Birthdays are joyous occasions, and with so many Sisters in the Convent, there are bound to be several birthday celebrations each month. This is especially true with what we refer to as “big birthdays”, birthdays that mark a new decade in the life of a sister. Over the weekend, we celebrated the 70th birthday of one of our sisters with a beautiful dinner for all. The meal ended with one of our most favorite desserts: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta. While not a traditional birthday cake, this was no less festive as it also featured a delicious mango puree.
Dense, creamy and with minimal ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen, this is a great way to mark special occasions this summer. Served chilled with fresh berries, this may well become a favorite with you and your guests!
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mango Puree
- Place the cream in a saucepan and scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a knife, adding the seeds to the cream.
- Add the sugar and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- In a separate bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let stand until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and vanilla bean mixture and stir until dissolved.
- Add the yogurt and stir to thoroughly incorporate.
- Pour evenly into six to eight ramekin and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 6 hours or overnight for the panna cotta to set.
- As this is chilling, prepare the mango puree by combining the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor. Chill in a bowl until panna cotta is ready to serve.
Note: There are several ways to serve this dessert. As shown, we chose to chill the panna cotta at an angle and serve in a clear water goblet for a pleasing visual effect. For the more ambitious, panna cotta can be served inverted on a plate, similar to flan. Below are two methods of serving this dessert--both are equally impressive!
- Once the panna cotta has set, place each ramekin in warm water--the water should be halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
- Once this has been in the water bath 1-2 minutes, put your serving plate on top of the ramekin and invert the panna cotta onto the plate.
- Spoon the puree over the top and garnish with fruit and fresh mint as desired.
- Before making the panna cotta, prepare the glasses you will be serving in, tilting them securely at an angle on a tray. An egg carton works well for this.
- When pouring panna cotta mixture, use a funnel and gently fill the tilted glasses to the desired height.
- Carefully transfer the tray into the refrigerator, taking care not to bump or jostle the tray, as this will leave a milky residue on the side of the glass.
- When fully set (6 hours or overnight) stand the glasses upright and pipe in the mango puree. Piping helps control the puree and keep it from smearing on the glass.
- Garnish with fruit or mint and serve.
As cooks in Bethany Guest House, we love to spend time whenever possible, coming up with new creative recipes. We’re also finding that more and more of our guests are trying to eat healthier or have dietary restrictions. This adds to the challenge but also to the fun. Sometimes we work with inspiring gourmet type recipes– and often we find that some of the time honored meals of past years can also be very satisfying and delicious.
Today, I was preparing a light lunch for one of our guests who is a vegetarian. After a little hunting around for something new and different– I thought — ”Wait! What about a Mushroom and Spinach Quiche?” It was a big hit!
Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
- Cut the Crisco into the flour mixture until it is small and crumbly.
- Sprinkle the water in, lightly tossing / mixing it into the flour mixture. Toss in enough water, just until the mixture starts to hold together—no more water than what is necessary.
- Take 1/3 of the mixture, form into a ball, and gently roll out, lining a 6” pyrex pie plate (or the entire mixture for a 9” pie plate)
- Lightly sauté onion until soft, then brown the sliced mushrooms. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs with cream, salt and seasonings. Add the grated cheese, mushrooms and spinach. Gently mix, pour into pie shell and lay tomato slice on top.
- Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes; when checking for doneness, it should be firm when jiggled a little and a dinner knife should come clean when tested.
Nothing delights the Sisters more than warm, gooey sticky buns straight out of the oven on a Sunday morning. This year, we had the wonderful opportunity to offer baked goods to our community for Easter morning. We spent a good part of the weekend preparing over 50 pans of sticky buns. This year, I came up with a new recipe that we all decided was probably the very best sticky buns we have ever eaten. The comments back to us confirmed this was true. Even though I’d like to keep this recipe a secret, I thought we’d share it with you.
You won’t regret surprising your loved ones with these wonderfully fluffy and sinfully delicious breakfast treats! They are wonderful to eat year ’round!
The World's Best Sticky Buns
For the Dough:
- Dissolve yeast in very warm water and let sit for 5 mins
- Add ingredients in order listed above.
- Add flour (dough will be slightly sticky, but should pull away from side of bowl).
- Mix together the yeast dough, cover and let rise, until doubled in size in a warm, draft free place (approx.1 - 1 1/2 hrs) or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator)
- For the filling: Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. Divide in half, setting aside half the caramel for the filling.
- Using three 9-inch cake pans that have been sprayed with Pam, equally divide the rest of the caramel topping over the bottom of the pans. Scatter the pecans or walnuts over the caramel mixture and set aside.
- Dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough in thirds. Roll out the dough to a ⅛ -inch thick rectangle (around 20 inches long). As you roll out the dough, make sure there is enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface
- Divide the remaining caramel mixture into thirds and evenly spread it over the rolled out dough leaving 1 inch around the edge of the dough without the filling.
- Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. Roll it over until the seam is underneath. Pinch the seam together with your fingers
- Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 ½ -2 inch rolls.. Arrange the rolls over the nuts in the prepared pan, so that the swirled cut edge is facing upward.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
- Cover the tin with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. During this time they will rise up to meet the tin and becoming bubbly.
- Once proofed, place the rolls on a baking sheet covered with parchment, in case the caramel bubbles over.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and bake for roughly 35- 40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm in the center.
- While still hot, run a thin spatula around the outer edge of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. Enjoy warm!
This year Good Friday and the start of Passover were on the same day—-a rare occurrence given the difference between the Gregorian calendar used by most Western countries and the lunar calendar observed by the Jewish faith. Indeed, the Seder plate used during the first night of Passover tells the dramatic story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and includes reminders of their captivity: bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery, haroset which is a reminder of the mortar used between bricks, a shank bone to remember the Passover sacrifice and an egg which represents the new life promised to them after the Red Sea crossing.
Borrowing from our Jewish roots, our own Good Friday dinner was a cross-section of the Judeo-Christian traditions that mark this holy season of the year. Beginning with a candle lighting and blessing at 6:45—the official start of the eight-day Passover festival—and continuing with the meal which included some dishes found at a traditional Passover Seder table including Matzo ball soup, roasted chicken (with haroset stuffing), marinated green beans, Israeli couscous and tabouleh salad. Also gracing our table was one of our year-round favorites: fresh Challah bread baked that afternoon. While Challah—and dishes containing yeast—are not eaten during Passover, we couldn’t help ourselves! This braided bread is so delicious and beautiful to look at and made an honorary appearance on our Good Friday Passover table. Best when eaten fresh, this versatile bread is also wonderful toasted the next morning day. Try out the recipe below and see for yourself!
With wishes for a joyful conclusion for the Passover and Easter seasons, we look forward to the promise of new life this spring!
- Combine the first three ingredients to dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 5 min. or until foamy.
- Add the next 4 ingredients and then the flour and salt, adding as much flour as you need for the dough to start pulling away from the side of the bowl.
- Remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Place in an oiled bowl, turn over once, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.
- Divide dough into 9 balls and roll each ball into a “rope” using your hands.
- Braid 3 ropes together into 1 braided loaf of bread and continue with the other 6 ropes, making 3 loaves in all.
- Let the bread rise again.
- Make an egg wash and brush on the bread and bake in a 325º oven until golden and cooked through, about 30 min.