Tag Archives: food

First course can renew entire meal

Throughout the history of the church, many spiritual exercises have been introduced in order to help us stop what we are doing and reflect. In the course of a year, most of us find ourselves jumping from one project to another, one responsibility to another, and even from place to place without enjoying the fruits of our labors, the blessings we have been graced with, or the wisdom gained from reflection.

The new year gives us an opportunity to review our behaviors and reset ourselves for the year ahead, oftentimes following the hustle of a busy Christmas season and close of the calendar year. January presents us with a fresh beginning which, like a good starter dish at a dinner party, sets the course for what is to follow.

Before I answered God’s call to serve His people in the ministry of the priesthood, I attended the Culinary Institute of America. During my time in culinary school and my years of working in restaurants and hotels in Manhattan, I always placed special emphasis on the first course or appetizer. My theory has always been that while a fabulous entrée can make a meal memorable, the way you begin a meal can make the same old spectacular, and the everyday an experience. Too often in life we want to rush to the main course; some of us even want to rush directly to the dessert. However, if we start off with the right first course, it slows us down and allows us to enjoy all that follows with a renewed sense of appreciation.

As a chef I always must also keep focused on what is the purpose of the meal I am preparing. Am I cooking a meal to be healthy, to meet the taste of a particular individual, to feed someone who is hungry, or to mark a special occasion?

The first course is essential to helping me accomplish the reason for my meal. It should not be in opposition to the purpose, but assist in connecting where the diner is when he or she first sits at the table and where I would like them to be when they are finished. Once again, it is the way I start the meal which will allow the courses to lead the diner.

Whether you are hosting a party or preparing a simple chicken breast on a Tuesday night, beginning with something new, refreshed, or just unexpected may afford you the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of a meal which won’t leave you hungry. Similarly, if we begin this new year with a renewed sense of purpose, we can discover countless blessings we may have overlooked in our busyness the year before.

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of the NET TV cooking show “Breaking Bread.” https://netny.tv/shows/breaking-bread/


Baked Artichoke Dip

3 Cans (14 oz each) artichoke hearts in water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ Cup all-purpose flour
2 Cups whole milk, warmed
2 Tsp coarse salt Black pepper
1/8 Tsp cayenne pepper
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ Tsp lemon zest (finely grated)
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs

Chop the 3 cans of artichoke hearts well.

In a bowl, mix together well the chopped artichokes, butter, flour, whole milk, salt,

pepper (to taste), cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, onion, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, and bread crumbs.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place the contents of the bowl in the dish and place in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 min.

Serve with bread, chips, or vegetables for dipping and enjoy!

Opt for root sustenance of body and soul

Chef John D. Folse

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” penned the world-renowned chef, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in his 1826 volume The Physiology of Taste. German philosopher and moralist, Ludwig Feuerbach, also believed that “man is what he eats.” If we truly believe that the foods that we eat comprise our bodily constitution, then it follows that what we feed our minds is also what constitutes our moral beliefs and daily spirituality. In other words, we are what we watch, read, listen to, and think. If you watch sexually explicit television or read vulgarity, you feed your soul a diet of pornography.

While many suppose that the “duties of religion” are the responsibilities of priests, nuns, and brother monks, it is actually the responsibility of the lay apostolate to be salt of the earth – to infiltrate the nooks and crannies of daily life where the religious rarely trod. As laity, our daily spiritual diet must consist of wholesome reading including Sacred Scripture, maintaining holy friendships, and meditating on the lives of the saints, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Mother, Mary. We must emblemize the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. We all enjoy the guilty pleasures of “junk food” for the body and the brain; however, it is up to each of us to evangelize the culture by being proponents of Christian values and morality.

“If they don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything,” wrote Dr. Gordon A. Eadie in the January 1945 issue of the journal Mental Hygiene. If we refuse to stand for truth and moral values, then moral relativism will continue to reign in movies, television, song lyrics, books, the Internet, rallies, medical facilities, politics, laws, and political correctness. We must understand that many evils are veiled in tolerance. As John LaBriola wrote in Onward Catholic Soldier, “Satan loves to spread the lie that tolerance is a virtue and intolerance is a sin. He wants to replace truth with tolerance. Tolerance is an affront to justice for justice permits only that which is God; tolerance permits everything except intolerance. Tolerance is one of Satan’s most effective lies.” At times, our missionary task of salvaging truth may seem overwhelming. We may feel “too small” to affect change in any measurable way. However, we must remember that like the Apostles who evangelized the world long before the digital revolution, we are fishermen for Christ.

While the nutritionist Victor Lindlahr strongly touted in the 1920s and ‘30s that food controls health, that same notion might well be first attributed to the Roman Catholic Church. Do we not nourish our bodies and souls on the body and blood of Christ at every Eucharistic Supper? Yes, we are what we eat; and, we are what we feed our soul.

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

Honey-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves: 12
Prep Time: 1.5 hours

1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/4 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (1 1/4-pound) celery root, peeled, quartered and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/4 pounds golden beets, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup
6 thyme sprigs
salt and ground black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 tbsps sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss root vegetables with oil, honey, cane syrup, and thyme then season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste. Divide between 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Cover with aluminum foil and roast 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender, shifting pans once. Remove foil and roast 10 additional minutes. Return vegetables to bowl, stir in vinegar then adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Feeding your family’s body and soul

Come hell or high water, when I was growing up as the seventh of eight children, my mother unfailingly made sure we gathered at the same time every evening at our modest kitchen table to break bread and share hearts. She also made certain that we prayed before we dived into the meal.

food-cooperSound idyllic? Possibly so, but it certainly doesn’t mean that all eight of us were behaving with sparkling halos over our heads every night. Still, we were there at the dinner table creating memories and establishing traditions that became etched on my heart.

Being convinced that regular dinner times needed to prevail over the chaotic nighttime pulls of a mulititude of activities outside the home, I carried my mother’s tradition into my own domestic church with my five children. In addition to the “grace before meals” prayer, I added a Hail Mary, as well as spontaneous, heartfelt prayers in accordance with the seasons and various family needs.

One day a young teenager and her family visited our home and asked why I was setting the table with silverware and had placed fresh flowers on the table. She and her parents ate meals separately. Many times she had dinner in front of the computer. It was sad to hear. I prayed silently that our simple luncheon might somehow set an example.

Unfortunately, many families today have allowed the culture and its allurements to dictate how their family dinners should be. They’re often running around in the evening, rather than experiencing communion as a family. They’ve lost the art of coming together at the end of the day to reconnect, share, and nourish their bodies and souls. We need to change that. It’s essential to be a shining example — rich in time together at a family dinner, enveloped in God’s abiding love! The crazy evening schedules can’t always be avoided, but let’s not be robbed of precious family time. We can take countercultural steps to cut down on activities that take us away from hearth and home.

We can focus on our time together by getting the family involved in cooking the meal. We can take it further by teaching a short faith lesson right at the dinner table. How can you be a light of faith to your family and beyond?

DONNA-MARIE COOPER O’BOYLE is a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN host. She is an award-winning author of more than 20 books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com


Salmon filet with pesto sauce

Fresh salmon fillet
2-3 tbs unsalted butter
Basil pesto Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place (skin side down) in hot butter. Cook about 3 minutes without turning, spooning butter over top. Transfer the entire pan to oven. Roast 8-9 minutes or desired doneness. Remove from oven. Spoon fresh basil pesto liberally down the center of salmon. Put pan back in oven for 1-2 minutes to heat pesto. Remove from oven, garnish with basil leaves. Serve with sautéed vegetables, angel hair pasta with pesto on top. Light a candle at the dinner table.

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (or raw
sunflower seeds, walnuts or a
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino,
asiago or parmesan cheese

Combine the fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts in food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth. Season with kosher salt and pepper and a big squeeze of fresh lemon to brighten and for taste. Transfer to a serving bowl. Mix in fresh cheese. Refrigerate until use.

Finding God around the table

Do you see the common thread in these scenarios?

Jeff Young

1) A cocktail hour before a business dinner. 2) The home-cooked meal that Mom whipped up in between the after-school pick-up line and soccer practice, waiting to be served to a tired, rowdy and sweaty family. 3) The romantic anniversary dinner at that fancy restaurant downtown which has garnered so many accolades. 4) The Sunday feast at Grandma’s house where all the aunts, uncles and cousins come to spend the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and Grandma’s cooking. 5) The simple Lenten lunch that some church ladies like to share before their rosary group.

Each example has something to do with food, with meals, right? Yes, but each example is really about communion. At first glance that might not seem to be the case. But if you’re a Catholic foodie, the deeper meaning might become clear.

When it comes to making sense of the complexities of human life, I like to remind myself that God made us and he knows us. Because he knows us, he knows what we need. He created man and woman in his own image and likeness. He created them out of love and for love — and love means a communion of persons. Not even sin can change that fundamental fact. We are made for love and we long for communion.

In Genesis, as God began to make good on his promise to repair the damage caused by sin, he began to form for himself a people, a family. He did so by binding the people to himself through a series of covenants, each of which culminated in a shared, communal meal. The most striking example of this covenant meal is the Passover, when God set his people free from slavery in Egypt. That meal — with its unblemished lamb and unleavened bread — foreshadows the new and everlasting covenant established by Jesus on the cross, the covenant made present in the world today in the Eucharist.

God knows what we need. He made us for communion with himself and with each other. This is why shared meals are so important. Around both the table of the Eucharist and the family dinner table, we can experience communion. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass, we call it Holy Communion. That, of course, is communion par excellence with God himself. But we also experience communion around the table — for breakfast, lunch or dinner — when we share a meal with family and friends, and even strangers.

We might not always be mindful of it, but we’re wired for communion. This month, let’s pray to be mindful that we were created for love, for communion, which so often we find around the table. To whet your appetite, I’m sharing my special seasonal recipe. Bon appétit!

JEFF YOUNG, best known as The Catholic Foodie, is an author, blogger, radio host and podcaster.

LEARN MORE: CatholicFoodie.com


Pumpkin Soup with Kale and Kafta

food-22 medium yellow onions, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
1 med pumpkin, cleaned, peeled, cut into 2-3” pieces
2 tbs garlic, chopped
1 gallon chicken stock
1 batch of kafta, browned
1-2 heads of kale, cleaned, chopped into 2” pieces
Cayenne to taste
1 tsp each ground allspice, nutmeg, cumin
2 tbs of olive oil

Sauté onions and celery until translucent. Add garlic and pumpkin. Continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cumin and cayenne. Cook until pumpkin is soft (25-30 min.). Purée pumpkin with an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor (make sure your blender or food processor can be used with hot liquids). Return soup to pot and add lamb meatballs and kale. Simmer on medium to medium/low until meatballs are fully cooked and kale is softened (about 25 minutes).


Kafta (Lamb Meatballs)food-1

2 lbs ground lamb (or substitute  ground round beef)
1 large sweet yellow onion, finely    chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or  minced
6 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh mint, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1 tsp each fresh cracked pepper,  allspice, cinnamon, cumin

Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls of desired size. Preheat skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to skillet (or other oil with high smoke point). Add meatballs in batches. Brown on all sides. Remove and let drain on paper towels.