St. Hubert, Patron of Hunters, November 3

This is a duplicate of the post at Catholic Cuisine.

This Halloween/All Saints Day I made costumes that would do double duty. Peter Pan became St. Eustace and Robin Hood became St. Hubert. Both saints and have similar legends of converting after seeing a stag with a cross in its antlers while hunting. They are also patrons of hunters and forest rangers. Then a friend of mine from the Netherlands mentioned St. Hubert’s feast is November 3rd, and there is a special bread attached to this day. I hadn’t heard of this before, so I did a little sleuthing.

St. Hubert of Liege was born in seventh century in Maastricht, Netherlands, grandson of Charibert, King of Toulouse and Eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine. He was a worldly young man, especially loved to hunt. While hunting on Good Friday, he saw the stag with the cross which called him by name to turn to the Lord. He immediately converted to Christianity. After his wife died, he gave up his nobility and became a priest. He was first elected bishop of Maastricht, and later moved to become the first Bishop of Liege, Belgium.

In addition to being the patron of hunters (especially using hounds), he also is invoked against rabies. His feast day marks the formal opening of the hunting season in Europe.

There is a special Mass for St. Hubert, during which in some places the organ music is replaced with hunting horns, and the hounds, horses, and hunters participate, receiving a blessing. In Belgium there is a blessing of a special bread, St. Hubert’s Bread, mastellen. Then it’s off to a hunt; in France and Belgium, it’s usually a stag hunt.

In parts of France and Belgium there has long been a custom of holding stag hunts on Saint Hubert’s Day, and the hunters gather before the chase for Mass and the blessing of men and horses and dogs. After the hunt is over, those taking part gather for a bountiful breakfast consisting of fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert. Naturally the meat is venison of some sort, and the salad may well be one of dandelion greens. (Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger)

It seems both the Netherlands and Belgium lay claim to this saint, and both countries have a special ring-shaped bread, shaped similarly like a bagel or donut, with the flavor of cinnamon. This is the bread brought to the Mass for a blessing.

There is an old folk rhyme for the blessed bread:

“I came all the way from Saint Hubert’s grave,
Without stick, without staff.
Mad dogs, stand still!
This is Saint Hubert’s will.”

Sadly, I couldn’t find a good recipe that I could translate to American standards. I’ve had bad luck getting reliable conversions, and the translators aren’t ideal. I did find one recipe here, but in Euro measurements. 

To one kilogram of flour, add half a litre of milk, 75 g of yeast, 5 grams of cinnamon, 300 g of butter, 20 g of salt and 50 g of sugar. Add the butter, the sugar and the cinnamon at the end of mixing when the dough is nearly fully developed. Leave the dough 30 minutes to prove and then divide in pieces of 55 g. Shape the pieces into round balls and leave to rest for about 15 minutes. Make a ring out of the dough pieces similar to bagels or donuts (in some villages the baker really makes a ring or a hole in the middle of the dough piece while in other villages he will rather make a kind of dimple in the middle of the product). So all those who thought that a ring shaped product was typical American, can forget about it. That kind of shape exists in Belgium since the Middle Ages. People used to take the mastellen to the church so the priest bless could them and they were supposed to be a good remedy against rabies. After proofing they are brushed with egg and baked for about 10 to 12 minutes in a rather hot oven (200°C).

I’d love to track down a usable recipe, so if any reader can share, I’d appreciate it!

While I’m not a hunter, nor do I have much game on my table, there are quite a few people who regularly hunt and incorporate game meats for their families. The options for recipes honoring St. Hubert are quite vast and varied:

Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf has several game recipes for this saint:

  • Salpicon Saint-Hubert (Ragout à la St. Hubert). Good for leftover game meat of any kind
  • Côtes de Chevreuil Saint-Hubert (Venison Cutlets in the Style of St. Hubert)
  • Potage Saint-Hubert (Soup St. Hubert)
  • Hasenrücken St. Hubertus (Saddle of Hare St. Hubert)
  • Petites Terrines de Lièvre Saint-Hubert (Terrine of Hare St. Hubert)
  • Wildschweingulasch Sankt Hubertus (Goulash of Wild Boar St. Hubert)
  • Frischlingskeulen St. Hubertus (Legs of Young Boar St. Hubert)
  • Rehkeule St. Hubertus Mit Ingwer (Leg of Venison with Ginger a la St. Hubert)
  • Lepre Alla Sant’Uberto (Hare Casserole with Red Wine)
  • Jägerbraten Hubertus (Hunter’s Roast St. Hubertus)

There is also an Omelette à la Saint-Hubert that includes game meat.

Or you can give up game and meat for this feast and have the St. Hubert Fish Stew from From a Monastery Kitchen by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette.

Since I don’t have game, I think I will make the roast in the style of game:

Jägerbraten Hubertus
1 onion, chopped coarsely
1 carrot, sliced finely
8 juniper berries, crushed (I may skip this ingredient if I can’t find it. How about cranberries?)
4 cups dry red wine
5 peppercorns, crushed
1 bay leaf

1 1/2 pound beef (topside) or similar game meat
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
3 strips bacon, lean, well-smoked
1/2 cups sour cream
1 Tablespoon red currant jelly
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl. Put the meat into it and let it marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Turn meat over a few times while marinating.

Remove meat and dry with a paper towel. Save marinade. Season meat with salt and pepper.

In a heavy casserole with a lid melt the butter and brown the meat thoroughly on all sides. Add 1 cup of the marinade, cover the meat with the bacon and braise in the covered casserole in a hot oven 375 degrees F. for 1 1/2 hours to 1 hour, 40 minutes. During this time turn the meat over a few times and pour extra marinade over it.

When the meat is cooked, put the cooking juices through a sieve or puree them and put in a saucepan over low heat. Season sauce with salt and pepper, add the sour cream and currant jelly.

This is best served with braised red cabbage, steamed apples, and dumplings, spatzle or mashed potatoes.

Think of St. Hubert the next time you have anything to do with hunting!

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 and Image of Mimosa from

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 (substitute, 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 sticky 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 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.

8. Scoop out the pumpkin pulp, and push it through the food mill ito the saucepan with the potato. If the mixture is too liquid, dry it somewhat by placing the saucepan over low heat and cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan cheese, and more salt. Put the puree in a warmed serving dish.

9. Put the pumpkin on a serving platter; remove the bay leaf and clove from the stew, and put the stew in the pumpkin. Replace the lid, and bring the pumpkin to the table. Serve the puree on the side.

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!

Food for St. James the Great, Apostle

Update: I added a photo of our St. James Torte — I used both the stencils for the decoration. The torte was dense and tasty…definitely a recipe to repeat. The chicken was delicious, nice and juicy.

I’ve been looking forward to July 25, feast of St. James. See today’s entry in Family in Feast and Feria for more information on this feast day.

For food, I’m going to use some Spanish recipes. In spirit I want to be in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. For ideas of famous foods from that region, see Gastronomy of Santiago. The empanadas sound wonderful, but I don’t have time to attempt wheat, egg and dairy free empanadas, but it might be something I try in the future.

So for the main meal I’m going to adapt a Tapas recipe. I love all of Penelope Casas’ books, and her Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain is what I’m using for inspiration. But I confess, I’m planning my meal by what I have in the house. Our garden is slowly ripening and I also have chicken. I’m going to make

Chicken in Beer (Pollo en Cerveza)

“This chicken has a subtle lemony flavor, and although I have chosen to use the wing portion for easy handling, you might also use small drumsticks or any other part of the chicken (skin on), cut in small pieces.”

Serves 6 as appetizer, but for main meal probably 2 or 3
Start preparation several hours in advance

12 chicken wings (or thighs or drumsticks with skin)
12 ounce bottle beer (minus 1 Tablespoon for sauce)
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. beer
Freshly ground pepper

Chop the wings into three parts, discarding the tip portion. As I’m making this the main meal, I’m using whole thighs. In shallow bowl or zipper top bag, mix together the marinade: beer (except reserve 1 Tbsp.), pepper, salt, thyme and bay leaf. Arange the chicken in marinade and soak for several hours, turning occasionally.

When ready to cook, combine Sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. At this point you can either grill or broil the chicken. If broiling, arrange on a broiler pan, brush on the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Broil or grill for about 5 minutes (longer if other kinds of parts), flip and baste and salt and pepper. Continue cooking until golden but still juicy. Use a meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked thoroughly.

For dessert, I’m going to attempt to make the famous Tarta de Santiago. This will not be allergy free, but I’m up for the challenge, and to give a nice treat on this wonderful feast day for my dh. There are oodles of recipes on the internet for this cake. There are two different version — one has a crust and filling, the other is more like a flat cake.

Some examples: Food Network,
Reading Room (nice picture), Travel and Living and Spain Recipes (another good picture).

The recipe I’m using is from my favorite Spanish cookbook, My Kitchen in Spain by Janet Mendel . I’ve mentioned in another post, Memories of Little Grandma. I happen to have a bag of ground almond meal (thanks to Trader Joe’s), so the tart shoudn’t be too time-consuming. Almonds don’t grow in this area of Spain, so it is a puzzlement that this cake is made with them. Mendel speculates that it originally might have been made from chestnuts.

The torte is usually decorated with a pattern of the Cross of St. James or the cockle shell, both symbols of St. James. I prepared some patterns of the Cross of St. James and the cockle shell of St. James. Print and cut out the images. Place the image in the middle of the torte and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the rest of the cake. Remove the pattern carefully and you’ll have the cross or shell in the middle of the cake.

If you don’t have time to make this torte from scratch, any cake will do. Purchase a pound cake even, and put the design on the cake. If you need to resize the pattern, use image program, such as Paint Shop Pro. After opening the image in the program, go to print and choose the size you want it to be on the page. It’s that easy — and I just discovered that after all these years of frustration!

Almond Torte from Santiago de la Compostela
Torta de Almendras de Santiago

1 pound ground almonds
2/3 cup butter
2 3/4 cup granulated sugar
7 eggs
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.

Spread the almonds in a baking pan and toast them in the oven, stirring often. Remove from oven when light colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Give time to cool.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat, one at a time. Gradually stir in the flour, the almond meal and lemon zest.

Pour mixture into the greased pan and bake about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester in the center comes out clean and the center when lightly pressed bounces back.

Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Poke the surface of the torte with a skewer and drizzle with lemon juice over the top. Add the pattern of the cross and dust the surface with confectioner’s sugar.

Catholic Culture has a few more suggestions for recipes for St. James. I am going to go French a bit and serve some green beans, inspired by this recipe. The cookbooks Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf and A Continual Feast by Evelyn Vitz also have some unique recipes for the feast of St. James.

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.”

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)

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.