"Thunder & Lightning" for St. Scholastica

There is a rustic Italian peasant dish called tuoni e lampo or "thunder and lightning" which is made with pasta and chick peas (garbanzo beans) - where “thunder” refers to the profusion of fried chickpeas, and “lightning” to the excessive amount of coarsely cracked black pepper.

One of the most dramatic stories told about St. Scholastic and her brother, St. Benedict, is one associated with thunder and lightning and found in the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great. St. Scholasica very rarely got to see her beloved twin brother, St. Benedict. On one of their annual visits, he indicated that he had to leave and not be outside the monastery overnight.  His sister implored him to stay just for the night, but he would not. She started to weep and prayed to God. At that time violent thunder and lightning erupted, the skies opened and a mighty storm commenced. St. Scholastica said basically, "You would not listen to me but God did."  St. Benedict was forced to stay the night.  They spent the night in spiritual and heavenly talk. Benedict returned to his monastery the next morning.  St. Scholastica died a few days later and yet St. Benedict was able to have spent the extra time with her.  A lovely version of the story is told in Tomie de Poala's picture book, Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica

How excited I was to find the Italian dished called "thunder and lightning." Though not associated with the feast day as far as I could find, to me it seemed so perfect for St. Scholastica's feast day, February 10. Tuoni e lampo is often made with a mixture of pasta types - what is left at the bottom of the bags, then adding the beans. So really any type of pasta could be used. This particular version of the recipe I found, used a pasta called orecchiette, or "little ears" for its shape. I thought that could be a clever connection to God hearing St. Scholastica's pleas. It also seems fitting as it can refer to the St. Benedict in his rule as he begins the Prologue with these words: "Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart." 

Tuoni e Lampo

6 ounces dried orecchiette pasta (“little ears”)
2 T. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1 ½ t. finely slivered sage, plus sprigs for garnishing
½ cup chicken broth
½ t. coarsely cracked black pepper, “mignonette or butcher-grind”
1 T butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Add orecchiette to pot of boiling, salted water and cook until al dente (about 12 minutes.) While that is boiling, cook garlic and chickpeas in olive oil over high heat. Stir until the chickpeas begin to pop.  Add sage, broth and pepper.  Continue to cook over high heat until the broth reduces a bit and becomes syrupy (about 5 minutes.)   Drain pasta well.  Put butter in a large warm bowl and add pasta.  Toss.  Add chickpeas and broth to bowl and stir well. Add 1/2 cup cheese and salt to taste.Mix gently.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired, and dust with extra cheese. Garnish with small sage leaves.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4 though easily doubled to serve a large crowd. 

St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, Pray for us!

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Irish Cheese Toasties - Egg & Cheese Breakfast for St. Brigid

St. Brigid - February 1

As indicated in the previous post, St. Brigid is patroness of those who raise chickens.  Here is another simple egg dish for a quick feast day breakfast. I love quick non-complicated ideas for feast days. This recipe, for open faces "toasties" is simple and uses items usually available - eggs and cheese.  It is my understanding that these would be a common everyday hearty-type of fare, traditional but not one you hear about for special occasions.  The kind of food an Irish grandma would make. 

Irish Cheese Toasties


2 Tbsp. butter
4 slices crusty bread
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 cups shredded Irish cheddar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter one side of each slice of bread and place the pieces buttered-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes.

While that is toasting, whisk together the eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Stir in the cheese, evenly coating the shredded pieces with egg mixture.

Remove the toasted bread from the oven and divide the cheese mixture over the top of the four pieces of bread. Spread it to the edges of each slice.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 12 - 15 minutes. Serve warm.
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Guinness Caramelized Onion & Irish Cheddar Quiche

We celebrate the feast of St. Brigid of Kildare, 5th century Irish saint, on February 1.  Our family has had chickens almost two years now and I really enjoy having the fresh eggs readily available in our kitchen. I recently learned that St. Brigid, in addition to being a patron of Ireland, is also the patron of poultry farmers. So as "poultry farmers" I thought it would be nice to find an egg dish to celebrate our patron's feast day and found this great recipe chock full of Irish ingredients - Guinness, potato, kale, Irish cheddar.  The Guinness caramelized onions add a tasty zing to this egg abundant dish.  Great for a breakfast or brunch on her feast day or that of other Irish saints. 

Guinness Caramelized Onion & Irish Cheddar Quiche


1 cup Irish cheddar, grated
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Guinness beer
1 cup spinach, chopped  (or combo spinach and kale)
1 small potato, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray to coat pans


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Saute onions over medium heat in olive oil and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Pour Guinness into the pan, stir and cover.  Let cook for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Place diced potatoes in another greased pan, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. 

In bowl, beat eggs then add milk and mix.  Add cheese, onions, potatoes, spinach (& kale optional), salt and pepper.  Mix together and pour into greased round baking dish or quiche pan. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 

For past St. Brigid day recipes that recognize another of her patronages - dairy farmers - check out these bread recipes, with include buttermilk. Traditional Irish Soda Bread  and St. Brigid's Oaten Bread

St. Brigid, Pray for us!

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Mini Ground Lamb Pot Pie Cupcakes for St. Agnes Day

I was looking for a lamb dish to make on the feast of St. Agnes and came across this cute idea for mini pot pies. Combining tender lamb with sun-dried tomatoes in a mini pastry crust and topping with mashed potato icing makes pretty “cupcake” looking pot pies.  

Lamb Pot Pie Cupcakes


  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 8 oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped
  • 1 T. Olive oil 
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Mashed potato – for 'Icing' topping
  • Mini crusts, pre-made


In skillet, saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add ground lamb and cook until browned.  Add sun dried tomatoes, cook for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Fill 12 mini pastry crusts with the ground lamb mixture.  Fill a piping bag with mashed potatoes. Pipe a swirl on top of the meat mixture to cover.  Place under a hot preheated broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the mashed potatoes. Serve hot or cold. Good for a buffet, snack, lunch or dinner.   Makes: 12 mini pies

St. Agnes, Pray for us!

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St. Agnes Lamb's Wool Drinks

On January 21 we celebrate the feast of St. Agnes, 4th century martyr, known for her consecrated virginity. She is often depicted holding a lamb as her name, Agnes, means lamb or victim in Latin, and pure in Greek. In Rome on this feast day, two lambs are placed on the altar of the Basilica where her relics lie and are then blessed. The wool from these lambs is used in making the pallium, the symbols archbishops wear as sign of their authority. These are given to the new archbishops on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29.

There are so many beautiful details associated with this tradition, as specified in this article from the Vatican News Network:

The small lambs, traditionally less than a year old, are carried to the Pope in baskets, as per tradition, by the Canons Regular of the Cathedral of St John Lateran. To symbolize St. Agnes’ purity, one of the lambs wears a crown of white flowers, while the other wears a red floral wreath to recall her faithful witness even unto death.

Reared by religious sisters in the Saint Lawrence convent in Panisperna, Rome, come Summer these same lambs will be brought to the Saint Cecilia convent in Trastevere.  There, in a custom that has remained in tact down through the centuries, they will be shorn to supply the wool from which the religious sisters will weave the Pallium.

The Pallium are white woolen stoles, decorated with six black crosses worn by metropolitan archbishops around their necks as a symbol of their authority and unity with the Pope. Once woven they are custodied in an urn at the tomb of St Peter until the Holy Father presents them to newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

St. Agnes Lamb's Wool Drink Ideas

With the connection of lamb's wool, St. Agnes feast day lends itself to anything fluffy and white. Whipped cream seemed a fun way to try to replicate the look of wool and with this mid-winter feast, a perfect topping for a warm drink.  It's easy too!  Whether it be hot chocolate, chia latte, or a cappuccino, make it St. Agnes festive with a "woolly" topping. 

And if you are looking for some specific drink recipes with woolly names here are a few that would be fitting as well. 

Lamb's Wool - a type of Wassail ale dating from medieval times, traditionally served on Twelfth Night celebrating the end of the Christmas season. It is so named as the frothy apple mixture resembles wool. It would make a fun drink for St. Agnes feast celebrating as well. Florence Berger has a recipe for Lamb's Wool in her Cooking for Christ cookbook.  There are other versions of this wool-named ale including this one from Miss Foodwise blog.  Can be made as either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.

Warm Wooly Sheep - a sweet, creamy, warm drink for the grown ups. It is made from Scotch, Drambuie, and warm milk. Recipes abound on various mixed drink websites.

St. Agnes, Pray for us!

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Altagracia Cookies

This post was written by Catholic Cuisine contributor, Charlotte from Waltzing Matilda

Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked him to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend's house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner. An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bindle, gave it to the merchant, and said, "This is what you are looking for." It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside. They finally returned it to the church. 

In the picture book, A Gift of Gracias, by Julie Lavarez, a connection is made between this special feast day and oranges. These Orange Carrot Cookies would be a delightful treat for the Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia, coming up on January 21st, especially paired with a reading of the book. You can find the original recipe over at Dawn's blog, By Sun and Candlelight. I made a few changes that I will post here. Just FYI, these are soft, almost muffin-top like cookies, not crispy or crunchy cookies.

Altagracia Cookies

1 egg, room temperature
1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 - 3/4 C. sugar (I used less.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
the zest of 1/2 an orange (about 1 Tbl.)
1 C. mashed, cooked carrots
2 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
(sugar sprinkles, optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine baking powder and flour and set aside. Cream the egg, butter, sugar and vanilla. Add carrots and zest and mix well. Slowly incorporate flour mixture being careful not to over mix. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment covered cookie sheets. Add sugar sprinkles if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on a wire rack. 
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Authentic Liege Waffles for the Belgian Saints

Belgium is famous for its waffles. So if you are looking at celebrating a feast with a Belgian connection, look no further than the glorious waffle. I have some family members who are currently very excited about waffles and wanting real Belgian style. I did some research and found that there are two primary distinct styles of waffles in Belgium and both are different from the Americanized version most of us are familiar with. Even the name "Belgian waffle" came from the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. There is the gaufres de Liege (Liege waffle) and the gaufres de Bruxelles (Brussels waffle) - gaufres is French, wafel is Dutch. Some history of the Belgian waffles can be found here, here and here.

Both are distinguished from the Americanized version by a yeast batter with a delicious amount of butter. Liege waffles are made with a thick, sticky batter with added vanilla and large sugar crystals called pearl sugar. When the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt and caramelize on the surface, contributing to a crunchy sweetness. They also have uneven edges. These are the common waffles sold by street vendors in Belgium. Brussels waffles were made with a thinner batter which makes them lighter and crisper with smooth edges. These are closer to the American version.

So I splurged on a new Belgian waffle maker and some pearl sugar with Christmas money we got and put it to work to recognize the feast of Our Lady of Banneux, January 15. This commemorates the apparitions of Mary to a young girl, Mariette Beco, between January 15 and March 2, 1933 in the town of Banneux, which happens to be in the province of Liege in Belgium. It was very similar to a series of apparitions to five young children in nearby Beauraing from November 1932 to January 1933. Both were investigated and approved by the Church in 1949.

So if you are interested in celebrated Belgian saints with Belgian waffles here are a few of the more well known options:

Our Lady of Banneux - apparition, January 15
St. Colette - March 6
St. Juliana of Leige - April 6
St. Damien of Molokai - May 10
St. John Berchmans - August 13
St. Arnold of Soissons - August 14
Our Lady of Beauraing - apparition, August 22
St. Hubert - November 3

And there are the connections of waffles to celebrating the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden as mentioned in these past posts - Our Lady Feasting and Annunciation Waffles. And in my online reading I am finding was common to sell waffles as treats on the streets after Mass for feast days throughout parts of Europe. Another common feast day for this is mentioned in this past post - St. Michael's Waffles

Celebrate with waffles!

Liege Sugar Waffles

1 package yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Belgian pearl sugar

Mix yeast, granulated sugar, salt and water. Let stand 15 minutes for yeast to activate. In mixing bowl mound the flour and make well in middle. Pour yeast mixture into well and mix, adding eggs and melted butter. Mix until blended. Batter will be thick and sticky. Cover dough and let rise in warm spot 30-60 minutes to double. After rising add half cup of pearl sugar and mix in.

Spoon onto hot, greased waffle iron. Cook until golden - time depending on temperature and temperament of your particular waffle iron.

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