast is bubbling, combine flour and table salt in a large bowl.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Stir with wooden spoon or mixer, and add remaining 1/4 cup.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes, adding small spoonfuls of flour if necessary.
  8. Spread dough into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place (low oven, heating pad) 10-15 minutes.
  9. Let rise in a warm place- about 80-85 degrees - until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
  10. Using the end of a wooden spoon, indent the dough every 1-2 inches.
  11. Combine remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil and herbs until leaves are broken up and oil is fragrant.
  12. Pour over dough. Rub gently into surface. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  13. Bake 10-12 minutes, in a 375 degree oven.
  14. Let cool and cut into wedges.

Note: The speed of this bread is due to the quick rising in a warm place. I like using the oven light or a heating pad. If you don't have a warm place, no problem, just let it rise more slowly on your kitchen counter.

 

Grilled Honey Nectarines

Over the last week, we’ve been enjoying plucking the nectarines and peaches off of our trees and enjoying them in a variety of ways. One of our Sisters used to own a peach orchard and enjoys turning the bruised and moldy drops into the most delicious jam. As the peachy smell wafts through the Convent, I pop down to the kitchen to dip my spoon into the bubbly pot.  “Sister, this is SO delicious!” I purr, wishing I could bottle up this moment for eternity.  Summer is wonderful, because the simple beauty and naturalness of fruit and vegetables can stand alone without being covered up in heavy sauces just to be palatable.
Over this past weekend, I had fun grilling nectarines to accompany an herb rubbed grilled pork tenderloin for our Dinner Theater. Follow these simple steps and add a little nectar to your next savory dish — it’s a beautiful thing!
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Grilled Honey Nectarines (or Peaches)
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
10mins
PREP TIME
READY IN
10mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to 400 degrees F.
  2. Brush nectarines with olive oil on both sides
  3. Place nectarines face side down on grill
  4. Wait about 4-5 min, or until the nectarines "release" on their own from the grill and carefully turn over with tongs or long handled spatula
  5. Grill on the opposite side
  6. Remove from the grill and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with kosher salt
  7. Serve as a side to chicken, pork, turkey or with a spoonful of greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream for dessert

Mid-Summer Israeli Couscous Salad

If you were a Moroccan housewife planning a family meal, in all likelihood it would include couscous. This inexpensive yet highly nutritious food, often thought to be a grain, is actually made from wheat. Rich with religious and symbolic meanings, the making of it traditionally is a female activity during which prayers are said invoking blessings and prosperity.
It is a very time consuming, labor-intensive task involving much hand labor: sifting, rolling, and re-rolling again and again until granules of similar sizes appear. Then it is sun dried and stored until its time of cooking. Fortunately most of us can simply purchase it at any grocery store in its ready-to-cook form at any time and its popularity rapidly continues to increase in the food world.
As in many other countries it is served differently from one area  to another. My favorite way is simply hot with a little oil or butter and onion salt. However guests who had it at last weekend’s dinner theatre with many added seasonings and various vegetables and herbs as we are showing it today said it was the best ever!
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Mid-Summer Israeli Couscous Salad
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
45-55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and lemon peel in small bowl and put aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until most of couscous is godlen brown, about 5 minutes. Add broth, incease heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pot, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender (about 10 minutes). If couscous is not fully cooked and seems dry, add more broth by tablespoonfuls until couscous has cooked all the way through.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add remaining garlic, onion, bell pepper, and zucchini and sauté until tender (about 3 minutes).
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to large bowl and add chopped mango.
  5. Add couscous to bowl with vegetables and mango. Drizzle with dressing and toss with chives and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Summer Double Berry Cobbler

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. 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. This week’s recipe is from a dear friend, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN TV host. She is an award-winning author of more than two dozen books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. She is the founder of the “Feeding the Body and Soul Movement.” More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.

From Donna-Marie “Ahh, summertime! A time of well-deserved rest comes with a welcome change of scenery and in-season fruits. While making our plans, let’s not forget about our prayer lives. A change in schedule and eagerness to “get away from it all” might cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We mustn’t let our prayer life go on vacation.


So that family prayer continues to happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it. Many inconveniences pop up in the heart of the family, and God knows we can’t drop to our knees to pray while taking care of pressing family needs. He also knows we are a work in progress, too. When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, we should try again to make it work. If we have done our best, He will surely reward us for persevering, and for training our children and grandchildren to develop committed relationships with Him.

Don’t miss family time in the kitchen, too. Why not make my Summer Double Berry Cobbler together? Make an extra pan and gift it to someone who might need a lift. God bless you! ”

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Summer Double Berry Cobbler
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash berries (if using frozen berries, no need to wash! and mix with sugar (or honey), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, vanilla and cinnamon (if using). Place in a buttered pie dish or 4 quart baking dish.
  3. Next, make biscuit dough topping. Whisk together flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or honey), baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center and stir in the milk (or yogurt) and beaten egg.
  5. Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the berries. Bake for 30 min. or until well browned and berry mixture is bubbling and dough is cooked.

Amazingly delicious when served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or even a spoonful of greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Thank you, Donna Marie, for such a delightful summer recipe!
The Gourmet Nuns

Watermelon Gazpacho

One of the most popular events offered to the public here at the Community of Jesus at this time of the year is our summer dinner theatre.

Interest in this continues to increase every season, which is not surprising. Eating a splendid, perfectly prepared meal out on the patio overlooking the harbor, just in itself, provides a most enjoyable and memorable evening, but having that as well as a spectacular dramatic performance in Paraclete House following  it is an exceptional experience in every way.

Today one of the cooking sisters has been perfecting a recipe for the appetizer course of this week’s dinner menu. I came upon her in the kitchen as she was carving up a magnificent watermelon to go into this zesty chilled gazpacho, a refreshing flavorful creation. You yourself may want to consider serving for some meal in the near future!

This delicious meal will accompany Elements Theatre Company’s performance of Sylvia by A.R. Gurney. Follow this link to learn more about the show, and reserve your tickets! https://elementstheatre.org/sylvia/

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Watermelon Gazpacho
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15-20mins
READY IN
15-20mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop cucumbers, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and parsley. Combine with cubed watermelon and cherry tomatoes.
  2. Working in batches, put a few cups of ingredients in the blender or food processor to combine. An immersion blender works for this process as well!
  3. Blend ingredients until just before gazpacho is completely smooth—there should be small pieces of pepper, tomato and herbs visible in the gazpacho.
  4. Chill overnight or in the freezer for an hour, stirring occasionally. This can be served with a garnish of diced yellow peppers on top. Serve chilled and enjoy a refreshing twist on a summer classic! We recommend pouring the gazpacho into bowls and chilling the bowls in the refrigerator prior to serving.