Tag Archives: Easter

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

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.

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

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.

Enhance Easter feast with spring’s primavera

Primavera! Spring! Land that has lain bare and dormant during winter is coming alive. The winter season, mirroring the liturgical season of Lent, is giving way to the beauty of spring — bursting forth into new life as we celebrate the Easter season!

God gifted us with these seasons. “Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. … Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years.” (Genesis 1: 11-12; 14-15)

In Italy, my birthplace, the season of spring is a special time. For farmers, it marks a new beginning – soil that was barren and tilled during the fall and winter, is ready to regenerate. My favorite farmer, my mother, says the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, is one of the biggest planting days of the year. Seeds of all sorts are planted, many ready for harvest within weeks. But some, like tomatoes, are harvested months later.

Nature mirrors the mighty plan of God. At the Annunciation, God becomes man — the seed planted in the womb of the Virgin Mary; nurtured and grown, to be born some nine months later, to become the Bread of Life!

In springtime some of the best pasta dishes are enjoyed in Italy. Fresh, seasonal spring vegetables, served with some of the world’s most flavorful pasta artigianale (artisan pasta), make a perfect Pasta Primavera dish. There is a village near my hometown, along the southern foot of Mount Vesuvius, called Torre Annunziata. It is famous for its “macaroni” production — macaroni referring to all types of pasta. Like so many Italian towns, Torre Annunziata is named after a church, one dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation.

When I was a kid, I believed all saints, including the Virgin Mary, were Italian. All their names were Italian (Santa Maria, San Giuseppe, San Pietro, etc.); the pope lived in Italy; and every city had a saint’s remains buried in its church. I was eventually disappointed to learn about my misinterpretation, but I probably wasn’t the first Italian to think Italians invented half the world.

The mild climate of Torre Annunziata, created by the sea on one side and Mount Vesuvius on the other, makes it the perfect place for producing pasta. Pasta is best when subjected to a long, slow drying process in warm (but not too warm) temperatures. Torre Annunziata pasta is hung from bamboo sticks outside to dry in the sea wind, which can take up to five days. The result is a pasta so perfect in texture and taste you’ll understand why Italians eat it with almost every meal.

You can pair any vegetable – fresh, sautéed, or any cooking style –with your favorite pasta to make a scrumptious, rustic Pasta Primavera dish. Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua!

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’ve grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is “The Main Ingredient,” with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family and recipes from his childhood in southern Italy.

Rustic Pasta Primavera

Serves: 4


25 ounces Cucina Antica® Tomato Basil cooking sauce
Italian imported fusilli pasta (cooked and drained)
1 medium yellow squash cut in 1/2 inch squares
1 medium zucchini cut in 1/2 inch squares
½ lb of fresh mushrooms quartered
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped


In a 10” sauté pan on medium heat add olive oil, squash, mushrooms, and zucchini. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté until you have achieved a soft but crunchy consistency.

Add 25oz Cucina Antica® Tomato Basil cooking sauce and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer approx 2 minutes.

Take approx ½ cup of the sauce and mix with cooked pasta.

Plate pasta and top evenly with the remaining sauce and vegetables. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese and basil evenly and serve immediately.

The Resurrection: Hope for a fallen world

The battle of good-versus-evil has been going on ever since Eve ate the fruit in Eden. In our day, the culture war is reaching a fever pitch as we battle over the next Supreme Court Justice and president of the United States.


Patrick Novecosky

If you comb the headlines like I do, you’ve probably been scratching your head for years (if not decades) wondering, “What in the world are people thinking!?” Canada is legalizing assisted suicide, possibly even for teenagers (click for related story). The federal government is picking on an order of nuns (click for related story). And some of those seeking the highest office in the land are acting like juveniles.

How did it come to this? Has our culture devolved or is it just that the 24-hour news cycle allows us to be informed of every un-newsworthy incident? It’s both. But it’s deeper than that. Here’s my theory: When a person, a community, a culture or a nation separates itself from God, then logic, reason and truth become irrelevant.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Catholic teaching is clear that the fullness of truth resides in the Church because Jesus is Truth itself. So when our culture tells God that He is irrelevant or “dead” (click for related story), then we are quite literally on our own. We become the arbiter of truth. That’s a mighty big load, and none of us can carry it because we are not God. As a result, a whole host of errors — plainly obvious to faithful Christians — become part of the culture.

Saint Paul warned about this when he wrote to Timothy: “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4).

Sadly, the time he warned about is here. We need to remember that bringing logic, reason and truth to the table is only part of our duty as faithful Catholics. Prayer is essential. Actually, prayer must come first. Sin causes confusion in the hearts of sinners (all of us). Prayer helps sweep away the spiritual cobwebs. We need to have that constant lifeline to Jesus.

If we have any hope of turning the culture to Christ, we must embrace prayer and fasting — after the feasting of Easter is through, of course. We must take the lessons we learned during Lent and turn them into resolutions to be saints in an era that begs for saints.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

The battle for souls

Editor Patrick Novecosky writes that the time has come for fearless Catholicism . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

If there’s one thing that Lent and this Easter season has reminded me of, it’s that we’re at war. We’re in the thick of a battle for souls, and our eternal destination is one of two places.

Scripture and Church teaching are clear that heaven and hell are real — and that all souls in purgatory are destined for heaven. There’s nothing new in this. The battle for souls has been going on since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. However, it seems we’ve forgotten about the battle. In the comfort of our modern world, it’s easy to forget that 3,400 children are murdered via surgical abortion every single day in America. It’s easy to forget that the multi-billion-dollar porn industry is destroying marriages and warping people’s sense of reality. It’s easy to forget that Christian values are under assault from our own government.

Sen. Rick Santorum reminded Legates at the annual Summit last February that secularists are relentless in their efforts to change the culture, to remove every vestige of God and faith from the public square. Christians, he said, seem to have surrendered without a fight in the culture wars. His point is that we need to be equally relentless in our efforts to win back the culture — and, similarly, we need to be relentless in our efforts to win souls for Christ.

Legatus is the perfect venue for business leaders and their spouses to be formed for battle. As you know, Legatus exists to help its members “learn, live and spread the Catholic faith.” Formation happens at monthly chapter events, at our conferences and pilgrimages, and through this magazine. But that formation needs to be rooted in each member’s personal prayer and friendship with Jesus Christ. Without those roots, sunk deep into fertile soil, the culture will rip us out of the ground and blow us away like a tumbleweed rolling across the desert.

Post-Christian America is rarely friendly to those who take their faith seriously. In 2012, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said, “We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead be Catholics by conviction. In our own families, in our parishes, where we live and where we work … we must be bold witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We must be a fearless army of Catholic men, ready to give everything we have for the Lord, who gave everything for our salvation.” (Read the entire homily.)

Legatus members are on the front lines of this battle for souls, where every person we encounter has an eternal destiny. Let’s do all we can to get to heaven and take as many people with us as possible.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.