I’m always intrigued as to what makes a quiche top notch—which in general, mine are not. But after playing around with a number of recipes, I came up with one that hit the mark; and I think the secret really is the number of eggs—more than I’ve generally used. The rich, creamy cheese custard with a crunchy crust is a winner. With a nice Caesar salad and crusty bread, it makes for a delicious lunch, especially during these nippy days of Fall!
Green tomatoes. What to do with these beautiful yet green garden tomatoes? A few things sprang to mind when I saw a flat of green tomatoes tucked in amongst other garden produce given to us from a local farm this week: fried green tomatoes (a classic!), green tomato salsa verde, green tomato muffins…
Then a recipe caught my eye for a green tomato fritter–just the thing! With a few “tweaks” to the original recipe–omitting the cinnamon and sugar in favor of a savory version–this late summer treat is a reminder not just the generosity of the giver, but an invitation to explore the possibilities of an otherwise puzzling and often overlooked gift from the garden–perfectly unripe.
In a deep, heavy pan, heat 3 inches of oil to 365° F, or use a crockpot with a fry basket.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. Stir in the green tomatoes, corn and seasonings.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and butter. Stir into the first mixture until just blended. Batter should hold its shape when dropped into hot oil–add more flour if needed to thicken the batter.
Working in batches, drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil, cooking until fritters are a deep golden brown, turning about halfway through.
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!
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/
Every time our lace making sister comes home from Belgium, one of the first things she’s eager to do is cook something from her adopted homeland for all the sisters here at home. Not only does she want to introduce us to Flemish cooking, she also wants to be able to share the response of the sisters “here” with those “back there.”
This time, she’s chosen to make Flemish Beef stew, a simple stew with a unique flavor provided by one key ingredient, which is beer. Frequently when referring to this meal it will be said “The better the beer the better the stew.” Now beer is not something we regularly have on hand in the convent, but only when its given to us as a gift for some celebratory occasion, but our determined sister would not be put off by lack of one ingredient, even though it be the most important one in the recipe. She is known for having everything fall into place at the right moment regardless of the odds. So it was no surprise to anyone when a 6 pack of Stella Artois appeared on the kitchen counter. Without skipping a beat, she continued working on her stew while quietly throughout the convent sisters could be heard quietly chanting “The better the beer, the better the stew.”
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the beef and brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes
Transfer to a slow cooker and drain any fat from the pan.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and brown the remaining geef and add to the slow cooker.
Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until they give off their liquid (5-7 minutes).
Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and cook for half a minute. Add beer and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to reduce foaming, until thickened and bubbliing, about 3 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the beef in the slow cooker.
Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the beef is very tender, about 8 hrs.
Flemish Beef Stew made by Sisters of the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod
This past week, we did a pot-luck lunch at Paraclete Press to celebrate the season and get our company decorated for Christmas. Several of us brought crock pots of goodness to the table – each excited to try someone else’s creation. I think this one received the most ooh’s and aaah’s, as it was completely emptied by the end of lunch and given back to me, clean as a whistle as if begging for more. This is such a great recipe – so easy to make the night before, let the crock pot do the magic during the night and finish it off in the morning. This is a perfect recipe to pull out over the holidays when you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family. Blessed Advent!
Add diced potatoes, diced onion, minced garlic, 10 slices of chopped cooked bacon, parsley and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 6-8 hours on low or on high for 3-4 hours, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Once the soup has cooked, make the béchamel sauce. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt, whisk in the flour until completely combined and gradually add in the half and half or heavy cream (or milk, whatever you prefer). Whisk until smooth. Over low heat, let the mixture cook until it starts to simmer, stirring occasionally.
Immediately add the béchamel to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
Using a potato masher, mash about 3/4 of the potatoes until you reach the desired consistency for your soup.
Stir in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup sour cream. Stir well, until fully combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning, adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you want to thin the soup a bit, you can add more milk, cream or chicken broth. Continue cooking the soup on low for 30 minutes or on high for 15 minutes. Serve warm with the toppings of your choice.
Optional Toppings: chopped scallions or chives, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and bacon