Being a Benedictine House, we start our day with the office of Lauds followed by Eucharist. As I left the service today, I was struck by just how many years Monasticism has existed and thrived, and how blessed I was to be a part of a living organism that has withstood the passage of time and changed the world in the process.
As I passed through our atrium, I was met with the lovely singing of birds. With the cold winter we’ve had, this promise of spring was a delight to my ears and got me itching to create a light new soup that was both colorful and tasty. I set out for the kitchen to create just that.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, sautee leeks, garlic, and thyme in the butter and olive oil until softened- about eight minutes.
Add diced potato and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the potatoes begin to take on a slightly translucent hue. Meanwhile, prepare asparagus by snapping off the ends and peeling the sides with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1" pieces.
Add broccoli florets to your stock pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add prepared asparagus pieces and cover with 8 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken, whichever you prefer). Stir and bring to a simmer.
Cover your pot and cook until your vegetables are tender about 10 min.
After 10 minutes, uncover the pot, turn off the heat and add the spinach. Allow to sit for an additional five minutes.
Cool slightly, and puree using an immersion blender or a countertop blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more broth to achieve the desired thickness or add some cream. Re-heat and serve. Makes 14 cups of soup.
We have had a wonderful summer with food, creating a wide variety of unusual fresh salads of all sorts, interesting new chilled soups, and great ribs, chicken, burgers, and other meats from the grill. Now people are remembering the savory heartwarming dishes of cooler weather, expressing their desire for savory seasonal favorites of the Fall.
Right now I am torn between wanting to serve a great pot roast, while at the same time thinking how happy many people would be to enjoy a tasty old fashioned Shepherd’s Pie…so we do both! For today, we’ll make a great pot roast doubling the amount we would usually cook, and saving the meat for a delicious Shepherd’s Pie in a few days’ time.
Autumn is apple time, and our trees are laden with gorgeous fruit — apples that are being turned into applesauce, apple crisp, apple fritters and all things apple! This is the time to have fun with them when they are so plentiful and at their best.
Last week we decided to give our chicken meal of the week an autumn touch by incorporating some apples into it and we were quite pleased with what resulted…..our Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird. All we did was rub our chicken all over inside and out with a great mixture of tasty spices and herbs, stuffed it with some apple and yam quarters and a few shallots and roasted it as usual but basted it with our unusual cider bourbon glaze giving it a beautiful rich finish that was breathtaking to behold and luscious to taste. It is really worth trying and equally as good with a pork roast.
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Savory Roasted Apple Bourbon Bird
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
1chickenwhole (4 to 5 pound), neck and giblets removed from the cavity
Quarter a large apple, 6 shallots and stuff into cavity along with a handful of fresh thyme and a stalk of celery.
Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes more.
Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 minutes for final 15 minutes of cooking.
Reduce the apple juice down to about ¾ cup then add the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the mixture until dissolved then add 1 cup bourbon and let boil for about 5 minutes or until mixture reduces to about 1 cup of liquid.
Baste chicken with glaze about every 5 or 10 minutes for final 30 minutes of cooking.
**Add 3 quartered apples, 2 yams cut to size of apples, and a dozen shallots to roasting pan stirring from time to time until all are tender.
By now you have most likely planned your entire Thanksgiving dinner, but even if you have, I’d like to suggest a simple side dish you might want to consider adding to the meal, or taking with you if you’ve been invited to someone else’ s home for dinner. The idea occurred to me as I passed our rather empty gardens and spied several rows of leeks still standing strong and holding their own out in the cold.
Since the earliest days in the Community, it has been our custom to serve the traditional Cape Cod Thanksgiving meal, which always included creamed onions. Then, when our gardens began to produce beautiful leeks we started using them instead. Many people prefer leeks because of their milder and more subtle flavor, and now they have become a “must have” addition to our holiday menu.
If you have never been introduced to leeks cooked in this particular way, they might very well become a favorite with you once you give them a try.