Here at the Convent we love to give attention to birthdays, be they big or little. Last week I had a very BIG one (85!) and it was celebrated in a very big way, especially featuring an abundance of beautiful spring flowers and fabulous food — two of my main passions.
The day was launched with an outstanding brunch including many of the old favorites I’d used over the years for guests, retreats and special events. This Swiss Omelet Roll was a specialty that brought back many memories, and made for much meaningful conversation as we re-lived the occasions when it was served.
Swiss Omelet Roll with Mustard Sauce
- Combine mayonnaise and flour.
- Gradually add milk and beaten egg yolks; cook, stirring constantly over low heat until thickened.
- Remove from heat; cool 15 minutes.
- Fold mayonnaise mixture and seasonings into stiffly beaten egg whites.
- Pour into 15 ½" x 10 ½" jelly roll pan lined with wax paper, brushed with mayonnaise.
- Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
- Invert pan on towel; carefully remove wax paper.
- Cover with combined ham, cheese, and green onion.
- Roll from narrow end, lifting with towel while rolling.
- Combine sauce ingredients; mix well.
- Serve omelet seam down; top with mustard sauce.
- Garnish with watercress (or parsley) and tomato slices.
When it is a Sister’s big birthday at the Convent we try to make it as special as we can. Last week for her 60th birthday the Sister celebrating it chose for a theme “Spring on Cape Cod.”
Decorations included a variety of spring flowers and plants, forsythia and pussy willow and beautiful sea shells.
The menu was “Fish and Chips” served in divided little baskets. The atmosphere was purposefully casual with lots of fun and merry making. The food owed its success to this simple yet “Special Beer Batter” used for frying.
Special Beer Batter
- Pour beer into flour ’til thin.
- Add 1 beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.
- Dip fish or chicken in the batter and then roll in potato chip crumbs
- Fry at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 minutes.
Next week we start harvesting apples. How the year zips right along, from planting to harvest to seed again. We haven’t quite finished dealing with the pears yet, but we are getting there. Many more jars of chutney, and maybe some cordial to warm us in the winter months. I wanted to try the pear chutney in my favorite hot ham and cheese sandwich, so I made up some bread dough, slathered in some of our homemade mustard and a good dollop of the pear chutney, baked it until the cheese was oozing out the sides and it was quite good! Served with a nice bowl of butternut squash soup, who could ask for more on these nippy fall days?
Hot Ham and Cheese Pockets with Mustard and Chutney
- Dissolve yeast in warm water, add sugar, and let sit until bubbly.
- Add salt, olive oil and enough flour to make a just-sticky bread dough that springs back to the touch after kneading for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Keep adding flour until not sticky.
- Put back in bowl, and cover.
- Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Divide dough into 6 lumps.
- Roll out into 7 inch circles.
- Spread center of each circle with mustard, then grated cheese, chutney, and finally ham bunched on top.
- Pull up edges of circle, and press edges together to form a ball.
- Place with seam side down on a pan lined with parchment.
- Let sit about 15 minutes.
- Brush tops with olive oil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
Memorial Day is supposed to be the kick off for summer, but it was a little questionable with the cold temperatures and constant rain. The vegetables in the garden seemed happy enough — potatoes, beans, leeks all were thriving with the extra moisture they were getting. I was a little concerned that steaks on the grill weren’t going to do all that well in the pouring rain. Monday dawned clear and warmer, and we were able to have our picnic as planned. It was delightful and almost sparkling in the sunshine. I made my favorite potato salad. My sister has always made it this way, and I recently realized that this is also the way my mother always made it. The secret is in the salad dressing going on the potatoes while they are still warm and making it a day ahead so the flavors have a chance to develop.
- Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until tender.
- Drain and transfer to a bowl. Pour on the vinaigrette.
- Let sit for a few minutes.
- Then combine the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until cold.
Last night the Sisters had one of their most favorite comfort food meals. Old fashioned plain roast chicken with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. That left us with ten chicken livers that I intended to sauté and add to today’s lunch for those who particularly enjoy them. But I wasn’t able to get to them in time. As I stood in the kitchen wondering what to do, our lace-making Sister came in to pack up a snack for seven or eight fellow lace-makers having their monthly Lace Makers Day tomorrow. As she prepared her fruit, cheese and crackers I had a sudden thought: “How would the ladies like a little liver pate for something different?” “Great idea” was her response and within twelve minutes she had whipped up her favorite pate recipe. One of the easiest (as well as tastiest) I have ever come across. Here it is in case you’d like to give it a try.
Chicken Liver Pate
- Cook liver and onion with 1/4 cup butter until soft.
- Blend in food processor.
- Add remaining ingredients and turn into dish.
- Cover and chill.