When end-of-summer kale comes in by the armload from the garden, “kale soup” becomes a familiar sounding menu option. But can’t we make it really different and flavorful for our guests, as the chill of Autumn sets in? And so it develops: browned Italian sausage chunks, lots of fresh thyme, a splash of white wine, potatoes and cannellini beans. Delicious served with a salad of fresh sliced pears, toasted almonds, and shavings of Parmesan Cheese and a basket of warm dill bread!
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Kale, Sausage and Cannellini Bean Soup - A Special Autumn Treat
With the return of warmer weather, we also welcome the return of guests to our community either for retreats, workshops, or events that we host. As hospitality is a hallmark of the Benedictine life, these events offer us an opportunity to put this monastic practice in place!
Hosting guests will sometimes limit our time spent in meal preparation, and our solution to providing our sisters with a delicious home-cooked meal and caring for our guests can be found in a vital (and in our case, under-used) kitchen appliance: the crock pot!
We made these slow-cooker ribs recently for our main meal, and it was a hit! Even our sisters with restricted diets just had to have a taste. Simple, easy and delicious, this is a recipe that we will be using again this summer.
Brush the bottom of the crockpot with olive oil, just enough to coat
Place the sliced onion in an even layer on the bottom of the pot.
Sprinkle the ribs with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Top with the minced garlic, and place in the crockpot.
Pour the apple juice over the ribs and set the temperature on the crockpot to the lowest temperature setting. Place the lid on the pot and let cook overnight or 7-9 hours.
After 7-9 hours, the ribs should be very tender and falling off the bone. Remove from crockpot and place in a 9x13 casserole dish. Liberally cover the ribs with barbecue sauce and cover the pan with foil.
Cook in a low oven (200 degrees) for another 2 hours and enjoy!
One beautiful June day, our guests wanted to eat lunch on the patio, and something simple and summery seemed appropriate. I decided on a chicken salad plate featuring chilled zucchini soup. With fresh dill and a small dollop of sour cream, it was a real hit!
For years, I just naturally began preparing many meals by chopping and sautéing together a combination of onions,celery and carrots. I never realized, in those teenage years, that I was employing a basic cooking technique, producing what is often referred to in the culinary world as the “All powerful Culinary Trio.” This homey trio of ingredients is absolutely essential for flavorful soups, sauces and gravies.
Recently, I added chopped potatoes to the mixture and that, along with a serving of fresh spinach and several succulent slices of roast lamb (excellent in the Spring) resulted in a most flavorful and satisfying meal. You might want to give it a try.
“All Powerful Culinary Trio” otherwise known as Mirepoix
Mirepoix can be used in a variety of ways—namely in stocks and sauces. To make a stock (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) one pound of Mirepoix will season roughly one gallon of liquid.
This week we continue with vegetarian recommendations, and this one is gluten free as well. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a good friend of ours from “Across the Pond.” While our guest was not strictly vegetarian, we planned meals that were loaded with fresh produce and light on meat–and this vegetarian Frittata fit the bill!
Loaded with sauteed vegetables including a fistful of baby spinach, this dish is as versatile as you need it to be, easily adaptable for the breakfast, lunch or brunch table. A mini cast iron pan worked well as an individual serving and looked light-as-air still hot from the oven. Topped with cheese and garden chive, this just might make another appearance on our guest table this spring and summer!
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.
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.
Stella’s Shrimp and Fettuccine. To subscribe to the weekly Recipe blog from the Monastery Kitchen at the Community of Jesus click here: http://monasterykitchen.org/