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Since the 1970’s, we have prepared hundreds (if not thousands!) of meals here at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod, and at our mission house, Villa Via Sacra, in Barga, Italy. We believe that food nourishes body, soul, and spirit, and that even the simplest meal, prepared with love, can change your life. At the heart of our call to kitchen and table lie the words of Saint Benedict: “Welcome all as Christ.” This premise has led us on many culinary adventures, which we now gladly share with you!

Harvest Muffins

There’s a crispness to the air, a welcome relief to the humidity and heat of our 2018 Cape Cod summer! This past Saturday, our entire community joined in a “beehive” of activity as we
tackled a daunting list of tasks and projects, left in the wake of a busy summer. Digging out attic spaces, weeding gardens, scrubbing the bell tower floor, getting the barn clean and ready to house animals for winter, and cooking meals ahead for an upcoming choir recording were some of the projects accomplished last weekend. But it was also the beginning of harvest time. We culled apples and pears and gratefully recognized what a bountiful harvest it was going to be. The Sisterhood celebrated with brunch on Sunday. And since I was “in the mood,” I whipped up some ingredient-packed muffins that had all the essence of Fall – complete with cinnamon!

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Harvest Muffins
SERVINGS
20muffins (approx.)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
muffins (approx.)
COOK TIME
20-25mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
35mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease muffin cups with non-stick spray and line with muffin papers
  3. Beat eggs, oil, orange zest and vanilla in a bowl to blend
  4. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl
  5. Separately, mix carrots, zucchini, apple, raisins, coconut, and almonds together - add the egg and oil mixture
  6. Sift flour mixture into the vegetable mixture and mix all together by hand until well blended.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup with one scoop of batter.
  8. Bake until center of muffin springs back to touch - about 20-25 min.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tomato, Peach and Basil Flatbread

Flipping through a folder of collected food photos and recipes, my eye was captured by one that looked like a pizza—and yet it wasn’t.  

Here was a  bright combination of fresh fruit and vegetables, specifically sliced tomatoes and peaches on a flatbread topped with a mixture of ricotta and parmesan cheese.  What fun! With no recipe to follow, I launched into producing it on my own until I later found it written up in the June issue of “Cooking Light.”

If you’re looking for  a fun food that’s quick, easy, tastes great and is still healthy you will want to try this. Enjoy!

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Tomato, Peach and Basil Flatbread
SERVINGS
8servings (serving= 2 slices)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings (serving= 2 slices)
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
20mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill on medium high heat.
  2. Using a whisk, mix the ricotta, onion salt, oregano, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Brush both sides of the Naan bread with oil and grill each side for 2 minutes and remove from grill.
  4. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the top, arranging the tomatoes, peaches and basil leaves as desired.
  5. Cut each naan into 8 slices and arrange on a plate to serve.

Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice Cream

Our community is blessed with two dairy cows, and we enjoy fresh milk and yogurt each week!
Sometimes we make ricotta for upscale recipes. My favorite? Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice cream.

Last week, after enjoying delicious fresh ricotta, ham, and melon salad, I spotted some extra ricotta and remembered a recipe for ricotta ice cream. A friend from a nearby farm with blueberry bushes had invited us to pick berries earlier in the week, so our refrigerator also had a bucket overflowing with beautiful fresh blueberries. The ricotta, blueberries, and kosher salt turned out to be a delicious combination, but of course, this basic homemade ice cream recipe can be adjusted to include your favorite ingredients. At the last minute, I decided to add lime zest to this recipe — Blueberry Lime Jam is one of the favorites from the Monastery Kitchen line, so I thought that combination would be especially tasty. It’s also the season for fresh mint, which is a lovely garnish along with fresh blueberries.

Making homemade ice cream can seem daunting, but with an ice cream maker, it’s quite easy. The ingredients directly are mixed, placed in the ice cream maker for 30 – 60 minutes, then frozen for several more hours, or overnight in the freezer. This particular recipe was made to celebrate an exciting event, and would be perfect for a summer dessert for any special occasion!

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Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice Cream
SERVINGS
2quarts
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
quarts
COOK TIME
30-45mins (plus freezing time)
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Lay blueberries out on a tray and place in the freezer.
  2. Blend ricotta, cream cheese, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Add lime zest & heavy cream. Blend until just combined.
  3. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions. Blend in frozen blueberries. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Scoop and enjoy!

Also - nuts, candied citrus peeled or chopped chocolate can be added, as well as fresh mint and blueberries for garnish.

Caramelized Tomato Bruschetta

“Sr. Irene, you just have to taste this!” came a cry from the kitchen. One of our special event cooks had just tried out a new appetizer for an upcoming reception. I could tell from the sound of her voice she was quite happy with it.

“Be there in a minute,” I responded, unable to leave just then. The next day one of the kitchen sisters asked, “Wasn’t that new appetizer just the best?”

Oh no! How could I have forgotten? I chastened myself, vowing to get to the kitchen before the end of the day. When I finally arrived with much embarrassment and was able to locate and ravenously devour the one and only “Tasting Sample” that was left, I could only groan. The caramelized tomato bruschetta with fresh garden pesto was beyond delicious. Why oh why didn’t I get myself there the moment I was first called!

A savory twist on a summer classic, this bruschetta is a great way to enjoy both fresh garden tomatoes and basil!

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Caramelized Tomato Bruschetta
SERVINGS
8-12servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
35mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet or sheet pan and roast in the oven until tomatoes turn a light to medium brown and the sugar is visually caramelized.
  4. While tomatoes are roasting, brush the flat bread with oil and spread the pesto overtop, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  5. When tomatoes are finished, carefully remove them from the pan and arrange on top of the pesto and cheese. This is a delicate process as the tomatoes are likely to fall apart after roasting.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and enjoy a taste of summer!

Vegetarian Cauliflower Steaks

A Recipe You’ve “Bean” Waiting For!

We want to be sure that vegetarian meals are provided for our guests or those attending events that prefer them. But often I simply enjoy just experimenting with fresh, garden ingredients. Here’s a new dish that is both vegetarian and gluten free. It also contain legumes – a wonderful and healthy source of protein. With lovely vegetables being harvested from our gardens, why not be creative? A friend in our community was my taste tester and she told me she couldn’t wait for me to post this recipe. It has all the flavors of summer with the basil, tomato and lemon. Buon appetito!

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Vegetarian Cauliflower Steaks
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut a head of cauliflower into 1/2 inch ‘steaks’ from top to bottom
  2. Put cauliflower on a parchment lined tray and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with onion salt. Roast at 425 degrees F for 35 min or until golden brown and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to a sauté pan and heat. Add diced red onion and sauté over medium low heat until soft. Add the garlic, parsley, basil and tomato and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and juice of one lemon and simmer until liquid is reduced. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the legumes and lemon zest - taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. When ready to eat, spoon the bean mixture over your roasted cauliflower steaks and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Serve warm with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil. Enjoy!

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Years ago, we were asked by the local Episcopal church to help them with their annual Devonshire Tea, a lovely traditional English tea served every summer in the church gardens.

The lady who for many years had been responsible for them, met with me to discuss the details. The simple menu consisted of three items: biscuits, coddled cream, and strawberry preserves. Her main concern was the size and shape of the biscuits. To ensure their correctness, she carefully sketched them on a page from her personal notebook and gave the page to me.

The biscuits’ size and shape were of utmost importance! She was certain I would make the cream perfectly, and as far as the preserves were concerned, any I chose would be fine. My choice was a vibrant colored fresh strawberry jam sometimes referred to as “freezer jam”, although none I’ve ever made stayed around long enough to reach the
freezer!

Perfect for the occasion, it met with great applause and added a most beautiful touch to this splendid event.

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Strawberry Freezer Jam
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
5mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25mins (plus 24 hr setting time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. While the strawberries sit, dissolve the pectin into the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and add the salt and lemon juice to the saucepan.
  4. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries and allow to stand for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour jam into containers and let set overnight or for 24 hours.

Enjoy with coddled cream and biscuits or as an ice cream topping, in a milkshake, or on toast...the possibilities are endless!