This week at Villa Via Sacra (Mount Tabor Centre for Art and Spirituality), we’ve been hosting Gabriel V Brass Ensemble as they participate in a-two week musical exchange with the world renowned Gomalan Brass Quintet. It’s always a great privilege and joy to “be in the background” serving these groups as they work hard to perfect their art, learning and discussing the music and seeking to bring it alive through both their personal and corporate vision. Music is a wonderful communicator — even though these groups speak two totally different languages, communicating has not been a problem at all. If you are in Tuscany, following the week of study with Gomalan Gabriel V will present a free concert at the Duomo di San Cristoforo in Barga, Italy on Oct. 6 at 21,00. We hope to see you there!
Benedictine hospitality is at the heart of our mission, and we enjoy “spoiling” the artists with great food as they work tirelessly at their art day after day. Pears are in abundance now in Italy, so I made this wonderful cake for lunch yesterday. It’s quick and easy to throw together, and the moistness of the pears doubled with the homemade caramel just begs to be eaten with a big dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the sides of a 9-inch round pan with removable sides (like a cheesecake pan).
Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, then remove from heat. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange the pears over the butter mixture and press down.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, and beat 10 seconds. Pour in the milk and beat just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 1 minute. Pour the batter over the pears, then carefully lift the pan and bang back down on the counter once or twice to release any air bubbles.
Bake approximately 45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Run a knife along the outer edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a plate over the cake, then flip it over to invert the cake onto the pan. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg.
Thank you to "Living Well Spending Less" for this wonderful recipe!
This year, we celebrated the Fourth of July in style. It was the first time in over 10 years that our award winning Spirit of America Band was able to participate in our hometown parade in Orleans, Massachusetts. It was a day marked with patriotism and pride, and one to remember all of our loved ones that have sacrificed so much for the great freedom we have today. Like most families across America, we concluded the day with fireworks and “All American” cookout topped off with these magnificent Stars and Stripes Pies.
I am reminded of a beautiful prayer that Billy Graham offered to this Nation – may we pray it together for the future of America:
“Our Father and Our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen. “
1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
2. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
3. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Assembling the Pie:
4. Roll out both pie crusts. Press one into the bottom of the pie pan – leaving an overhang for your crust (you will finish this off at the end). Reserve the second pie crust (keep covered w/ a sheet of plastic)
5. Fold aluminum foil strip into 90 degree angle wedge to fill 1/4 of the pie and place in pie shell
6. Fill the 1/4 area with the uncooked blueberry filling
7. Fill the rest of pie with strawberry rhubarb filling
8. Remove foil
9. Dot fruit filling with about 6-8 small chunks of butter (about ½ Tbsp each)
10. Using the reserved pie crust, take a pizza cutter and a ruler and cut three full length 1" stripes and two half length 1" stripes out of your dough. Use the remaining dough to cut your stars (we used a sharp knife or you can use a cookie cutter). Place the stars and stripes on top of the fruit, as seen in the picture, being sure to press the ends of the stripes into the bottom crust.
11. With your fingers, pinch crust to create a nice ruffled edge.
12. Brush the entire crust with egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar
13. Bake at 325 for about an hour and 15 min. or until crust is golden and fruit is bubbling
Cool slightly and enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!
“One of the things I most look forward to each time I come to Bethany is the luxury of my leisurely breakfasts. Sitting in the dining room enjoying the view of the harbor, I savor each bite of my beautifully prepared morning meal — such a lovely contrast to the hasty ‘no prep’ breakfasts I generally have before hurrying off to work each day at home.”
This testimonial came from one of our Bethany guests the last time she was with us. Looking at our upcoming guest list I realize that this very person is scheduled to be with us next week! Suddenly I have the perfect breakfast in mind for her, something that had recently caught my eye and made me want to improvise and try my own version of it. We will start her time at Bethany off with Tantalizing Tangerine Crepes. I can’t wait!
In a saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to begin dissolving sugar. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved completely, 5 minutes. Add tangerines and continue to simmer 8 to 10 minutes, until fruit is translucent and syrup has thickened. Remove from heat, set aside, and let cool.
In a blender, combine flour, eggs, melted butter, and milk, and blend until smooth.
Place an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add a knob of butter, and swirl pan to coat bottom evenly. Ladle 1/4 cup of crepe batter into hot pan and swirl pan to coat bottom evenly with batter. Cook until batter is lightly browned on bottom, about 1 minute. Using a small spatula, lift edge of crepe and flip it over. Cook other side until golden brown.
Transfer to a warmed plate and repeat with remaining batter. To serve, fold 2 crepes in half, place them on a plate, and spoon some candied tangerines on top.
Good Friday marks the second day of the Triduum (from the Latin for ‘three days’), the day on which we commemorate the Lord’s crucifixion and death. The Good Friday liturgies at our monastery (and many others around the world) mark our observance of Christ’s final hours, picking up from Maundy Thursday Eucharist, and continuing through the Holy Saturday Vigil, the Great Vigil of Easter, and carrying us all the way to Easter morning.
In keeping with the solemnity of the day, we remember Christ’s death by bringing to the liturgy of the hours the full range of spiritual depth and beauty found in the ancient texts; we participate in the veneration of the cross, and chant Gospel Passion Narrative. It is a special and holy time, filled with moments of silence, listening, reflection and conviction, as well as a time of joy-filled anticipation.
This day of the Cross marks us with God’s presence, and He marks us for his own.
Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hr. 30 min. **
To form the rolls: Pam a 9x13” pyrex pan. Turn the dought out of the bowl and roll into a log. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each of these pieces into a round bun shape, tucking the edges under.
Place them seam side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls are doubled in size, about 45 min. or longer.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
Prepare glaze: In a mixer, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla or almond extract and oil until smooth (the oil will give it a high gloss). The icing should be quite thick. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off.
Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rolls and brush the buns with egg wash. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 min. (an instant read thermometer inserted into the roll should read 190 degrees F.)
Ice buns with a thick cross shape on the top of the warm buns and serve.
** Please note: This dough might take a long time to rise, but be patient...it is worth the wait because they will come out nice and light!
Traditionally, in true Benedictine style, we offer our guests a time of fellowship after a concert in our church. It’s a wonderful time to greet people, listen to how the music moved them, and find out what brought them to our Community at this time. This past weekend, prior to the first great Cape Cod blizzard of 2016, our choir Gloriae Dei Cantores sang a deeply spiritual and beautiful program at the Church of the Transfiguration – a concert made up of music recently sung on a concert tour in Italy. We ended with a reception, and the menu featured a combination of savory and sweet. Unbeknownst to us, a pastry chef from Falmouth was there, and he delighted in these cookies. He asked for the recipe and then told us that he had worked for Martha Stewart for ten years and that these were the best cookies he had ever had. What a compliment!
Since Lent is just a mere few weeks away, make these quickly before you decide to give up sugar!
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Raspberry and Apricot Almond Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together butter and sugar until combined (it will take a minute or two since the butter is cold. If you don't have a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl, then occasionally stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl). Mix in almond extract then add in flour blend until mixture comes together (it will take a bit of mixing since the butter is cold, so be patient, it will seem really dry at first), don’t over mix or your dough will be tough
Shape dough into 1-inch balls, or use a small ice cream scoop to form, and place 2-inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment. Make a small indentation with thumb or forefinger in each cookie (large enough to fit 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of jam). Fill each with 1/4 - 1/2 tsp jam. Chill in refrigerator 20 minutes (or freezer for 10 minutes). Bake in preheated oven 12-14 minutes, or until slightly golden.
Cool several minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool (at this point you can add a little more jam if you'd like to, it just won't be set like the other is). Drizzle cookies with glaze when when cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.
Whisk all glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl, adding enough water to reach desired consistency (thicker is better). Pour or spoon mixture into a sandwich size resealable bag, cut a small tip from one corner and drizzle over cookies.
*To measure flour scoop with measuring cup and level with a butter knife. Don't whisk or sift first and don't spoon into the measuring cup.
Recipe source: adapted from www.cookingclassy.com
Easter was a glorious day filled with sunshine, beautiful music, and a church decorated with blossoming Spring flowers. The sights and sounds were full of joy and praise, and I felt renewed both in body and spirit – transported to another world that I don’t frequent often enough!
The Sisters celebrated this Easter with a beautiful buffet, many pitching in by making their favorite dish. I signed up to make dessert. I’ve always wanted to try making homemade mascarpone cheese, and since we have three cows that give us a never ending supply of milk and cream, what a great time to try it out. It was delicious! This dessert is perfect for Springtime – a shortbread almond crust filled with sweet and tart lemony cream, and a blend of berries on top – the perfect end to our Easter celebration.
Mix the all purpose flour, almond flour, kosher salt and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the unsalted butter pieces and work into the flour, creating thin sheets of butter in the flour. Mix the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and add to the flour and butter mix. Continue to work with your fingers until the mixture sticks together when pinched. Add another tablespoon of water if needed.
Press the dough into a buttered tart pan with a removable bottom (I used a long tart pan but you can use a 10-inch round pan) or 4-6 individual tart pans with removable bottoms. Prick the bottom with a fork and then refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the tart for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling with mascarpone filling.
For the mascarpone filling
Whip the cream on high with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the softened mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar and beat to mix well. Fold in the lemon curd with a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, mix the raspberries and sliced strawberries. Heat the strawberry preserves until thinned and mix into the berries. Spoon the mascarpone into the cooled tart crust and top with the berries. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.