Saint Lucia Bread

Our Monastic Bake Shop opens for Advent, just in time for people to select delicious home-baked goods for their Christmas table.  One of the favorite sweet breads that people return for is the lovely St. Lucia Bread.  A rich, dense dough filled with citron, saffron and almonds, and decorated like a wreath, has been a long-standing tradition for our Bakeshop, started by one of our own Sisters, Sr. Lucia.

Traditionally, when we make our first profession as Sisters, we also take on a new name – symbolizing our new life wedded to Christ.  Sr. Lucia became a novice in early December.  When she was preparing to take her vows, she prayed about what her new name should be.  One of the Sisters told her that she had an idea of a name for her. The Sister next to her said, “Now don’t overwhelm our new novice with another big decision!” But she couldn’t bear the suspense, and she told her the name: Lucia.  A bit later, a different Sister mentioned that she had received a name for her, and it was the same one!  She decided to learn more about who St Lucia was, only to discover that her feast day was celebrated on December 13th — the exact day that the name had been suggested to her!  She couldn’t deny that God was speaking.  It turns out that her middle name had been Lucille after her maternal grandmother, and years later it was discovered that her actual given name had been Lucia!

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Saint 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.

A blessed Advent to all!

Amaretto Fruit Tart

Our summer dinner theaters were sold out every weekend this year. We now have a fine reputation for our food as well as our productions, so people come for both. The many sincere compliments and genuine thanks we receive for these events makes the extra effort put into them worthwhile and very rewarding.

This week’s dinner menu featured skewers of beef tenderloin and of shrimp grilled with mushrooms, mini onions and potatoes and plated alongside a mélange of colorful vegetables. This was accompanied by a crisp pungent salad of mixed greens and fragrant herbs straight from our gardens. All combined to form a lovely summer nights’ dinner eaten in a tranquil setting out on the patio overlooking a view of Cape Cod Bay.

One more detail to savor was the magnificent dessert which one elderly gentleman referred to as “a most splendid creation.” This marvelous fruit tart is formed on a rich shortbread crust spread with an amaretto cream, topped with beautiful fruit and sealed with an apricot glaze. Tonight the chef has chosen sliced nectarines and blueberries. Other evenings it has been strawberries, kiwis, peaches,
raspberries. If you want a dessert that is both impressive and delectable this is it!

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Amaretto Fruit Tart
SERVINGS
8
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COOK TIME
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READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Crust
  1. In food processor, combine almonds, butter, sugar and flour. Add yolks and extracts. Blend until dough forms.
  2. Line 11- inch tart pan with removable side with a circle of baking paper in the bottom and press crust into pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Cool. Set aside.
Filling
  1. Mix all filling ingredients until smooth and spread evenly on the cooled tart.
  2. Chill until firm (about 30 minutes).
Glaze
  1. In a small pan, mix all glaze ingredients over low heat until hot. Strain. Cool. Set aside. Orange marmalade can be substituted.
  2. Arrange fruits in a circular pattern on filling.
  3. One to two hours before serving, brush fruit with glaze, (sprinkle sliced almonds on top, optional). Serve slightly chilled.

Hot Chicken Salad Sandwich

What is it about sandwiches that make so many people so happy? It seems to me that the very same food served on a plate often gets less positive response than it does in a bun, on a roll, or even on a loaf of bread, as it was last night at the convent.Chicken salad was on the menu for our dinner and the cook of the day chose to serve it as a hot open faced sandwich, which surprised everyone. She sliced loaves of Italian bread lengthwise, placed a layer of chicken salad on each, topped them with grated cheese and melted them under the broiler for a few minutes. When they came out they were met with exclamations of “WOW, FANTASTIC, WHAT FUN!”

Because the meal was an informal picnic type, the loaf was served whole, allowing each person to decide what size piece they wanted cut for them. For a more refined touch it can be sliced in diagonal pieces and plated, and still be a sandwich!

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Hot Chicken Salad Sandwich
SERVINGS
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, onion, celery, almonds, grapes, water chestnuts.
  2. Mix mayonnaise, wine, salt and pepper; toss with chicken mixture.
  3. Spread chicken salad on bread, top with a layer of your favorite cheese and melt under a broiler.

Hot Chicken Salad Puffs

It seems we barely get cleaned up from one reception, and it’s time to prepare for another. We have many events happening on a regular basis and they almost always are accompanied by the serving of food or refreshments of one kind or another. At a recent reception we revised an old favorite that met with a great response. We served this hot chicken salad in little cream puffs and they disappeared so quickly we couldn’t keep the trays filled.

Hot Chicken Salad Puffs

 

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Hot Chicken Salad Puffs
SERVINGS
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COOK TIME
65 - 70mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Hot Chicken Salad Puffs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl mix the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion salt, spices, onion and almonds.
  4. Transfer to the baking dish, and top with Cheddar cheese and crushed potato chips.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  6. Fill cream puffs, arrange on platter and serve.
Cream Puffs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease (or line with parchment paper) two baking sheets.
  3. Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. It will still feel hot. Transfer the dough to a mixer.
  7. Beat in the eggs one at a time; the mixture will look curdled, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth.
  8. Beat for 1 minute after adding the last egg. You will have a stiff, smooth batter.
  9. Drop the dough by Tablespoonful’s onto the prepared sheets.
  10. Leave about 2″ between them.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes, till they have puffed, they are medium golden brown and they look dry.
  12. Remove baked puffs from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut a slit into the side of each puff, for steam to escape; this will help prevent them from becoming soggy.
  13. Return the puffs to the oven for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
  14. Slit each puff in half around the circumference and fill with a heaping Tablespoonful of chicken salad.
  15. Replace the top.

Spicy Almonds

I hope all of you had a very blessed and happy Christmas. Ours was a quiet celebration with reflection on what Christmas really means. But of course we had wonderful food to help us do just that. And the season continues as we face the new year and the celebration that goes with it. My favorite party is appetizers; small savory bites and wonderful hot cheesy dips. One great dish to prepare that everyone loves is spiced nuts. I love sweet and spicy, but decided to try out some spicy ones. They are easy and delicious and you can adjust the heat according to taste.

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Spicy Almonds
SERVINGS
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COOK TIME
18minutes
PREP TIME
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan combine all ingredients except almonds and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour over almonds and combine well.
  4. Pour almond mixture onto a pan lined with parchment and cook in oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt to taste. Let cool. Enjoy!

Eggplant Souffle

As I helped clear the Retreat lunch tables, one of the leaders, a good friend (and one of my most honest) looked up at me with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. “Delicious, Sister Irene,” he said, “But why is it that people in general seem to think that the only way to cook eggplant is with tomatoes?” Well, here was a question I’d never before been asked that made me stop and think. I didn’t feel it was a complaint or criticism so much as a challenge. He appeared to have enjoyed my eggplant Parmesan because his plate was clean. He’d even had a second helping!

His forthrightness set me on a course that expanded my eggplant repertoire. Up until then I had pretty much settled for recipes I’d felt comfortable making and knew most people liked. But he was a Southerner and his tastes were more towards creamy-styled dishes than Mediterranean. I asked him for suggestions and then launched into an exploration of tomato-less eggplant dishes. After trying multiple ones I settled on several favorites that I’ve stuck with over the years, this being one that both he and I like—you may, too.

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Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
45mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cook eggplants in 2 quarts salted, slightly boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Remove skins and mash pulp; add 2 Tablespoons butter, yolks, cream, and season to taste with onion salt and pepper.
  3. Soak bread crumbs in milk and squeeze crumbs in a dry cloth to remove moisture.
  4. Add crumbs to eggplant.
  5. Fold in egg whites and turn into generously buttered soufflé dish.
  6. Sprinkle with almonds mixed with the same amount of toasted bread crumbs and a little melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
  7. Serve immediately in the baking dish.