Flemish Beef Stew

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.”

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Flemish Beef Stew
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
8 hrs45 min

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 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
  2. Transfer to a slow cooker and drain any fat from the pan.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and brown the remaining geef and add to the slow cooker.
  4. Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until they give off their liquid (5-7 minutes).
  5. 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.
  6. Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  7. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the beef is very tender, about 8 hrs.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros – Spanish for Ranch Eggs – has long been a favorite breakfast treat of mine. If you’re someone who likes to add a little “kick” to your food, this is the recipe for you. We recently made this for one of our small retreats – eggs, black beans, salsa and cheese sweetly nestled in a flour tortilla in one of our new pottery ramekins that we got by saving “stamps” at our local grocery store. There is nothing like eating comfort food on a cold winter’s day, and this one will warm you from the insides out. Easy to prepare for a crowd or just a few people with very little prep. We hope you enjoy this.

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Huevos Rancheros
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
50mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush six 10-ounce ​ramekins with 1 tablespoon oil or spray with PAM. If the tortillas aren't pliable, stack them and microwave uncovered until warm and flexible, about 2​0​ seconds.
  2. Brush tortillas with the olive oil or spray with PAM and gently press 1 tortilla into each cup.
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of black beans in the bottom of each ramekin, followed by 1 tablespoon of salsa. Gently crack 1 egg into each tortilla cup atop the salsa and beans. Spoon another tablespoon of black beans over followed by a bit of salsa and chopped scallions and liberally cover each with cheese - making sure to cover the egg completely.
  4. Bake uncovered until egg whites are set, about 15-20 minutes (yolks will still be soft inside).
  5. Serve immediately topped with a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions - serve tabasco on the side, if desired.

Cape Cod Cranberry Torte

“Old Cape Cod”…home of the Cod, home of the Oyster, the Quohog and the Clam. Home of the Beach Plum and Rose Hip, and also of the Cranberry, now at the very peak of its season! 

I am fortunate to have lived here for many years, and one of my most favorite sights in  the late fall is that of the bright afternoon sun shining on the cranberry bogs, catching their sparkle….like beautiful gems or jewels reflecting the light as they wait to be harvested. Over my years here I have accumulated quite a collection of typical Cape Cod recipes. One of my favorites  is this beautiful Cape Cod Cranberry Torte, lovely looking, luscious tasting — at any time of the year, but particularly at this snowy, winter season.

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Cape Cod Cranberry Torte
SERVINGS
6-8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Beat egg yolks until thick, and gradually beat in 1.2 cup of the sugar. Keep beating until very light.
  3. Beat in extracts and mix in crumbs.
  4. Beat whites of eggs until foamy. Add remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat until shiny and stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold whites mixture into beaten egg mixture and blend in the nuts.
  6. Spread the beaten egg mixture into two 9-inch buttered pie plates. Bake 20-25 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool.
  7. In a saucepan, mix cranberry sauce and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved and cool until partially set.
  8. Whip the heavy cream and set aside.
  9. Spread a thin layer of cranberry mixture in the torte shells, followed by a layer of whipped cream. Continue to layer until the shell is filled, ending with whipped cream.
  10. Let stand until cranberry portion is completely set.

Swedish Pepparkakor

This is a guest blog from one of our Swedish Sisters

This year, it was possible to make these Swedish pepparkakor cookies a little earlier than usual. It makes me happy, and helps me remember for a moment where I came​ from, and that God is in charge of all the little things in our lives. It is my great-grandmother’s recipe from Tidaholm, Sweden. I don’t know why it is that cookies have become a tradition around the season of Christmas in particular, except for the fact of celebrating the most important birthday of all!! But these little cookies, for me, have always been a part of that celebration, with their trinity of spices that scent the kitchen when baked . . cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not to mention, the smiles that come to people’s faces every single time!

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Swedish Pepparkakor
SERVINGS
12dozen
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen
COOK TIME
5mins per pan
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix in order given and roll out very thin. You will need more flour as you roll them. Use a pastry cloth and a covered rolling pin.
  2. Cut​ into shapes, sprinkle with toppings if desired,​ and bake at 350 degrees for 4 min (time varies with thickness of dough). Makes up to 12 doz. cookies.

​Wishing you a blessed New Year from our home to yours!
The Gourmet Nuns​

Classic Tiramisu

Gift giving for Sisters can present a bit of a challenge since we aren’t able to simply just “go shopping” at any time. As a result, many handcrafted items and homemade food gifts are produced especially around Christmas time. Last night the convent kitchen was a veritable hub of gift making!

At the baking end of the room one sister was shaping cranberry shortbread cookies. At the stove another was cooking up the filling for egg rolls. At the opposite end of the room yet another was mixing up ingredients for her mothers’ favorite dessert, Tiramisu. After a recent visit to Italy her mother had as she herself put it “fallen in love” “with all things Italian” and this dessert was one of those things. Although not what would have occurred to me as a Christmas gift, it had made such a hit with her when she received it on her birthday, I know this will be no less thrilling to her at this special holiday.

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Classic Tiramisu
SERVINGS
9servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
10mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
40mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon-colored and let cool.
  2. Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.
  4. Fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside.
  5. Mix the espresso (or strong coffee) and coffee liquor together. Dip the lady fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet.
  6. Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish.
  7. Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.
  8. Repeat process with another layer of lady fingers add another layer of cream.
  9. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight and dust with cocoa before serving.

Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup

This past week, ​​we did a pot-luck lunch at Paraclete Press to celebrate the ​s​eason 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!​

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Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
SERVINGS
8 servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
8hrs
PREP TIME
25mins
READY IN
8 hrs25 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Immediately add the​ béchamel ​to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Using a potato masher, mash about 3/4 of the potatoes​ until you reach the desired consistency for your soup.​​​
  5. Stir in ​2 cups ​shredded cheddar cheese and ​1/2 cup ​sour cream. Stir well, until fully combined and creamy. Taste for seasoning, ad​just​ 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. ​

O​ptional ​T​oppings:​ chopped scallions or chives, shredded cheddar cheese​, sour cream and ​bacon