Friday, April 9, 2010

Saint Mary of Egypt Fava Beans

"Saint Mary of Egypt is one of those desert saints who has a timeless appeal to all those who seek God by way of the monastic life. Mary was a fifth-century harlot from Alexandria who, after praying before the icon of the Mother of God in a chirch in Jerusalem, was somehow mysteriously touched by God's grace. After her conversion, she crossed the river Jordan to live an austere life of prayer and penance. Her feast is celebrated on April 2nd."

All right well I missed the second. I'll try to be better about doing some of these on their actual feast days.
This was one of those recipes that bugged me because I couldn't find a fava bean anywhere in a 2 hour radius. So, I cheated and used these:

The good thing about using the canned beans is it made this dish easy to prepare because it needed little forethought.
The meal seems like some hot-root stews I've had in the past, containing leeks, onion, and garlic.
This is a one pot dish- super easy clean up!!
Add the beans!
I served this dish over rice because I didn't feel like it stood well alone. It was very mild and extremely filling. While the recipe doesn't call for it, I highly recommend throwing some high quality organic salted butter on top. Makes it divine. (ha. ha.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Poached Eggs a la Charentaise

"Every believer in this world of ours must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his fellow men." ~ Pope John XXIII
I felt kinda meh about this recipe. I think it's because it was prefaced by my throwing away 5lbs of perfectly good hamburger because my husband is hyper paranoid about meat that's been in the fridge for over 24 hours and refused to eat it. Add to that, I didn't really have proper ingredients for it. I was going to make my next monastery dish tomorrow, a bean dish, but since the beans needed soaking, I was not prepared for it tonight. Also realized after making this, that it's not really suitable for planned leftovers as a poached egg really doesn't keep. The kids were full of jelly beans and refused to eat. Was a wash overall.
Anyhow. There's potatoes.
And cheese.
And eggs. And supposedly cream but I was out so I used milk.
And cooked:
And the dairy free rice milk batch:

This is a good way to use up extra eggs but it's dairy heavy, doesn't keep, and I don't see it making our regular rotation any time soon.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scalloped Parsnips

"For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease."
~Job 14:7

OMFG This was AWESOME. I was initially thrown off by this recipe as it called for tomato sauce, and I generally consider scalloped items to have more of a white sauce.
I've had a few people tell me they have never seen a parsnip. This is a parsnip:
It's kinda like a carrot and a turnip got freaky and had babies. I love them.
I have been delighted by how simple these recipes are so far, and quick to put together. And really, easy thus far to adapt to family allergies. Here is the cheeseless batch:
And with cheese, about to go in the oven. I know I may have slightly bashed Julia Childs' over use of butter earlier on, but to me it's just not a bread crumb topping without some kind of butter added. So I added Earth Balance dairy free "butter" to the dairy free one, and Horizon Organic butter to this batch:
And done, in all it's browned, bubbly, cheesy, gloriferous goodness:
This is a vegetarian dish, but I had a ton of hamburger turning brown in the fridge, and I rightly assumed this would be a fantastic side dish to a meatloaf. However, I think with the addition of more cheese, perhaps layered in, or a ricotta layer, this dish would easily stand on its own. It is listed in the "Main Dish" section of the Spring season. This would be great as a potluck casserole, or perhaps something to bring to a new mom, and I bet it would freeze well.

Awesome. Hubby tried it and added an extra scoop to his lunch box for work. The kids thought it tasted like pizza and asked me to make it again tomorrow. It was easy, and again inexpensive to make. The taste is sweet, starchy, filling, tangy, with the cheesy stretch every good casserole should have. Even if you don't like parsnips, try this! The tomato sauce really brings out the sweetness in the root. If I had to make it again I would peel the parsnips before slicing. This would be a fantastic alternative to lasagna for the vegetarian or gluten free diet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cream of Asparagus Soup

"Even if monks live in the desert, far from the tumult of the citiy and public affairs, they neglect nothing either in their actions or in their words, to make of their heart an inviolable sanctuary and to preserve intact that purity which permits them to enter into communication with God to the degree compatible with human strength. " ~Saint John Chrysostom

So some people have asked me for recipes. Since this book is copyrighted and still in print I don't feel comfortable printing for free online, the entire contents of the book. But, you can purchase the book to follow along yourself, and every so often I'll give you hints, so perhaps you might figure it out. In cases where I have to alter the recipe so much for allergy reasons that I essentially make it my own, I will share the recipe.

So um, you start like this.
I used to make a version of this recipe that was 2 cans of asparagus, and that was the only vegetable. It was good, but super high sodium. Frankly I don't recommend canned asparagus in general. It's smushy and gross and lacks a vast amount of the nutrition and fiber content you'd get from eating it fresh, and if possible, local.
I am lucky that Ohio being the farm state it is, a lot of food comes from here. Odds are much of what you're eating does too.
But moving something like this....
And you'll need to do this. No comments on how dirty my blender looks; it's well loved.
Next, scoop out a bowl for the casein intolerant in the household.
And then add some of this:

Verdict: Not bad, but a little bland. In the future I plan to use vegetable stock instead of water, and perhaps more asparagus. However, this was fast, inexpensive, filling, and super easy to make. The older two boys enjoyed it thoroughly and asked for more, and hubby took seconds to work with him, so I think it was well received. It was nice to have something healthy after a long day playing outside. A heavy meat dish would've just been wrong.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Minestrone Monastico

"At appointed times monks ought to be occupied with holy reading. Each monk shall receive a book from the library, which he should read from cover to cover. These books should be handed out at the beginning of Lent."

~from the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict

Tonight's meal was wonderfult. I did make it hoping for a brothy soup, and forgot about the beans, which thickened it to more of a cassoulet type of texture and flavor.
Also, this is not what I would call a typical minestrone. It was thick and stew like, and lacked tomatoes. I changed a few things- I used vegetable broth instead of water, I was out of wine so I omitted it (I live in a dry village so it's not like it's something I can run out and grab), I used one onion instead of 3 (I don't like onions), and more pasta than it called for.
The result was a thick, saucy, flavorful, and for a vegetarian meal was very filling, satisfying, and even qualifies as comfort food. The boys loved it, although the 2 year old only ate the noodles out of it. My oldest asked if I could make it again tomorrow! I would say ultimately this dish was a win, was inexpensive to make, and will certainly make its way into my regular menu.

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Recipe: Asparagus Stuffed Eggs

"In a pleasant spring morning all sins are forgiven. Such a day is a truce to give. While such a sun holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return. Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors." ~Henry David Thoreau

These are awesome. They're basically deviled eggs but with steamed asparagus whipped into the the yolky goo. They SCREAM spring. I started with them because I was making meatball sliders anyway, and they felt like the perfect picnic style side to go with them. Perk: the process is familiar. Downside: they are time consuming to make. Extra perk: the kids ate them. Hidden vegetable WIN!!!
You need, eggs, asparagus, parsley, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper, and tomatoes and olives for garnish. These would be GORGEOUS alternated with regular old yellow deviled eggs.

Check out my process:

Pretty, simple, totally inexpensive (the asparagus was on sale for $1.59 for a huge bunch. I bought loads), and delicious. Expect to see these gracing the next potluck I attend.

As an up note- hubs is somewhat pleased with this experiment. In season foods cost less. Vegetarian foods cost less. He just decided to take up fishing. Self caught fish are freeeeeee!
Next recipe will be Minestrone Monastico on Wednesday. I finally found a chicken shaped cookie cutter so tomorrow is going to be crockpot chicken pie.

Ready to eat like a monk?

I was inspired by the whole Julie/Julia thing to also do a cook-a-long blog, however was not inspired by the amount of weight I would gain trying to copy and do Julia Child's cookbook. So, I held a vote on twitter of my healthier cookbook options and the winner was: From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook, by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette. Phew. Awesomely enough, while preparing for this, I realized I have actually visited the monastery in question that this book hails from.
So here are the rules:
The book is divided into the four seasons, with roughly 30 recipes per season. Yeah it's not much of a challenge, at first. I need to complete each season worth of recipes within it's given season, starting with spring. I may not begin the next season before the current season ends. The challenge- the ingredients are seasonal to upstate NY. I've already come up with an issue finding ingredients at my local grocery, while preparing for this weeks menu. Challenge #2- most of these recipes are either vegetarian or include fish. Husband doesn't eat fish, so I will provide chicken for him where appropriate.
I'm starting tonight with the soups/appetizers/sides section. Keep an eye out for the first food post: Asparagus Stuffed Eggs.