Syrian Pita Bread

Years ago before pita pockets, as we now know them, had become so common and readily available commercially, they were a regular everyday staple in our home. We called these Syrian bread, because we had an authentic Syrian neighbor who baked it regularly for her household and taught my mother how to make it. I have many happy memories of helping my mother shape the dough into the round loaves. I loved watching these magically puff up into inflated discs in the oven as they baked; and then settle back down into their original shapes after they came out of the oven and cooled.

Always we would roll some of the bread up into towels while still warm; when it cooled this way it had a much chewier texture which I especially liked just with plain butter. However there are so many ways to enjoy it. Sisters particularly love it stuffed with fried or roasted eggplant and fresh sliced tomatoes, roasted onions, peppers, and zucchini or yellow squash slices, with a sprig of fresh basil.

Another favorite way we eat it is split in half, brushed with oil, herbs of choice, onion salt and grated Parmesan. Then baked in 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until brown and crisp. It is a fun bread to bake and a fun bread to eat in whatever way you like.

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Syrian Pita Bread
SERVINGS
6-8pitas
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pitas
COOK TIME
5-7mins.
PREP TIME
1 1/2hrs.
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the water and allow to get bubbly.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt.
  3. With the machine on, pour in the yeast mixture and then the oil and process until the dough forms a ball.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times.
  5. Form the dough into a ball.
  6. Lightly oil a bowl with olive oil.
  7. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat
  8. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  9. Take the dough and divide it up into 6-8 sections.
  10. On a floured surface, shape the dough into little flat circles.
  11. Heat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Baking the breads 2-3 at a time bake them for 5-7 minutes. Just till they turn a nice golden brown.
  13. Take them out the oven, let them cool and then ENJOY!

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All American “Stars and Stripes” Pie

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. “

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All American "Stars and Stripes" Pie
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1 hr 15 min
PREP TIME
45 minutes
READY IN
2 hours

Ingredients

Instructions

To Prepare Crust:
  1. 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. 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. 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:
  1. 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)
  2. 5. Fold aluminum foil strip into 90 degree angle wedge to fill 1/4 of the pie and place in pie shell
  3. 6. Fill the 1/4 area with the uncooked blueberry filling
  4. 7. Fill the rest of pie with strawberry rhubarb filling
  5. 8. Remove foil
  6. 9. Dot fruit filling with about 6-8 small chunks of butter (about ½ Tbsp each)
  7. 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.
  8. 11. With your fingers, pinch crust to create a nice ruffled edge.
  9. 12. Brush the entire crust with egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar
  10. 13. Bake at 325 for about an hour and 15 min. or until crust is golden and fruit is bubbling
  11. Cool slightly and enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

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Silky Zucchini Soup

More and more, we are getting requests from guests for gluten-free and dairy-free diets. Finding recipes that are healthy and tasty all at the same time can be challenging! The reason I love this soup is, you can actually taste the zucchini! So many times zucchini soups are masqueraded in sour cream, cream cheese and dill and you absolutely loose the flavor of the vegetable itself.

Delightful if chilled overnight and served ice cold on a hot summer day, or conversely, ladled out piping hot on a steely winter night. Easy to prepare, vegan (if you swap out the butter), and delicious, you might want to add this to your weekly lunch menu!

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Silky Zucchini Soup
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
20 minutes
PREP TIME
10 minutes
READY IN
45 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a simmer; cook until the zucchini is very soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly. Working in 2 batches, puree the soup in a blender until it's silky-smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Serve it either hot or chilled, garnished with julienned zucchini.
  4. The soup can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
  5. **Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.

zucchinisoup

Zesty Orange Rolls

One of our Sisters — who is an experienced cook and baker — is teaching one of our Community young girls how to bake, and she is becoming quite successful at it. Not only is she acquiring valuable experience, she is at the same time using this as an effective fund raiser by selling the bread to the Community houses. Proceeds from the sales are divided between the convent and the “young baker in training” to pay for her music lessons and other band related expenses.

I love to watch the two of them together turning out beautiful, fragrant warm loaves of various breads: whole wheat, oatmeal raisin, English muffin, and cinnamon swirl to mention a few – such a wholesome nurturing sight! From time to time they will feature some type of sweet roll such as sticky buns, or cheese Danish. This week they are offering frosted orange rolls. I doubt there will be any left over.

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Zesty Orange Rolls
SERVINGS
30rolls
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
rolls
COOK TIME
25minutes
PREP TIME
2hours
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in water.
  2. In large bowl, mix milk, shortening, sugar, salt, and egg.
  3. Add yeast mix; blend well.
  4. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.
  5. Kneed on floured board for about 7 minutes.
  6. Put in greased bowl, turn to grease top.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Punch dough down; divide in half.
  9. Roll each into a 15"x10" rectangle.
  10. Mix filling ingredients until smooth.
  11. Spread half on each rectangle.
  12. Roll up, starting with the long end.
  13. Cut each into 15 rolls.
  14. Put in 2 greased 11"x7" baking pans.
  15. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  16. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.
  17. Mix glaze ingredients, spread over warm rolls.

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

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.

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Good Friday Hot Cross Buns
SERVINGS
1dozen buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen buns
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
  3. In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
  4. Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
  5. To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
  6. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
  7. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
  9. Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
  10. Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
  11. 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. **
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.)
  17. 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!

Convent English Muffin Bread

I have always found bread baking to be an intensely spiritual and creative act. You mix, you knead, you wait. It is prayer.

In our Convent during Lent, we always make an effort to serve a traditional Lenten meal, most often with candlelight and readings. A simple sampling of hard boiled eggs, cheese, some dried fruits, and nuts, is always accompanied by a smorgasbord of beautiful homemade breads. Tonight is no exception. With 65 Sisters in our Convent, we start early with our bread baking and continue through the day.

I am partial to this recipe, one that my grandmother passed on to me, and I am blessed to pass it on to you. It is wonderful sliced and toasted with a big smear of butter and jam. Don’t be daunted by making bread—there is really no fear to be had here! Bake and break bread with your family this Lent and see what God can do.

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Convent English Muffin Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
25minutes
PREP TIME
15​minutes
READY IN
2hours or less

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease two 8” loaf pans with Crisco and sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom of the pans. Set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Sprinkle your yeast over the very warm water, mix with a fork and leave for about 5 min. until bubbles form and your yeast is “active”. (If your yeast doesn’t do anything at this stage, throw it out and begin again!)
  4. Microwave your milk until it is very warm to the touch, but not so much that you can’t stick your finger in it, about 125 degrees
  5. Add your warm milk to your active yeast mixture in a large bowl and sprinkle the sugar over. Mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add ​the​ flour, one cup at a time, stirring the dough as you go. After adding about 2 cups of flour, add your salt and baking soda, then add the remainder of your flour.
  7. The dough will look quite dry and stiff at this point, so remove the dough onto a counter and knead the rest of the flour into the dough until it is a smooth dough.
  8. Divide the dough in half, form two oblong loaves and press these into the prepared pans.
  9. Put the dough in a warm place to rise, covered with a tea towel, for about 45 min. The dough should be doubled in size.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 min.
  11. Remove from the pans immediately onto a cooling rack and let cool.