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.
When I was a child, there was a peacock that used to strut through the back yard of my great-grandmother’s house. He would time his performance perfectly; as soon as all of us were gathered at the window, he would throw his head back, arch his feathers into a magnificent fan, and do a little pirouette as graceful as a king. It is like this with figs — they must be showcased.
I can’t pass up a fresh fig in a grocery store, especially when I’m doing holiday baking. Our local grocer had a nice selection of figs this past week, and I thought they would make a handsome and tasty dessert for a holiday luncheon we were preparing. Flamboyant as they are with their velvety exterior and intricate, seed-filled interior, they beg to be shown off.
The marriage of figs, mascarpone, and walnuts makes a fabulous winter dessert, and I would recommend this one for any dinner party. You can make the tart shells ahead and freeze them. When you are ready to use them, fill them while still frozen, and they will thaw in time for dessert. Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of your meal. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color, and are plump and tender, but not mushy.
Fresh Fig, Walnut and Mascarpone Tart
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy for 3 minutes, using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom occasionally. Add the flour and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, about one minute (don’t over mix). Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (or up to 4 days).
- Remove from refrigerator and let soften until pliable. Flour your work surface so dough does not stick, and sprinkle the top of dough with a little flour. Roll out dough, starting in middle and rolling outward, to a 1/4 inch thick disk or rectangle, depending on your tart pan.
- Don’t worry if dough tears or crumbles, it’s easily pressed together in the tart pan. Lift over the rolling pin and place in tart pan with removable bottom. Patch holes or tears by pressing dough with fingers. Press dough into sides, corners and bottom. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tart pin for a clean even edge. Refrigerate 30 minutes -this is important.
- Bake at 350 for 30 -35 minutes, positioned in the center of the oven, until golden. Be sure to keep a careful eye so that it doesn’t over cook. If using individual tart pans, these will take about 12 min. to bake. Let cool before filling.
- While these are baking, spread your walnuts onto a sheet pan and toast in the oven – once you smell them, remove them, they will be done!
- Put the jam in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds until the jam is of a more spreadable consistency. Add the brandy, a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Spread this over the bottom of the tart shell (s) but not up the sides. Let cool.
- In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, whisk together the mascarpone, whipping cream, vanilla, powdered sugar and salt until soft peaks form. Be careful, especially if you are using an electric mixer, because the mixture will thicken very quickly.
- Spread this mixture over the fig jam leaving about 1/4 “ of space of the jam showing on the edges, so not completely covering the jam base.
- Decorate the top w/ some toasted walnuts mounded in the center, a couple of quartered figs and right before serving, drizzle with some light honey.
If making ahead, have your components ready but don’t assemble until close to serving time.