About Gourmet Nun

There are actually two of us under the title of "Gourmet Nun!" One of us came at age 13, the other in her 30s. We have been sisters for 43 and 38 years respectively. One of use came with her mother (who felt called to this community), the other drove down in a red Carmen Ghia, leaving behind a job in a flower shop in Boston. Between us we have almost a century of cooking experience (that actually sounds kind of frightening!) having cooked since we were young. We have been in choir, wind ensemble, orchestra, painted, made quilts and both have been or are executive chefs in our events kitchen. We both love food; but especially the relationship between hospitality and the dining room, the Eucharistic table and the banquet table. Nothing makes either of us happier than a well-planned and well-executed meal that speaks of the love of God.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake

For years, rhubarb has long been one of my favorite fruits. Always a bit of a wild child in the fruit family (since most people don’t have any idea what to do with it), I’ve loved it since I was a kid and always looked forward to my mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie – which I deemed ‘the best!’ When we moved to New England back in 1981, my great grandmother (who embodied Tasha Tudor) gave us her heirloom rhubarb plant to take with us. After 37 years, it’s still thriving in my mother’s garden!

This Mother’s Day, I decided to ‘pay it forward’ with a pie for mom and then my creative juices got going when, after delivering the pie, I left with a huge bag of freshly picked rhubarb from Grandma’s plant! So, next came this old fashioned pudding cake. Eaten warm, straight out of the dish, or with a squirt of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, it is melt-in-your-mouth goodness that will keep you going back for more. Super simple and quick to make, it’s the perfect go-to dessert for company or to make for your family after a long day. It can be made gluten free as well. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
40-45mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
55-60mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cover the bottom of a buttered glass 8 or 9 inch square pan with rhubarb and strawberries.
  2. Mix 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, extracts, milk and flour together and pour over fruit. Mix remaining sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over mixture in pan. Pour boiling water over the top- this will create a wonderful pudding around the fruit in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or bubbly and golden.
  4. You can see that the sugar topping creates a glaze on the top of the cake, something like a creme brulee, as well as creating the pudding at the bottom. Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream or whipped cream, or let it cool a bit, slice and invert on your plate to show off the pudding. You may also substitute a gluten free flour blend for the flour - you may need to adjust the cooking time.

Vegetarian Frittata

This week we continue with vegetarian recommendations, and this one is gluten free as well. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a good friend of ours from “Across the Pond.” While our guest was not strictly vegetarian, we planned meals that were loaded with fresh produce and light on meat–and this vegetarian Frittata fit the bill!

Loaded with sauteed vegetables including a fistful of baby spinach, this dish is as versatile as you need it to be, easily adaptable for the breakfast, lunch or brunch table. A mini cast iron pan worked well as an individual serving and looked light-as-air still hot from the oven. Topped with cheese and garden chive, this just might make another appearance on our guest table this spring and summer!

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Vegetarian Frittata
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler and heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet*
  2. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the bell pepper and zucchini cooking until tender.
  3. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and egg whites, adding the salt and pepper and pour into the pan with the vegetables.
  5. Reduce heat and stir until vegetables and eggs are combined. Keep over heat until the egg has set on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and remove the pan from the heat and finish under the broiler. Cook under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.
  7. Garnish with fresh chive and serve immediately.

Get creative! Not only can this dish feature at breakfast, lunch and brunch, you can add or substitute other vegetables such as mushrooms and tomatoes and fresh herbs.

*We used a mini 6" cast iron pan in our preparation. If serving more people, a 10" skillet works well.

Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

As cooks in Bethany Guest House, we love to spend time whenever possible, coming up with new creative recipes. We’re also finding that more and more of our guests are trying to eat healthier or have dietary restrictions. This adds to the challenge but also to the fun. Sometimes we work with inspiring gourmet type recipes– and often we find that some of the time honored meals of past years can also be very satisfying and delicious.

Today​, I was preparing a light lunch for one of our guests who is a vegetarian​. After a little hunting around for something new and different– I thought — ​”​Wait! ​W​hat about a ​Mushroom​ and ​​S​pinach Quiche​?”​ It was a big hit​!​

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Vegetarian Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
SERVINGS
2servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
40mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

Pie Crust
  1. Cut the Crisco into the flour mixture until it is small and crumbly.
  2. Sprinkle the water in, lightly tossing / mixing it into the flour mixture. Toss in enough water, just until the mixture starts to hold together—no more water than what is necessary.
  3. Take 1/3 of the mixture, form into a ball, and gently roll out, lining a 6” pyrex pie plate (or the entire mixture for a 9” pie plate)
Quiche
  1. Lightly sauté onion until soft, then brown the sliced mushrooms. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs with cream, salt and seasonings. Add the grated cheese, mushrooms and spinach. Gently mix, pour into pie shell and lay tomato slice on top.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes; when checking for doneness, it should be firm when jiggled a little and a dinner knife should come clean when tested.

* For a regular 9” pie plate, use all of the pie crust dough and double the recipe for the quiche

If not making a vegetarian quiche, add bits of cooked bacon or pieces of ham

Edible Crudité Garden

Last night I encountered one of our sisters leaving the convent to attend a special baby shower that was to take place that day. She had in her hands a tray of the most exquisitely decorated mini cupcakes. I was very impressed by their beauty and the precision with which they had so carefully been decorated.

Late this afternoon I once again ran into the same sister. This time she was returning from the same baby shower with something even more impressive than the cupcakes I had seen going there earlier. In her hands she carried this little edible garden. It took my breath away.  I was completely taken aback as I looked carefully at the little rows of miniature vegetables “planted” in a garden of humus that was topped with..toasted rye bread crumbs. It was absolutely charming…so much so no one wanted disrupt it to eat it  because they wanted all the sisters at the convent to see it.  

The person who made it for the shower was thrilled to find it as she flipped through the April 2018 issue of the Food Network magazine.  Click here to see the original photo and ‘recipe’ for the edible garden entitled “Veggie Crudité Patch”.

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Edible Crudité Garden
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Ingredients

Instructions

The World’s Best Sticky Buns

Nothing delights the Sisters more than warm, gooey sticky buns straight out of the oven on a Sunday morning. This year, we had the wonderful opportunity to offer baked goods to our community for Easter morning. We spent a good part of the weekend preparing over 50 pans of sticky buns. This year, I came up with a new recipe that we all decided was probably the very best sticky buns we have ever eaten. The comments back to us confirmed this was true. Even though I’d like to keep this recipe a secret, I thought we’d share it with you.

You won’t regret surprising your loved ones with these wonderfully fluffy and sinfully delicious breakfast treats! They are wonderful to eat year ’round!

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The World's Best Sticky Buns
SERVINGS
24sticky buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
sticky buns
COOK TIME
2hrs
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
2 hrs30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

For the Dough:
  1. Dissolve yeast in very warm water and let sit for 5 mins
  2. Add ingredients in order listed above.
  3. Add flour (dough will be slightly sticky, but should pull away from side of bowl).
  4. Mix together the yeast dough, cover and let rise, until doubled in size in a warm, draft free place (approx.1 - 1 1/2 hrs) or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator)
Assemble:
  1. For the filling: Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. Divide in half, setting aside half the caramel for the filling.
  2. Using three 9-inch cake pans that have been sprayed with Pam, equally divide the rest of the caramel topping over the bottom of the pans. Scatter the pecans or walnuts over the caramel mixture and set aside.
  3. Dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough in thirds. Roll out the dough to a ⅛ -inch thick rectangle (around 20 inches long). As you roll out the dough, make sure there is enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface
  4. Divide the remaining caramel mixture into thirds and evenly spread it over the rolled out dough leaving 1 inch around the edge of the dough without the filling.
  5. Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. Roll it over until the seam is underneath. Pinch the seam together with your fingers
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 ½ -2 inch rolls.. Arrange the rolls over the nuts in the prepared pan, so that the swirled cut edge is facing upward.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
  8. Cover the tin with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. During this time they will rise up to meet the tin and becoming bubbly.
  9. Once proofed, place the rolls on a baking sheet covered with parchment, in case the caramel bubbles over.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 F and bake for roughly 35- 40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm in the center.
  11. While still hot, run a thin spatula around the outer edge of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. Enjoy warm!

Challah Bread

This year Good Friday and the start of Passover were on the same day—-a rare occurrence given the difference between the Gregorian calendar used by most Western countries and the lunar calendar observed by the Jewish faith. Indeed, the Seder plate used during the first night of Passover tells the dramatic story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and includes reminders of their captivity: bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery, haroset which is a reminder of the mortar used between bricks, a shank bone to remember the Passover sacrifice and an egg which represents the new life promised to them after the Red Sea crossing.

Borrowing from our Jewish roots, our own Good Friday dinner was a cross-section of the Judeo-Christian traditions that mark this holy season of the year. Beginning with a candle lighting and blessing at 6:45—the official start of the eight-day Passover festival—and continuing with the meal which included some dishes found at a traditional Passover Seder table including Matzo ball soup, roasted chicken (with haroset stuffing), marinated green beans, Israeli couscous and tabouleh salad. Also gracing our table was one of our year-round favorites: fresh Challah bread baked that afternoon. While Challah—and dishes containing yeast—are not eaten during Passover, we couldn’t help ourselves! This braided bread is so delicious and beautiful to look at and made an honorary appearance on our Good Friday Passover table. Best when eaten fresh, this versatile bread is also wonderful toasted the next morning day. Try out the recipe below and see for yourself!

With wishes for a joyful conclusion for the Passover and Easter seasons, we look forward to the promise of new life this spring!

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Challah Bread
SERVINGS
3loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1 hr15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine the first three ingredients to dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 5 min. or until foamy.
  2. Add the next 4 ingredients and then the flour and salt, adding as much flour as you need for the dough to start pulling away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl, turn over once, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.
  5. Divide dough into 9 balls and roll each ball into a “rope” using your hands.
  6. Braid 3 ropes together into 1 braided loaf of bread and continue with the other 6 ropes, making 3 loaves in all.
  7. Let the bread rise again.
  8. Make an egg wash and brush on the bread and bake in a 325º oven until golden and cooked through, about 30 min.