Thursday, October 1, 2020

Homemade Eclairs for St. Therese

Eclairs are known to be the favorite treat of St. Therese of Lisieux, so after binge watching some early episodes of that British baking show, I decided to try a recipe that I had been admiring for a while but was too afraid to try: Homemade Eclairs with Peanut Butter Mousse from Sally's Baking Addiction. I don't think St. Therese ever had Peanut Butter Mousse eclairs, but I think she would have loved them!

1/2 cup (115g; 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) water
1/2 cup (120ml) 2% or whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, beaten
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk or water

Combine the butter, water, milk, salt, and granulated sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted. Bring mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and add the flour all at once. Stir until the flour is completely incorporated and a thick dough clumps into a ball. Mash the dough ball against the bottom and sides of the pan for 1 minute, which gently cooks the flour. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Allow to cool down for a few minutes before adding the eggs in the next step.

Read this step in full before starting: With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the eggs in 3-4 separate additions mixing for 30 seconds between each. The mixture might look curdled at first, but will come together as the mixer runs. Pour in the final addition of beaten eggs very slowly. Stop adding when the choux pastry has reached the desired texture: shiny, thick, and smooth with a pipe-able consistency. Any leftover egg can be used for egg wash. I ended up using all of mine. Dough can be used immediately or refrigerated up to 3 days. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mist or brush parchment paper with water. You want a nice moist environment for the choux to puff up. Transfer dough to a piping bag and pipe 4 inch long shells 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! After 20 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees and back for 10 - 15 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
8 ounces (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (130g) creamy peanut butter*
salt, to taste

Make the peanut butter mousse: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Transfer to another mixing bowl. Using the same whisk attachment again (you don't need to clean in between), beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and peanut butter then beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until combined. Taste. Stir in a pinch of salt, if desired. Transfer mousse to a piping bag fitted with a small round or open star piping tip. Set aside as you make the ganache.

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just starts steaming, not boiling.  Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted.


Let the ganache cool on the counter while you fill the shells with the mousse. I piped them on both ends to make sure they were nice and full. Dip the tops in ganache and leave to firm up. Ganache will set up in about an hour at room temp or about 30 minutes in the fridge. Enjoy! 

FYI... all three components (pastry shells, mousse, and ganache) can be made ahead of time. To assemble, just warm the ganache in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time to soften. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Angel Food Cake for the Archangels' Feast

Heavenly King,You have given us archangels
to assist us during our pilgrimage on earth.
Saint Michael is our protector;
I ask him to come to my aid,
fight for all my loved ones,
and protect us from danger.
Saint Gabriel is a messenger of the Good News;
I ask him to help me
clearly hear Your voice
and to teach me the truth.
Saint Raphael is the healing angel;
I ask him to take my need for healing
and that of everyone I know,
lift it up to Your throne of grace
and deliver back to us the gift of recovery.
Help us, O Lord,
to realize more fully the reality of the archangels
and their desire to serve us.

Holy angels,
pray for us.


Every baker should have a good angel food cake in her (or his) repertoire for the angels' feast days (the feast of the Archangels, the Guardian Angels, Our Lady of Angels, etc.). This is one of those baked goods that seems daunting, but is really very easy to  make, and rather budget friendly. It stands alone with a dollop of whipped cream, or can be dressed up simple with berries, a drizzle of chocolate glaze, or really kicked up a notch with creme anglaise. 

One true key to a successful angel food cake is to make sure there are no traces of oil in the batter, so  make sure your pan is completely clean and that you don't get any yolk in your egg whites.

Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 large egg whites
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Be sure that your 10 inch tube pan is clean and dry. Sift together the flour, and 3/4 cup of the sugar, set aside.

In a large bowl (the egg whites will whip up to completely fill a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl), whip the egg whites along with the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt, to medium stiff peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar while continuing to whip to stiff peaks. When the egg white mixture has reached its maximum volume, fold in the sifted ingredients gradually, one third at a time. Do not overmix. Put the batter into the tube pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake springs back when touched. Balance the tube pan upside down on the top of a bottle, to prevent decompression while cooling. When cool, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mary's Crown - Queenship Salad

Bachelor's Button, or Cornflower, is an annual flowering plant in the aster family, with florets that are edible and may be used fresh in salads.  Its jagged frilly petals remind one of an ornate crown and because of that it also has a Marian connection – often called Mary's Crown. Traditionally blue, they also come in many different color variants. The blue ones especially are a Marian color.  

Because of these connections, the flowers make a beautiful and symbolic addition as a garnish to a Marian summer salad.  Its name as Mary's Crown is particular fitting for a salad on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (August 22).

Use any available salad greens and fresh summer vegetables. Garnish with freshly picked Mary's Crown flower heads. Serve with a light vinaigrette dressing. Regina Red Wine Vinegar, in addition to being a common vinegar, easy to find - has a name that means queen, so perfect for this Queenship of Mary summer salad. 

If you don't have access to fresh Bachelor Button flowers, make sure to plant some for next year. These hardy and easy to grow flowers, make a great addition to a liturgical year and Marian garden.  And other edible late summer Marian flowers or flower petals (daisy, lavender, rose, calendula, nasturtium, chive, marigold) could be substituted though they don't have the same crown significance. 

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, Pray for us. 

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Flower Fruit Sandwiches for Our Lady

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

Earlier this month I ran across a photo of some lovely flower covered sandwiches and was inspired to try something similar with my children in honor of Our Lady during her month of May. Due to the pandemic and stay-at-home order I used what I happened to have on hand, so some of our fruit was frozen instead of fresh, but they still turned out lovely! 

To make the sandwiches we simply trimmed the crusts off of some white bread, spread some homemade whipped cream over the bread, and then decorated each tea sandwich with flowers made from slices of fruit. 

We used fresh cuties and kiwis along with frozen blueberries, strawberries and a little mango. 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Saint George and the Dragon Cake

Catholic Cuisine contributor Charlotte, from Waltzing Matilda, has been amazing and inspiring us with her Dragon Cakes for the feast of St. George for well over a decade now! Here are a few of her past creations. 

You can find her dragon cake direction, as well as her directions for a Dragon Cupcake Cake and Dragon Scone for Good Saint George, in the archives. If you end up making one we would love for you to share a picture on our Facebook page or tag us over at Instagram!

St. George, ora pro nobis! 
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Friday, January 31, 2020

St. Brigid Irish Tater Tot Nachos

St. Brigid feast day is February 1. National Tater Tot day is February 2. 

When two dates collide and an idea is born. I have a soft spot for the tater tot. It originated at Ore-Ida Labs in the area where my family lived in Eastern Oregon. And this year in September they are having the first annual Tater Tot festival.  So when I made a chance discovery that National Tater Tot Day was the day after St. Brigid's feast is seemed a perfect pairing.

The idea of tater tots as a substitute for chips to make a potato "nacho" (or totchos) is making the rounds as an appetizer. And the potato is an Irish staple, one of the foods most associated with Ireland, making it perfect for our Irish saint. St. Brigid is the patroness of dairy farmers and milk maids, so pile on the cheese and sour cream.  I suggest Kerrigold Dubliner Irish cheese if available. Several stories connect her to pigs as well so add the bacon. Also avocados (or guacamole) and green onions for the Irish green.  A tasty and easy Irish feast day recipe - for a multitude of Irish saints, not just Brigid.

St. Brigid Irish Tater Tot Nacho Ingredients

Fry or bake tater tots per package instructions. Once tots are cooked, top with grated cheese. Place back in the oven or microwave until cheese is bubbly and melted. Top the tots with guacamole or avocado, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and green onion (and extra cheese if desired). If you want them spicy you can add salsa. I had some green taco sauce that I added in keeping with the Irish color theme.

St. Brigid, Pray for Us!

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

St. John Bosco's Candy Juggling Balls

St. John Bosco, patron of educators and a spiritual father to boys in need, has his feast day today, January 31. He is known for having used magic tricks and juggling to entertain the youth he wanted to draw closer to God. St. John Bosco was a skilled showman and crowds would be drawn to him. During his performance, he would stop to teach and people would stay to listen to his message.

It is also said that he kept candy in his pockets as treats for the boys, and even “turned" pebbles into candy with illusion. For those reasons, I am sharing this idea of a simple treat to celebrate his feast day - M&M’s are candy, that resemble juggling balls.

Let us enjoy a sweet reminder today this caring and entertaining priest.

St. John Bosco, Pray for us!

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Monday, January 20, 2020

St. Agnes Little Lamb Popcorn Snacks

I have seen this idea for sheep-themed birthday parties and thought it would make a nice and simple (and healthy) feast day snack idea of those saints associated with sheep or who have a sheep/lamb as a symbol. This week is the feast of St. Agnes (January 21), who is usually depicted holding a lamb to represent her virginity.

Fill small baggies with popcorn (not ziploc), tie the baggie closed, and tape on paper lamb head using this template or have your children draw their own.  I taped the corners to the back to make sure it retained the rounded shape. Could also just wrap in plastic wrap to make a round shape.

Other saints with lambs/sheep symbol including those who were shepherds:
St. Genevieve (January 3)
Sts. Jacinta and Francisco (February 20)
St. Bernadette (April 16)
St. Drogo (April 16)
Good Shepherd Sunday (4th Sunday Easter Season)
St. Germaine (June 15)
St. John the Baptist (June 24)
St. Joan of Arc (October 21)

*Looks like April 16 is a great day for sheep themed ideas with two different saints associated with sheep. 

St. Agnes, Pray for Us!

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

St. Sebastian Fruit Skewer Arrows

On January 20 we remember St. Sebastian, early Roman martyr. He was sentenced to be shot to death by archers. His body was riddled with arrows and he was left to for dead, but survived and was later clubbed to death. He is the patron of soldiers, athletes and archers. The arrow symbol is associated with him for this persecution that he suffered.

Other saints who have arrows for a symbol are:
  • St. Frances of Rome (March 9) - art depictions of her holding arrows
  • St. Thomas the Apostle (July 3) - was martyred by spear, though arrows and stones are also often pictured with the spear as his symbols
  • St. Philomena (August 11) - the two anchors, three arrows, palm and ivy leaf found on the tiles of her tomb were interpreted to represent method of martyrdom
  • St. Ursula (October 21) - an arrow is the symbol of her method of martyrdom and pictured either holding an arrow or with an arrow in her chest
  • St. Edmund (November 20) - symbol is crown this two arrows, symbol of his martyrdom
Readers often ask for healthy feast day options and also ones that are simple. Hopefully this is an idea that fits both those request criteria. Fruit skewers can be made in just a few minutes. A variety of fruit can be used - blackberries, blue berries, raspberries, melon balls or cubes, grapes. And strawberries with their "tipped" ends make a nice pointed end of the arrow, so place it as the final fruit. You can also leave the pointy skewer end free.  We cut feather end (fletching) out of construction paper and taped on the skewer.

St. Sebastian, Pray for Us!

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Friday, January 17, 2020

St. Anthony of Egypt Bacon Strips

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Egypt (also know as St. Anthony the Great, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony the Abbot). He is considered the father of western monasticism. He is also the patron saint of domesticated animals, and Saint Anthony is often depicted standing next to a pig, which he is said to have healed. That is one of numerous explanations as to how St. Anthony has become associated with pigs. The feast has traditionally been associated with farmers bringing their animals to the church to be blessed, for good health and fertility.

His feast day is a very good excuse to eat bacon, which is always a treat at our house and always welcome for any occasion. It is simple and always enjoyable. While today's feast is a Friday this year and many families would be going meatless - think about him this weekend and enjoy a treat then. Any excuse to "pass the pig."

St. Anthony, Pray for Us!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hermit Bars to Remember the Hermit Saints

Old-Fashioned Hermit Bars are a classic New England cookie that are spicy and sweet thanks to addition of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. There are several variations, but the basic cookie/bar is full of spices and dried fruits (usually raisins). Origin of the name for these spicy bars is not known - and several theories exist, including that they look like a rough brown hermit's robe. Regardless of the origin, the name is intriguing as it evokes the idea of the hermit saints - those who isolated themselves from society to live a life of asceticism. There is a tradition of holy hermits (Eremites, "inhabitants of a desert" from the Greek eremos). Several well known hermit saints have January feast days: St. Simon Stylites (January 5) and St. Paul, the first Christian hermit (January 15) and St. Anthony of the Desert (January 17), father of Western monasticism. And while a life of asceticism would not include indulgent sweets, in this week of two great hermit saints, you can still enjoy some hermit bars or cookies. 

Old-Fashioned Hermit Bars  

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar 
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2/3 cup chopped raisins (or other dried fruit, ie cranberries)
1 cup powdered sugar
5 tsp milk

In bowl combine together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and continue to mix. Gradually add the flour and spices mixture until just combined. Stir in the raisins.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes.  While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 375° and grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

After chilling shape it into a ball and divide in two. Shape each half into a log, 12 inches long and arrange on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between the logs. Press down lightly on the tops of the logs with your fingertips to give them a slightly squared-off shape.

Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes, or until the edges are just barely crisp.

While bars are cooling, combine the powdered sugar and milk until smooth but not too runny. Drizzle over the baked logs while they are slightly warm.

Allow the icing to firm up then cut into bars.

[Variations on the hermit cookie genre can include drop cookies or flatten the dough in a baking dish for brownie style.]

There are so many hermit saints of the Church, that Hermit Bars can be a feast day item throughout the year. 

St. Paul, the Hermit - Pray for Us!
St. Anthony of the Desert - Pray for Us!
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