Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From the convent kitchen

One thing about major feast days that really distracts me: preparing the feast! I enjoy cooking so much, there is a real risk of me losing track of the feast day itself. (See yesterday's post.) This year, we  had a vegetarian guest for Easter, so we offered salmon in addition to the ham (generously provided by volunteer Bill). I prepared the salmon with capers, onions and rosemary (from Mom's garden, which I always raid when I am in New Orleans), and folded it into an "envelope" of parchment paper and foil. Baked at 400 for around 15 minutes; opened the envelope and baked it a bit longer, then slid it onto a bed of fresh rosemary.

As a side, I prepared mushroom-cheese filled "eggs" of puff pastry. This was a total experiment, but came out pretty successfully. (I don't usually abide by the rule that you avoid trying new things out for special occasions.)

The lamb cake was a bit more ambitious. The recipe I followed (I'm not a baker, so I dare not wing it) was for an old fashioned pound cake. It called for vanilla extract, almond extract and bourbon (we've been working on the same bottle of bourbon for three years now). You fold a meringue into the batter (which incorporated eight--8!--egg yolks), and pour that into a lamb cake mold.
Well, something went a bit wrong, and during the hour and a half baking time the batter began oozing out from the lamb's head all over the baking sheet below, where it puffed up nicely. What could I do but cut it into samples and serve it while the lamb continued to bake? With all that flavoring, plus the meringue, it was fabulous. (Who needs frosting?) Of course, the lamb needed a little coat, and some features. So I did the coat and Sr Frances, who decorated our chapel and dining room spectacularly, provided the details.
More photos later!

A sample of Sr Frances' artistry from our dining room.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister if your guest ate Salmon they were NOT a vegetarian. Fish are animals and true vegetarians eat only plants,eggs and vegetarian cheese and dairy.
Im a vegetarian and it really ,really annoys me to go somewere and be offered fish as my meal as I will not eat an animal that has had life.Please note anyone who tells you they are a veggie and they love fish dont know what they talking about and make life very difficult for us genuine ones who say nothing with a face! we are vegetarians And no Im not getting confused with Vegans they dont have any animal at all.My daughter was a vegan for several years but gave in to the allure of dairy (organic, free range), PS I wont even wear leather shoes!

Sr Anne said...

Our guest calls herself a vegetarian, so I was going according to her self-identification. I understand there is quite a continuum in terms of vegetarian diets.

Anonymous said...

I repeat sadly your friend may call herself a vegetarian but if she eats fish she is not. Ask yourself what does the word mean? A vegetarian does not eat animals and fish are animals!
This is very important to Vegetarians as thanks to all the piscatorians (fish eaters) we often find a menu with nothing we can eat because people think veggies eat fish.WE do NOT!