Leg of Lamb with Anchovies (Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois)

When I was preparing for my first time to serve at Mount Tabor Center for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy, I knew that I needed to immerse myself in learning all I could about Tuscan cooking. Cooking “Italian” had always been one of my favorite methods, but come to find out, there are many different regions in Italy with vastly different cooking styles. I searched the internet for articles, recipes and cookbooks and came up with a real gem – The Twelve by Tessa Kiros, which is twelve months of Tuscan cooking. She organizes the book according to the months and the fruits, vegetables and meats that are available and in season. This is the great thing about Tuscany – there is what there is – you cook what is in season. You learn to appreciate and savor the flavors.

So, this cookbook became my bible of sorts and I cooked my way through it in the three months I was there, and then again, when I went back for another three months. Every recipe was unique, simple and thoughtful, not to mention the beautiful photography and lessons she taught about seasonal cooking.

So, as we were looking towards our grand opening, I knew that I needed a little help to put together truly Tuscan meals for such a special event. That’s when I started my correspondence with Tessa. She was happy to give me input, suggestions, and even serving ideas. It was a joy to learn from such a great master.

Her travels have taken her all over the world. She was born in London to a Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father. She has worked in restaurants and with families in London, Sydney, Mexico and Athens – and chose to work with people who really inspired her. They were mentors in her journey through the world of food. On a trip to Italy to study the language and food, she met her husband, and together they have two beautiful daughters.
In 2016 she won the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Book of the Year in food and travel.

Tessa is delighted to be sharing this recipe for Easter with us from her new cookbook ‘Provence to Pondicherry‘ published by Quadrille, Gigot d’Agneau aux Anchois (Leg of Lamb with Anchovies). Photo courtesy of Manos Chadzikonstantis.

“I have such a lovely memory of eating this deep in the countryside one sunny day, under a huge tree that provided shade for the masses…It is good served with a potato gratin or a vegetable tian. Braised artichokes are also very good served either as as starter to this or one side.”

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Leg of Lamb with Anchovies
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
75minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, anchovies, rosemary and thyme leaves with 2 T. of the oil. Drizzle 3 T. of the oil into the base of a not too large roasting pan that will fit the lamb and tomatoes.
  2. Make 3 incisions, about 3/4 in. deep, on each side of the lamb. Stuff the herb mixture into the incisions and rub all over the lamb. Rub the surface with a little salt (not too much as the anchovies are salty) and a generous grinding of pepper, then put the lamb in the baking dish, presentation side down.
  3. Surround the lamb with the tomatoes. Lightly sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle with the last tablespoon of oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the lamb is golden and the tomatoes are starting to look gooey.
  4. Turn the lamb over, move the tomatoes around if necessary and check that nothing is burning. Add 1/2 c. of the wine, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and roast for a further 30 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining wine to ensure that the sauce around the lamb is jammy and tomatoes are not blackening and roast for a final 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how well done you want the lamb, and on the size of the leg of lamb. I like this dish with the meat cooked through, and with a jammy, gooey sauce.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb and tomatoes to a platter and serve warm.

West African Peanut Stew

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. After all, we are Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen, and these kitchens extend far and wide, all over the world. Tables that welcome the “Stranger as Christ”, kitchens that “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence taught, and communities that are built by hospitality, love and prayer. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity.

Mepkin Abbey is a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and were founded in 1098 in Citeaux, France, from which we get our name “Cistercian.” As Trappists we are a cloistered contemplative community, worshipping God by chanting the psalms daily and seeking God in silence and solitude. Mepkin Abbey was founded in 1949 from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, the first Trappist abbey in America founded in 1848 from France.

We have the tradition of eating simple meatless meals. The recipes in “Food for Thought” are chosen with the eye to healthy, easy to prepare meals that met the needs of our tradition and satisfy hard working monks. Good healthy food contributes to the mindfulness of God that we seek as we give thanks for all God has provided us.

Lent is a special time, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday our main meal consists of bread and water. And in the evenings the brothers share a time of sacred reading of the Lenten book they chose, which was given in ceremony to each one by Father Abbot.

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West African Peanut Stew
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the stock, sweet potatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium low so the soup bubbles gently.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, kale, beans and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till potatoes and kale are tender.
  5. Stir in peanut butter and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.

To Order “Food for Thought”, call Mepkin Abbey at 843-761-8509, prompt #2, for the Gift Shop.

Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Leeks

Whole grains have firmly established a prominent place in today’s overall diet, and are continuing to grow in acceptance and popularity. Once a taste for them has been acquired, less textured, more refined grains often have less appeal. Years ago when I first sampled wild rice I was not at all eager to have it again. Last night when it was served for dinner, I immediately wanted a second helping.

During this time of Lent, when many people choose to eat less meat, and have simpler meals, it can be a good time to introduce more grains into the menu such as this flavorful combination of wild rice with mushrooms and leeks.

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Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Leeks
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1.5hrs
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1 hrs45 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add 5 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and the wild rice.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the rice is tender. Drain well.
  4. Place the drained rice in a bowl, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the scallions, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper.
  5. Slice mushrooms, cut up leeks to similar size as mushrooms.
  6. Sauté both in just enough olive oil to brown.
  7. Stir into rice. Add wine and heat all together till hot.
  8. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Healthy Granola, Homemade Yogurt and Fresh Berry Parfaits

Our monastery houses a dairy with two lovely Guernsey cows. We often have a surplus of milk, so one great thing we’ve learned how to do (with relatively little work or energy) is to make “crock pot yogurt.” I read about it, but didn’t really believe it would work until I actually tried it. It’s fabulous, easy, inexpensive to make, and tastes better than store-bought yogurt! We also make our own granola — you can purchase that through our gift shop, Priory Books and Gifts, or make your own. I’m not allowed to divulge our secret granola recipe, but will share one that I like equally as well. This breakfast dish is one we serve regularly to our guests at Bethany or those who come on retreat. Since we make our own yogurt, granola and jam, it really is a signature “home grown” go-to breakfast. You can easily make it yourself for a quick and healthy breakfast that’s full of protein.

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Granola, Yogurt and Berry Parfaits
SERVINGS
4parfaits
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
parfaits
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
15mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a glass or parfait dish, layer in the following order: 1/4 cup granola, 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup of mixed berries, 2 Tbsp warmed jam
  2. Repeat Layers

Oranges for St. Benedict’s Day

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. After all, we are Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen, and these kitchens extend far and wide, all over the world. Tables that welcome the “Stranger as Christ”, kitchens that “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence taught, and communities that are built by hospitality, love and prayer. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity.

This week’s guest blog post comes from Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, a Benedictine monk who lives at Our Lady of the Resurrection monastery in Lagrangeville, New York. He is also an internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of several cookbooks. He is also the author of a new book from Paraclete Press, Christ the Merciful.

The son of man came eating and drinking . . .
– Matthew 11:19

The quote above was one of Dorothy Day’s favorites from the Gospels. It reminds us that Christ, in the fullness of His humanity, partook of food and drink and gave us Himself under the auspices of bread and wine.

These thoughts are on our mind as we prepare a simple dessert for the anniversary of the death of Saint Benedict on March 21. Known as the Transitus of Saint Benedict, this is the day that monks and nuns celebrate his birthday in heaven. During evening vespers we hear the story of how he prepared himself for the passage into the next life by receiving communion. Then, with the assistance of some of his monks, he positioned himself in the form of the cross to die like his savior. He insisted on remaining in an upright position with his arms extended in prayer until his final breath.

Saint Benedict is considered the founder of Western monasticism. In this humble dish we celebrate his life while maintaining his Rule of simplicity and moderation in all things.

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Oranges for St. Benedict’s Day
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
25–30minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut the oranges evenly in half and, using a spoon, carefully remove the pulp from the inside, keeping the shells intact. Remove the seeds and cut the pulp into tiny pieces. Place in a deep bowl.
  3. Add the candied fruit kirsch, and sugar to the orange pulp. Mix well and fill the orange shells with this mixture.
  4. Bake for 25–30 minutes. Serve warm.

christ-the-merciful-book-cover-2

French Onion Soup

Recently a friend drove me to a medical appointment. As we left to return home she asked, “How about lunch?” This had not been in the plans but it was lunchtime and a nice suggestion so I said, “Sure.” The next question was what did we feel like having: a burger, a taco, pizza, Chinese? None of them moved either of us, so I offered another idea, “Further on there is a nice little French bakery that serves lunch, if you wouldn’t mind driving an extra bit.”

Within minutes both of us were savoring the richest flavored onion soup out of individual black wrought iron pots overflowing with melted cheese and boasting a gorgeous golden crusted crouton. Almost simultaneously, we both had the same thought: Why don’t I ever make this at home? Within days she made it for her family and the convent sisters served it for two different retreats. In each case it met with overwhelmingly positive responses.

How long has it been since you served French onion soup?

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French Onion Soup
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1hour, 45 minutes
PREP TIME
20minutes
READY IN
2hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, slowly brown the onions and garlic in butter and sugar until the onions are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cook, stirring for 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Add stock or consommé and water, and simmer partially covered for 1 hour.
  5. To serve, place a small slice of French bread on top of each bowl, and cover generously with Swiss cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then bake covered at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.