Sisters birthdays are a special day of celebration in our Convent. Much prayer and discussion goes into the place setting at the table, the beautiful word that is specially picked just for her and then a few carefully and lovingly wrapped gifts (which are usually a few treat foods that she rarely gets). The Sister gets to choose her dinner entree and dessert from a menu. It’s really such fun – some sisters take up to a week deciding what they’re going to ask for on their special day. This past week, I had the great fun of cooking for one such occasion. I made my signature shrimp dish – a little like a scampi, but made richer by the fettucine tossed with cream and parmesan. The fresh lemon in this recipe is a must – don’t skip it. The Sister slowly savored her meal, a smile emanating after every bite. What a blessing it is to bless others – that’s what I love so much about the gift of cooking.
Stella's Shrimp and Fettuccine
- Boil salted water for pasta
- Meanwhile, sauté ¼ c. diced onion and crushed garlic clove until translucent over medium low heat. Watch carefully so you don't burn the garlic. Add chopped basil leaves and chopped tomato – lightly toss, sauté and remove from heat and into a dish to hold.
- Cook your pasta and when finished, toss with 4 Tbsp. butter, warmed heavy cream and 1/2 cup fresh parmesan until you have an “Alfredo” – add onion salt and fresh ground pepper - seasoning to taste.
- Quickly sauté your shrimp in butter, once golden on both sides, add white wine and juice of one lemon. Simmer slightly and then add the tomato mixture back to the pan and combine - season to taste.
- Serve fettuccine with the shrimp tossed over – sprinkle with the lemon rind, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Summer may officially be over, but some of our garden vegetables happily are refusing to acknowledge it as they continue to provide us with a daily abundance of fresh produce. Among our favorites are beautiful multi-colored tomatoes, not only gorgeous to behold but luscious to enjoy.
Likewise our herb gardens continue to thrive producing sturdy plants of vibrant green flavorful offerings to enhance our food. Basil a favorite of so many has become the ingredient of choice along with a few other seasonings to combine with fresh buttermilk as a special dressing for lovely sliced tomatoes.
A winner with many of our sisters and special guests, why not give it a try?
Garden-Fresh Basil Buttermilk Dressing
- Whisk buttermilk and mayonnaise in a bowl
- Transfer to a blender and add garlic, onion salt, and scallions. Blend until the scallions resemble finely minced pieces
- Add chopped basil and blend a few seconds more to combine
- Transfer back to the bowl and refrigerate (covered) overnight to allow flavors to develop
- Serve drizzled over freshly sliced tomatoes and enjoy!
Time to get out the grill and put those fresh garden veggies to good use. This is a terrific recipe that makes a lovely party platter in a matter of minutes.
Eggplant, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and red onions – marinated and grilled till soft on the inside and charred on the outside, then doused in garlicky marinade, and served with whipped goat cheese on the side.
Marinated Grilled Vegetable Platter with Whipped Goat Cheese
- Cut eggplants, onions, and zucchini in 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Salt the eggplant slices, and leave in a colander for 20 minutes so the bitter juices drain out. Rinse and pet dry.
- Wash the peppers, and leave whole.
- Wash the asparagus, and cut the woody ends.
- Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, garlic and chopped oregano, with onion salt and black pepper, and brush all vegetables liberally with the marinade.
- Grill veggies on medium heat, turning them over once or twice.
- Remove the charred outer skin from the peppers by rubbing off- slice the pepper in half, remove seeds and then continue slicing the peppers lengthwise into 1” slices. Set aside until ready to assemble.
- Remove the remaining vegetables to a plate and drizzle with the remaining marinade and more fresh oregano. Add more garlic if needed - they should have a distinct garlicky, tangy taste.
- With an electric mixer beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the goat cheese, and smashed garlic, and a pinch of salt, then beat until fluffy.
- Arrange the vegetables decoratively on a platter and serve with the whipped goat cheese on the side.
Place left over veggies in a container and pour over a marinade of equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil, plus lots of pressed garlic and salt. They will taste great the next day, and will keep in the fridge for a long time.
Recipe adapted from www.victoriastable.com
Looking for a gift for someone who has everything? Something a bit out of the ordinary that doesn’t come out of a catalog or off of the internet? A gift that will express care and best wishes for the person in a way they may appreciate more than a costly, beautifully wrapped package?
Here’s a suggestion: How about a lovely personalized tea? “Just for two” — or for whatever number of others you know they’d enjoy having it with! Either indoors or outdoors, fancy and elegant, or simple and casual. You’d be surprised at the response you’re apt to get. because it’s a gift for all ages! Young and old and in between… My 12-year-old godchild looks forward to her annual birthday tea every year as much as she did the first time one was given to her at age 7. I know several 80-year-olds who no longer feel up to participating in many activities they used to enjoy, yet, at the mention of a tea, immediately brighten up summoning energy and enthusiasm from some unknown source.
Perhaps this recipe may inspire you with your own ideas for something similar. Just the planning and preparation of such a gift can turn out to be a gift to yourself as you find unexpected enjoyment in creating and preparing it for someone else!
- For each avocado half: mix together 1/4 cup of crumbled crabmeat, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, a pinch of onion salt, and fresh lemon juice (to taste).
- Adjust ingredients to desired taste, and add a sprinkle of lemon zest and chopped parsley for garnish. Spoon into avocado half and serve!
We continue to look for new ways to include more whole grains in our diet. Years ago long before it was as well known as it now, a friend of mine, who at that time was considered a health food zealot introduced me to quinoa. I became fascinated with this grain sometimes referred to as Aztec gold because it is a complete protein in itself, and a valuable source of food to the Aztec Indians
Stuffed pepper have always been a real favorite with our family over many years, but always,( over all those many years), we had them stuffed with rice. Recently it occurred to me that they might be good stuffed with quinoa, so yesterday I decided to give it a try for one of our summer night suppers. What a pleasant and satisfying surprise! You might like to try it yourself and see how you feel about it.
I used a little Italian sausage in ours but no need to if you would rather keep it vegan. Remember this grain is a complete protein in itself…. That’s why it is known as the “Gold of the Andes.”
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the quinoa and broth in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned.
- Remove the tops and seeds of the bell peppers. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers if necessary so that they will stand upright.)
- In a bowl, mix the browned sausage, cooked quinoa, 1 can tomato sauce, onion salt, and pepper. Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper.
- Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, basting with sauce every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender.
A young newlywed couple from Russia came to Bethany for an extended stay. Alexi, the groom, was delighted to discover that an old friend and former mentor from Russia was unexpectedly going to be near enough to spend some time with him while he was in the States. He immediately extended an invitation to him and his friends for dinner – a real, Russian meal that he himself would prepare for them.
The day of the planned dinner Alexi felt ill and was unable to do any cooking. With his permission I prepared a meal that I thought would be close to what he would have made, and I felt one of the dishes should be stuffed cabbage. I prepared them as I remembered my Ukrainian mother always preparing them.
By dinnertime Alexi was well enough to join his guests and no mention was made of his not feeling well earlier. Everyone enjoyed dinner and Maestro Serge was particularly taken with the stuffed cabbage. “This,” he said to me, “is authentic.” Then he added, “A real Russian can always discern whether or not the Russian food he has been served was prepared by a real Russian.”
- Cut up tomatoes and simmer with olive oil, onion salt, oregano and sugar until reduced to 1 cup or 8 ounces of sauce. Can be done while preparing cabbage.
- Leave cabbage whole, but cut around the stem, and parboil for 5 minutes; let steep for another 5 minutes.
- Remove cabbage from water and drain; separate cabbage leaves. Chop the small inside leaves and the core and use to line a Dutch oven.
- Combine all the stuffing ingredients and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place 1 tablespoon stuffing on each of the larger cabbage leaves, fold ends of leaves over the stuffing, and roll leaves.
- Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in rows in Dutch oven; sprinkle each layer with olive oil, tomato sauce, and crushed bay leaf.
- Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; add remaining tomato sauce, beef broth and enough water to cover.
- Place a plate on top of cabbage rolls, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. If using cooked rice cut final cooking time in half.
- Serve the cabbage rolls with the pot sauce poured over them.