Friday, January 21, 2011

Monastery Cooking

There is something so earthy, comforting, peaceful and natural about eating foods from a monastery menu. Everything is fresh, homegrown, seasonal and for the most part meatless. Last week I purchased a new cook book by one of my all time favorite authors - Brother Victor-Antoine d'Auila-Latourrette entitled The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking. Yes, it was a bit pricey, however it will more than pay for itself in the money his recipes will save me. The very first cookbook of his I ran across at the library a few years back - 12 Months of Monastery Soups. It was a true gem filled with the simplest recipes with few ingredients that most a people would have on hand. It was arranged by seasons and it was the first step in getting me to look at cooking and eating seasonally. I was in heaven - or - dare I say love?

The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking follows the venue of vegetarian cooking with beautiful photographs of the monastery, the garden and of course Brother Victor and his tasty delights. This sweet gentleman's love for God, service and food shine through in his cooking. I have never been disappointed with one of his recipes and find they are very frugal to use and are used often in my kitchen. I have already made two of the recipes this week and plan on three more for next weeks menu. The following is one of the recipes I will be cooking next week.

Eggs in Potato Crousades
Makes 4 servings

4 large Idaho potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the potatoes for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Cut a thin slice off the top of each potato. Carefully scoop out the inside of the potatoes, leaving intact a 1/4-inch shell.

2. Mash the scooped out potato flesh. add the butter, milk, salt and pepper, and parsley, and mix well. Place about half of this mixture into the potatoes, leaving a hollow space for the eggs.

3. Break an egg into the center of each potato and season it with salt and pepper. Use the remainder of the potato mixture to build a decorative edge on the top of the shell and around the egg. Generously butter a dish and place the potatoes in the dish. Bake for about 15 minutes. When the eggs are set, the dish is done. Serve hot.

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