Tag Archives: food

Fruitcake reaches back 2000 years – to Christ

As this season of faith, family, and food approaches, I reminisce not only about holiday seasons past, but also about the original Christmas day so many centuries ago. On a 2013 trip to Israel, I had the privilege of standing in Shepherd’s Field, once traversed by Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, still cradled in His mother’s womb. This was the field where shepherds first saw the rising Christmas star and angels heralded the birth of the newborn king. This was Bethlehem. In Hebrew, “Bet Lehem,” meaning “House of Bread.”

While it may have been wanderlust that brought me to Israel, it was wonder that overcame my senses at every turn of this journey. How can you stand at the genesis of salvation history and not be overcome with wonder? In Bethlehem, I knelt in amazement, as a child does on Christmas morning, when placing my hand on the site of the nativity. I thought of the Magi’s gifts: gold for the child’s kingship, frankincense representing His priestly role, and myrrh foreshadowing the God-man’s destiny on Calvary. There is no greater gift that any of us receive than redemption through the sacrifice of the Bread of Life.

We receive the body and blood of Jesus every Sunday; we break bread with family and friends at meals; we give gifts during the Christmas season in the form of cookies, cakes, and breads. My favorite holiday bread – to give or receive – is fruit bread, which you may know as fruitcake.

According to some researchers, fruit bread was first made 2,000 years ago with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, fruit bread consisted of spices, honey, and fruit preserves. In the 19th century, fruit bread became the traditional wedding cake of England. Fruitcake by any other name is still fruit bread: Italian Panettone, German Stolen, Bulgarian Keks, Mexican Three Kings Bread, Spanish King Cake or Twelfth Night Epiphany Bread, Dutch Ontbijtkoek, Norwegian Julekake, Czech Vanocka, Provence Pompe de Noel, Slovenian Potica, Greek Christopsomo or “Christ Bread,” and Romanian Cozonac.

My gift to you this Christmas season was actually bequeathed to me from my maternal grandmother: her recipe for Super-Moist Fruitcake. Don’t laugh! There is no doubt that this humble yet remarkable dessert will make you wonder why you never tasted such a delicious fruit bread before.

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.

 

MAMÈRE’S SUPER-MOIST FRUITCAKE • prep time: 3 hours • yields: 1 cake

Ingredients

4 oz. each, candied red and green cherries
8 oz. candied pineapple, coarsely chopped
8 oz. packaged pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 c. raisins
1 c. Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
1 c. each, chopped pecans and walnuts
3 c. self-rising flour, divided
4 large eggs
1½ c. sugar
1 c. melted butter
2 tsps ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. pineapple juice
½ c. brandy
6 each, candied red cherries and green cherries, optional
additional brandy or cognac for flavoring, optional

Method:

Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease one (10-inch) tube pan, set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine fruit and nuts with 1 cup flour until well coated. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and melted butter, blending well with spatula. Continue to stir, while slowly adding remaining flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pineapple juice. Whip ingredients thoroughly until well blended. Add fruit-nut mixture and ½ cup brandy; then mix until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into greased tube pan and bake approximately 2½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
NOTE: After 1½ hours of cooking, you may wish to gently press 6 candied red cherries and 6 candied green cherries into the top of the fruitcake for decorative purposes. Continue to cook for the remaining hour. Once cake is done, remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, cover with aluminum foil and store in refrigerator. From time to time, ladle 1 or 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac over cake for a spiked flavoring.
NOTE: You may wish to bake 4 or 5 of these cakes at a time and offer them as Christmas gifts to family and friends.

Being everyday-thankful to God increases compassion

Thanksgiving Day is about family, food, sharing, and, most of all, love. Although Thanksgiving is considered a secular holiday, the feast day subconsciously evokes love for one another and an overall heartfelt appreciation that transcends our senses. In paraphrasing our Baltimore Catechism: Our hearts and reason tell us that there’s a God that made us and all things and keeps them in existence. Yes, we all work to provide for ourselves and our families, but ultimately, we know that it is the divine providence that makes the blessings possible in our homes. In Cor.1:10, St. Paul says: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am…”

More important than the feast of food on Thanksgiving Day is the intimate sharing with loved ones that happens around the dinner table. It’s as if one can make tangible the love at the table and scoop it up from a bowl. It’s that overwhelming awareness of how blessed one is, in bounty of love, food, and blessings, that makes Thanksgiving Day so special. However, when the plates are empty, the word “Thanksgiving” is put on pause for another 365 days.

Today, it’s easy to take for granted the blessings that our Good Lord has bestowed upon us because we have come to expect them, like clothes, food, shelter, employment, and more. But we must keep the value of being thankful at the forefront of our minds. Try making a special meal of gratefulness each day with your family. As the family gathers at your table, realize that not everyone in the world has food to eat, or a roof over their heads. Therefore, a heartfelt prayer is very appropriate in asking God to provide for all those less fortunate. In prayer, exclaim to our Good Lord that you are truly grateful for all that He’s provided for you and your family. In making an effort to give thanks, we can appreciate the things that we have been blessed with and, at the same time, impress upon ourselves a sense of compassion and love for the less fortunate. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into the giving.”

The true challenge is to remain thankful year-round, not just on Thanksgiving Day. G.K. Chesterton ascribed to such a life: “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted, or take them with gratitude.”

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 recently 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

Osso Buco (Veal Shank) • serves 4

Ingredients

Salt and pepper to taste
4 veal shanks with bone, about 2 to 3 inches thick½ cup flour
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch rounds
4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch long pieces
½ cup port wine
½ cup Marsala wine
½ onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock, unsalted
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preparation

Salt and pepper each veal piece, and lightly dredge in flour.

Heat extra-virgin olive oil, pan sear each veal piece, and set aside.

In a large baking dish, place seared veal. Spread cut vegetables around the meat, leaving the meat uncovered.

Salt and pepper vegetables to taste.

Add wine and chicken stock.

Cover and bake veal shanks for 1 ½ to 2 hours at 350°F.

For the last half hour of baking, slightly uncover. To check for doneness, pierce a shank with a fork. The meat should pull apart easily and feel soft and tender.

Remove meat from baking dish and keep warm.

Add butter to vegetable mixture, and cook in a sauté pan on high heat until sauce mixture thickens slightly.

Plate veal and serve topped with the vegetable sauce.

The rosary – food for life of the soul

Praying the rosary is a staple for Catholic family spirituality. The late Fr. Patrick Peyton (aka “The Rosary Priest”) said “the family that prays together, stays together.” Unfortunately, we’ve replaced family prayer with soccer, dance, and every form of technology that doesn’t bring us closer to God, or to each other.

As a priest, I should know the power of praying the rosary. I have an advanced degree in Mariology from the Pontifical Marianum Institute in Rome. My family prayed the rosary regularly, and I remember getting quizzed on knowing the mysteries in the proper order — each child tasked to lead a decade. As a seminarian and priest, the rosary has filled my travels, my personal time, and especially my difficult days with an assurance of God our Father and loving heavenly Mother.

But somedays it’s tough to pray the rosary, especially when you’re tired.

Regular meditation of the rosary isn’t a “law,” but an act of devotion to help me through challenging and tiring days.

One day, as a young priest, I had such a tough day I consciously chose NOT to pray my rosary before going to sleep. I was awakened by an emergency call to anoint a man who was “dying.” The caller was a defensive-sounding woman, dramatically telling me that she was a fallen-away Catholic, but calling for her dying dad, who’d been sick for a while. In my mind, I asked, “Why couldn’t she have called earlier?!?” I went dutifully, but begrudgingly

Since it was a 20-minute drive, I could have prayed the rosary. But now I was irritated. I thought, Mary wouldn’t want to listen to me while I’m in a sour mood. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

When I arrived, I discovered the man wasn’t actually dying. The daughter confused a coughing fit with dying. In fact, the elderly father went to the bathroom — on his own — when I arrived. He was far from dying, but I felt like I was.

I put on my best pastoral face and proceeded to offer the prayers of anointing. I politely asked this man’s name. He said, “My name is Rosario, just like my favorite prayer,” as he held out his rosary.

What a wake-up call! I realized that I was called out of sleep to pray that rosary — not just for myself, but for the dying, the dramatic daughter, and for myself when I’m weary and tired.

On the way home, I prayed my rosary. I went to sleep peacefully, knowing that Mary’s prayers always help.

LEO E. PATALINGHUG IVDEI, priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of Plating Grace and The Table Foundation. Learn more at FatherLeoFeeds.com

 

Smoked Salmon Wrap • yields 4 tortillas

Here’s a simple recipe to help us remember our Blessed Mother’s prayers and our pro-life mission as Catholics. While it’s Lent-friendly, this dish (and especially the sauce) is a crowd pleaser all year long. You can also watch my video as I prepare this meal with a message.

Ingredients:
Smoked Salmon
(2 sliced per tortilla)
4 Tortillas
Bib Lettuce, 4 leaves
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1 jalapeño, de-seeded, minced
1/4 Red Onion, 2 Tbs, minced
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 Lime, juiced
1 Avocado, seed removed, and sliced (yielding 8 slices)
Cilantro, 4-8 small stems
1/2 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp Pepper

Directions 

Make sauce/cream by adding the tomato, jalapeño, onion, garlic powder, cumin, mayo, sour cream, and lime juice in a bowl and stir all together.

Open 1 avocado and fan out.

Separate the smoked salmon slices.

To assemble the tortilla wrap, lay flat one tortilla and add and spread sauce/cream over the tortilla, place one bib lettuce leaf, add sliced avocado, add 1-2 slices of the smoked salmon, then a few sprigs of cilantro. Roll tortilla closed and serve with a side of the cream.

Little extra effort makes the ordinary … extraordinary

Today’s modern culture emphasizes that what is fastest is best, and what is concise is enough. As you enter these final months of the year, you may be heading back to school, closing out a fiscal year, beginning a new quarter or already thinking about 2020. Not matter where you are, I invite you to take an extra step, slow things down and think not about how eliminating a step will make your life easier, but how adding a step will make life for someone else much greater.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He left for us the prayer we know as the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer.” In His infinite wisdom, the Lord connects each one of us together as brothers and sisters when we together call God “Our Father.” It is with this understanding, that we should live our lives daily acknowledging what we do for our brother and sister, we do for God and ourselves. As followers of Christ we are called to a different standard than that of the world. It is our duty not to rush through our day as a means to get to the end, but to make sure that as we journey though each day, we leave this world a better place for everyone.

As vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I have the privilege of getting to know thousands of people who look beyond their needs and take the extra step to try to fulfill the needs of others. Those who sponsor our Catholic school students through Futures in Education, providing a Catholic school education to those who could not otherwise afford one, are among the best examples of how taking the extra step makes the difference. These donors do not have to sponsor a child nor do they directly and personally benefit from doing it. Some of our donors are wealthy, some are working class, and a few even live paycheck to paycheck, yet they all believe that taking the extra step and giving of their treasures does more for them than selffocus could.

Do not rush into the new school year, the last quarter, or 2020 thinking you will win the race thanks to speed, narrow focus, or brevity. Instead, remind yourself it is a journey you are on, and walk side by side with your brothers and sisters toward the open arms of our God, the only finish line worth heading toward – the spectacular finish line which requires deliberate — and extra — steps to reach. 

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, NY.

 

Apple Ricotta Pancakes

Apple Ricotta Pancakes make a great treat before the school day during the week, or after morning Mass on Sunday. They’re light and fluffy, but filling enough to satisfy the whole family. The best part is it only takes a few extra steps to turn a regular pancake into a delicious surprise!

Ingredients:

2 cups Pancake Batter
2 Apples (peeled and cubed)
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Coconut Oil
Cooking Spray
Confectioner’s Sugar

Place cubed apples in dish and cook in the microwave for about 1 minute. This will soften the apples and make them chewy. (If you prefer crispy apples in pancakes, skip this step.)

In a bowl, mix apples, ricotta cheese, and cinnamon into a batter, adding water to the pancake batter mix as needed. Do not overmix.

Preheat griddle or pan and coat with cooking spray.

Add some coconut oil, and allow to melt if solid.

Pour the batter onto the griddle or pan. This batter will be thicker than plain pancake batter so the shape of the pancakes will not be perfectly round, but they will be delicious!

Cook the pancakes, flipping them only once and not patting them down. This will keep them very fluffy.

Garnish with sliced apples and confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!

Apples may be substituted with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches (do not microwave these) — or anything else you can think of!

Saluting warriors of Christ who put Him first

I recently traveled TO Germany on an ongoing culinary, cultural, and ancestral quest. Though the itinerary was set months before, it happened that my trip coincided with the 75th-anniversary commemorations of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It seemed only appropriate to honor my dad, Royley Folse – a World War II veteran, by visiting areas he spoke of often – the Ruhr Pocket, Düsseldorf, and particularly, Remagen. It was in the Battle of Remagen that the Allied Forces captured Ludendorff Bridge in March 1945, spelling the end of World War II a few months later.

Standing on this hallowed ground on the left bank of the Rhine River, I not only thought of my dad and his many comrades; I also remembered that I was in the state of the Rhineland-Palatinate, the area where so many of Louisiana’s German ancestors originated.

Scottish financier John Law attracted Germans to the French colony by propagandizing Louisiana as a semitropical paradise. A document entitled The Magnificent Country of Louisiana described the colony as a land of gold and silver; of herbs and plants for apothecaries; of healing remedies and infallible cures for the fruits of love. In some cases, entire villages migrated to this promised land of plenty.

Of the 4,000 recruits, only 700 actually arrived in Louisiana because of a host of travel difficulties. In 1722, approximately 300 Germans were located on the Mississippi River’s west bank, 25 miles above New Orleans, in an area still known as the “German Coast.” The Germans settling there came from the Rhenish Palatinate where they had cultivated gardens, orchards, and vineyards. Not surprisingly, the “German Coast” soon became the “Garden of the Capital,” saving New Orleans from famine twice. These Germans were cattlemen, butchers, dairymen, gardeners, and brew masters. They thrived on Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry of wild game, fish, and crawfish. They tilled fields and planted gardens, reaping splendid harvests. An industrious people, they filled their cupboards with jellies, preserves, vegetables, dried fruits and berries, and the spoils of the boucherie – or hog killing – for food during lean winter months.

My dad was a fabulous hunter, fisherman, and cook. With the June Rise every summer, he caught river shrimp from the Mississippi. But, when the dog days of summer rolled in, we headed to the Gulf. That’s where I learned to love his Black-eyed Pea Battered Shrimp. My dad was not only a soldier and great cook; he was a warrior for Christ. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, believed that anointing candidates with oil strengthened them for the demonic battles that lay ahead. Are you anointed? Are you a warrior for Christ?

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

 

Black-Eyed Pea Battered Shrimp • serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup black-eyed peas, cooked
36 (16–20 count) shrimp, head-on
¼ cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1⅛tsp ground ginger
Creole seasoning to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 large eggs
¼ cup olive oil
1¼ cups beer Louisiana hot sauce to taste
2 cups flour
1 quart vegetable oil

Method:

Peel shells from tail of shrimp, without removing head. Devein shrimp; set aside. In food processor bowl, combine black-eyed peas, onion, minced garlic, ginger, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Blend on high speed 2–3 minutes, until peas are coarsely chopped. Add eggs, olive oil, beer, and hot sauce. Blend 1–2 minutes or until puréed. Add flour and blend 1–2 additional minutes. Pour black-eyed pea batter into ceramic bowl; set aside. In homestyle deep-fryer or large cast iron pot, heat 3 inches oil to 350°F. Dip only shrimp tails into batter and allow all excess to drain. Gently place shrimp into deep-fryer and cook until golden brown and partially floating. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.

Evangelize comrades like Christ did

Everyone can experience temporal real and true happiness! Our Catholic Faith offers it to all – all we need to do is immerse in it.

Smart phones, emails, texts, tweets, Facebook – none of these nor any other created good can lead to true happiness in this life.

How does one live a fully Catholic life every day? We need to turn to God. Weekly Sunday Mass attendance is the start of it all. We nurture and sustain our bodies daily with food to live, and we must do the same for our souls, feeding them spiritually and sacramentally, receiving Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Just as athletes train constantly to compete and win, so too must we practice our faith constantly if we are going to have a chance in winning in the battle of good versus evil. St. Paul describes it beautifully: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Following every Sunday, there is a Monday, when we are met with the demands of life. Family and financial responsibilities can be become burdensome and stressful and steal away our happiness if we do not prioritize our Catholic Faith daily.

We live our faith well by making it part of our everyday lives, at home and at work. Claim your home for Christ with a blessed crucifix. Add a statue or an image of Our Blessed Mother: she leads us all to Jesus! At work, place a holy image such as a Holy Card of your favorite saint near your computer screen, or as a screen saver. These are visual reminders that keep us focused on virtues.

Daily prayer is vital. Prayer is simply talking to God. Make meals special by beginning with a blessing and thanksgiving prayer. Bring your family together daily for prayer – a decade of the rosary, daily Mass, or a simple prayer together.

Through these spiritual exercises and the presence of religious images, our senses can truly feel the presence of God in our lives and in turn we live and breathe our faith in an almost subconscious manner, leaving very little room for vices. It becomes part of who we are, making us one with Christ, and leading us naturally to become evangelizers of the Gospel. That oneness gives us the joy and peace that makes our happiness real in this life.

Most importantly, unity with Christ allows for a virtue-driven life, which affords us the ultimate opportunity of an eternal union with God and thereby achieving perfect eternal happiness!

Let us heed St. Thomas Aquinas’ words: “It is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness …….Therefore, God alone constitutes man’s happiness.” (Summa Theologica Part 2 Q.1.)

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.

Escarole Salad with Walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano • serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 large head escarole
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved, plus ¼ cup grated
¼ cup raisins
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. When using escarole for salads, try using the inner part of the escarole head with light green or white-ish leaves. Save the darker leaves for soup or sautéing.
  2. Chop escarole into large, bite sized pieces (you can also tear the escarole). Bathe and rinse thoroughly and spin dry.
  3. In a large bowl, toss escarole, walnuts, sliced onion rings, shaved Reggiano and raisins.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing well.
  5. Plate and top with grated Reggiano

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.

Genuine, receptive listening opens people’s hearts

The month of February is dedicated to love, no matter how dreary the weather may be in some places. Annually honoring Saint Valentine’s Day reminds couples to take their relationships seriously. A romantic dinner, kind gestures, love letters, and gifts express one’s love for another. But what couples really crave, in my opinion, is someone who will listen. Not just sit there and say, “yes dear,” but truly listen — with all one’s heart, mind, and soul.

Listening is loving. It’s a lost art today. Even with the most advanced communications technology, we don’t know how to listen as people made in God’s image and likeness.

This month we might take note and give loved ones what they want most: a sense of being heard and loved.

People know me as the “cooking priest,” and may ask, what does listening have to do with food and cooking? Quite a lot, actually. It relates to the ability to discern what another is hungering for and trying to communicate. It’s like the unconditional love parents instinctively have in listening, hearing, and understanding what a crying child is trying to indicate. It’s the love that God has for His children when the scriptures say, “What father, if his son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11).

Let’s consider some simple lessons about listening with the heart:

We sometimes hunger for things that aren’t good for us. Our Good God, a loving listener, will sometimes respond to our requests with a revolting taste, bitter herbs of truth, or a “time out” in order to heal disordered appetites. Do we know how to communicate what we really desire?

Listening to a person isn’t just understanding words, but grasping the totality of the person’s experience. Are we courageous enough to listen without judgment?

When it comes to loving disagreeable spouses or challenging family members, it might require us to ask ourselves, “What is God trying to say to me when I speak to this person who is tough to tolerate?” Do we know the “lesson” God is teaching in such difficult encounters?

Listening isn’t easy. Yet, God listens to us – and truly hears how our hearts, bodies, and souls grumble. Our job is to listen as God does, which requires discernment, faith, and every Christian virtue. This month, give the great gift that God gives – learn to listen to each other, and in so doing, love one another.

LEO PATALINGHUG IV DEI, priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of Plating Grace and The Table Foundation. Learn more at FatherLeoFeeds.com

 

Coconut Curry Mussels • Serves 2-3

Fresh, edible mussels will ‘open up’ when properly cooked. Providing the right ingredients and atmosphere can likewise help people open up in healthy conversation.

1 1/2 pound of mussels, cleaned
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 -2 tsp of “fish sauce” (found in the international section of market)
1-2 tsp of soy sauce
2 limes (1 juiced, other cut into wedges)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili pepper (or favorite hot sauce)
2 tsp honey
1-2 Tbsp of Cilantro leaves (or parsley)

Serve with 4-6 pieces of crusty bread, or 1/4 lb. cooked angel hair pasta.

In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onions and garlic. Add wine; cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add yellow curry powder and mix together before adding the coconut milk, fish sauce, the juice of one lime, salt, pepper, and honey. Stir together. Carefully add mussels to pot; mix together, then cover for 2-3 minutes, or until mussels have opened. Stir all together so mussels are coated with the sauce. Plate with extra lime wedges, top with cilantro leaves, and serve with crusty bread or pasta.