Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Feast for St. Ignatius Loyola

This week we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, mystic, preacher and founder of the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Gipúzkoa in the heart of the Basque county of Spain. I have always been fiercely proud of my Basque heritage and take special pride in the two great Basque saints, St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.

Five years ago I had the privilege of traveling to the Basque country in northern Spain with my mom and younger sister. One of the highlights was a visit to the the aforementioned Loyola family castle and Basilica there. These are located in the town of Azpeitia, in the province of Gipúzkoa where Iñigo López de Loyola was born in 1491. To find out more about the family history and Basque influence on St. Ignatius you can read "The family history and childhood of Iñigo."

The Basque people are known for their hospitality and gastronomic prowess. The Loyola family crest includes two wolves on either side of a hanging cauldron, symbolizing hospitality. What better way to celebrate the July 31 feast than with a traditional Basque meal.

Basque cuisine is revered all over Spain and the rest of Europe. The cuisine is simple and frugal yet delicious - nothing is wasted, all the fruits of the hunt and harvest are used. I considered the classic specialities of angulas (baby eels), patas de cerdo con callos (pigs feet with cow's stomach), lengua (tongue), rabo de buey (oxtail - or you can use the tails of slain fighting bulls!) and settled on a few recipes that were likely to actually be eaten by your families (and mine).

Salad with Vinagarette
1 large head of loose leaf lettuce
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings

For extra flavor rub salad bowl with garlic clove. Clean lettuce and pat dry, break into bite sized pieces. Add onion rings and refrigerate.

1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sweet wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
salt to taste

Place ingredients in jar. Shake and refrigerate until just before meal.

Sheepherder Red Beans

Wash two cups red beans (small red bean , not kidney, if you can find them). Cook in four quarts size kettle until tender on medium heat (or to save time use 4 cans canned red beans- I've found at Kroger). In fry pan cook 3 strips bacon or salt pork, one medium onion chopped, salt and pepper to taste. Add to bean mixture with one 8 oz can of tomato sauce and simmer for at least an hour.

Chicken Breast with Garlic and Parsley

These breasts are seasoned with a typical Basque mixture of parsley, garlic, and olive oil.

2 whole boned, skinned chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
About 6 Tbsp. olive oil

Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thinner pieces. Lightly sprinkle the pieces with salt and set aside. In a small bowl mix parsley, garlic, and 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Rub the mixture on both sides of the chicken pieces. In a large skillet heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. of oil over high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn them over and raise heat to high and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat again and cook until cooked through. Increase ingredients accordingly if cooking for more that 4 servings.
And of course, a nice loaf of artisan/peasant bread is always a staple to round out the meal.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tarta de Santiago (St. James' Cake)

This delicious almond cake is named in honor of St. James the Greater, the patron saint of Spain. It originated in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, the reputed burial place of St. James. Today, this cake is sold all over Santiago de Compostela and is quite popular with both tourists and pilgrims.

Tarta de Santiago
  • 2 2/3 cups ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 8 Tbsp butter (1 cube) at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • zest of 1 Lemon
  • powdered sugar to decorate


Heat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a round 8-inch spring form pan.

Blanch the almonds, then using a grinder or a food processor, grind the almonds until fine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the butter, flour, baking powder and water and beat with an electric hand mixer.

Stir the almonds into the batter. Grate the lemon and add the zest and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake in oven on the middle rack at 350 F degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes. Check after 45 minutes. Cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

The traditional way to decorate is to sprinkle powdered sugar on the top, with a cutout of a cross or a shell, to symbolize St. James, on top.

To make a cross, you can print out this picture of the cruz santiago that I am going to use, or you could use any clean piece of paper folded in fourths to cut out a cross. Then, after the cake has cooled, place the cross in the center of the cake and dust the top with powdered sugar.

Prep Time: 15 minutes; Cook Time: 45 minutes; Yields: 8 servings

Saint James the Greater ~ Pray for us!
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Coupe Saint-Jacques

Our favorite treat for the feast of St. James is Coupe Saint-Jacques (Ice Cream Cup St. James).

In Cooking with the Saints, the author says to "Put any mixture of fresh fruits in season in a parfait glass. Pear, grapefruit, orange, and dark grapes or strawberries make a delicious combination. Spoon lemon sherbet over the fruit. Top with a spoonful of chocolate syrup if desired."

In My Nameday -- Come for Dessert, the author suggests mixing "two or three kinds of fruit with two or three kinds of ice cream neatly arranged in deep glasses, flavored with liqueur and garnished with whipped cream."

Personally, I don't think there is any wrong way to make an ice cream cup!

Updated to add a photo of our 2012 Coupe Saint-Jacques, served in Chocolate Dipped Ice Cream Cups and topped with handmade Chocolate Cockle Shells, the symbol for St. James:

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Tartelettes de Saint-Jacques à la Mangue

The feast of St. James the Greater is celebrated on July 25th. A couple years ago I ran across the following recipe online. In Cooking with the Saints, the author points out that scallops are called "Coquilles Saint-Jacques" in French, and therefore the majority of recipes associated with St. James contain scallops. So, this would be a perfect appetizer to serve in his honor. Doesn't it look delicious?

Tartelettes de Saint-Jacques à la Mangue
[Scallop Mango Tartlets]

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 large ripe mango
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 sea scallops (about 10 to 12 ounces), fresh, or frozen and thawed according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta or cream cheese
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, gently roll the sheet of puff pastry until it forms a 10-to-11-inch square. Use an upturned bowl, about 4 1/2 inches in diameter, and a knife to cut out four circles of dough. Place the circles on the prepared cookie sheet, prick them a few times in the center with a fork (to prevent excessive rising) and bake for 8-10 minutes, until puffy and golden.

In the meantime, cut the mango vertically on either side of the pit, peel the skin and cut the flesh into thin slivers. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter turns a light nutty brown, add the scallops. Cook for one minute without moving them around, allowing a nice golden crust to form. Flip the scallops and cook for 40 seconds on the other side. (If you're using bay scallops, lower the cooking time to 30 seconds on one side, 20 seconds on the other). Transfer carefully onto a plate lined with paper towels.

Remove the circles of dough from the oven, but leave the heat on. Drop specks of cheese on each circle (no need to spread it, it will melt in the oven), leaving a half-inch margin all around. Cover each circle with a fourth of the mango, and top with three sea scallops (or a fourth of your total). Season the tarts with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Saint James the Greater ~ Pray for us!
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Madeleines for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Madeleine is a French form of Magdalen (Mary Magdalen, a disciple of Jesus, is mentioned in all four gospels).

You can purchase these Classic Madeleine pans from



2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour twenty-four 3-inch Madeleine molds.

In a medium bowl beat eggs, vanilla and lemon zest with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar. Beat for 5 to 7 minutes or until thick and satiny.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift one-fourth of the flour mixture over the egg mixture, gently fold in. Fold in the remaining flour by fourths. Then fold in the melted and cooled butter. Spoon batter into the prepared molds, filling 3/4 full.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are golden and the top s spring back. Cool in molds on a rack for 1 minute. Loosen cookies with a knife. Invert cookies onto a rack and cool. Sift confectioners' sugar over the tops or melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip the tips in the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Brown Scapular Cake

Today, inspired by Anne, I made a Brown Scapular Cake to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

For our cake I used a simple yellow GOLD cake mix (baked in a 9x13 pan and cut in half) and topped with chocolate brown frosting. I used two brown pipe cleaners for the cord, and then decorated it with some white frosting.

My sister Julianna stopped by for a couple minutes before work, and I talked her into drawing the image of Our Lady, since she is such an artist! Didn't she do a beautiful job?! I did the (attempted) writing on the right. (I am very new to cake decorating, but it sure is fun!!) In case you can't read it, it says:

"Whosoever dies wearing this SCAPULAR
shall not suffer eternal fire..."

For more information on the Brown Scapular, please visit A Catholic Life. (Thank you Seminarian Matthew for the link!)

Our Lady of Mount Carmel ~ Pray for us!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mystic Monk Coffee

Speaking of the upcoming feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Coffee... I thought I would take this opportunity to draw your attention to the Carmelite Monks in Wyoming.

In order to build an abbey and support themselves, the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is roasting and distributing Mystic Monk Coffee.
Mystic Monk Coffee is roasted by the Carmelite Monks, a Roman Catholic monastery in the silence and solitude of the Rocky Mountains of northern Wyoming. The monks live a hidden life of prayer and contemplation in the pursuit of God. The monastery is inundated with young men who seek to leave everything to pray for the world, in a tradition at least a thousand years old. It is the monks’ great joy and privilege to share the fruit of their life with you in every cup of Mystic Monk Coffee.

We are especially fond of this particular Carmel, are currently Guild Members, and my husband even had the opportunity to visit since his brother spent a few months there before returning to the FSSP.

So... What are you waiting for? Hop on over and order some coffee, and while your at it, don't forget to order their CD. The music is beautiful! Pin It

A Cake for Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The night before last, I sat here trying to think of something to bake for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is coming up on July 16th. I was looking for ideas online, and in various cookbooks, and wasn't having very much luck. I started thinking that it would be so neat to make a dessert based on the Brown Scapular.

I didn't really know exactly how I would be able to pull it off, but today I received an email from Kimberlee directing me over to Under Her Starry Mantle. It was just what I was looking for!!!

Last year Anne made a beautiful Brown Scapular Cake for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Head on over to her blog and check it out! It's amazing! Pin It

Monday, July 14, 2008

Granita di Caffe

In the Feast Day Cookbook, Katherine Burton recommends making Granita di Caffe, a cool and refreshing Coffee Ice beverage, for the summer time feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Granita di Caffe
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups strong coffee
Stir the sugar into the warm water until it is melted and add the lemon juice. Stir for about five minutes. Add the coffee, strain, place in a freezing tray, and then freeze (stirring frequently), until it becomes a mush.

Serve the ice slush in glasses, with any of the following toppings:
  • Whipped cream (add vanilla, sugar, almond extract, etc.)
  • Liqueurs (Amaretto, Kahlua, Baileys, etc.)
  • Chocolate curls
  • Small pieces candied citrus peel

I actually think it would be perfect topped with whipped cream and some caramel sauce, don't you? Pin It

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chaldean Coconut Cookies

Another option for the feast of St. Thomas would be to make Chaldean Coconut Cookies.

In her book, A Continual Feast, Evelyn Birge Vitz recommends making Chaldean Coconut Cookies for the feast of St. Thomas. She says that "these triangular coconut cookies are served at First Communion parties among Christians in such countries as Iraq. According to their tradition, Saint Thomas the Apostle on his way to India brought the Gospel to the Chaldeans of Babylon and Assyria."

Chaldean Coconut Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
In a small heavy saucepan mix the sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture come to a boil and skim off the foam. Let cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture registers 240° F. on a candy thermometer. Let cool.

In a bowl beat the eggs lightly, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the sugar syrup. Knead the dough gently in the bowl with the palm of the hand and the fingers for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Take balls of dough a little larger than a walnut. Using a spoon or your fingers, form each ball into a flattish triangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Place the cookies on greased baking sheets. Bake them for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are very light brown.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies.

*If I have a chance to make these, I will update with a photo.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The feast of St. Thomas the Apostle is July 3rd. In honor of his feast, I am planning on trying out the recipe suggested in Cooking with the Saints for Thomasstriezeln (St. Thomas Fingers). They look delicious, and not overly complicated to make.


1 TBSP Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 Lemon
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
6 egg yolks
4TBSP butter
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBSP Cinnamon

Mix yeast with the sour cream and let it stand for 5 minutes. Was the lemon and grate peel finely into a bowl. Add all other ingredients and stir them together. When the dough becomes slightly sticky, knead it for 5 minutes. (More dough may need to be added to make sure the dough is firm.)

Butter a 14x6 inch baking sheet and roll out the dough on it. With a pastry cutter, cut the dough into long fingers. Brush with melted butter. Mix powdered sugar with cinnamon and dust fingers thoroughly with the mixture.

Cover with a towel and let fingers rest in a warm place for about 40 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden. Approximately 30 minutes.

Yield: 40 fingers

You know, the more I use this cookbook, the more I am loving it... Now, to make those fingers!

St. Thomas the Apostle ~ Pray for Us!

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