What encouragement from God as we move through these challenging days! Hope coming up against fear; love and care for one another, binding us together. And often, this can take place in the simplest of ways. Sometimes a group of our Sisters prepares a surprise treat in the middle of a hard day. The sharing of time, generosity, and love in the form of delicious food reminds us of this essential truth: God is Victor over all—He is with us in all circumstances!
I had just finished my evening rituals with Gratsie (my Maine Coon cat) and was about to leave the family room when our guest cook sister entered the room waving her camera at me with a look in her eye that told me she was pleased with something she wanted to show me…
With one innovative idea she had succeeded in transforming our popular summer tart into a Fall/Winter version using apples and cranberries laced with caramel sauce, replacing the usual summer strawberries, peaches and nectarines.
A graceful (and delicious) transition from one season to another with an amazing result! We both smiled as the cat swished her tail, and we all went to bed purring.
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Cran-Apple Compote with Meringue and Caramel Sauce
Separate one egg at a time into a small bowl, letting the white fall into the bowl and discarding the yolk. If there’s any trace of yolk in the white, discard the white and start over. If it’s yolk-free, transfer to a clean medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.
Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan.
Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag (or pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze.
Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner.
Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 2-inch-diameter tarts, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the tarts until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Peel and chop the apples of your choice. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. For this recipe, we used Golden Delicious.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped apples on medium
Add the sugar and seasonings to the apples and cook until fork-tender. Keep an eye on the apples and sugar, reduce heat if needed. The sugar should melt into a consistency similar to syrup. Turn the heat down if sugar starts to caramelize.
Add the whole cranberries and cook a few minutes more until the cranberries start to burst. If you prefer, cook a bit longer to cook the cranberries a little more, adding sugar as necessary, depending on how tart the berries are.
Remove from heat, set aside and arrange the meringues on a plate or serving platter.
Gently heat the caramel sauce and spoon into the center of the meringue, tumbling the Cran-Apple compote on top. Drizzle with extra caramel sauce if desired.
Serve at room-temperature and pair this tangy-sweet seasonal dessert with a steaming cup of tea, coffee or pressed cider!
Serve with your favorite Caramel Sauce!
CRAN-APPLE COMPOTE WITH MERINGUE AND CARAMEL SAUCE
As we finished harvesting all of our winter squash for the season, it only felt appropriate to take a few inside and enjoy a lovely, warm bisque that has all the flavors of fall. By roasting the squash along with all the spices and sugar in this recipe, you’ll bring alive the essential oils buried in them and caramelizing the squash at the same time—achieving a depth of flavor you can’t get by starting this on the stove top.
We are busy bustling around and getting ready for our Arts in Celebration weekend, but remembering how important it is to balance our life with the simple pleasures that God gives us. We do hope you will consider joining us over this next week to experience beauty and the arts, as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Prepare butternut squash and toss in a bowl with 6 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp Kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and brown sugar
Spread squash on two parchment or foil lined baking trays and roast in oven for 30 - 35 min. or until tender when pierced with a fork (stirring occasionally).
While the squash is roasting, prepare your leeks and pears. Place the sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water to remove any excess dirt, then remove.
Heat a large dutch oven with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. Saute leeks over medium heat until golden and soft. Add pears and then the roasted butternut squash, scraping all the goodness off the pan.
Add the broth and bring to a simmer, cover and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 min.
Remove from heat, and puree with an immersion blender, until completely smooth.
Adjust seasonings (add additional 1 tsp. salt) and cream, milk (or additional stock) to the consistency you prefer.
Here’s a tasty and classy recipe that we served to our guest in Bethany tonight. The prep time is minimal. You can make the marinade ahead, add the steak tips, seal in a zip lock bag and freeze until ready to use (skip to step 2). We recommend buying steak tips when they are on sale. All of us love comfort food, and this is the perfect recipe for a busy family. The marinade is also our new favorite for steaks and grilling as we head towards summer – a teriyaki kind of flavor. We got rave reviews from our guest, so give it a try!
In a shallow bowl, make the marinade by combining soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, onion, ginger and pepper. Coat beef tips with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hrs.
Remove steak tips from marinade and pat meat dry. Reserve marinade.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with oil. When oil is hot and begins to smoke, add the beef and brown 3 min. on each side. Do not overcook. Remove when evenly deep brown and reserve on a plate.
Add remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet, heat until oil ripples then add mushrooms and brown 7-8 min. Add garlic after 5 to 6 min. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes more.
Add sherry, reduce 1 minute. Add 1 cup of reserved marinade (strained). Reduce heat and cook, reducing liquid until thickened.
Add beef tips, their juices and mushrooms to the pan, cook for 2 min. Serve with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables on the side.
Our Convent bakers are always thinking ahead and experimenting — their thoughts and ideas are often very innovative! This week they were totally into Thanksgiving and enjoying it thoroughly. They assured me that I would be pleased with the final outcome of their efforts and how right they were! I had heard pumpkin being mentioned so I was expecting a pumpkin dessert of some sort. Instead they produced the tastiest dinner rolls which could not have pleased me more — whimsical little pumpkin-shaped creations, each complete with its own stem. I can’t wait to see the smiles on every person as they gather around the table this year.
In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Sprinkle with sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add milk, brown sugar, pumpkin, butter, salt, spices and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 24 evenly-sized pieces. Working a few at a time, roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch rope on an un-floured surface. Before shaping, lightly dust ropes with flour, and then, with floured hands, turn each one into a pumpkin.
Create a small loop in the rope with a long tail on one side and a short tail on the other. Wrap the long tail around the edge of the loop 2-to-3 times. Hold the remaining end of the long tail on the bottom-side of the loop with a finger to keep it from unraveling as you continue to work. Wrap the other tail around the edge of the loop, tucking it through the center of the loop.
Pinch both of the ends together where they meet on the bottom side of the loop. If you’re not happy with the look of any of the rolls, simply set them aside for about 10 to 15 minutes and reshape. Place finished rolls on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 10 minutes.
Just before baking, brush rolls with an egg wash for a shiny look or butter for a matte finish. Insert a sliced pecan into the center of each roll, pressing so the pecan touches the pan. In an oven preheated to 400° F, bake rolls for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Rolls should be golden brown and gently firm to the touch. If not serving right away, shorten the baking time by several minutes and finish baking right before eating.
I have been exploring “superfoods” for a while now, wanting to incorporate some healthier eating habits into our Convent diet. We live a very active life-style within our Benedictine motto: Ora et Labora (Pray and Work). My task is to make sure we are all eating well and taking care of our bodies (since we are called to be temples of the Holy Spirit).
In my research, I learned about the wonderful nutty grain-like seed quinoa. Quinoa is native to Bolivia and a relative of swiss chard, spinach and beets. We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant. It’s also a complete protein, which means it provides all nine essential amino acids necessary for good health, hence the name “essential.” Your body can’t produce these nutrients itself, so you have to get them frequently through food. Quinoa’s slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels. It can be eaten on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. Quinoa also makes a great breakfast dish mixed with dried fruit, cinnamon, milk, and maple syrup or honey. A healthy substitute for rice, it also makes a tasty pilaf.
I found and adapted this flavorful and surprising salad side dish recipe for the Sisters and everyone loved it. Last weekend we served it to our Oblates who were here on retreat, and promised that we’d share it with all of you. Enjoy!
Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. 1 cup dry quinoa should yield over 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Cool quinoa.
In a large bowl add the cooled quinoa, diced pears, green onions, spinach and bell pepper. Reserve the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds for later.
For the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa mixture. Toss gently. You might not want to use all of the dressing depending on how wet you want your salad so add a little at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors can meld.
Mix the crumbled bacon and toasted almonds into the salad just before serving, reserving a bit to garnish the top as well.
Note: To toast almonds, brown them for a couple of minutes in a skillet over medium high heat. To roast them, bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. When you smell them, they are done!