Springtime Borscht

Recently, another Sister and I shared our borscht recipes and memories! Like any well-loved food, memories play a part in its enjoyment. Our experiences of eating borscht are different but surprisingly parallel. Sr. Monica spent two months living at a Convent in Estonia when it was still part of the USSR. She has vivid memories of being there as the coup occurred when Gorbachev was still in power. I remember it too, because I was in Poland at the time, singing with our choir, Gloriae Dei Cantores. We had no way to communicate with our Sisters in Estonia since cell phones and e-mail were unavailable to us in 1991. We relied on prayer for their safety.  Often, a particular recipe is a vehicle for comfort, even solace. We have had difficult times in the past, but we know God’s love is available to us. We offer this heartwarming recipe to you, along with our prayers for a healthy spring.

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Springtime Borscht
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
1hour
PREP TIME
4.5hours
READY IN
5.5hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put the meat in a crockpot with 8 cups cold water, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and 1 Tbsp salt. Set on high for 4 hours. Cook until fork tender. Remove meat and strain and reserve the broth. Set aside
  2. While the Beef is cooking, wrap beets in foil and place in a 400 degree oven—roast for 1hr. until fork tender. Cool slightly, but while they are still warm, remove the top, bottom and skin with a pairing knife (skins should come off easily if properly cooked) and either grate or julienne the beets. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large stockpot and add 4 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp. butter and sauté onion for 2 min. Add diced potato and sauté another 5 min or until beginning to soften. Add the grated carrot, cabbage and garlic and 2 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to med/low and add the beets, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved strained broth and extra 2-3 cups beef broth. (I used' Better than Bouillon' Roasted Beef Base)
  5. Simmer and cover until vegetables are tender. Add the diced, cooked Beef and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill. Remove from heat and leave covered until flavors meld. Add 1/4 tsp pepper (If desired), and salt to taste. Adjust flavors to taste (you may want to add a bit more vinegar or sugar)
  6. Serve warm or cold with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill.

The Very Best Veggie Burgers

This year, I’ve been doing some teaching where cooking is concerned, and along with that comes learning on my part. Testing new recipes, experimenting with foods of different cultures and also trying my hand at a healthier way of cooking and eating. As I was working with a friend, we decided we’d like to try to find a recipe for a really good veggie burger. First of all, I wasn’t sure those four words really went together… “really good” and “veggie burger”. But, once again, I was wrong. This vegetable and grain-based patty is delightful. It’s bursting with flavors – we commented to each other that you could truly taste each vegetable in it and the bonus is, it’s packed with protein. Even my most lovable meat craving Sister thought it was delicious. That was a real surprise.

So, as we head into Lent, I thought this might be a good time to share this recipe. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Blessed Lent to you!

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The Very Best Veggie Burgers
SERVINGS
8burgers
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
burgers
COOK TIME
35minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes, plus cooling time
READY IN
1 hour, plus cooling time

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make the herb mayo: In a blender, combine all the herb mayo ingredients. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a bowl.
  2. Make the veggie burgers: In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender and all the water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Or cook the quinoa in a rice cooker, following manufacturer directions (I used 2 cups quinoa/2 cups water). You will be using 3 cups of cooked quinoa in this recipe.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, parsley and onion, and cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender and lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Then add the baby spinach to wilt along with the corn. Transfer to the bowl with the 3 cups of cooked quinoa and let cool.
  4. Once the vegetables-and-quinoa mixture has cooled, mix in the remaining veggie burger ingredients until incorporated. Form into 8 - ½ cup patties and shape. Lay out on a piece of wax paper.
  5. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the veggie burgers until golden brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side.
  6. To assemble: Top each veggie burger with some of the herbed mayo and top with tomato and avocado. Serve while the burger is still warm with a side of sweet potato fries.

Lasagne al Carciofo – Tuscan White Artichoke Lasagna

Serving our mission in Italy has allowed me to learn about local dishes, and today’s blog features a favorite! Thanks to the generosity of Laura, co-owner of a local ristorante kitchen located in the historical center of Barga, I have been learning about traditional regional dishes during my time in Italy.

This white lasagna is different than anything I had ever made, as it showcases artichokes as the main flavor in this Italian classic. Rather than eat the outer leaves as we do in the States, the more tender inner leaves and heart are selected. Tasty and oh-so delizioso, this has become a surprise favorite on our table!

Ingredients and directions for the béchamel sauce are listed below, but you may also refer to our Baked Cauliflower Pie blog. That recipe is doubled below for this lasagna.

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Lasagne al Carciofo - Tuscan White Artichoke Lasagna
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45
PREP TIME
30
READY IN
1hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

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.
Lasagna
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the tops, about 2 inches. Chop the stem, leaving the leaves attached and cut the whole artichoke in half.
  3. Thinly slice the artichoke in half vertically and set aside.
  4. Drizzle the bottom of a pan with olive oil and add the slices of artichoke. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender. Remove from heat.
  5. Gently combine the cooked artichoke with béchamel sauce and set aside
  6. Thinly coat the bottom of a casserole dish with the béchamel sauce and begin layering the lasagna, beginning with the noodles, béchamel, and mozzarella. Continue layering for 3 layers, ending with a topping of mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven approximately 45 minutes or until the noodles are fully cooked, and the lasagna is bubbling around the edges.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Soup

This year, I am teaching a home school culinary class. It’s a great joy for me to pass on to the younger generation all the tips and skills that I learned. We loved making this Carrot Ginger soup together. When making soup, I always start by sautéing the vegetables. Sautéing caramelizes them and brings out the very best flavor of the vegetable – never start by boiling them in liquid, or you’ll produce a very tasteless soup! Carrot Ginger freezes well, so make a big pot of it, cool and freeze flat in zip lock bags. Once they are frozen, the bags can then stand upright in your freezer or be stacked. This soup can be made completely dairy-free, just substitute olive oil or coconut oil for the butter. Enjoy!

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Carrot Ginger Soup
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45
PREP TIME
20
READY IN
1hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a 6-quart pan, over medium-high heat, add butter and olive oil. Sauté onions and carrots and cook until the vegetables begin to caramelize and become golden and tender.
  2. Add the ginger and 6 cups of the broth, cover and simmer. Reduce heat and cook until carrots are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the coconut milk.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender (don’t fill the blender more than halfway). Pulse the blender to start and then purée until smooth.
  4. Return to the pan and add more broth or coconut milk to reach desired consistency. Reheat over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Grilled Ceasar Salad

Merry Christmas from Bethany Convent! This year, the Sisters enjoyed this lovely Grilled Ceasar Salad with our Christmas meal. It was so easy and delicious, we wanted to share it with you. Our prayers are with each one of you as we close out 2019 and look forward with hope and expectation to a new year together!

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Grilled Ceasar Salad
SERVINGS
4
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20
PREP TIME
20
READY IN
40

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dressing: In a bowl, add the mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Dijon, vinegar and garlic and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the Parmesan and continue to whisk. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. This can be made ahead and kept refrigerated until ready to use
  2. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Brush olive oil on the romaine hearts and season with salt and pepper. Place the romaine cut-side down on the grill and cook until nicely marked, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Brush the lemon halves with olive oil and grill cut sized down until you have grill marks on the lemons and they are soft and golden
  5. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Prepare croutons: tear up the bread into bite sized chunks and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until the oil is well distributed. Toss with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt until well seasoned to your liking. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until crispy and golden about 10-15 min. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. With a vegetable peeler, flake your Parmesan cheese into large pieces.
  7. To assemble: lay your grilled romaine hearts on a platter, drizzle with the dressing and finish off with croutons, flakes of Parmesan cheese and the grilled lemon halves. Enjoy!

Shakshouka!

On a recent pilgrimage to Israel, I encountered the cultural phenomenon that is the traditional Israeli breakfast: Fresh vegetable salads, an abundance of fruit, creamy bowls of hummus, smoky eggplant baba ghanouj, borekas, and pastries of every description. The pièce de résistance, however, was the warm and savory shakshouka. Featuring delicately poached eggs, spices and vibrant herbs, I knew I needed to make this when I returned home.

Fun to say (shak-SHOO-kah) and even more fun to prepare, this delicious souvenir from the Holy Land warms me from the inside out!

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Shakshouka!
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
20minutes
PREP TIME
15minutes
READY IN
35minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Warm the oil in an oven-safe skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic, tomato paste, cumin, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes with their juices and cilantro. Stir, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make a well near the edge of the pan with the back of a spoon and crack the egg into it. Spoon a bit of the tomato mixture over the whites to contain the egg. Repeat with remaining eggs, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Put the skillet to the oven and bake for 8–12 minutes, checking often after 8 minutes. Cook until the egg whites are an opaque white and the yolks have risen a little but are still soft.
  6. Take the hot skillet out and place on a heat-safe surface. Garnish with fresh cilantro or a crumble of feta and enjoy!