February 1st celebrates the Feast of St. Brigid (c. 451-525), a nun, abbess, and friend of St. Patrick's in early Christian Ireland. St. Brigid founded the monastery of Kildare where the Book of Kildare, an illuminated Gospel manuscript was created. The art historian in me needs to follow a brief tangent to say that according to 12th century writer, Gerald of Wales, this manuscript was so wondrous that he believed the illuminators were assisted by angels.
St. Basil the Great was a 4th century monk who became bishop of Caesarea. He is a Doctor of the Church, wrote extensively on the Holy Spirit and established rules for monasticism that greatly influenced the Rule of St. Benedict.
To celebrate St. Basil’s Day, we made Lakror, an Albanian meat pie traditional for St. Basil’s Day, with a simple salad of baby greens from our garden.
Lakror (modified from Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf)
1 lb ground beef
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
fresh oregano and parsley, chopped
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cooked rice (you can cook extra to go on the side)
1 lb phyllo dough
1/2 cup butter
Saute onion and garlic in oil, butter, or, if you love bacon like we do…bacon grease. Yum. Add meat, salt, oregano, and pepper. Cook until meat is browned then drain the fat.
Combine parsley, rice, and eggs and add to meat/onion mixture.
Grease a 9/12 pan. Line bottom of pan with one layer of phyllo dough. Brush with butter and then add another layer. Repeat until you have 10 layers of phyllo and butter.
Add meat filling to pan and spread evenly. Cover with 10 more layers of phyllo and butter.
Score the top layers of phyllo with a knife before cooking. This will make it easier to cut after it cooks.
Bake at 375 until golden brown (it took 35 minutes for ours).
Serve with simple salad, rice, and a bottle of Malbec.
Even before I became Catholic I’ve always loved St. Lucy’s Day. The Feast of St. Lucy (whose name means ‘light’) takes place during the darkest time of the year and is a bright spot during the dark, cold days of Advent. This brave saint was an early 4th century martyr from Sicily. When St. Lucy refused to wed a pagan and, desiring to remain a virgin, gave away her dowry to the poor, the man who wanted to marry her turned her in for being a Christian. Her eyes were plucked out and yet God restored her sight miraculously (this is why she is often portrayed holding her eyes on a plate and why she is the patron saint of the blind). When her torturers tried to burn her, her body would not burn and when they attempted to drag her to a brothel, her body was immovable. She was finally martyred when stabbed in the throat.
We named our baby girl after St. Lucy because of her courage, purity, and love for Christ. Also our baby is really cute:
See? Anyhow. Daniel made a Santa Lucia Bread Crown, a traditional Swedish way to celebrate St. Lucy’s Day. He modified a recipe from Cooking with the Saints which turned out just fine, but he says that next year he will just do a similar style braided crown using cinnamon roll dough. This recipe wasn’t as sweet and moist as it could have been.
Santa Lucia Crown
1/2 c. warm water
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 c warm milk
1/2 c sugar
4 TBSP softened butter
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
4. c. flour
1 c. powdered sugar
4 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pour 1/4 of the warm water into a large bowl. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Add the other 1/4 cup of water, milk, sugar, butter, salt, spices, and 2 cups of the flour and blend. Add 2 eggs and remaining flour.
Knead on floured surface approx 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover until it doubled in size (approx. 1 hr).
Punch down dough and remove to floured surface. Separate dough for top of crown (1/3) and the larger bottom of crown (2/3). Divide the 2/3 of dough into 3 pieces, roll them, and braid into a rope, form circle and pinch ends to seal. Set on greased baking sheet. Repeat braiding with the remaining 1/3 of dough. Cover braids and let rise 1 hour, or until they double.
Beat remaining egg and brush onto bread. Bake at 375 for 15 min and remove smaller braid. Cover larger braid in foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Combine ingredients for icing and ice the cooled braids after stacking them.
Beware that sneaky toddlers don’t stick their fingers in the icing.
Post by Daniel
(Note from Haley…due to the busyness of having our baby girl last month, I’ve been totally behind in posting our feasts! And I can’t for the life of me find pictures of the Spanish Eggplant Spread or the Potato Aioli, even though I’m convinced we took some. Forgive me? The baby is super cute.)
St. Francis Borgia was born to a wealthy, noble family in Valencia,
Spain. He was the 4th Duke of Grandía. He and his wife Eleanor had
eight children. Despite his wealth and power, St. Francis and his
family lived a pious life devoted to Christ and his church. After the
death of his wife, he renounced his titles in favor of his son and
decided to become a Jesuit priest. Although special treatment was
often offered to him because of his high birth, he always refused it.
Instead he became renowned for his humility and powerful preaching.
Eventually he was appointed the Superior General of the Society of
Jesus. He sent missionaries all over the world and advised kings and
popes, all while remaining humble and pious. He is a model of servant
leadership that is especially important to contemporary society.
We’re nearing the end of our summer garden season but we’ve still got
a few eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. Simple Spanish Tapas are a
delightful way to celebrate the last of the summer harvest. The
Spanish, like the Italians, appreciate the pleasure of fresh and
unadulterated ingredients. So the first thing you’re going to want to
do is slice some fresh, local tomatoes, drizzle a little olive oil on
top and serve them with bread and a Spanish cheese like Manchego. Do
this first! That way you can eat while you’re making everything else.
Spanish Eggplant spread-
2 medium sized eggplants
2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
A few green onions (roughly chopped)
A couple of sprigs of parsley
Salt and Pepper
Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/3 inch thick. Heat the olive oil
(enough to coat the bottom of your large skillet) and sauté the
eggplant until the slices are soft and starting to brown. Put the
eggplant into a blender or food processor and then sauté the onion and
garlic for a few minutes, then toss into the blender. Add the parsley
and about a tablespoon of vinegar. Blend, season with salt and pepper.
If you have trouble blending, add a little bit of olive oil or water.
Serve with warm bread.
2 or 3 medium potatoes
2 banana peppers
Safflower oil (or similar vegetable oil, I wouldn’t recommend olive
oil but it can work if it’s all you’ve got)
Salt and pepper
Chop the potatoes into small chunks. Heat the oil in a large skillet
until it’s real hot and then toss in the potatoes. You want them to be
spread evenly across the skillet, not piled up on top of each other.
Stir frequently. Dice the peppers and toss them in after a couple of
minutes, once the potatoes are softening. If your potatoes are
sticking, add more oil. Season with salt and pepper. Once the potatoes
are starting to brown, place them on a plate. Top with Aioli sauce and
So, aioli is basically garlic mayonnaise. The ratio is different but
it’s the same idea. So, you can find a trustworthy recipe and spend a
long time whisking egg yolks and mixing everything just right or you
can do this:
½ cup mayo
1 clove garlic, crushed
Add a little oil, lemon juice, chili powder, and garlic to the mayo
and whisk together. You want it to have more of a liquid consistency
so that you can pour it on top of the potatoes. Add more oil and lemon
juice if you need to.
All of this will go great with a nice pale ale.
Back in the 17th century – 1600 years after Christ was born, and about 100 years after Luther posted the 95 theses – Christianity was only slowly creeping into Korean culture. Yet, Korea could not claim a native-born priest, someone to administer the sacrifice of the Mass, until 1845. Andrew Kim Taegon was ordained by a French priest while studying in the seminary in Macau, the Portugese colony in what is now Southern China.
Paul Hasang was the son of another Christian martyr, who, together with his brother (Paul’s uncle and also a martyr), wrote the first Catholic Catechism in Korean. When Paul grew older, his political career offered many opportunities to strengthen the Church in Korea. He met with the bishop of Beijing several times and got him to send resources to the persecuted Church. He also wrote to Pope Gregory XVI (who is known for issuing the papal bull condemning international slave trade) to set up a diocese in Korea, which happened in 1825. He was to be ordained a priest before another of several persecutions broke out. He was caught and his writings were seized as evidence. His judge read them and stated, “You are right in what you have written, but this religion is forbidden and you must renounce your faith.” To which Hasang replied “No,” but likely more eloquently.
Andrew Kim Taegon was also victim of this persecution as were many other priests, non-Korean bishops, and lay. This feast was established by Bl. John Paul II as commemoration of the martyrdom required to establish Christianity in Korea. All martyrs exhibit a peculiar grace; the Church tells us that martyrs give “the supreme witness to the truth of the faith.” The supreme witness of the martyrs receives the supreme station of veneration. No miracles needed. Nothing but the power of their testimony.
This feast is pertinent to me (J) for the reason illustrated below.
Accordingly, we cooked a wonderful spread of Korean barbecue beef (bulgogi) and sides.
1/4c Soy sauce
1T sesame oil
1/2 onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2t ginger, grated
1t. sesame seeds
To get the beef thin enough, place in freezer for about 20 minutes then cut with sharp knife.
Marinate beef for … a long time. It’s not really that necessary since it’s cut so thinly. But just keep it in the fridge for a long time. Just do it.
Then, cook it over a grill. We didn’t. We cooked it in a wok.
Bulgogi (chicken, breast meat, sliced thinly)
3T soy sauce
1t rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4t ginger, grated
1 green onion, diced
2t sesame oil
1t sri-racha, or Korean chili paste
pepper to taste
Marinate the same way, yo.
Last words of St. Andrew Kim: ”…if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.”
Evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for this Feast:
you have created all nations
and you are their salvation.
In the land of Korea
your call to Catholic faith
formed a people of adoption,
whose growth you nurtured
by the blood of Andrew, Paul, and their companions.
Through their martyrdom and their intercession
grant us strength
that we too may remain faithful to your commandments
even until death.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Post by Daniel
St. Raymond Nonnatus is from Catalonia, Spain. His mother died during childbirth so Raymond was delivered via cesarean section (hence the epithet Nonnatus, Latin for “not born”). He became a member of the Mercedarian Order which was founded to ransom Christian prisoners from the Muslim Moors in North Africa. Raymond succeeded the order’s founder, St. Peter Nolasco, as the master-general who was responsible for traveling to Africa and buying back the captives. When St. Raymond ran out of money, he offered himself as a hostage in the place of one of the prisoners. He continued to work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in prison and won many converts from Islam. No amount of torture or punishment could keep St. Raymond from preaching the gospel so the Moors bored holes through his lips and padlocked them shut (he had simply been sentenced to death at one point but the hope of a large ransom kept the sentence from being carried out). He was later returned to Spain and died near Barcelona. He is the patron saint of expectant mothers, midwives, newborns, and falsely accused people.
Appetizer: Catalan Flatbread and Pale Ale
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
Authentic ingredients would probably include anchovies, piquillo peppers, Spanish olives, and Manchego cheese. But we already had some other stuff that we thought would be good and we didn’t want to buy anything that we didn’t have to. So we used this stuff instead:
½ a red onion sliced
3 small bell peppers sliced
1 cup baby greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup grated cheese (we happened to have mozzarella and pecorino romano)
Salt and pepper
1. Heat the milk slightly so that it is warm but not TOO hot. Add the yeast. Meanwhile, stir the salt into the flour. After 5 minutes, add the milk and yeast to the flour and mix together. Knead until smooth, either by hand or using a mixer with a paddle attachment. Let it rise for half an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions. After a minute or so, add the peppers, and then the greens. Set aside.
3. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and form into balls. On a floured surface, roll them out into long flat ovals (about 10 inches long) and place on an oiled baking sheet. Let them sit for a few minutes.
4. Prick the flatbreads with a fork and add the veggies to top. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until the edges begin to turn slightly golden. Remove from the oven and add the cheese and pepper. Bake for another few minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven and serve them hot with the cold pale ale.
Catalan Picada Chicken:
Picada (not to be confused with the Italian picatta) is a paste used to thicken and add depth of flavor. Somewhat similar to a molé but without the heat, picada is a distinctive aspect of Catalan cuisine. There are probably as many recipes for picada as there are abuelas in Catalonia, but this is a basic recipe to draw from.
4 whole chicken legs, split (2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup oloroso sherry
One 3-inch strip of orange zest
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
For the Picada:
1 slice of thick crusted bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup almonds
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
Small pinch of ground cloves
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat until very thick, 5 minutes. Add the broth, sherry, orange zest and thyme and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the bread and almonds on a baking sheet, about 8 minutes.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with the bread and almonds, the chocolate, parsley, cinnamon, and cloves. Process to a paste.
Stir the picada into the sauce and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Note on saffron: A lot of people believe saffron to be a vital ingredient in picada. A lot of people also recognize that saffron is ridiculously expensive. We don’t really keep it around but, if you have some or feel that it would add to the authenticity of the dish, go ahead and toss some into the picada.
(Post by Daniel)
St. Rose was the first saint from the Americas. She was born in Lima, Peru and showed great holiness from an early age. She modeled her spiritual practice after St. Catherine of Siena by fasting three times a week and taking on other secret and severe penances. To discourage suitors and guard against vanity, she cut her hair short and disfigured her face with lye. When she was 20, she joined the Dominicans and committed great acts of love throughout her life. Her holiness grew and she continued fasting and self-mortification until she died at the age of 31.
In addition to her home city of Lima, St. Rose is also the patroness of Latin America, the Philippines, embroiderers, and the resolution of family quarrels.
In deciding what to cook for her feast day, I was torn between two meals that I really wanted to make: lomo saltado for Peru and pancit bihon for the Philippines. So I decided to make both. (Except for the soy sauce which contains small amounts of gluten, these recipes are gluten-free.)
I lived in the Philippines for a few months after high school, working with some sustainable agriculture projects. One of my favorite things was pancit. It is one of those wonderful comfort foods that you can never recreate exactly how you remember it. Also, the ingredient list is extremely versatile. I remember walking to one of the little shops that stood along the mountain roads to get the noodles, one little baggy of soy sauce, one little baggy of oil, a pepper, an onion, and a can of corned beef hash. I remember sitting around a small table with a dozen other people sharing a huge bowl of pancit, a huge bowl of rice, and several glass bottles of warm soda. The power was out so we ate by the light of one candle. I doubt I’ll ever be able to recreate that taste experience. This time I didn’t use the corned beef. Only because I forgot, not because I’m too good for corned beef in a can.
1 lb (give or take) chicken- cut into small pieces and marinated in soy sauce
½ lb shrimp peeled
1 small onion diced
2 banana peppers diced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 or 3 carrots thinly sliced
2 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 splash of fish sauce
2 packages of rice vermicelli noodles (6 oz each)
2 cups spinach
Few sprigs of cilantro
Ground pepper and soy sauce to taste
1. Stir fry the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a wok or big sauté pan. After 1 or 2 minutes, add the carrots, peppers, and chicken. When the chicken is almost done, add the shrimp. Once the meat is cooked through, set all of those ingredients aside.
2. Pour about 5 cups of water into the wok and bring to a boil. Add the rice noodles and remaining oil and reduce the heat. Stir occasionally, checking the texture of the noodles.
3. When there is just a little water left, add the cooked ingredients back, along with the spinach, cilantro, soy sauce, and ground pepper. Stir everything together.
4. Serve with rice and warm soda. Just kidding.
While you’re thinking about the Philippines, ask St. Rose to intercede for the Filipino people. There is a severe poverty in some areas and there is a violent Islamic insurgency in the south. Pray that the Christians will stand firm in their faith and that God will provide for their needs.
Lomo Saltado is a popular Peruvian dish that showcases the unique fusion of Chinese and indigenous cuisine called Chifa.
1 red onion sliced into strips
3 tomatoes sliced into strips
3 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno seeded and sliced
1 lb beef cut into strips (flank steak, stir fry beef, or something like that)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt, cumin, and paprika to taste
*Ok, so making French fries is easy if you know how to do it. But if it seems like too much of a hassle, you can just use frozen fries. However, if you want to be awesome, here’s how you can make the fries. Scrub down a couple of potatoes. Slice them in to thin (¼ to ½ inch) strips. Soak them in cold water for about an hour or so. Remove from the water and pat dry. Heat oil (peanut, canola or vegetable) in a pot. Gently place the potato strips into the oil, being careful not to splash any of the hot oil. Turn a couple of times and cook until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Place on paper towel to dry. Sprinkle with salt.
1. Marinate the beef in the soy sauce, garlic, and salt. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes
2. Remove the meat from the marinade and sauté about a minute. Add the onion and sauté for about a minute. Add the tomato and pepper and sauté for about a minute. You can add more of the marinade if it seems too dry. This will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are. The vegetables shouldn’t be soft or mushy so don’t cook too long. Season with the cumin and paprika and mix in the cilantro.
3. Serve on top of the French fries with a side of white rice.
Peruvian restaurants usually serve an amazing green, creamy, hot sauce called Aji sauce (Aji is a popular kind of yellow pepper). It seems that everyone has a very different idea of how to make it, but this recipe turned out great.
½ head iceburg lettuce
2 hot peppers, seeded (we have an abundance of peppers in our garden so we didn’t try to find Aji. We used a jalepeno and a thin red chili).
½ cup mayo
1 clove garlic
Splash of vinegar
Handful of cilantro
Hello, dear readers! We are happy to join the ranks of Daniel, Haley, and Benjamin here at Feast! and celebrate the liturgical year with food, and lots of it. If you want to know who “we” are, read this to find out.
Last night (Aug. 18), we celebrated the feast of St. Helena of the True Cross. This feast is important for several reasons, personal and ecclesiastical. Firstly, Helen’s patroness, naturally, is this very Helena and it is always good to go all out in celebration of your patron or patroness to express the great gratitude for their special intercession in Heaven. Secondly, St. Helena was the mother of emperor Constantine the Great, who is largely responsible for altering the Roman empire, and subsequently the entire Western world, by aligning his imperial practices with Christian virtues. Most importantly, the Edict of Milan banned persecution because of religious affiliation – the great persecution of the early Christian Church ended and the relieved Church could start to mature.
St. Helena’s influence on Constantine cannot be understated; like St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, Helena’s constant prayers for grace in Constantine’s life seem to have been answered. Constantine not only ruled according to Christian virtue, but on his death bed as he received the sacraments, he indicated a full redemption, saying, “I know what I have received,” indicating his full belief and surrender to Christ in face of those who doubted his faith.
But St. Helena is important in a way that helps us all as believers. She was in her late 70s when she decided to take a mission to the Holy Land in search of the True Cross, on which Christ was crucified. She prayed and searched around in the area of Calvary. One day, she smelled a sweet aroma coming from a hillside covered in a green herb. She told her attendants to begin digging here and unearthed three crosses, with inscriptions similar to those mentioned in the Gospels. In order to determine which cross was the True Cross, the priests in her retinue applied wood from each of the crosses to the sick and infirm. Upon touching the True Cross, all were healed.
The wood of the Cross is what we call a “sacramental.” Sacramentals are a little perplexing because they exhibit the multitude of ways in which grace is manifested, either in objects, prayers, acts, dress, or even relations, but are not actual grace-giving things. However, in this case, what is so powerful about Helena’s contribution is that her ardent belief in the sanctity of the Cross opens up a whole world in which things sing glory to God, not simply because they are created by Him, but because they are ordained to be holy so people may be holy. Sacramentals enrich our faith. The logic is that everything surrounding the sacraments ought to evoke piety in those sacraments, which is why there is such care about lighting candles, wearing the right vestments, blessing water, etc. Though they are not instruments of that effective grace which align us with Christ, nevertheless, these sacramentals deepen our piety because they rub shoulders with those special means of grace that Christ himself instilled.
Now, back to the story of Helena’s discovery: the herb that directed her to this discovery was basil and it has traditionally become the main ingredient for celebrating this feast. We had a three course meal with LOADS of home-grown basil featured in each dish. The first one was a caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes and mozzarella. Second course was a pesto tortellini and watermelon-basil green salad. Finally, we had a variation on a mille feuille (mil foo-yay), which is a layered fruit and puff pastry dish. Ours had local peaches, strawberries, cottage cheese-honey-cinnamon spread, and, of course, basil.
Slice three to four heirloom tomatoes, about 1/8″ thick.
Slice one ball of mozzarella to same thickness
Arrange prudently, alternating tomato, mozzarella and basil leaf (I prefer stacking the ingredients)
Drizzle with olive oil or balsamic reduction (simply simmer a cup of balsamic until it’s 1/2 cup), salt and pepper.
2 c fresh picked and washed basil leaves
1/2 c parm
1/2 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions: Blend it up!
1c cottage cheese
1/4 c basil, chiffonade
ripe fruit (we used strawberries and peaches), sliced
4 puff pastry squares
Prick the puff pastry squares all over so they don’t puff up. Coat with egg wash and a moderate sprinkling of turbinado sugar. Bake at or near 400F until golden brown (about 10min)
While baking, mix the cottage cheese, honey, and cinnamon.
Put a layer of cheese mixture onto puff pastry, spreading evenly. Arrange fruit slices then sprinkle basil on top. Place another sheet of pastry on top and sprinkle with basil. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Prayer in honor of St. Helena: O Lord Jesus Christ, who unto blessed Helena didst reveal the place where Thy Cross lay hid: thus choosing her as the means to enrich Thy Church with that precious treasure: do Thou, at her intercession, grant that by the price of the Tree of Life we may attain unto the rewards of everlasting life. Who livest and reignest.
Hymn of St. Helena:
WHY cometh Zion’s daughter nigh,
With tears and prayers which pierce the sky?
Upon what sacred errand bent,
Where Jesus died, in love forspent?
2 Know this is Helen, child of grace,
A pilgrim to his holy place,
To find the Rood of her dear Lord
Whereon was merit won and stored.
3 What are these nails with blood embrowned?
What means this triple title found?
And lo, three beams of aspen wood,—
How will she know the Holy Rood?
4 These nails with Jesus’ Blood are stained,
This title Jesus’ rule proclaimed.
Yon sick one, rising whole and blessed,
Hath marked the True Cross from the rest.
5 From Zion’s Mount, from Hermon’s steep,
The hills their fiery vigil keep,
While Ida, by the wine-dark sea,
Proclaims the Finding of the Tree.
6 Then Helen let us sing today,
To Helen let us homage pay,
By Helen is the Cross new-brought,
For Helen’s children mercy-fraught.
7 All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesus, Virgin-born, to thee;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.
On August 15th we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—when she was taken up to heaven, body and soul. This is not a new idea but a very old one dating back to at least the 5th century. On this day we honor our Blessed Mother and are filled with hope that we, too, will experience the glory of Christ’s presence in heaven as Our Lady does.
Partly because of the time of year that it is celebrated, summer harvest foods are traditional for this Feast, particularly herbs and fruit. Our menu consisted of “Assumption Salad” with oranges and dates, Stuffed Zucchini, and Baked Stuffed Apples with Butter Rum Sauce.
We chopped up pretty red leaf lettuce and added orange slices and dried dates on top. We made a simple dressing from Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Grapefruit Juice, a little sugar, and fresh ground pepper. I got the idea for this salad from the “Morraccan Salad” recommended for the Feast of the Assumption in Brother Victor Antoine D’Avila-LaTourrette’s Sacred Feasts. I LOVE all of his cookbooks. They are meatless, seasonal, and delicious. However, because his monastery is in New York, we usually have to make alterations so that the recipe will be seasonal for us in North Florida.
Another one of my favorite, favorite cookbooks is Simply in Season. It’s great to peruse for ideas for using whatever is growing in your garden. I used Simply in Season’s Stuffed Zucchini recipe as a base and altered it according to what we had in the garden and pantry. Here’s what I came up with:
(Serves 4-5), Preheat Oven to 350
3 Zucchinis: split lengthwise and scoop the seeds out, then use a spoon to remove some of the flesh to save for the stuffing. Don’t get too close to the skin, though, because you want a sturdy shell to stuff with the other veggies and meat.
¾ lb Ground Beef
1 Onion (chopped): Cook together in a deep pan until meat is browned.
1 ½ cup Corn
Tomatoes (chopped) (we have various sizes coming in from the garden, I used a comparable amount to two medium tomatoes)
Any other Summer Veggies you have growing
2 large cloves Garlic
Chili Powder (I only used a little because our two-year-old is sensitive to spicy food, but add as much as tastes good to you!)
Fresh herbs! (We had fresh Oregano, Thyme, Sage, and Rosemary thriving in the front yard): Add all these to the pan along with the left over Zucchini you reserved. Stir it around for 5 minutes or so.
Salt and Pepper to taste
¾ cup Bread Crumbs (just use Gluten-Free bread crumbs to make the meal entirely GF!)
¼ cup Cheese, shredded (I used Mozzarella)
Add to filling and stir in. In a baking dish stuff Zucchini shells with the filling. Bake for 20 minutes, then add more shredded cheese on top. Continue baking until you think the shells are tender.
Assumption Day Baked Stuffed Apples with Butter Rum Sauce
I had aspirations to do Stuffed Pears as my friend Helen told me that they are a traditional Assumption Day food in Greece and Italy. Unfortunately, it’s just not pear season here and the ones available at the grocery store were looking pitiful. So…Stuffed Apples it is!
Preheat Oven to 350 (you can just stick these in and let them bake while you’re enjoying your salad and zucchini!)
6 Apples: Create a well in each apple by coring part way (you don’t want to core all the way to the bottom or the stuffing with fall out)
Create a filling with:
¼ – ½ cup Sucanat, depending on how sweet you want them (you can also use brown sugar, I just like baking with sweeteners that aren’t as refined)
½ cup Butter (softened)
(A note on the spices: I always just spice to taste! Sorry I don’t have more precise measurements)
Just mix them together and stuff the filling into the wells you made in the apples, then stick them in the oven in a baking dish with just a little water in the bottom of the dish. Leave them in there until you think the apples are tender. I think it took close to an hour for ours to be ready.
While they’re baking, whip up a Butter Rum Sauce.
Combine in a sauce pan and bring to boil:
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Heavy Cream (We only had whole milk and that worked just fine)
¼ cup Butter
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add 6 TBSP Rum. Drizzle this sauce over the apples when they come out of the oven.
St. Bernard’s Prayer to Mary:
We accompany thee, on this day, with our most ardent wishes to thy Son, O glorious Virgin, Queen of heaven! and follow thee from afar, O happy Virgin! Give thy mildness to the world, give of the grace thou hast found with God. Obtain by thy blessed intercession, grace for the guilty, recovery for the sick, strength for the faint-hearted, aid for those in peril! Dispense to us thy servants, who on this glorious festival-day invoke thy sweetest name, O gentlest Queen, the grace of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord and God, to whom be glory forever. Amen.