The Ultimate Fish Taco with a Twist

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.

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The Ultimate Fish Taco with a Twist
SERVINGS
8-10
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20min
PREP TIME
45min
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Citrus Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu

Leaving the noon church service today I got into a conversation that resulted in my late arrival for lunch. As  I entered the refectory I heard happy exclamations regarding the meal…”What a great lunch!  I loved this…so fresh and beautiful so colorful and tasty.”

What was  it they were raving about?  It was a brand new crisp, crunchy tofu recipe and it was all they described it to  be! Truly sensational and remarkably satisfying.

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Citrus Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
15-20mins
PREP TIME
45mins
READY IN
1hr (approx)

Ingredients

Instructions

Tofu
  1. Drain tofu of excess water. Let sit 20 minutes to drain.
  2. While waiting for tofu, mix together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium with about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil inside. While heating, slice tofu into 1/2" slices, then cut each slice into thirds. Coat each cube lightly with cornstarch using a sifter and then place into pan until browned and crispy. You may have to turn up the heat under the pan a bit. Remove from frying pan sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and set aside on paper towels.
  4. Wipe pan clean with paper towel and add sesame oil, onions, and chopped ginger. Cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add sauce mixture to pan, bring to a boil, and simmer about 2 minutes. Add tofu back to mixture, toss to coat. Top with green onions if desired.
Cabbage Salad
  1. Put the cabbage in a large bowl, with the celery, cut the skin and pulp from the oranges ...slice them into wheels (cut out any seeds) and add to the cabbage. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, balsamic and oregano and salt and pepper and pour over the cabbage.
  2. Mix well. Let it settle then mix through a few more times so that it is completely coated. Toss prepared tofu over salad before serving.

Saint Lucia Bread

Our Monastic Bake Shop opens for Advent, just in time for people to select delicious home-baked goods for their Christmas table.  One of the favorite sweet breads that people return for is the lovely St. Lucia Bread.  A rich, dense dough filled with citron, saffron and almonds, and decorated like a wreath, has been a long-standing tradition for our Bakeshop, started by one of our own Sisters, Sr. Lucia.

Traditionally, when we make our first profession as Sisters, we also take on a new name – symbolizing our new life wedded to Christ.  Sr. Lucia became a novice in early December.  When she was preparing to take her vows, she prayed about what her new name should be.  One of the Sisters told her that she had an idea of a name for her. The Sister next to her said, “Now don’t overwhelm our new novice with another big decision!” But she couldn’t bear the suspense, and she told her the name: Lucia.  A bit later, a different Sister mentioned that she had received a name for her, and it was the same one!  She decided to learn more about who St Lucia was, only to discover that her feast day was celebrated on December 13th — the exact day that the name had been suggested to her!  She couldn’t deny that God was speaking.  It turns out that her middle name had been Lucille after her maternal grandmother, and years later it was discovered that her actual given name had been Lucia!

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Saint Lucia Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
20-25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2-3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large mixer, soften the yeast in the warm water
  2. Heat the milk until warm. Add the oil and sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture in the mixer
  4. Add salt and saffron
  5. Add the 3 slightly beaten eggs and mix with dough hook.
  6. Add the lemon zest, citron and almonds and continue mixing
  7. 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.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 min, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic; adding flour as necessary.
  9. 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).
  10. Divide the dough into six equal balls and roll into large ropes and then braid three together, making two braids.
  11. Pinch the two ends together and tuck under, forming two circular loaves.
  12. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two sheet pans with baking paper, or grease, and put a braided loaf on each pan.
  13. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled.
  14. Combine the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush on the braids.
  15. 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.
  16. While the bread is baking, prepare your frosting, mixing all ingredients until smooth and on the thicker side. Cut your cherries in half.
  17. Remove bread from the oven and cool slightly, then decorate, using the green cherries as leaves, and the red as berries.

A blessed Advent to all!

Braised Short Ribs

Some meals can be almost as enjoyable to prepare as to eat.  Short ribs are an example of this, especially in cold blustery weather as we have been having this winter. Cooking them is a most pleasurable culinary experience, engaging all the senses from start to finish.

Thick well cut ribs are a joy to handle while rubbing in the seasonings.  Then there is the visual thrill of watching them beautifully brown before your eyes in the sizzling hot skillet. This begins to produce a mouthwatering aroma to savor,  while slowly nursing them along to desired tenderness.

As a final treat to the senses, I hear the sound of delighted exclamations from those coming to dinner whose appetites are peaked from shoveling snow out in the cold. Could anything be more heartwarming and rewarding than that?  Well yes….sitting down and eating one of my most favorite meals with them!

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Braised Short Ribs
SERVINGS
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COOK TIME
2 1/2-3hours
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch.
  5. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of drippings from pot.
  6. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes.
  8. Stir in wine, Worcestershire and then add short ribs with any accumulated juices.
  9. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
  10. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
  11. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours.
  12. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup.
  13. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with onion salt and pepper.

These short ribs are even better when they are cooked the day before.

Blueberry Coffeecake Ring

When I got up this morning to go to Lauds, I thought I might need a jacket…wow, how things change. Last time I wrote we were in the middle of a humid heat wave. Last weekend was Transfiguration Sunday, a feast reflecting the name of our church. We always have a coffee hour after church to celebrate. I found a blueberry pie filling and wrapped that in the dough we had made the day before. They were really delicious, and moist! Of course the huge amount of frosting I drizzled on helped, but it was a very light moist cake and the filling was perfect. There were lots of compliments on this latest adventure.
Blueberry Coffeecake Ring
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Blueberry Coffeecake Ring
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READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Asian Chicken Salad

Now that spring is definitely here to stay we want to turn to warmer weather needs—dishes that are fresher and lighter and require less cooking. Here’s where plump tender chicken breasts can be so accommodating—offering endless possibilities. Last week one of the sisters gave a “Birthday Gift” lunch to a young community girl who loves Asian food. The result  was a delicious and attractive chicken salad. That inspired me to have something similar made for the convent lunch the next day. Both versions were a success, similar in some ways, yet each quite different in others. Here’s my Basic Asian Chicken Salad that you can alter to your liking—adding to or taking away any ingredients that do or don’t appeal to you.

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Asian Chicken Salad
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Chop or thinly slice grilled chicken; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the spicy ginger dressing.
  3. Add the cabbage, chicken, carrots, spinach, tomato, mint and cilantro to the large bowl and toss gently.
  4. Top with mango slices and roasted peanuts. Garnish with scallions and roasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.