Braised Baby Bok Choy

Last week in honor of Chinese New Year, a lovely case of fresh baby bok choy — straight from Chinatown — was delivered to our Convent door, a generous gift from the parents of one of our Sisters. In the middle of winter, it’s a real treat to add fresh and tasty vegetables to our dinner. Baby Bok Choy is the tender rendition of a Chinese cabbage and a great source of beta carotene, which has been scientifically proven to act as a dietary antioxidant. Its name is derived from the Chinese name for “soup spoon” because of the shape of its leaves. Baby Bok Choy requires delicate cooking and is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, tofu, pork and poultry. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Braised Baby Bok Choy
SERVINGS
2people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1​0​ - 15minutes
PREP TIME
5minutes
READY IN
1​5minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. ​Slice baby bok choy in 1/2 lengthwise and place in a large bowl of cold water to soak.
  2. Using a large non-stick fry pan, melt the butter and add the smashed garlic. Move around in the pan to infuse the butter, but don't let it burn.
  3. Place the bok choy, cut side down ​in the pan and saute until golden.
  4. Add the white wine and sugar and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone.
  5. Flip the bok choy over and add the broth.
  6. 6. Continue to cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Serve the bok choy with the thickened broth spooned over it, and garnish with sliced green onions.

Thai Chicken, Spinach and Rice Noodle Soup

This week’s recipe was inspired by an Asian guest that we were hosting for lunch at our guest house. As a novice learning to cook, I was always taught by the Sisters to really think about the person that I was cooking for: What would they like to eat? What would bless them? Subtle subtext here: it’s not about what I like to cook, or what blesses ME! So a gluten-free, colorful Thai soup came to mind — a recipe that I squirreled away awhile ago in hopes that some time I would have the opportunity to make it. I made a few adaptions which resulted in the recipe below.

As I was chopping, I noticed that all of the ingredients were vibrant shades of green, so I dubbed them the liturgical ingredients of ‘ordinary time’. We rounded this lunch off with a delicate spinach and spring mix salad topped with avocado, fresh strawberries and candied almonds, and pita crisps. The dessert was a homemade Mango and Vanilla Panna Cotta — a recipe that I hope to share in future weeks!

** This recipe was adapted from Once Upon a Chef **

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Thai Chicken, Spinach and Rice Noodle Soup
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
15minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
25minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the shallots and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the green curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more.
  4. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and turmeric; bring to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. If not using immediately, let them sit in a bowl of cold water.
  6. When ready to serve, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Gently reheat the noodles in the microwave, if necessary (remove from water first!).
  8. Place baby spinach in the bottom of the serving bowl, place the rice noodles and shredded chicken on top and ladle the hot broth over top and sprinkle with cilantro and scallions.
  9. Serve with a lime wedge for garnish.

Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

As we enjoy these cool crisp days, my taste buds long for a creamy soup to warm my body. This soup is a treasure. The smell of it is a potpourri to scent your entire house! It has become our favorite soup for the season. Recently, we served this as the first course to the luncheon we hosted pre-performance for Elements Theater Company’s performance of “All My Sons”. We received so many recipe requests, we thought we should share it. We are filled with gratitude for each of you. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent!

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
SERVINGS
6-8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 1/4hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes or more.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and purée the soup with a handheld immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.
  4. Add the honey, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and heavy cream and stir. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you like a sweeter soup, add more honey.

Note: This soup thickens as it cools. If necessary, add a bit of cream to thin it back to desired consistency.

With thanks to Once Upon a Chef for inspiration of this recipe!

butternut-sweet-potato-soup-3

Vegetable and Lentil Soup from a Monastery Kitchen

Our Lenten journey has begun.  The church has been dressed in violet and our promises to God for these forty days have been made.  The chants for the season speak of hope, transformation and a return to God.  In the monastery, it is traditional to simplify life, not only in our work but also in our attitudes and our eating.  Many monastic houses fast from meat during Lent – a simple soup and bread for lunch and dinner are the norm.  As we harvest the last of our winter squash from our garden, this simple yet hearty soup is the perfect beginning to this special season of the church year.

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Vegetable and Lentil Soup from a Monastery Kitchen
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
25minutes
PREP TIME
45minutes
READY IN
75minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot. Add the diced leeks, celery, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and a small amount of the dill and parsley and sauté until golden and the vegetables are beginning to soften, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat so the vegetables are sauteing, but not burning.
  2. Add the lentils and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
  3. Add 6 cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  4. Cook for about 8 min. over medium heat, simmer, but do not boil.
  5. Add the diced zucchini and continue simmering until the lentils are cooked and the vegetables are softened, about 15 min.
  6. Remove from heat and add the baby spinach, the herbs and the lemon zest and juice and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. If desired, serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Lamb Shanks Ossobuco

As we head into the cold, long days of winter, I find myself craving comfort food that warms every part of you. A bowl of steaming stew, perfect buttery mashed potatoes or even a simple bowl of spaghetti Bolognese can fill the bill on any particular day.

I found lamb shanks on sale at the store this week and was delighted to pair them with this ossobuco style recipe for the ultimate comfort food. Usually made with veal, lamb is a nice change and the succulent meat falls off the bone when made overnight in your slow cooker. The word literally means hollow-bone and refers to the middle part of the hind shank, which has tender meat around the marrowbone. Served with risotto or polenta, ossobuco makes a delicious and satisfying meal.

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Lamb Shanks Ossobuco
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
6hours in slow cooker
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
7hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut through the tendon that connects the meat to the bone at the bottom of the shank -this will allow the meat to bunch up nicely. Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large frying cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and brown the shanks a couple at a time, turning until dark brown all over (browning creates a great depth of flavor you get once they’re cooked). Set the shanks aside in a slow cooker.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the 3 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, onions, carrot, celery and garlic to the same frying pan. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until the vegetables are golden and soft.
  4. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine, bring to a rapid simmer and let it bubble for 30 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol.
  5. Add the tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Pour or spoon carefully over the shanks. Cover with the lid and cook in the slow cooker on low for 6 hrs., spooning liquid over the shanks every now and then. The meat should be almost falling off the bone by the end.
  6. Gently remove the shanks using tongs or a large spoon (careful as they will be very delicate) and set aside in a dish covered in foil.
  7. Put the cooking into a large saucepan, add the butter to the sauce and boil for about 10 minutes to reduce slightly, or until it’ a nice pouring sauce. You may need to add 2-3 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water to thicken it up. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper.
  8. Serve the shanks over creamy mashed potatoes, polenta or risotto alongside steamed green vegetables. Pour the sauce generously over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest if you like. Andiamo mangiare!

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Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is now considered a specialty dish often featured on menus in upscale eating places. It has, however, been a common everyday food in Italian homes for many years. Cooked in different ways to satisfy various tastes, it is almost as popular as pasta in the Mediterranean diet.

It can be prepared as a simple, meatless, light lunch or as an accompaniment to meat or fish for a fuller multi-course meal.

This time of year, spring asparagus especially lends itself to this creamy, cheesy dish to make it an exceptionally flavorful culinary experience.
Asparagus Risotto

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Asparagus Risotto
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
50mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Blanch the asparagus
  2. In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon butter on medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
  5. While shallots are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan.
  6. Add the wine. Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine.
  7. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice. Stir until the liquid is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Continue adding 1/2 cup of hot stock to the rice at a time, and cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed each time.
  9. You will stop adding stock when the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 20-25 minutes.
  10. With the last ladle of stock, add the asparagus. Turn off the heat. Keep the risotto loose. It thickens a lot while it sits.
  11. Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add onion salt and pepper to taste.