Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)

​With the holidays​ just​ around the corner, you might be looking for a new and unusual crowd-pleasing side dish to wow your guests. This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes, introduced to me by Tessa Kiros in her wonderful cookbook: Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book. She introduces the readers to the twelve months of Tuscan cooking and seasonal ingredients. When I’ve served at our mission house in Tuscany, I would cook through this book and this recipe became one of our house favorites. As Tessa says, “pastry-less baked vegetable pies are very common and are made with various vegetables depending on the season, such as green beans, artichokes and spinach.” You can also use broccoli in place of cauliflower.

We just served this last night for the opening to our Gregorian Chant Retreat and received great compliments. This would make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table. If you want to make it gluten free, just substitute gluten free flour for all purpose flour in the the béchamel sauce.

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Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 3​50 degrees/ Wash the cauliflower and trim away the hard stem. Put it into a pot of boiling salted water and boil for about 10 min. or until it has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, make the béchamel​ ​​sauce:
    1) Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add shallots (if using) and sauté 2 minutes. Do not let brown.

    2) Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaf and cook until just thickened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

    3) Stir in nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Cool sauce slightly. Discard bay leaf before using.
  3. Drain the cauliflower and​ chop it up finely or roughly puree it. Put into a bowl and mix in the eggs, 2 cups béchamel​,​ parmesan cheese, a grating of fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, adjusting if necessary. Mix well with wooden spoon.
  4. Butter an oven dish or loaf pan and sprinkle with half of the breadcrumbs to line the pan, shaking away the excess (use gluten free breadcrumbs if making gluten free). Pour in the mixture and sprinkle the surface with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake for 30-40 min. in the hot oven, until the top is golden and slightly crusty. Serve warm.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

On our return from town yesterday we were driving down Rock Harbor Road when suddenly, without any notice, up from a woodsy space alongside of the road emerged a huge dark wild turkey. With his enormous tail fully outspread he “took” the stage strutting across the road, with great pomp and confidence. Everyone gasped and our driver jammed on the brakes just in time to avoid running into the rest of the family of 8, which followed the man of the family in very deliberate and perfectly choreographed form.

A not so subtle reminder to start preparing for the holiday ahead!

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Fresh Cranberry Relish
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
10mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
15mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Fit a food processor with the center blade, and chop up the cranberries. The pieces should resemble minced cranberry. Put aside in a bowl.
  2. Put the orange half—including the peel—in the processor and chop it as with the cranberries and add this to the bowl of processed cranberries.
  3. Add the sugar (or Jello mix) and stir well to combine.
  4. Put relish in a bowl and cover tightly in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve this and colorful relish with turkey, chicken or ham this holiday season—a fresh and easy sidekick to any holiday table!

Asparagus Cordon Bleu

​With all the meals we were serving in quick succession over this past weekend, we looked for a few vegetable recipes that could easily be prepared ahead but still maintain their beauty and freshness. We were so happy with the results of this asparagus dish. It was definitely a keeper – perfect for Christmas or even Easter! Never too early to start planning ahead! Asparagus Cordon Bleu is easy and a lovely addition for a dinner party or any holiday. It can be easily assembled in advance and popped in the oven shortly before serving.

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Asparagus Cordon Bleu
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
35mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking dish by brushing with melted butter or olive oil
  2. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the asparagus into the salted water. Cook 15-30 seconds or until asparagus turns bright green. Remove and immediately drop into the ice bath. Let cool thoroughly then pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Divide the asparagus into six even bundles. Wrap each in the prosciutto and place in the prepared baking dish.
  4. Top with grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 10-15 min. until cheese is melted
  6. Meanwhile, combine butter and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the cheese. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Can be prepared 24 hours in advance. Assemble and refrigerate. When ready to bake, preheat oven and bake per directions, holding panko to add later.

Recipe adapted from achefskitchen.com

Ginger Pear Chutney

“Nothing that’s been given to us should ever be allowed to go to waste.” This has been a strong emphasis in the sisterhood from its earliest days. “No apple drop that has any edible part should be tossed. It should be turned into applesauce or butter.”

One convent sister in particular has a strong passion for turning all of our imperfect fruits into creative preserves. All summer long we have enjoyed a variety of jams and spreads on our breakfast toast, and occasional desserts. Plums, nectarines, peaches, apples have each in their season made their appearance in different forms.

But perhaps the choicest of all was the rich creation that appeared this week and disappeared within days. Made with the last of our pears and laced with rich bourbon this superb pear chutney elevated an already elegant pork loin roast into a spectacular sensation. Yesterday’s lunch cook served it alongside of ham and swiss pinwheels—always a favorite just as they are on their own…over the top with this enhancement!

It suddenly occurs to me that little jars of this would make choice Christmas gifts. Give it a try and see what you think.

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Ginger Pear Chutney
SERVINGS
6-7pint jars
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pint jars
COOK TIME
1 hr30 mins
PREP TIME
45mins
READY IN
2 hrs15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot. A Dutch oven or a cast iron pot works well.
  2. Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve as a condiment on the side, warm on pork or chicken, or dress up a deli ham sandwich. Enjoy!

Fairy Tale Eggplant Fans

This lovely and simple dish can be made with any size of eggplant! The inspiration for this dish came from a Facebook recipe video (with Russian directions) shared on Facebook by Peter Jermihov, the conductor for the recently released All Night Vigil, a collaborative recording between our choir, Gloriæ Dei Cantores, and members of three additional choirs. Facebook and Pinterest offer a wonderful way to connect with friends and to find recipes from different countries and cultures.

At this time of year, our garden is bursting with mini eggplants. Earlier in the season at planting time we received a donation of seeds for this specialty vegetable and it has indeed been a bumper crop. This dish can be prepared with a single eggplant for a personal size serving, or in a cast iron or ovenproof dish for a family as you see below. You may enjoy watching the video below which offers three additional ways to serve eggplant. Although the directions are in Russian, the pictures are universal! Once you have made the dish, you may want to share your picture with your Facebook fans and friends!

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Fairy Tale Eggplant Fans
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Starting at the thin end of the eggplant, slice each eggplant into 5 or more slices, leaving the eggplant connected at the top, to make a ‘fan.’
  3. Place several tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the skillet or dish and arrange the eggplant in a pinwheel pattern (see photo!).
  4. Slice buffalo or regular mozzarella thinly and place between each eggplant slice.
  5. Slice tomato thinly and add that to the mozzarella between each eggplant slice.
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper over whole dish. Fresh basil (chop or chiffonade) can be added here if desired.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over the dish.
  8. Sprinkle shredded parmesan over entire dish.
  9. Bake at 400 for 15 - 25 minutes or until eggplant is soft and cooked through.

Garden Herb Focaccia Bread

It was 45 minutes till dinnertime, and we were in pretty good shape toward getting the meal completed and served on time (barring any unforeseen circumstances). No sooner had I had this thought, than one of our number spoke up excitedly and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to add fresh baked bread to the dinner?”

“Oh NO!” was my immediate response.

Provide fresh baked bread for 63 people in 45 minutes! I felt like one of the disciples when Jesus told them to feed the hungry multitude with one little boy’s lunch! However, knowing this sister as well as I did, I knew it was no use trying to discourage her from making this happen; once her heart was set on something, nothing was apt to change it, so no one even tried. The result? Fresh baked bread in less than 45 minutes, beautifully golden on the outside and perfectly textured and filled with fresh garden herbs inside…a miracle for all!

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Garden Herb Focaccia Bread
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
35mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water; do not stir.
  3. Let stand 1-2 minutes or until the surface becomes bubbly.
  4. While yeast is bubbling, combine flour and table salt in a large bowl.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Stir with wooden spoon or mixer, and add remaining 1/4 cup.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes, adding small spoonfuls of flour if necessary.
  8. Spread dough into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place (low oven, heating pad) 10-15 minutes.
  9. Let rise in a warm place- about 80-85 degrees - until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
  10. Using the end of a wooden spoon, indent the dough every 1-2 inches.
  11. Combine remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil and herbs until leaves are broken up and oil is fragrant.
  12. Pour over dough. Rub gently into surface. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  13. Bake 10-12 minutes, in a 375 degree oven.
  14. Let cool and cut into wedges.

Note: The speed of this bread is due to the quick rising in a warm place. I like using the oven light or a heating pad. If you don't have a warm place, no problem, just let it rise more slowly on your kitchen counter.