Tag Archives: Chef

Greatest ‘meal’ comes from Our Blessed Mother

For many of us, memories of our mother are mixed with the aroma and tastes of favorite foods. Thinking of mom recalls the nurturing moments of childhood as she cooked for and fed us when we were hungry or ill. The smell of her sauce, the way she roasted a lamb or even baked our favorite dessert, if experienced as adults, can transport us back in time to that comforting place. Of course, no one can make our favorites like mom — she is by far the best.

I wonder if this was true also for Jesus? Did Mary make Him a favorite meal? Did He think of her when He smelled the dishes of His childhood years later? Did He look for the comfort of His mother’s cooking when traveling from town to town preaching, or delight in it on holy days and celebrations?

Much of what we know about the relationship between Jesus and His mother comes from the Gospel accounts, in addition to our rich tradition. In John’s Gospel (2:1-12) there is an instance where we get the impression that for Mary, all elements of a proper meal were important. At the wedding feast in Cana, she implores her Son to save the wedding celebration by providing more wine which had run out. My own mother was always concerned that guests to my childhood apartment in Long Island City would have enough to eat and were well hosted.

Yes, Jesus’ first public miracle was done at Mary’s request, so a wedding feast would be complete for all guests. This shows her concern for all, wanting her son to help everyone. Hers is the heart of a mother concerned for the well being of her children. In my parish in Brooklyn, the Blessed Mother is truly mother to us all. Here, there are numerous ethnic communities with many differences. Each week we celebrate Mass in four different languages, our people eat different foods, appreciate different music styles, and even dress differently.

But no matter the differences, what unites them is love of Christ and devotion to our Blessed Mother. The passion they have for Mary as their mother transcends language and culture, and unites them in faith to her Son whether they call her Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Vilnius, or Mary. How blessed are we who are nourished by the greatest meal, the Eucharist, which Mary made possible when she said, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). 

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of NET TV cooking show Breaking Bread Netny.tv/shows/breaking-bread/ and Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Annunciation Parish, Brooklyn

Yiasou Halibut Speciotiko

10 oz. Halibut fillet
Fresh Dill (Chopped)
Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
Fresh Thyme (Chopped)
6-7 Cherry Tomatoes (Cut)
¼ Cup Grilled Red Bell Pepper
¼ Cup Sliced Green Olives
1 Cup Scampi Sauce
1/8 Cup Capers
¼ Cup Chicken Stock
¼ Cup White Wine
2 Cloves of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Fresh Lemon
Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Take the halibut, cut it in half, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it.

Cover both pieces of halibut in flour, removing extra flour so it does not burn.

Place the halibut skin side up in the pan.

In another pan, add garlic and cherry tomatoes and cook on medium heat until the garlic becomes slightly transparent.

When the garlic is ready, add the olives, capers, white wine, red bell pepper, chicken stock, dill parsley, thyme, and scampi sauce

Set it to simmer and reduce.

Turn fish over to cook on all sides.

Place the halibut on a dish; squeeze the lemon juice on top.

Add the contents of the other pan next to it and enjoy!

Set season ablaze with missionary spirit – and flavor of faith

Ancient man’s introduction to fire was likely a brush fire set by lightning. After watching animals eat flesh of other animals trapped and burned in the fire, man sampled the roasted meat and found it tasty. Once he harnessed fire, man duplicated the roasting method by throwing small animals into flames for dinner. Hunters around a campfire might easily have pierced a chunk of meat with their spear, thrust it into the flames, and spit-roasting was born.

Fire and cooking catapulted the concept of taste along with nutrition. The late anthropologist Carleton Coon stated that cooking was, “the decisive factor in leading man from a [rudimentary] existence into one that was more fully human.” Heat when applied to food broke down fiber, released proteins and carbohydrates, and transformed inedible foods, such as tough or toxic roots and tubers, into edible, nutritious forms. Cooking meat killed bacteria, reducing food-borne illnesses. Cooking allowed man to consume higher-quality nutrients, resulting in healthier, stronger, smarter people.

Fire revolutionized humanity, forever distinguishing men from animals and was a giant step toward civilization. Communal fires brought people together to socialize. Language, communication, planning and organization evolved around the evening fire. Eventually storytelling, the harbinger of recorded history, was ablaze as well.

Reflective of the Easter season are the “tongues as of fire” which rested on each Apostle at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended upon these believers directing their missionary efforts throughout the world. St. Catherine of Siena believed, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze.” May the Holy Spirit ignite our souls that we, too, may be ablaze to spread the truth of God to men of every tongue and nation. 

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations, including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.

 

Roasted Rack of Lamb • prep time: 1 hour • Serves 6-8

Comment:
Most lamb is sold frenched (with part of rib bones exposed). In this dish, lamb is seasoned with herbs and garlic to enhance the flavor. This recipe can be prepared in the oven, fireplace, or outdoor rotisserie.

Ingredients:
2 racks of lamb, frenched
2 tsps chopped rosemary
2 tsps thyme leaves
2 tsps chopped tarragon
2 tsps chopped basil
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs, divided
¾ cup pinot noir
1 cup prepared demi-glace

Method:
NOTE: Prepared demi-glace may be purchased in the meat section of most upscale grocery stores. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine rosemary, thyme, tarragon, basil, and minced garlic in small bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Rub lamb well with herb-garlic mixture; set aside. In 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté lamb racks, bone-side down, 3–5 minutes, taking care not to move lamb racks while cooking to keep herb and garlic seasoning in place. Turn lamb racks over and sauté additional 3–5 minutes. Place skillet with lamb racks, bone-side up, in oven and roast 15 minutes. Remove lamb racks from oven. Using a pastry brush, brush each rack with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and top with an equal portion of bread crumbs. Return lamb racks to oven, bone-side down, and bake 7–10 minutes or until lightly browned and thermometer inserted into the meat registers 128°F for medium-rare. Remove lamb racks from skillet, place on a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil 10–15 minutes for juices to redistribute. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from skillet. Deglaze skillet with pinot noir; reduce volume to half. Add prepared demi-glace and bring mixture to simmer, stirring constantly to incorporate well into the wine reduction. Season well using salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. To serve, slice into individual lamb chops, place onto platter, and top with sauce. NOTE: If cooking the lamb racks in a fireplace or outdoor rotisserie, eliminate placing the racks in the oven. Once the lamb is roasted to your liking, brush with Dijon mustard and bread crumbs. Cook an additional 5–7 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly toasted.

Harnessing the will atunes appetite to Godly delights

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “Lent is a time of conversion and penance and a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as the criterion of our life, and the life of the church.” Rediscovering, as in growing in our faith, is a life-long journey. Each year, our dear Catholic Church gives us this opportunity during the Lenten season.

It is the customary work of sacrificing, that of giving something up during the Lenten season, that strengthens and disciplines our will so that we are not slaves to pleasure, whether it be material or otherwise. Sacrifice and prayer are key to building good habits, better known as virtues. Good habits are built and developed by disciplining the will. Denying yourself unsinful pleasures (such as not having your favorite pasta dish), will help discipline your will so when the time comes to combat temptations of sinful pleasures you will have the courage and spiritual strength to potentially make the right choice.

Lent is the perfect time for disciplining our will. Most would agree that at times, though we know right from wrong, we use our God-given free will to choose the wrong or evil that we did not intend. St. Paul the Apostle provides an excellent example illustrating this point in Romans 7:19 when he says: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Read the rest of Romans 7 for more. St. Paul, one of the most brilliant Scripture writers, humbly acknowledges the power of the human will.

Blessed John Duns Scotus (14th c.) writes that of the two faculties, he places primacy on a person’s free will over his intellect. This scholarly Franciscan friar, teacher at both Oxford and Cambridge, known as the “Subtle Doctor,” explains that just because one has knowledge of right and wrong, it does not guarantee one’s choosing rightly. Accepting that at times our will reigns over our intellect, it is essential to train and discipline our will in good habits, thus turning them into virtues, which strengthen us to opt for the good.

Our goal for Lent should be to strengthen our prayer life, and engage sacrifice (mortification of our will). Self-denial helps build good habits in making sound choices in this life, clearing the path for our worthiness in the next.

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp, a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.

 

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe • Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 bunches of broccoli rabe
1 lb. orecchiette
5 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
Large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
Pecorino Romano, grated

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chopped broccoli rabe, cover to return to boil. Once boiling, uncover and let boil for 5 more minutes. Drain broccoli rabe into a colander over a bowl, reserving all water.

In a large sauté pan, combine oil, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat. When browned, add blanched broccoli rabe with ¼ cup of reserved water. Stir to coat.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli rabe becomes creamy. In a separate pot, boil orecchiette in remaining broccoli water. When al dente, drain pasta and add to the broccoli rabe.

Toss and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese.