Archive for August, 2011

St. Rose of Lima’s Feast, August 23rd
August 26, 2011

(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.

Ingredients:

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

French Fries*

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

Salt, pepper

Basil Galore: The Feast of St. Helena of the True Cross
August 19, 2011

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.

Frankie's favorite game is finding Jesus

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.

Recipes:

Caprese:

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.

Basil Pesto:

2 c fresh picked and washed basil leaves

1/4c almonds

1/2 c parm

1/2 c olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions: Blend it up!

Mille Feuille:

1c cottage cheese

2T honey

1t cinnamon

1/4 c basil, chiffonade

ripe fruit (we used strawberries and peaches), sliced

4 puff pastry squares

turbinado sugar

1 egg

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.

A Summer Harvest: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, August 15
August 16, 2011

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.

Assumption Salad:

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.

Add:

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

Add:

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)

Raisins

Dried Dates

Chopped Almonds

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

Clove

(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.

Spanish Orange Chicken for the Feast of St. Dominic: August 8th
August 11, 2011

St. Dominic (1170-1221) was born in Spain and was the founder of the Dominican order (the Friars Preachers).  The Blessed Virgin gave St. Dominic the Holy Rosary in order to combat the heresies arising during his lifetime. According to legend, St. Dominic planted Italy’s first orange tree at the convent of Santa Sabina in Rome, so a Spanish dish involving oranges seemed apropos for this Feast.

Daniel roasted an organic chicken (yes, organic meat can be pricey but if you buy a whole chicken, you can roast it, use the leftover meat for chicken salad and then boil what remains for stock which makes the purchase well worth it!).

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

½  an orange

½ cup butter

3-5 cloves of garlic

Fresh herbs chopped(I used rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano)

Salt and Pepper

Mix the herbs, zest and juice of the orange, and the herbs. Stuff this mixture under the skin of the chicken. This will make the meat juicy and the skin crispy. Just stick your finger between the meat and the skin and stuff the butter up under there. It’s a little bit gross at first. But it’s worth it. And you’ll get used to it. Stuff an orange half and the garlic into the cavity of the chicken. Place the chicken in a rack in a roasting pan. Cover with foil and roast in a 350-degree oven for about an hour and a half. Take the chicken out, uncover it and spoon some of the drippings over the chicken. Put back in the oven and roast for another 20-30 minutes.

For a side, I made Spanish Rice by sautéing onions, garlic, and banana peppers from our garden, adding rice, water, tomatoes from the garden, and chili powder, bringing it to boil, and then simmering until the rice was cooked.

Daniel steamed some various greens from the garden, as well.

Yum!