Hallowed Days

I’m a bit late for the Catholic Cuisine Hallowed Days Blog Fair, but I wanted to share a few ideas.

I love this time of year — the change of seasons, the winding down of Ordinary Time with the month of the Poor Souls. Hallowe’en, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are the three days that illustrate the Communion of Saints: The Church Triumphant (saints in heaven), Church Militant (people on earth praying for living and dead), and Church Suffering (Poor Souls in Purgatory).

I’ve written a few thoughts on these feast days in the past, Ideas for Sanctifying Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day and also a reminder on
Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November
. I love visiting the cemeteries, both of family and friends and strangers and praying for the Poor Souls.

Hallowe’en or All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day each are marked with their unique foods and festivities and popular piety.

Because of my sons’ food allergies, most of the great festive recipes won’t be happening here. We can’t even do the the great Mexican Sugar Skulls because they require meringue powder or egg whites, which we can’t eat or touch. So, once again, I’m starting from scratch to find feast day recipes. I’m not a big experimenter with recipes. I like to tweak recipes, when I know ingredients. But since our family has food allergies to wheat, eggs, and milk, this is an area I don’t like to experiment much. I haven’t found the perfect substitutes, so switching out recipes for baked goods have always been a dismal failure, and I get too discouraged. So my general approach is to find existing recipes that only need small tweaks to be allergy friendly in the family.

Apple cider and doughnuts (soul cakes) are my favorite foods for these feast days. I have not tried rising with yeast with gluten or wheat free flours. So I’m thrilled to actually find a recipe that doesn’t even use wheat flour. I don’t have chestnut flour here, though. I have a favorite food store in PA that carries it, and I wish I found this when I was visiting this past weekend! So the trial will have to wait two weeks. This comes from one of my favorite Italian cookbooks, Festa: Recipes and Recollections of Italian Holidays by Helen Barolini:

Chestnut Fritters

Makes 6 servings

1/2 pound chestnut flour (available at Italian groceries and specialty shops)
1 cup water
Pinch salt
1/2 cup seedless black raisins
1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon finest grade light extra virgin olive oil
Peanut oil for frying
Confectioner’s sugar

1. Put the chestnut flour in a bowl, and slowly stir in enough water to make a thick paste. Stir in the salt, raisins, pistachio nuts, and olive oil. Mix well.

2. Pour 4 inches of peanut oil into a deep skillet or deep-fat fryer. Heat oil to 375 degrees F on a deep-fat frying thermometer.

3. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the oil, and fry the fritters, a few at at time, until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.

4. Serve hot, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Instead of raisins, I might substitute a bit of sugar to sweeten the dough.

I forgot that Halloween falls on a Friday, which I prefer to keep meatless, so I’m going to make our special dinner for Thursday, which will be better since we won’t be running around. This is also from Festa. There are some steps I would tweak…either eliminate the flour part, or substitute with corn starch or rice flour, and no parmesan cheese.

Beef Stew in a Pumpkin Shell with Potato-Pumpkin Puree

Makes 6 servings

1 medium pumpkin (about 6 pounds)
Salt, to taste
1/2 onion
4 slices bacon
1 stalk celery
1 carrot, pared
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (or margarine, if necessary)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds lean beef cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup seasoned flour (flour mixed with salt and pepper to taste) (use corn starch or rice flour)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 1/2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef stock, hot
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 small whole onions, peeled
2 carrots, cut in strips
1 pound boiling potatoes
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin, and set it aside for a lid. Scoop out all the seeds. (They can be dried, roasted on a baking sheet, and eaten as a snack.) Salt the inside of the pumpkin, replace the top, and wrap it securely in oiled aluminum foil. Bake about 2 1/2 hours.

2. While the pumpkin is baking, chop together the bacon, celery, and carrot. Put two tablespoons of the butter (or margarine) and all the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. When oil mixture is hot, add the bacon-vegetable mixture, and cook until lightly browned.

3. Roll the beef cubes in seasoned flour. Add them to the pan, and cook over medium-high heat, turning to brown on all sides.

4. Add the wine. Cook over high heat until the alcohol evaporates.

5. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1 cup of the hot beef stock. Add the bay leaf, clove, and pepper. Pour the liquid over the meat, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for two hours, or until the meat is tender. Add more hot stock as needed.

6. About 30 minutes before the beef is done, add the 6 small onions and the carrot strips to the pan.

7. Peel the potatoes and, in another saucepan, cook them in lightly salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and push them through a food mill into a larger saucepan.

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for years and I hope I can make it come together this year!

May your hallowed days be faith and family focused, and don’t forget to pray and sacrifice for the Poor Souls!

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One thought on “Hallowed Days

  1. What an excellent post Jenn!! I just added it to the Fair! Thank you so much! Both of those recipes sound delicious, and I just might have to order that cookbook, it looks wonderful!

    It is funny now to make the connection between you and the post of yours I read years ago, back when I was starting to celebrate the Liturgical Year at home with my children. I was very inspired by it, so thank you!

    God Bless!

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