Lady Kisses for Lady Day


The solemnity of the Annunciation is also known in some places as Lady Day. When I first saw these little bite-sized Italian cookies called, baci di dama or "lady’s kisses", I thought of them as an option for this day - Lady Day. I can imagine them being Our Lady's kisses - kisses Our Lady would have bestowed on her sweet son. The name originates from the cookie’s resemblance to two lips holding together like a kiss. These Italian cookies are common for feast days in Italy - especially St. Joseph. Most years St. Joseph's feast day and the Annunciation are a week apart, so making double at that time could cover both feasts. Though this year the feast is abrogated to April 9 because its traditional date fell on Palm Sunday. 
The outer cookies are delicate and usually made of almond or hazelnut flour. The hazelnut version is from the city of Cuneo (where Nutella comes from), and the almond ones are from the town of Tortona.  There are some different variations of the recipe available. This is adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe. 
Our Lady's Kisses
Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, fine
2/3 cup almond (or hazelnut) flour
3/4 cup unbleached wheat flour
pinch of salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat 7 tablespoons butter with sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon zest, then both flours and salt; beat until a dough starts to form. Transfer to a work surface; knead until a firm dough forms, 1 minute.

Scoop 1 level teaspoon of dough; roll into a ball. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls 1 inch apart. Place in freezer about 15 minutes, until firm.  Melt chocolate and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Let cool until thick and spreadable.

Bake cookies until domed and light golden, about 16 minutes. Let cool completely. Spread 1/2 teaspoon chocolate mixture on flat side of one cookie; sandwich with flat side of a second. Repeat with remaining cookies. Let chocolate set before serving.

I found this litany poem by G.K. Chesterton which speaks of a kiss and the mystic rose – a reference to Mary (as are all the symbols in this poem). So beautiful and definitely brings to mind the image I was imagining between Mother and the Child Jesus. 

A Little Litany by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven—and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

Note: I also think these little cookies would be fitting for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) as she is believed to be the woman who washed with her tears, anointed with oil and kissed the feet of Christ. She is often depicted kissing Christ's feet. Lady Kisses could represent her as well.


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Peacock Fruit Platter for Easter


The peacock has long been a Christian symbol of immortality and Christ's resurrection. From ancient times the peacock represented immortality which came from a belief that the flesh of the peacock did not decay.  For this reason the symbol became associated with the Resurrection of Christ with the early Christians and peacocks are found adorning the walls and tombs of the catacombs. In addition, the “multitude of eyes" on the beautiful fan tail, suggested the all-seeing eye of God and that of the Church.

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in the Easter Octave, the peacock can serve as a visible reminder of His rising from the dead. This fun fruit platter is made up of kiwi slices, grapes, and blueberries "feathers" surrounding a half pear for the body. Beak and legs were cut from a red bell pepper and the eyes are cut from the pear.

Additional past Easter ideas from Catholic Cuisine which incorporate this ancient symbol can be found here:
Easter Symbols: Handcrafted Candy for Easter!
The Good Shepherd's Garden Party: Week Seven


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Cloved Ham - Good Friday


Planning on having ham this year for Easter dinner? Ham has been a traditional part of many Easter meals, so if you are serving it this Easter consider adding a little Good Friday prep to your ham baking by doing the "cloving" on that day.

Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum), which is a tropical evergreen. They have an almost pungent aroma as well as a sweet and spicy flavor and are commonly used to flavor ham for baking. The word, clove, has an interesting etemology which I think links them well to this idea. They resemble small nails or tacks and their name comes an alteration of Middle English clowe, borrowed from the Old French clou de girofle (nail of clove) , from Latin clāvus (“nail”) for its shape. 

A clever idea could be to "clove" the ham on Good Friday in anticipation of cooking it on Sunday for Easter.

On Good Friday as we contemplate Chist's passion and crucifixion, we can think specifically of those nails that held him to the cross. As you place the clove "nails" in the ham, you could reflect on those wounds He received. 

To clove a ham: 
  • Using a sharp knife, score ham by making diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern, about 1/4 inch deep. Do not score the meat itself, just the fat and any skin. 
  • Place whole cloves in centers (and points, optional) of diamonds.

Cover and keep refrigeratorated until ready to cook on Easter. 

Golden Clove Glazed Ham 

Ingredients:
8 - 10 lb. bone-in cooked ham (shank end or butt end)
Cloves, whole
   For Glaze:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground


Directions:Bake covered at 325 for 2- 2 1/2 hours. Make glaze by adding ingredients to sauce pan. Mix and simmer 30 minutes to reduce. After the ham has cooked for 1 1/2 hour, brush the surface with some of the glaze. Then put it back into the oven, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. During that last hour continue glazing every 20 mintues.  This gives it a nice golden glaze. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. To serve, transfer ham to a serving platter. Slice. Discard the cloves.


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Saint Brigid's Lake of Beer


Lake of Beer

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
I should like for them cellars of mercy.
I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
I should like Jesus to be there among them.
I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

Happy feast of St. Brigid of Ireland! 

This picture was from our 2015 All Saints Party. You can find recipes and ideas for celebrating the feast of St. Brigid in the archives here at Catholic Cuisine and over at Shower of Roses.

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St. Brigid Guinness Stew Puff Pastry Pot Pie



St. Brigid's feast nears the mid-winter mark. A perfect meal for these still cold (but growing in light) winter days is stew, and a beef & Guinness stew is a great one for the Irish saint(s). It is a variation on a Beef and Guinness Stew recipe posted by Jessica several years ago. Puffed pastry makes a flaky and delicious topping which ups the cozy quotient as it nestles the steamy stew beneath its layers.

Guinness Stew Puff Pastry Pot Pie
Ingredients:
1.5-2 lb beef chuck, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup Guinness
1 TbWorcestershireire sauce
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1 sheet puff pastry

Directions:
Add flour, salt, and pepper (to taste) to a large plastic bag, add beef chunks and shake to coat. Heat oil in large pot. Brown meat in batches and remove to separate container.

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and water to pot. Cook vegetable s until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and stir. Return beef to pot along with broth, beer, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning.  Cover and cook 1-2 hours.

Allow stew to cool. Divide cooled stew between four 16 oz ramekins. Roll out puff pastry large enough to cover two dishes. Cut into equal squares.  Lightly bright a 1-inch border around each square with a beaten egg. Invert pastry onto filled ramekins, pressing puff pastry sides to dish. Brush top sides of pastry with lightly with beaten egg.


Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce to 400 and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until pastry is puffed and lightly browned.  Serve hot. Pin It

Star of the East - Spiced Wine for Twelfth Night

Warm spiced wine, like the Austrian Gluhwein, along with Wassail or Lambs Wool are common traditional drinks served at Twelfth Night celebrations.  Anise is both a spice that can be used for seasoning a mulled wine (or other drink), as well as a symbolic star garnish to add visual appeal.

Gluhwein

Ingredients:
1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 whole cloves
2 anise stars
Optional – 1/2 cup rum

Combine the water, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves in sauce pan. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce heat to simmer.

Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into pan. Add orange rind. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken like syrup.

Pour in the wine and rum (if using) and stir, heating gradually until steaming. DO NOT BOIL. Remove oranges and serve in prewarmed mugs. Garnish with star anise. 

Your Light is Come: Closely linked to both these themes of divine manifestation and world kingship is a third idea running through the Epiphany feast: that of light. During Advent, the world was in darkness, and we prayed and waited in the spirit of the Jewish nation which lived in expectation of the Coming Light during thousands of years. At Christmas the Light shone forth, but dimly, seen only by a few around the crib: Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. But at Epiphany the Light bursts forth to all nations and the prophecy is fulfilled: "The Gentiles shall walk in Thy light, and kings in the brightness of Thy rising." The mysterious star of Epiphany, "flashing like a flame," is still another facet of the light-motif, a symbol capable of being interpreted in a dozen different ways. Catholic Culture article: "Meaning of Epiphany"

There are many lovely star anise garnished drinks and cocktails that would be fun to make for a Twelfth Night celebration.
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Epiphany Breakfast Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars


On Epiphany we recall the wise men that traveled from the East to seek the baby Jesus, following the star. It is a feast of manifestation, and the light of Christ shining forth. Star shaped foods can be a fun way to commemorate the feast of the Epiphany. These homemade toaster pastries are a breakfast option that incorporates both the star shape and some spices that represent the lands from which they journeyed.

Cinnamon Toaster Pastry Stars
Ingredients
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons filling (jam, cinnamon sugar mixture, etc.)

Directions
Cut butter into 1/2 inch squares and combine with flour.  Coat the butter in flour. Combine 1/3 cup water, vinegar, and salt. Dissolve salt. Put both in freezer for 10 minutes. Blend the butter and flour mixture in mixing bowl on low speed until it is a crumbly texture. While still on low, slowly pour the liquid mixture into the bowl. When it comes together into a ball, stop mixer. Turn dough out onto the counter. Cut into two parts, wrap in wax paper, form a disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll one disk of pie pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use a large star cookie cutter to cut out multiple star shapes. Lay each star on the prepared baking sheet. With a pastry brush, paint each star with the beaten egg.  Scoop a spoonful of filling onto center of each star.  To represent the spices associated with the East - where the wise men came from - I made a cinnamon, clove, and ginger sugar mixture with 2 T. melted butter (1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. cinnamon and a pinch of both cloves and ginger).


Roll out the second disk of pie pastry and repeat steps to cut out additional stars. Lay these stars over the ones already on baking sheet. Seal edges by pressing a fork around the perimeter of each star.

Use pastry brush to paint the tops of each pastry with egg wash and poke top layer through with fork.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  [Optional: frost or dust with powdered sugar after cooling.]

We have made these before as traditional rectangular toaster pastries. The recipe makes 6 traditional pastries or 12 stars. [Adapted from The Homemade Pantry cookbook by Alana Chernila]


St. Thomas Aquinas feast day is later this month, and he is often pictured with a star as well. Something to keep in mind for another cold January toasty breakfast idea. Pin It