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
Marinade
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

Meat
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!

Yummy Fish?

This is a repost from July 23, 2006
Days of abstinence are an extra penance for me (as they should be). Don’t get me wrong, I like fish. I just don’t LOVE fish. Whenever I eat fish of any kind, fried, grilled, baked, broiled, stewed…it’s an okay meal. And that’s probably what’s good for my soul — I’m not eating for the enjoyment, but just for sustenance.

But sometimes we serve fish on days other than Friday. Yesterday was an example. Of all fish, I love halibut the best…probably because it’s not fishy or oily at all. Trader Joe’s (a place I love to shop) has a great selection of fish. Most of it’s frozen, but it’s really good. Many times what is at my close grocery store has been in the case for a while. At least I know it’s frozen fresh from TJ’s.

But I digress. In celebrating the reddening of our garden tomatoes, last night I prepared:

Halibut with Tomatoes

2 halibut steaks
1 cup tomatoes, diced
Fresh Basil
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp. fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Pepper

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except halibut. Let soak a few minutes. Meantime, light the grill. In aluminum foil place halibut and pour mixture over. Close foil into a packet, and place on grill for about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

We accompanied this with brown rice and fresh marinated cherry tomatoes (that’s another post). But dh and I both declared it “yummy” — unusual for us. This is one to put into our family rotation meals for summer.

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.

Split Pea Soup

One of the most fulfilling kinds of cooking for my family is cooking a nice soup or stew. It’s so comforting especially in cold weather, usually frugal, fills the house with fragrant aroma, and an indication that my day at least has dinner planned and already on the stove — all very satisfying feelings.

Split Pea Soup is one of the comfort foods I had growing up, although some siblings wouldn’t touch the green liquid. But when I have a leftover ham bone, I have to decide whether it will be red beans and rice or Split Pea Soup. The latter won this week. Yum!

This can be the easiest meal ever. The peas do not need to be soaked, as do dried beans, so after rinsing, put all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, then simmer a few hours and the main portion of your meal is done.

I use Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make a Roux? by Marcelle Bienvenu as a basis for my recipe, although I add some changes. (I didn’t realize there’s a reprint in hardbound version. My paperback is worn and such an awkward size. I have to say replacing would be a temptation.)

Trader Joe’s sells a Mirepoix which saves that step of cutting and dicing the onions, carrots, and celery (the trinity in French cooking). It’s a luxury I’m glad I took since we’re under the weather here. My adapted version is below.

Split Pea Soup (serves 8-10)

1 pound dried split peas
1 ham bone, 2 ham hocks, or 2 cups diced ham (I didn’t have a large ham bone or lots of ham, so in the last step of adding the wine I added chopped kielbasa into the soup.)
3 quarts chicken broth and water (I use Imagine brand, 2 quarts broth, 1 quart water)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and black pepper to taste
a few dashes Tabasco sauce
1 cup sherry or dry white wine

Put all ingredients (except wine/sherry) into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. Add white wine or sherry (and sausage) and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Serve with crusty French bread, Southern biscuits, or cornbread, perhaps a salad to round it all off.

I enjoyed a leftover bowl for lunch. It always seems to be better the next day. My son likes to help in the kitchen, but his question every time we make this is “What happened to the peas?”

This is also what I will serve on Palm Sunday, as this is known as Car-Sunday or Carling Sunday. See the links below for more information.
Pease Porridge
Yellow Split Pea Soup

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Our homeschool group hosted the parish Lenten Soup Supper last night. I volunteered to bring a pot of soup, knowing I could have control over the ingredients and this could be safe for my two sons. The recipe was originally from Paula Deen, but I adapted and tweaked a bit. My sisters raved and asked for the recipe, so I’m sharing it here. It’s a keeper, and will definitely be added to the rotation. The only thing that takes time is the peeling and chopping.

I doubled the recipe and saved some for dinner tonight, too.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1-2 cups carrots, sliced (about 3-6 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 cup peas (optional)
2 (14.5 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (undrained)
32 oz. or more Chicken Broth (I use Imagine brand in a box)
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Grated Parmesan, optional

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt chicken to taste and add to the pot, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, (peas,) and chicken broth. Add more chicken broth if more liquid is needed for the soup. Add oregano and basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Top each serving with grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve with salad and bread.

Good Friday Meal

(This is a repost from 2007)

I ran into some friends (a married couple) one Friday this Lent and we started discussing what kinds of meatless meals we served in the family. Usually a Friday meant tuna fish, either tuna salad or tunafish casserole (with rice, not noodles). The husband is Italian, and his family grew up with beans and rice for Friday meals…but not the Louisiana Red Beans and Rice that I love to make, but an Italian version. I pestered for a recipe of sorts and made it this Good Friday.

Italian Rice and Beans

Marinara sauce (I followed Giada’s without the carrots
Cannellini Beans (canned is an option)
Rice

First you make the marinara sauce, let it simmer, then add cannellini or any other beans. If using canned, make sure you drain and rinse the beans well. Add some water or stock and let it simmer up to an hour. Season to taste as you go along. Don’t let it become too thick, add some liquid periodically.

Cook the rice separately (I use short grain), until it is about done, or al dente. Add the rice to the bean and tomato mixture. The rice will absorb the sauce so add near the end, close to serving.

This was so tasty. My only change would be to use dried beans instead of canned…or find another brand. The beans were a bit mealy, and I like them to be a bit firmer. But I know dried would require some extra steps and time.

Dried Beans Tips and Dried Beans 101 are good reference points for understanding beans.

Ash Wednesday Beans

I’m sharing our Ash Wednesday meatless fare. In our family we are meatless on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. I’m striving to add one more day of meatless meals during Lent (and perhaps throughout the year), aiming for a legume meal. Usually we do some kind of fish.

I need to get over my fear of beans. It can be easy to create a delicious meal without eggs, dairy or wheat. Vegan recipes have all sorts of ideas. I do worry of too much fume-producing meals, but once a week is not “too much.”

I found a recipe in Celebrating the Faith: Lent and Easter in the Christian Kitchen by Laurie Navar Gill and Teresa Zepeda. Mrs. Gill’s reasoning behind this dish: “This is a tasty dish, but in my opinion, canned black beans with their purplish liquid are fitting for this day of sackcloth and ashes.” She even slips a tiny teaspoon of ashes from the burned palms after it is all cooked. It doesn’t change the taste, but another Lenten reminder.

I highly recommend this cookbook, especially if you’ve got food allergies and can’t seem to find inspiring meatless meals that don’t incorporate cheese. But the cookbook has more than abstinent menuse. There are also other Lenten ideas, bread recipes, Holy Week and Easter Season recipes.

We found this meal tasty, and even better the next day, and I only made a few changes. The spices and veggies reminded me of tacos, so I served this with taco shells and brown rice. It serves 8, so next time I’ll cut down the portions for my family!

Black Beans and Rice

3 cans black beans
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup picante sauce
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
a few dashes Tabasco sauce
Cooked brown rice

In a family size skillet, heat olive oil and then saute carrots for 3 minutes. Add peppers, onions, garlic, celery, picante sauce, water, and spices, mix together and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse beans, add to skillet, cook 5 more minutes. Serve over rice and/or in taco shells.