Since St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is just around the corner on December 13th, we thought we’d share this special Swedish bread with you – fantastic for the Holidays. The celebration of the day comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. “St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.” (see note below**)
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day. It is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Thus, the wreath of bread dotted with candied “berries.” If you’d like you can also add small candles to the cake as well for a more festive look.
** read more at https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/sweden.shtml
- In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
- Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
- Add salt and saffron
- Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
- Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
- 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.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
- 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).
- Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
- Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
- Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
- 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.
- While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
- Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.
Looking for a gift for someone who has everything? Something a bit out of the ordinary that doesn’t come out of a catalog or off of the internet? A gift that will express care and best wishes for the person in a way they may appreciate more than a costly, beautifully wrapped package?
Here’s a suggestion: How about a lovely personalized tea? “Just for two” — or for whatever number of others you know they’d enjoy having it with! Either indoors or outdoors, fancy and elegant, or simple and casual. You’d be surprised at the response you’re apt to get. because it’s a gift for all ages! Young and old and in between… My 12-year-old godchild looks forward to her annual birthday tea every year as much as she did the first time one was given to her at age 7. I know several 80-year-olds who no longer feel up to participating in many activities they used to enjoy, yet, at the mention of a tea, immediately brighten up summoning energy and enthusiasm from some unknown source.
Perhaps this recipe may inspire you with your own ideas for something similar. Just the planning and preparation of such a gift can turn out to be a gift to yourself as you find unexpected enjoyment in creating and preparing it for someone else!
- For each avocado half: mix together 1/4 cup of crumbled crabmeat, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, a pinch of onion salt, and fresh lemon juice (to taste).
- Adjust ingredients to desired taste, and add a sprinkle of lemon zest and chopped parsley for garnish. Spoon into avocado half and serve!
Spring is in the air, Eastertide is here and we are back with one of our newest, most favorite offerings for the season from our Monastic Bakeshop: Luscious Lemon Rolls. With that tangy, dreamy sweetness in every bite, you’ll think you have just tasted a bit of heaven. As we prepared our home for Easter morning, we also prepared these for our bakeshop and Convent. We had some help from the children in the community, too! We hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as we did!
- To make dough, boil water and remove from heat. Add the butter, Crisco and stir until melted. Add sugar and salt and cool to lukewarm.
- In a large mixer with a dough hook, put the 1 cup very warm water and sprinkle the yeast over. Stir to dissolve. Add the butter-Crisco mixture to the yeast mixture. Add the eggs and mix.
- Cup by cup add the flour, stopping when the dough is just a wee bit sticky still to the touch. Set aside to a warm place to rise, covered with a towel, about 1 hr. or more.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a Cuisinart, grind together the sugar and candied lemon rind. Set aside w/ the softened butter.
- Make the frosting by whipping the butter first, add the powdered sugar slowly cup by cup alternately with the liquid and zest. Beat until creamy. Set aside until ready to frost.
- Divide the dough in half. Roll into two 12 x 8" rectangles. Spread with half the softened butter and then half the sugar/lemon mixture - spreading the filling right to the edges.
- Roll up jelly roll style, pinching the seam closed, and cut into 1" slices. Place rolls in generously buttered 8" round cake pans.
- Let rolls rise until doubled in size.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 20 min or until lightly browned and the center is cooked.
- Frost while still warm and eat immediately for the yummiest results!
Just out the side entrance to the convent one steps directly into an orchard of fruit trees: peaches, nectarines and pears. Most of these trees were gifts to us back when the convent was being built, and what a gift they have been each year, providing us with beautiful fruit for eating, cooking, and preserving into different forms of gifts. Right now the peaches are at their peak, gorgeous to behold, and luscious to eat.
I have been longing to see some of them turned into a dessert. I love peach pie, peach cobbler or crumble, but my heart was set on something cool, light and summery, so I set about to make this happen. Here’s what came of my efforts which were quick and easy — just as I wanted them to be.
Summer Peaches and Cream Supreme
- Press one sheet of phyllo into 9 inch pie plate. Shape and crimp
edges to form a crust pour beans into shell and bake
according to directions on wrapper until golden brown. About 10 minutes. Remove and discard beans. Let cool completely.
- Into a medium saucepan cut up 6 peaches. Add ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, juice of half a lemon and cook until it begins to thicken into a syrupy sauce. After 20 minutes (approx.) add zest, amaretto or extract. Let cool. Add the four remaining peaches, nicely sliced.
- Soften ice cream and spread half into cool shell. Spread a layer of peaches and syrup across this. Then spread remaining ice cream over peaches. Finally swirl remaining cool whip over entire top and freeze till serving time.
- Cut into wedges, spoon remaining peaches and sauce over each serving and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
My hopes for spring were dashed this week when the Northeast was blasted with a chilly snowstorm.
Monday morning. April Fools? No less!
Well, a little chilly weather and white dust on the ground weren’t going to hinder our plans this week. We are hosting Lumen Christi: Easter Encounters with Art with art historian Msgr. Timothy Verdon and artist Gabriele Wilpers. This is a unique opportunity for artists and those who love art to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. A festive dinner to welcome our guests was on the docket.
Our opening celebratory meal was a Cape Cod theme with clam chowder, coleslaw, fresh cod with salty and buttery crumbs, corn pudding, and vegetables. We featured a luscious triple lemon cheesecake for dessert. Doesn’t just the word lemon conjure up images for springtime? This was probably the best cheesecake I ever put in my mouth — delightfully creamy, and just enough of that citrusy tartness to whet your palate for another bite.
Read more about Lumen Christi here:
- 1/2 cup lemon curd, heated over a double boiler until warm and easy to pour (I used Stonewall Kitchen Lemon curd)
- Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
- Butter the bottom and side of a 9" spring form pan. Have a ready roasting pan. Put on a kettle of water to boil for the water bath.
- Stir together crumbs, melted butter and sugar with a fork in a medium bowl until combined. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (not up the sides). Bake 8-10 minutes or until crust is set; let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Process sugar and zest in a food processor until zest is finely ground.
- In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese beginning on low speed andincreasing to medium-highspeed, until light and fluffy. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP; IT IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR A LUMP-FREE, FLUFFY CHEESECAKE.
- Gradually add sugar mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, continue beating until smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, ricotta, salt and lemon juice; beat until well blended.
- Wrap the outside of the spring form pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then pour the filling into the pan; set it in the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour in enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the spring form pan.
- Bake for 70-75 minutes or until the center is almost firm and set. DO NOT OVER BAKE. The cheesecake will firm as it cools.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven and water bath, turn off the oven. Return the cheesecake to the oven (keep door cracked slightly) to let rest for about 5 hrs. or until firmly set.
- Remove the foil and run a table knife around the inside edge of the pan; remove the pan's side, wrap in plastic and freeze until ready to use. I find freezing the cheesecake makes it much easier to slice. Slice and thaw the cake as needed - return unused portions to the freezer, well covered with saran wrap.
- When ready to serve, heat the lemon curd slightly over a double boiler or in the microwave and drizzle over the top of your slices. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Enjoy!
- **PLEASE NOTE, once the cheesecake has been in the freezer overnight, you can then remove the bottom of the pan from the cheesecake more easily, and then re-wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and return to freezer.