Tag Archives: Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello

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


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!

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!