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.
Stamping the snow off of my boots I came into the convent from the windy cold outdoors. As I shed my coat, I thought “Nothing could be more comforting than the warmth of being indoors right now.” But then I entered the refectory where I was met with something else even more comforting. It was the unmistakable aroma of one of our favorite meals, simmering in the skillet. Cooked with just the right combination of spices and seasonings, few, if any can resist this Southwestern chili especially on a chilly night like this.
As mealtime arrived the Sisters all gathered in the dining room where a glowing fire crackled in the fireplace. Each of us had a bowl of chili with our own favorite choice of toppings. Nothing could have warmed our hearts or satisfied our pallets more. We ate our meal with gladness and gave God thanks for all His many, many blessings to us.
Make-ahead note: The flavors continue to develop as the chili sits, so go ahead and make it up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate it in a container with a tight-*fitting lid. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Sauté the vegetables, ground beef, and spices, then put the mixture into the Crockpot or covered skillet along with tomatoes and kidney beans. Simmer until it’s thickened and has a nice beefy flavor, and then stir in jalapeños. We like this served with cornbread.
- To use dried beans in place of canned, start with 1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked to yield 3 cups.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stir to coat the vegetables, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and measured salt and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the beef is browned, about 7 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker or covered skillet, add the diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, and beans, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on lowest possible heat until the chili thickens and the flavors meld, adding small amounts of the beer and coffee as needed to keep mixture from sticking. Stir in the jalapeños or green chiles. Taste and season with salt as needed.
After having had so many special meals over Christmas and New Year’s
we wanted to come up with a simple yet satisfying supper on New Year’s
day. Remembering that we still had some leeks braving the cold out in our
almost barren gardens we decided on a potato leek soup, homemade bread
and a hearty salad. Since there was also some kale fighting for
survival out there why not add that to the soup making it even
healthier and giving it yet another dimension?
Our decision turned out to be a good one and everyone enjoyed it! They especially
appreciated its being light as well as very flavorful and heart-
warming,(the flavor was even better the next day) so when we make
it again I will suggest we make it a day or two before actually serving it.
We garnished it with a dollop of sour cream and chopped kale. A few bacon bits
or curls, if desired, could also add to its look and flavor.
*Whether you get your leeks from your garden or your grocery store it is important
to wash them ever so thoroughly because they often have soil hidden between the leaves
at their stems.
- Heat the oil in a large (6-plus quart) stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and potato and kale . Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
- Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
- Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting frequently) and lemon juice and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a healthy sprinkling of kale or bacon bits.
For some time now, our theater group, Elements Theater Company, has been doing their theater productions with a dinner added prior to the show. Traditionally, this has been a plated meal tying in with themes from the play. This summer, the show was unique – Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. This award-winning series of solo pieces is considered a classic of contemporary drama, universally hailed for its combination of razor-sharp wit and deeply felt humanity. The menu for this production conjured up images of an upscale Cape Cod pub food feel with a classy fish taco. I started searching for recipes, and the one I hit on was just the right one. The result was a colorful “box” dinner with the best fish taco I have ever tasted. Filled with crunchy cabbage, spicy mayonnaise, sweet and sassy mango salsa and a light and crispy panko- crusted cod – this is party food at its best – all served up in a glossy black box. Accompaniments included sweet potato fries, fresh corn and bacon salad and a homemade coleslaw. I’d recommend this for any summer gathering.
The Ultimate Fish Taco with a Twist
- Prepare the mango-radish salsa. Remove the peel and pith from the limes and cut between the membranes to remove the segments. Put these "supremes" into a bowl and squeeze over the juice from the membranes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Season and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also place all of the ingredients into a food processor and puree for a smoother salsa.
- Prepare the pink chile mayonnaise. Put the chipotles in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, adobo sauce and lemon juice and continue to process until the mixture is consistent and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Prepare the fish. Cut the pieces of fish into 1-ounce strips or to your liking. Set up a breading station of flour, lightly beaten eggs with water, and seasoned panko bread crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces of fish in flour, egg then bread crumbs. Once all the fish is breaded, deep-fry in small batches in (375 degrees F) oil. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Place tortillas on a damp towel on a single layer on a cookie sheet, cover with another damp towel and place in a warm oven until ready to use.
- To serve, set up the tacos "family-style". Start with your warmed flour tortillas, assemble the fish in a pile on a plate; the pink chile mayonnaise in a bowl; and mango-radish salsa in another. Set a pile of shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves (opt) and lime wedges next to the fish. Have fun building your own tacos.
recipe adapted from Tyler Florence
One of our cooking sisters has made it her “mission” to incorporate healthy foods into the convent diet and get people to eat things they would not naturally choose-by making them into tasty, attractive dishes. She certainly succeeded yesterday, so much so that I never got to taste her crispy black bean cakes because I was late to lunch and there was not a one left to even sample.
However, all the Sisters who had them insisted they were fabulous and that they must be written up as a blog…..so here is the recipe…..Let me know what you think.
Crispy Black Bean Fritters
P.S. Black beans have been proven to significantly aid the digestive system.