So requested a lady on Personal Retreat in our guesthouse. To be honest, I actually was planning something a little more elaborate such as zucchini lasagna, Caesar salad, and herb-buttered Italian bread. But I replied, “Of course!” and conceived a plan. As I picked fresh lettuce from our kitchen’s “Chef's Garden”, ideas came– what about fried eggplant and deviled eggs to add a special little touch! Some avocado slices, sliced ham or chicken, olives, cherry tomatoes.
Once again, the Holy Spirit came alongside and brought ideas fresh and new. Our retreatant was very blessed…as was I!
Just a Light Lunch Today, Please!
- Lay a slice of eggplant on paper towel and sprinkle with salt on both sides. After a few minutes, press with the paper towel to extract any excess moisture
- Beat the egg with a fork and a little water, thoroughly immerse the eggplant slice
- Dredge the slice in bread/panko crumbs while heating butter and oil in frying pan
- When butter mixture is hot, add eggplant and fry until soft and golden brown; lower heat if
necessary so as not to get too brown too fast – about 10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel
- Place 2 eggs in boiling water, boiling for 10 minutes
- Cool under cold water and peel
- Gently slice in half, and carefully remove yolks, placing in a bowl and crush with a fork; the extra egg is good to have for more yolk filling
- Add mayonnaise and mustard, more if needed, mix until creamy and smooth
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!
Fresh Ricotta Blueberry Ice Cream
- Lay blueberries out on a tray and place in the freezer.
- Blend ricotta, cream cheese, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Add lime zest & heavy cream. Blend until just combined.
- 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.
Huevos Rancheros – Spanish for Ranch Eggs – has long been a favorite breakfast treat of mine. If you’re someone who likes to add a little “kick” to your food, this is the recipe for you. We recently made this for one of our small retreats – eggs, black beans, salsa and cheese sweetly nestled in a flour tortilla in one of our new pottery ramekins that we got by saving “stamps” at our local grocery store. There is nothing like eating comfort food on a cold winter’s day, and this one will warm you from the insides out. Easy to prepare for a crowd or just a few people with very little prep. We hope you enjoy this.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush six 10-ounce ramekins with 1 tablespoon oil or spray with PAM. If the tortillas aren't pliable, stack them and microwave uncovered until warm and flexible, about 20 seconds.
- Brush tortillas with the olive oil or spray with PAM and gently press 1 tortilla into each cup.
- Place 1 tablespoon of black beans in the bottom of each ramekin, followed by 1 tablespoon of salsa. Gently crack 1 egg into each tortilla cup atop the salsa and beans. Spoon another tablespoon of black beans over followed by a bit of salsa and chopped scallions and liberally cover each with cheese - making sure to cover the egg completely.
- Bake uncovered until egg whites are set, about 15-20 minutes (yolks will still be soft inside).
- Serve immediately topped with a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions - serve tabasco on the side, if desired.
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.
Granola, Yogurt and Berry Parfaits
- 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
- Repeat Layers
Here at the Convent we love to give attention to birthdays, be they big or little. Last week I had a very BIG one (85!) and it was celebrated in a very big way, especially featuring an abundance of beautiful spring flowers and fabulous food — two of my main passions.
The day was launched with an outstanding brunch including many of the old favorites I’d used over the years for guests, retreats and special events. This Swiss Omelet Roll was a specialty that brought back many memories, and made for much meaningful conversation as we re-lived the occasions when it was served.
Swiss Omelet Roll with Mustard Sauce
- Combine mayonnaise and flour.
- Gradually add milk and beaten egg yolks; cook, stirring constantly over low heat until thickened.
- Remove from heat; cool 15 minutes.
- Fold mayonnaise mixture and seasonings into stiffly beaten egg whites.
- Pour into 15 ½" x 10 ½" jelly roll pan lined with wax paper, brushed with mayonnaise.
- Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
- Invert pan on towel; carefully remove wax paper.
- Cover with combined ham, cheese, and green onion.
- Roll from narrow end, lifting with towel while rolling.
- Combine sauce ingredients; mix well.
- Serve omelet seam down; top with mustard sauce.
- Garnish with watercress (or parsley) and tomato slices.