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.