Recently, another Sister and I shared our borscht recipes and memories! Like any well-loved food, memories play a part in its enjoyment. Our experiences of eating borscht are different but surprisingly parallel. Sr. Monica spent two months living at a Convent in Estonia when it was still part of the USSR. She has vivid memories of being there as the coup occurred when Gorbachev was still in power. I remember it too, because I was in Poland at the time, singing with our choir, Gloriae Dei Cantores. We had no way to communicate with our Sisters in Estonia since cell phones and e-mail were unavailable to us in 1991. We relied on prayer for their safety. Often, a particular recipe is a vehicle for comfort, even solace. We have had difficult times in the past, but we know God’s love is available to us. We offer this heartwarming recipe to you, along with our prayers for a healthy spring.
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CHANGE SERVING SIZE
2poundsbeefchuck roast or stew meat (if using bone-in meat, increase poundage to 3#)
Put the meat in a crockpot with 8 cups cold water, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and 1 Tbsp salt. Set on high for 4 hours. Cook until fork tender. Remove meat and strain and reserve the broth. Set aside
While the Beef is cooking, wrap beets in foil and place in a 400 degree oven—roast for 1hr. until fork tender. Cool slightly, but while they are still warm, remove the top, bottom and skin with a pairing knife (skins should come off easily if properly cooked) and either grate or julienne the beets. Set aside.
Heat a large stockpot and add 4 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté onion for 2 min. Add diced potato and sauté another 5 min or until beginning to soften. Add the grated carrot, cabbage and garlic and 2 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to med/low and add the beets, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved strained broth and extra 2-3 cups beef broth. (I used' Better than Bouillon' Roasted Beef Base)
Simmer and cover until vegetables are tender. Add the diced, cooked Beef and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill. Remove from heat and leave covered until flavors meld. Add 1/4 tsp pepper (If desired), and salt to taste. Adjust flavors to taste (you may want to add a bit more vinegar or sugar)
Serve warm or cold with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.
This year, I’ve been doing some teaching where cooking is concerned, and along with that comes learning on my part. Testing new recipes, experimenting with foods of different cultures and also trying my hand at a healthier way of cooking and eating. As I was working with a friend, we decided we’d like to try to find a recipe for a really good veggie burger. First of all, I wasn’t sure those four words really went together… “really good” and “veggie burger”. But, once again, I was wrong. This vegetable and grain-based patty is delightful. It’s bursting with flavors – we commented to each other that you could truly taste each vegetable in it and the bonus is, it’s packed with protein. Even my most lovable meat craving Sister thought it was delicious. That was a real surprise.
So, as we head into Lent, I thought this might be a good time to share this recipe. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Make the herb mayo: In a blender, combine all the herb mayo ingredients. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a bowl.
Make the veggie burgers: In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender and all the water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Or cook the quinoa in a rice cooker, following manufacturer directions (I used 2 cups quinoa/2 cups water). You will be using 3 cups of cooked quinoa in this recipe.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, parsley and onion, and cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender and lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Then add the baby spinach to wilt along with the corn. Transfer to the bowl with the 3 cups of cooked quinoa and let cool.
Once the vegetables-and-quinoa mixture has cooled, mix in the remaining veggie burger ingredients until incorporated. Form into 8 - ½ cup patties and shape. Lay out on a piece of wax paper.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the veggie burgers until golden brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side.
To assemble: Top each veggie burger with some of the herbed mayo and top with tomato and avocado. Serve while the burger is still warm with a side of sweet potato fries.
Now that the warmer weather is definitely here, most people are wanting lighter meals and a menu that includes more salads. With this in mind we wanted to come up with a light “Warmer Weather” salad dressing. This was a first attempt that most of us felt succeeded at doing just that.
First we chose a light olive oil and a mild rice vinegar as our base. To this we added a touch of spring from our herb garden by blending in a bit of fresh mint and several tender young green scallions. Into this, a little onion salt, some frozen orange juice concentrate, and just a hint of lemon zest gave our mixture just the right touch of brightness we were hoping for.
Whole grains have firmly established a prominent place in today’s overall diet, and are continuing to grow in acceptance and popularity. Once a taste for them has been acquired, less textured, more refined grains often have less appeal. Years ago when I first sampled wild rice I was not at all eager to have it again. Last night when it was served for dinner, I immediately wanted a second helping.
During this time of Lent, when many people choose to eat less meat, and have simpler meals, it can be a good time to introduce more grains into the menu such as this flavorful combination of wild rice with mushrooms and leeks.
This past weekend, I was a joy-filled member of the cooking team for our remarkable and award-winning marching band, Spirit of America. The band is embarking on a very exciting groundbreaking opportunity to travel to Dubai this January (2017) to assist in starting the first marching field band in the United Arab Emirates!
Over the past few months, they’ve had 4 rehearsals together to pull off this enormous project — creating a field show with 150 people from all over the United States! One thing we knew for sure, they needed to be fed well! My job was to cook for those with special diets. It was fun to spoil them and experiment with recipes that were gluten free, lactose free and vegan! When the weekend was over, it got me to thinking about creating more healthy recipes that we could add to our diet. This soup is high in fiber and packed with flavor, especially if you like the tastes of curry and coconut.