Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

And those who went before and those who followed cried out, 
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (Mk 11, 9)

Entry into Jerusalem, Italian Mosaic Artist, 1140-47

Friday, March 27, 2015

40 Meatless Meals: Broccoli Sunshine Pasta

This quick pasta salad is good to have on hand as we approach Holy Week and the comings and goings associated with its additional liturgies. Traditional Broccoli Sunshine Salad becomes a vegetarian meal by swapping bacon/ham for legumes and tossing it with pasta. My family's version of the original salad did not include cheese, but there's no reason why you can't add some.

Broccoli Sunshine Pasta (Serves 6)
1 lb box short pasta
3 cups broccoli florets, cut in spears
1.5 cups cups cooked legumes or canned equivalent (I think kidney beans are prettiest, but anything goes- I used garbanzos in the version pictured)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T minced red onion
1 T poppy seeds
2 T cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (optional)

Prepare pasta according to box directions, adding broccoli in last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, prepare the dressing by combining mayonnaise, onion, poppy seeds, vinegar and sugar. Drain pasta/broccoli mixture, and toss with dressing and beans. Gently fold in dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, if using. Chill before serving.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Don't forget your waffles

I have a bowl of overnight waffle batter waiting in my fridge for dinner tomorrow, in honor of the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Why waffles? Because Mary didn't waffle in her fiat.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent

"When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (Jn 12, 32)

Albrecht Aldorfer, Christ on the Cross, 1520

Friday, March 20, 2015

40 Meatless Meals: Salade Nicoise


 In my neck of the woods, we tend to get a few 70 degree days toward the end of Lent. Salade Nicoise is a perfect entree for those warmer days. I admit to painting with broad strokes- the traditional tuna, green beans, eggs, potatoes, and olives often find themselves paired with anything that looks good. My family favors a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, but if you want to go all out, here's a recipe for the traditional version. Serve with crusty bread.

Salade Nicoise (serves 4)
1 head Bibb or romaine lettuce
1/2 lb green beans, blanched
1/2 lb new potatoes, boiled and cooled
12 oz can tuna packed in oil, drained
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup black olives
other seasonal vegetables as desired
Dressing, as desired, in a small jug or pitcher

Arrange ingredients on a bed of lettuce on a large platter. Let each person serve themselves and dress the salad as desired.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Lent

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." Jn 3, 14-15

Agnolo Bronzino, Miracle of the Brazen Serpent, 1542

Friday, March 13, 2015

40 Meatless Meals: Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup (Serves 4)
2 T butter
1 lb carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
1 T lemon or orange zest (optional)

This formula works for almost any vegetable or combination of vegetables, fresh or frozen. For maximum aesthetic appeal, use vegetables similar in color if combining.

In a dutch oven, sautee carrots and onion in butter until the onion is tender.  Work in the flour to form a roux.  Cook a few minutes until the roux is lightly browned. Add the milk and stir continuously until the roux is worked in and no lumps remain. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Puree soup and transfer to tureen or clean pot. Season to taste.

Delicious as this soup was, my family was hungry 90 minutes later, so I would recommend serving it with some cheese or an omelette.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

PSA: Save those onion skins!

So, in my post on making stock from vegetable scraps, I said that the only part of the onion I don't save are the very dried, papery layers of skin. Well, it turns out that, this time of year, there's a good reason to save those, too.
It's a Greek tradition to dye Easter eggs blood-red, to represent the Blood of Christ, and believe it or not, this color can be acheived with just the skins of a dozen or so yellow onions and a bit of vinegar. Sounds like a good excuse for French Onion Soup to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spargel (White Asparagus) Soup

The first hints of spring have finally arrived here this week, but there's still plenty of snow left in the shady spots. This soup is perfect for this transitional time of year, combining the delicate flavor of spring vegetables with a rich, creamy base. Go easy on the seasonings here; the asparagus is the real star of this dish.

Serves six.
Adapted from.

1 lb. fresh white asparagus
2 T sugar
Salt, to taste
12 tbsp. butter, divided
2 T fresh lemon juice
12 T flour
¼–½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Bring twelve cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Meanwhile, trim off the bottom ½" of the asparagus. Peel the skin from each, starting 1½'' from the top and running the length of the spear. Reserve peels. Gather spears into 2 bundles and tie loosely with kitchen string.

When water in pot comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Add the reserved peels, sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 3 T butter, and lemon juice. Return to a simmer, then add asparagus and cook until tender, 8-30 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus (test by piercing with the tip of a knife held perpendicular to the length of the stalk). Remove asparagus from pot and drain on paper towels, then set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and reduce stock by one-third, about 30 minutes. Strain stock and keep hot over low heat.

Melt the remaining 9 T butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for two minutes, do not brown. Whisk in hot asparagus stock 1 cup at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Simmer soup, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. If desired, add cream to taste and continue simmering for 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and a little more lemon juice or white wine, if you like.

Untie asparagus bundles, then cut spears into 1'' lengths and add to soup. Simmer until spears are warmed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Third Sunday of Lent

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, 
with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; 
and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
(Jn 2, 15)

El Greco, The Purification of the Temple, 1600

Friday, March 6, 2015

40 Meatless Meals: Tuna Pie

This tuna pie (serves 4-6) is a meatless riff on the Like Mother, Like Daughter meat pie recipe. It's equally good warm or at room temperature.  Following their preparation directions, substitute this filling:

Tuna filling (combine all ingredients)
1/4 cup grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 5 oz cans or one large can tuna packed in oil, drained
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and water well squeezed out
2 cups grated Italian mix cheese
1/2 cup Kalmata olives (optional)
salt, dill, and red pepper flakes to taste

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On Last Night's Table

We've had the flu (or something like it) for the past week here, and I'm slowly emerging from the fog to realize that a lot of the produce here is in dire need of using-up. First on the triage list: some lovely mulit-colored cherry tomatoes.

I drastically simplified this tomato tart recipe by laying out a piece of freezer puff pastry, slashing part way through about 1" from the edges (this helps the crust to rise), and adding mustard, honey, tomatoes, cream cheese (a more assertive cheese would have been better with these sweet tomatoes, but we use what we've got), and rosemary.

400º for 20 minutes, and all we needed were a couple of fried eggs to call this dinner.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Second Sunday of Lent

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, 
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; 
and he was transfigured before them (Mk 9, 2)

Fra Angelico, The Transfiguration, 1440-42