Raise a Glass to St. Dominic

Last year when I shared Chicken with Sauteed Tomatoes for St. Dominic’s day, Mary Liz left a comment explaining the connection of St. Dominic with oranges. As today is his feast day I’m not suggesting anything elaborate for his feast, except to eat an orange or raise a glass of orange juice, or a delightful Mimosa (1 part champagne or white sparkling wine to 1 part orange juice) to toast the founder of the Order of Preachers, known as the Dominicans. (There is a wonderful Orange Roll recipe for January 20.)

Why is the orange associated with St. Dominic? From this site we read:

The Orange Tree
The orange tree pictured is at Santa Sabina and is said to be a direct descendant of the one planted in Rome by Our holy Father Dominic in 1220. Apparently this was the first of its type to be planted in Italy. The Villa Sciarra in Rome has an orange grove grown in commemoration of the bringing of the plant to Italy by St. Dominic.

And more information can be found from Sacred Destinations Rome: Santa Sabina:

The Legend of the Orange Tree
In the quadrangular enclosure at Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill in Rome, there is an orange tree. According to a legend, St. Dominic planted the seed from which it grows. In the nineteenth century, when the tree sent off a new and healthy shoot, having many oranges, someone noted that it was when Pere Lacordaire was a novice. Some took that as a symbol of the new vigor of the Order which was soon restored in France and of its increase in other provinces. And so the legend grew that when the orange tree produced well, there would be a flowering of the Order.


So you’ll understand now that images of St. Dominic he is pictured with an orange tree. So raise your orange juice glass to St. Dominic today!

Image of Orange Tree from opeast.org.au and Image of Mimosa from Williams-Sonoma.com

Feast of St. Dominic, August 8

This is a repost from August 8, 2006

This is a special feast day in my extended family. We celebrate one brother’s birthday, one sister’s wedding anniversary, and it was Great, Great Aunt Clair’s birthday, a very special, saintly lady, may she rest in peace.

About St. Dominic, see Catholic Culture, Patron Saints Index, and a goldmine of links from the Dominicans (of course!).

St. Dominic was born in Spain, but fought Albigensianism, a Christian heresy in western Europe. Father John Hardon has an excellent explanation of Albigensianism.

Dominic founded the Order of Preachers. The reason why so many people were being sucked into this heresy was plain ignorance. So his mission was preach the Gospel, the Truth. From the Encyclopedia of Catholic Saints (August), there are some interesting notes on his life:

It was while he was still a student that he was given the first opportunity to show that charity and loving kindness which were to be the hallmarks of his life. The harvests had been poor, the reserve supplies of food were quickly running out, famine was already devastating the countryside and would soon reach Palencia. As always it was the little people, the poor and the humble, who were the first to be affected. The professors at the university took no notice; so long as they were paid they could always buy something on the black market. The students were as carefree as usual; if the worst came to the worst, they could always go somewhere else in search of learning and food. But Dominic at once sold all his possessions, including all the books that he had annotated with his own hand. For a scholar, and particularly for a scholar in those days, this was a great sacrifice, but Dominic explained it simply: “I do not wish to study dead parchments when men are dying of hunger.” He used the money to buy food for the poor, but the words that he spoke–clear, simple and full of the spirit of the Gospel–aroused his fellow-citizens to their duty, and works of charity began to multiply all over the city. For Dominic was a scholar whose search for truth had drawn him closer to his fellow-men and not, as so often happens, away from them.

So beautiful! What a reminder on what our studies and reading should bring us. And these actions at the age of 16!

I couldn’t find many quotes from this saint…but the ones I did find all point back to penitence and fasting. Another prod that in this day mortification is still very much needed.

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A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either command them or be enslaved to them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.

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Fight the good fight, my daughters, against our ancient foe, fight him insistently with fasting, because no one will win the crown of victory without engaging in the contest in the proper way.

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Possess poverty. (Dying words)

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For this saint’s feastday, I don’t think anything elaborate would be appropriate. We won’t be fasting, but simplicity will be the aim. I’m going to trace back to Dominic’s Spanish roots and use a recipe (once again) from my favorite Spanish cookbook My Kitchen in Spain by Janet Mendel for the main dish. My tomatoes are ripening and this recipe is perfect for using some of those luscious fruits, Chicken Sautéed with Fresh Tomato. Accompanying this I will have brown rice, a simple green salad and fresh fruit salad for dessert.

Chicken Sautéed with Fresh Tomato

Pollo con Tomate

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds chicken legs and/or thighs
4 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 8 large tomatoes)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch dried thyme
1/2 tsp. pimentón 2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. brandy
Choppped fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil on medium high heat in a deep skillet, then add and brown the chicken pieces, about 10-15 minutes. Remove when browned all over, and drain extra fat except 2 tablespoons.

Either microwave or boiling water method, blanch and peel the tomatoes. Seed the tomatoes and chop coarsely, making 5 1/2 to 6 cups.

Heat remaining oil in skillet on high, add all remaining ingredients except parsley. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken back to the pot. Lower heat to medium and simmer uncovered, about 45 to 75 minutes. Remove the chicken when done, but continue cooking the tomato sauce over medium heat until very thick and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Add chicken back to the pot to reheat. Remove bay leaves, serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Another sidenote on St. Dominic. He’s the patron of scientists, astronomers and astronomy. I wish I realized this before I went to the grocery store. Seems a star fruit would be in order for our fruit salad. 😉 But we’ll eat out on the porch and perhaps do a little star-gazing tonight, as the night is clear.

St. Stephen of Hungary

medium_stephenhungary.jpgToday, August 16, is the optional memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary. This is a very important feast for Hungarians, as Stephen is their patron saint. September 2nd was the former feast day, and August 20 is the feast of the translation of his relics, and a national holiday in Hungary. Catholic Culture and Patron Saints Index

I don’t have roots in Hungary, but I do remember this feast for two reasons. One day, I’m going to make a Dobos Torta. I love this excerpt about St. Stephen’s feast day from Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger. You have to know a recipe is delicious when you don’t have illustrations and you still KNOW it will be good. Do a search in Google Images for “Dobos Torta” to make your mouth water. One of these days…

But today is also the birthday of a very special aunt. I wish you many blessings and send many prayers. Thank you for all the years of inspiration, collaboration, conversation and just plain fun!

(Image info: The Virgin Receiving St Stephen of Hungary in the Paradise by Scarsellino)

Fruits and Herbs for the Feast of the Assumption

medium_GHERARDUCCI_Don_Silvestro_dei_Assumption_of_the_Virgin_1365.jpgAs if I didn’t post enough tomato recipes I’m adding another one.

This one is special, because it’s named after the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15. There aren’t many specific traditional foods for this feast. It was originally a day for blessing of flowers, fruits and herbs, so any kind of combinations of foods that include that would be appropriate for this feast. Tomatoes are technically a fruit, and this recipe calls for lots of herbs.

This recipe is by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette from his Twelve Months of Monastery Salads. I love this cookbook, particularly in the summer.

Assumpta Salad
“This enticing salad is always served as an appetizer. It is one of our favorites for the feast of Our Lady, and we especially like it on the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, when garden tomatoes are at their best.”

Salad
8 medium-size ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup pitted black olives, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup cubed feta cheese (I omit)

Vinaigrette
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together until thickened. Let stand for about 1 hour before using to steep the garlic.

For the salad, arrange tomato slices on 6 to 8 salad plates. Sprinkle the onion and olives among them. Sprinkle the herbs evenly, then add the cheese cubes in the middle of each dish.

Whisk vinaigrette just before serving and drizzle evenly over each plate. Serve immediately.