Tag Archives: Foodie

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

Extend Christmas joy, right from your kitchen

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! People are generally trying to be more attentive to others. There’s an aura that warms their hearts. The joy of Christmas awakens consciousness to give of oneself.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it beautifully in a 2005 homily: “Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money. We can transmit this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.”

My ancestors in Italy embodied this through the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, keeping in mind what this custom signifies.

Tradition holds that it represents the seven sacraments. Leave it to the Italians to teach the Faith with food! Nourishing our souls with the sacraments allows others to recognize the joy of Christmas within us, just as when the disciples recognized the resurrected Christ in the breaking of the Bread at the supper at Emmaus.

The urgency for Christmas should be to keep the joy of Christ’s coming alive all year. It can be done if we accompany those little acts of charity with a deeper, committed prayer life. A well-nurtured personal prayer life keeps charity growing within us, radiating as an external joy of Christ that others can absorb from us. During the Christmas season we tend to pay more attention to prayer and the sacraments. But once we get back to our regular routine, for some that extra prayer effort gets diminished or forgotten. This challenge can be overcome if one understands that: Non potest quis id quod non habet [one cannot give what one does not have]. Simply put: if one does not have Christ’s joy within, he cannot extend it!

In availing ourselves of the sacraments this season, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and keeping a simple prayer life like reading the Bible, or reciting the rosary, we will keep the joy of Christ alive in us all year. Without any great effort, we can bring the joy of Christ to others. His joy will radiate through all our good deeds and actions. Buon Natale!

 

Ragu d’Astice (Lobster Ragu) • serves 4

Ingredients:
4 – 8oz. lobster tails*
1 lb. fusilli pasta cooked al dente
1 25 oz. jar Cucina Antica Garlic Marinara Cooking Sauce or sauce of your choice
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup white onion, finely minced
1⁄2 cup white wine
2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Prepare lobster tails: crack tail and loosen meat from shell without detaching from tail.

In a 10-12” deep sauté pan, combine extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and onions. Sauté on medium heat until garlic is light golden and onions translucent.

Add lobster meat and tails, white wine, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to pan. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add cooking sauce to pan. Simmer low 3 minutes until tails turn red, meat turns white.

Cover; cook with lid askew for 3 minutes on low until meat is cooked through (make sure to not overcook lobster).

Cook the pasta al dente, drain it, and add in 1 cup of lobster ragu from saute pan to prevent pasta from sticking. Stir to mix well.

Plate pasta, top with lobster ragu, and garnish with chopped parsley.

*Optional: remove lobster shell before serving or leave to add to presentation. For a true Feast of the Seven Fishes, substitute any or all of the following: mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops, lobster, king crab.

 

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.

The harvest is plentiful, but laborers are (still) few

Harvest festivals have been celebrated for millennia. Throughout Europe feasting and celebrating after a successful harvest are as ancient as the harvest season itself. Jewish harvest celebrations include the Feast of Tabernacles, a time of joy, praise and thanksgiving to God for His blessings of fruit, grapes, and grain. Native Americans have ceremonies that give thanks to Mother Earth for successful harvests with hope for the next growing season. To Americans, the harvest season heralds crisp mornings, pumpkin pie, and Pilgrims seeking passage to a land rich with possibilities.

Captain John Smith’s descriptions of America’s bounty inspired the Pilgrims, who were members of the English Separatist Church – a radical faction of Puritanism, to depart for the New World. While the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower with visions of religious freedom, recruits of the Merchant Adventurers (indentured servants and pioneers) were not the least interested in religious freedom; the Promised Land they sought was filled with fortune and material gain.

On September 6, 1620 the motley crew sailed; on November 11 they arrived on New England’s shores at Cape Cod. Though the Pilgrims came to fish, they did not have nets, tackle, or know- how. Native Massachusetts tribesmen taught the Pilgrims to construct fishing lines and nets from vegetable fibers and to craft hooks from bones. They caught and ate cod, clams, and other ocean fish, harpooned river sturgeon, and scooped eels from the streams following Squanto’s instruction.

In 1621, after a year of bitter cold temperatures, near-starvation, and illness, the Puritan settlers celebrated a bountiful harvest for three days with 90 Native Americans while giving thanks to God. For this “First Thanksgiving” feast, the leader of the Wampanoag people, Massasoit, contributed five deer. Governor William Bradford wrote that there were fish, wild turkeys, ducks, and geese. Colonial leader Edward Winslow recorded that the meal also included “lobsters, clams, eel, and Indian pudding made from corn boiled in molasses.” To a friend in England, Winslow wrote, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” While this “First Thanksgiving” was a day of celebration, a truly Puritan “thanksgiving” would have been a day set aside for prayer, piety, and reverence to God for His Providence.

As we enter this harvest season, we remember Jesus’ words to His disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Mt 9:37). Is our harvest plentiful because, like the recruits of the Merchant Adventurers, we focus on fortune? Or, has the Lord sent us as His laborers to sow seeds of morality and goodness that a bountiful harvest of souls may be won for the Kingdom of God?

Perfect Pumpkin Pie • prep time: 1 1/2 hours • Yield: 6-8 servings

The pumpkin pie we savor at Thanksgiving is a far cry from the colonial original. According to U.P. Hedrick in A History of Horticulture in America to 1860, pumpkin pie was traditionally made “by cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin to permit the removal of the seeds and their surroundings, after which the cavity was stuffed with apples, spices, sugar, and milk, and the whole baked. Probably a pastry similar to the modern pumpkin pie was made by those who had flour for the crust.”

Ingredients:
1 3⁄4 cups canned pumpkin
1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked 1 3⁄4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon 1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp ground cloves

Method:
Preheat oven to 425 ̊F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except crust. Using electric mixer, beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 ̊F. Bake 50 minutes or until knife inserted in pie center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on
wire rack. Enjoy with your favorite whipped topping or seasonal décor.

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

Bitter herb of truth – we are all servants

There are times when food doesn’t lead to celebration, but feels more like chewing on bitter herbs of truth. 

The past news cycles have been hard to digest. We’ve swallowed a difficult pill called “truth.” The Catholic Church, though founded, sustained, and sanctified by Jesus Christ, is filled with flawed humans. Jesus chose as the first pope, the apostle who denied him three times.

Unfortunately, problems we’ve put on the back burner have bubbled over, creating a real mess. Part of solution is for the entire Church — from pilgrim to Pope — to remember who we are: We are servants.

The scandals, crimes, and cover-ups stem from brokenness in human nature and unhealthy nurturing. We need to heal, or at least manage natural brokenness and vices through prayer, spiritual direction, counseling, and if necessary, medical intervention. If not, our sinful tendencies become actions. That’s why Jesus, the Divine Physician, through the Sacred Food of the Eucharist, seeks to unite with us, in order to heal us.

The “nurture” part of the problem — the environment where sin festers — is through clericalism. It leads to living above the law and luxuriously at the expense and obedience of the flock. Prelates abused their authority over innocent children or seminarians learning obedience. Clericalism makes ordained men forget that at their first ordination, they put on a deacon’s dalmatic (a liturgical apron).
Unfortunately, a small number of priests and bishops drank the “Kool-Aid” of clericalism, like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time succumbed to hypocrisy and Pharisee-ism. Again, it’s a small number, but we know what a few bad apples can do to an entire cart.

Part of the solution requires priests to renew their identity as selfless, suffering servants (Isaiah 53). Unfortunately, Church protection policies plus clericalism have created a mindset that separates priests from having authentically healthy relationships with those they’re called to serve. Priests should not be afraid to meet people in their homes, roll up sleeves and wash dishes, take care of their own housekeeping, and live a life connected with everyday reality.

Consider St. Paul’s hard labor with and for the people he sought to convert. The more “connected” priests are to reality, the less likely they’ll live in a clerical bubble. Get to know your priests and help them stay connected to the people they’re called to serve.

Please, don’t see priests as “janitors,” but as “custodians” of the faith. We are not slaves, but servants. Priests are sacramental ministers, but also spiritual fathers.

To be part of the solution to the problem, raise a holy family and make sure your priest is a part of it. Go ahead and invite him over to dinner, and make sure he helps out with the dishes.

 

Lobster Roll-Inspired Tuna Melt

The bitter herb of arugula brings great flavor to a simple, tasty dish that I connect to a need for penance. It’s easy and delicious, and sharable when you have your priest over for a meal.

Ingredients:

2 – 5oz. cans of tuna fish
Potato hot dog buns
1 tsp. minced shallot
1⁄2 tsp. minced garlic
Lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 celery stalk
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
4 slices American cheese
4 oz. Arugula
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Place tuna in strainer and drain. Mince shallot and garlic; add to lemon juice in a bowl, to mute flavor. Finely dice celery stalk. Add lemon zest to drained tuna fish.

Combine tuna, celery, shallot, garlic, and lemon juice with 2 tbsp. of mayo and mix, flaking tuna for a nice creamy texture. Heat cast-iron skillet and melt 1 tbsp. of butter. Place buns in pan and toast, then add cheese, lowering heat and adding tuna mixture. Cover to completely melt cheese and add a little arugula atop sandwich.

 

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

Warm kitchen serves up the most enjoyable dishes

Going back to school or work after summer break isn’t easy. No matter what your age, it would be more enjoyable to have an endless summer of fun and no work. However, we know it is only through work and sometimes even suffering, like that of Christ on the Cross, that true reward and joy can be won.

In my ministry as priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn, I have the honor of combining many of my interests, all reminding me daily it is only through hard work that real rewards are gained.

As Vicar for Development of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I oversee Futures in Education, the scholarship foundation for the Catholic Schools of Brooklyn and Queens. Each year I work with the staff and dedicated supporters of Futures in Education to provide scholarship assistance to students seeking a Catholic education whose families earn less than $27,000 yearly. They would not otherwise be able to afford the Catholic school of their choice without our help. Watching their parents struggle with limited resources to send them to a Catholic school inspires me. It would be easier to attend a free public school, yet they want more for their children. They yearn to break the poverty cycle through the richness of a good Catholic education.

As host of “Breaking Bread,” a cooking show with a Catholic perspective produced by DeSales Media, I meet different people from Brooklyn and Queens, two of the most diverse counties in the country. I visit restaurants, speak with community leaders, and invite chefs into my kitchen to share what unites us all – faith and food. This has enabled me to learn much about the struggles many endured to become American while holding onto their culture and ethnic beginnings.

Recently, I had the pleasure of cooking with Rosella Rego, author of “Cooking with Nona.” Her newest cookbook is comprised of grandmas’ recipes from around the country. In today’s instant-gratification society, taking time to sit listening to grandma’s stories while bonding with her over cooking has largely been lost. There’s also the loss of family history, when missing what one generation shares with the next. Though it’s easier to order in or eat out, the work put into making a dish and learning from parents and grandparents yields a meal more satisfying.

As school resumes and work intensifies, remember how rewarding hard work is when you’ve accomplished what you intended. You never know what surprising new things you’ll learn – like watching your child gain knowledge you’ve not had, or gaining insight from a grandma with a lifetime of experience to share.

The three “Fs” of life are Faith, Family, and Food, and all three are only as good as the work, sacrifice, and time put into them.

 

Grandma’s Italian Eggplant Meatballs 

Ingredients:

1 loaf hard Italian bread1 large eggplant
10 oz EACH of: ground beef, ground veal, ground pork
1 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ Cup chopped Italian parsley
2Tbs. chopped basil
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
2 eggs
1 Qt. Italian tomato sauce
Oil for frying

Preparation:

Soak bread in milk and water. Squeeze excess and remove crust. Allow 1-2 days to dry.

Skin the eggplant, cut into cubes, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Mix in large bowl: ground beef, veal, pork, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, parsley, basil, garlic, eggs, stale made bread, salt and pepper.

Form mixture into round meatballs; fry evenly in heated pan with oil.

Put layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking dish. Place fried meatballs in dish, cover with layer of tomato sauce, add additional parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Place in pre-heated oven at 350˚Fahrenheit for 30 minutes and enjoy!

 

Introducing NEW chef, MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO, pastor of The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Brooklyn, and host of WNET TV’s “Breaking Bread.” He graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute in New York, working as a chef and hospitality executive before becoming a priest.

Offering ‘fruit’ of self-giving to sustain, heal and reunite

The most fulfilling love one can experience is that of fully giving oneself without reservation and at all cost. In a sincere and total gift of self, we mirror Christ’s sacrificial love for us. St. John Paul II frequently quoted the passage from Gaudium et Spes, “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (GS 24).

Desmond Thomas Doss was a corporal who served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946. Doss refused to carry a weapon into combat or to kill anyone because of his personal religious beliefs. In 1945, Doss became the only conscientious objector ever to receive the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the medal for his bravery in saving 75 men at the Battle of Okinawa without firing a single shot.

At the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’s unit, fighting at the top of a cliff, was being decimated and was forced to retreat. Doss was helping others off the ridge to safety, and at one point, a wounded soldier died in his arms. At this Doss prayed a simple prayer to God: “What do you want of me?” and with that he heard the cries of the many other wounded soldiers still in harm’s way on the ridge. Doss was very much aware of the danger of losing his life by going back to help. He helped because he heard God calling him to a sacrificial love for his fellow man. While lowering the wounded one at a time to safety, the rope caused his hands to bleed, and he prayed again, this time, “Lord, please help me to get one more.” Each time he brought another to safety, he repeated the prayer because he knew God would supply the courage and strength.

Through faith and selfless sacrifice, Doss fully gave himself up to God’s will, unconditionally, and at all costs. Beautifully said in John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Following the example of this incredible hero in uniform, let us remember that we must not be afraid to get our hands sullied until they “bleed” out of love, doing all we can to help our families, and our fellow man in need with the same sacrificial love of Jesus. We can recall the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Let us reflect how we can respond more fully to God’s call. Lord, what do you want of me?

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 have 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.

Prosciutto, Arugula and Melon Fig salad • serves 4

Ingredients:
½ lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 bunches arugula, washed and stemmed
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (suggested: Cucina Antica Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Cup pecans, toasted at 375˚
4 firm ripe figs
12 ½-inch slices honey dew melon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/3 oz.)

Preparation:
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place arugula in a large bowl and toss with 4 Tbsp. of vinaigrette.

Trim the tough stems from the figs and cut each fig into 8 slices. Season melon with salt and pepper. Wrap each slice of melon in two slices of prosciutto.

Mound the greens on 4 plates. Place 3 prosciutto-wrapped melons around the greens. Arrange 8 slices of fig (1 whole fig) on each plate. Shave Parmesan cheese over salads and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

The modern, migrant tomato – from a dysfunctional family

Tomatoes are among those tormented vegetables (or fruits?) of the garden patch. Like many family lines, the tomato comes from a distinguished, albeit, dysfunctional one. Originating in the lower Andes (part of present-day Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia), the tomato was held in little esteem. Small and perishable, it was not a food easily cultivated for storage like potatoes, beans, squash, and maize. By the time Christopher Columbus arrived upon the shores of America, the tomato had made its way to Mexico, but stopped short of crossing the border into southwest North America.

To its credit, the tomato had the distinction of being among the 15 most valuable crops – such as sweet potato, pumpkin, avocado, and cocoa – to depart the New World for the Old, according to Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov. This unprecedented swapping of plants and animals was dubbed the ‘Columbian Exchange’ by historian Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., who went on to say that these foods “made the most valuable single addition to the food-producing plants of the Old World since the beginnings of agriculture.” The Italians embraced tomatoes with gusto despite the warnings of naturalist Pierandrea Mattioli, referring to it as an “unhealthy apple.” Still, can you imagine Italian cuisine today without tomatoes?

The tomato infiltrated Spain, France, Poland, and beyond, yet North Americans were skeptical of this member of the deadly nightshade family. They were a further menace to Puritan society when rumors circulated that the tomato was an aphrodisiac! How noble was the first man who took a stand on its behalf. According to James Trager, it was Colonel Robert Gibbon in 1840 who stood on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey to eat a raw tomato. Death was surely imminent, yet he lived! It was not until after World War I that the tomato gained status as a worthy component of the dinner table.

Seemingly prone to controversy and discord, there was also the business of classifying the tomato. According to Waverley Root, in 1893 the Supreme Court “ruled that because it was used like a vegetable it must be considered one for the purposes of trade.” So legally, tomatoes are vegetables, while botanically they are fruits.

One might compare this mixed-up botanical debacle with the present-day, hot-button issue of a “Columbian Exchange” of peoples from many countries and across many borders. Genealogical and ancestral lineage aside, we love our homegrown tomatoes, just as we love our extended families in Christ. We must pray to the Lord as we discern the immigration debate. May we each have the courage of Colonel Gibbon, who ate the “forbidden fruit,” to amicably resolve the immigration issue while loving all neighbors as ourselves.

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. This month’s featured recipe is from his recent cookbook, Can You Dig It: Louisiana’s Authoritative Collection of Vegetable Cookery.

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

Creole Tomato-Basil Pie • yield: 6-8 servings • prep time: 2 hours

4–5 medium Creole tomatoes
½ cup torn basil leaves, divided
1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
½ cup olive oil, divided
½ cup julienned andouille sausage, divided
1 cup crawfish tails, divided
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 small Bermuda onion, peeled, sliced and divided
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Core tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices. Drain approx. 1 hour on paper towels to remove excess liquid. Set tomatoes aside. In bottom of pie shell, layer ¼ cup Monterey Jack cheese; then top with sliced tomatoes. Brush tomatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with basil, andouille, crawfish tails, Cheddar and Parmesan along with ¼ cup Monterey Jack. Season to taste with salt and pepper then add 2–3 slices Bermuda onion. Continue with tomato slices and repeat layers 2–3 times or until pie is filled. Sprinkle top generously with bread crumbs along with any remaining cheeses and basil. Bake 1–1½ hours or until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are well browned. Remove from oven. Allow pie to cool slightly before serving. If desired, place finished pie in refrigerator and serve cold or freeze for later use.

Love like Christ’s warms guests at the table

I’ll admit, the popular image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus didn’t always inspire me. My grandmother had it pinned on her wall. Jesus was shown with His hair parted in the middle, head slightly tilted, looking very concerned like an “active listening” counselor. He also had an exposed heart crowned with thorns, pierced, with a little flame on top. It was puzzling to me at the time.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

I appreciate how the Sacred Heart image focuses on Jesus’ heart, because it shows His passion and desire for people to know His love in order to share in it. And I can easily see in my mind’s eye that Jesus frequently sat at a table eating with sinners. Not only is the Feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated this year on June 8, but it is commemorated on the first Friday of each month. In asking Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in His apparitions to her in the late 1600s to help institute the Feast as well as the first-Friday devotions to His Sacred Heart, Christ is really revealing the great “fire” in His heart representing his ever-burning unquenchable love for us, and His desire to be loved in return. In the Gospels, He likewise revealed this love when He met people at the table.

 

The table is the place where Jesus shared His Sacred Heart in exchange for the heart of the tax collector, prostitute, foreigner, and the hard-hearted. His heart was utterly visible and understandable with His disciples in the Upper Room, and at the Sea of Galilee when he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” “Feed my sheep!”

Jesus’ sacred, shepherding heart is the reason why I started www.PlatingGrace.com, www. TheTableFoundation.com, and especially my new effort, a podcast called, “Shoot the Shiitake with Father Leo.” As an “audio cast,” I do more listening to my guests – people of all different backgrounds – including the type of people Jesus would meet at His table (i.e., sinners and those far from God’s love).

Because of the Sacred Heart, I endeavor to engage this divided world, creating true dialogue and opportunities for conversation and hopefully conversion. While I can’t give everyone the Eucharist, I can represent the Presence of Jesus with my own heart, as I try to unite through listening, sharing, and feeding people who are hungering for the love of Jesus in their lives.

The pious image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one that may not be readily understood by everyone, but if we receive the Eucharist, then we are called to become the image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart to others. What does that look like for you? I hope the image becomes more clear to you at your next dinner gathering — with family, friends, your “enemies,” strangers, and foreigners, sinners and saints alike.

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, Catholic priest, chef, TV & radio host, best-selling author, renowned conference speaker & corporate presenter, founder of GraceBeforeMeals.com.

LEARN MORE:
gracebeforemeals.com

Shiitake Mushroom Cream Pasta

1 pound of linguine or spaghetti, boiled al dente
1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean and
sliced thinly
1 anchovy filet
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 Tbsp. of fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup of white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. of black pepper
1-2 tsp. of grated parmesan cheese per serving
2 tsp. of salt

Cook pasta al dente, reserving 1 cup of starchy pasta water. In large sauce pan, melt butter and add anchovy filet, mashing with fork into smaller flecks. Add shallot, garlic, parsley and sauté until shallots soften and are translucent. Add mushrooms and sauce for 1 minute. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add whipping cream and cook over low heat. Add sauce to pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add the starchy water, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix the pasta into sauce until desired consistency. Serve with more minced parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Surviving season of mayhem through simplicity

In cooking, as in life, there’s a season for everything. There’s a season for crafting fine cuisine, with ingredients sourced from the local farmer’s market. And there’s a season for microwaving frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s. There’s a season for feeding crowds. And there’s a season for parties of one. There’s a season for spending hours in the kitchen. And there’s a season for spending 15 minutes readying a simple meal.

Right now, even 15 minutes feels generous to me.

Over the last 18 months, I’ve taken on more than any sane person should, attempting to write multiple books, restore a three-story, 128-year-old house, and start a family with my husband. With the latter hope still eluding us, we’ve moved on to adoption, with all the madness that entails, from running the gauntlet of a home study to solving the housing problems of birth parents living 3,000 miles away.

In the midst of all the “crazy,” cooking fancy food and hosting impressive dinner parties has fallen by the wayside. These days, if you come to my house for dinner, prepare yourself for pizza night.

But that’s okay. That’s how life goes. There’s great joy in cooking and baking and serving the people we love. But, there’s also great joy in not having nervous breakdowns. If simplifying things in the kitchen can add to our sanity, it’s okay to lean into that, knowing that someday, this season, too, shall pass.

Over the last year, I’ve made my peace with this. I still try to keep our diet healthy; nourishment remains the basic goal. I also still try to have friends and family around our dinner table… although I have no shame in serving pizza…or skipping the meal altogether and just serving wine and cheese. But beyond that, I’m surviving through simplicity.

In practice, this means that on some weeknights, we take advantage of delivered meal kits. For our family of two, services like Blue Apron enable us to have delicious dinners, without the stress of meal-planning, shopping, and hours in the kitchen. On other nights, we hit “start” on the rice cooker, roast some veggies with garlic, oil, and salt, and pretend we’re vegan. Just as often, I dip into my arsenal of simple recipes (like the Bacon & Egg Salad featured here) that make me feel like I’m spending more time in the kitchen than I am.

All those tricks help. So too does knowing that someday, this season of crazy will end, and the days of risotto and fine wine will return. That might take a while—especially if God answers those prayers for a baby. But, that will be yet another season, and like all of them—each in their own way—a blessed one.

EMILY STIMPSON CHAPMAN is the author of The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet. She blogs at TheCatholicTable.com.

 

Bacon & Egg Salad
Serves 2
Prep time: zero minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

4 strips thick-sliced bacon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
4 large handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, or arugula)
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Instructions: In a large frying pan, cook bacon until desired level of crispness; drain on paper towels. Once it’s cool to the touch, roughly chop.

While the bacon cools, heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan; when it’s hot enough to make water sizzle, crack two eggs into the pan. Fry until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny. While the eggs cook, divide the greens, walnuts, and goat cheese between two plates. Add chopped bacon. When the egg is just done, flip it onto the greens, so that the yolk runs on the lettuce. Drizzle olive oil onto the salad and add just a pinch of salt. Serve warm.