Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of Europe, Kidney Disease, Monks, Poisoning, Schoolchildren
Saint Benedict’s Story
It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised the greatest influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of Saint Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.
Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome, and early in life was drawn to monasticism. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.
He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose Benedict as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, and permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.
The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor, and living together in community under a common abbot. Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.
Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation encompassing the men and women of the Order of St. Benedict, and the Cistercians, men and women of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.
(b. 480, Norcia, Italy) (d. 547, Monte Cassino, Italy) (Relics:Relics: Monte Cassino, Italy; Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France; Brescia, Italy)
St Benedict also spent 25 years of his life in Subiaco, Italy.
It is uncertain if the relics of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica are still at Monte Cassino
or if they were moved in the seventh century to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France.
Abbazia di Montecassino (Abbey of Monte Cassino)
03043 Cassino, Italy
*The remains of St Benedict and St Scholastica are said to rest under the main altar of the church at this monastery. Following the tragic destruction of this church during World War II the relics were exhumed and analyzed. This study, conducted in 1950, did not produce conclusive evidence to either confirm or deny the authenticity of these relics.
Abbaye de Fleury (Fleury Abbey)
1 Avenue de l’Abbaye
45730 Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France
*Tradition claims that during the latter part of the 7th century relics of St Benedict and St Scholastica were stolen from Montecassino and brought to this city in France. Today this is still a hotly debated issue with both shrines claiming to have the authentic relics. The relics located here rest within the crypt of the church.
Duomo Nuovo (The New Cathedral)
Piazza Paolo VI
25121 Brescia, Italy
*An arm bone of St Benedict rests within this church. It is placed in front of the beautiful funerary monument dedicated to St Apollonio on the right side of the nave. Around the year 759 this relic was given to a Benedictine community in Leno, located just south of Brescia.
During the 15th century it was transferred to Brescia.
*Recently this bone has been rigorously studied in an attempt to authenticate the relics in either Monte Cassino or Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. Documentation shows that this bone came from Montecassino in 759. This late date provides evidence that at least some relics of the saint were still preserved in Montecassino following the alleged theft in the 7th century. On the other hand, recent studies seem to indicate that the physical characteristics of this bone from Brescia do not match the Montecassino source.
Café Ferrara Lobster Tails!
When I think summertime, I think Italian feasts everywhere.
Italian feasts are filled with families celebrating Italian heritage, Patron Saints, games, and amazing food!!
One of the best treats to indulge in would be the Italian lobster tails! By far the best lobster tails I have ever eaten was in NYC. These pastries are light, crispy, buttery and filled with an amazing whipped, thick, vanilla creme anglaise. The filling is like a light vanilla pudding. The shell should not be hard, chewy or soggy. I have eaten these amazing pastries in Philly, Boston, all over NJ, and in NY, so far the winner is NYC!
Today I chose to honor Saint Benedict with an Italian Lobster Tail because we celebrated his feast this year in Booth Bay, Maine.
Makes about 24 pastries
3 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup water plus additional
1 TBSP white vinegar
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces lard (1/2 cup), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups semolina flour, fine* (see Cooks' notes, below)
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fresh ricotta (1 pound)
1/4 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
Garnish: confectioners sugar
a heavy-duty standing electric mixer with paddle attachment, a pasta machine, a small metal offset spatula, a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, and parchment paper
Mix together 3 cups flour and sea salt in bowl of mixer at moderately low speed, then beat in water, vegetable oil & white vinegar. Gently squeeze a small handful of dough: It should hold together without falling apart. If it doesn't, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition and continuing to test. Continue beating at moderately low speed until dough forms a ball, about 5 minutes (dough will not be smooth).
Halve dough and roll out each half into a rough 12- by 5-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick) with a rolling pin. Put dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set smooth rollers of pasta machine at widest setting. Feed 1 piece of dough through rollers 6 times, folding in half each time. Feed remaining piece of dough through rollers in same manner.
Stack both pieces of dough and, using rolling pin, roll together to form 1 (1/2-inch-thick) piece. Feed dough through rollers 10 more times, folding in half each time. Fold dough in half crosswise, then fold in half again. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 8.
Beat together butter and lard in a bowl with mixer until pale and fluffy.
Quarter dough. Keeping remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap, roll out 1 piece dough into a rough 4- by 8-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Feed rectangle through rollers of pasta machine (dust dough with flour as necessary to prevent sticking), making space between rollers narrower each time, until dough has gone through narrowest setting (dough strip will be about 4 feet long). Cover strip loosely with plastic wrap. Feed another piece of dough through rollers in same manner.
Put 1 dough strip on lightly floured surface and trim ends to make even. Spread 3 tablespoons lard butter evenly over strip with offset spatula. Gently stretch strip to 9 inches wide with your fingers, moving slowly down length of strip. Beginning at a short end, carefully and tightly roll up strip, stopping 1 inch before end, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Spread other dough strip with 3 tablespoons lard butter and stretch to 9 inches in same manner (do not roll up). Overlap 1 inch of a short end onto exposed end of first roll, then continue to roll up first roll to form a tight cylinder (about 9 inches long and 2 inches in diameter).
Feed remaining 2 pieces of dough through rollers and make another tight cylinder in same manner. Wrap cylinders well in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Chill remaining lard butter.
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add semolina flour in a slow steady stream, stirring, and cook, stirring, until mixture becomes a thick heavy paste, 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread 1/4 inch thick. Chill, covered with wax paper, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Tear semolina into pieces and mix in bowl of mixer at low speed to break up. Add yolks, vanilla, sea salt, and cinnamon and beat until smooth. Mix in ricotta and candied orange peel at low speed. Spoon into pastry bag and chill.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove remaining lard butter from refrigerator.
Working with 1 cylinder at a time, trim about 1/2 inch from each end, then cut cylinders into 3/4-inch-thick slices (about 12). Lay 1 slice flat on work surface and gently flatten into a 4-inch round with heel of your hand, starting in center and smearing out in all directions.
Form round into a cone:
Carefully scrape round off work surface with a knife or metal spatula. Put your thumbs underneath round and first two fingers of each hand on top, then gently push center upward with thumbs and simultaneously pull side downward with fingers, keeping layers overlapping slightly (imagine a collapsible travel cup).
Cupping cone in palm of your hand, pipe in about 3 tablespoons filling. Pinch edges of dough together to seal and put pastry on a baking sheet. Form and fill more sfogliatelle in same manner with remaining slices and remaining cylinder.
Brush sfogliatelle with some lard butter. Bake in batches in middle of oven (keep second batch covered with plastic wrap while first bakes), brushing with remaining lard butter twice during baking, until very crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes total. Transfer pastries to a rack to cool slightly, then serve.
**Just an idea but I think maybe folding in some homemade blueberry filling into the lobster cream would be amazing!
***Fillings can vary from whipped cream to a thicker pudding with semolina. Have fun with your filling.
·Fine semolina flour isn't labeled as such on the package, but if it doesn't say "coarse," then you've got the right product.
·Dough cylinders can be chilled up to 2 days, or frozen 1 month. Thaw before proceeding.
·Filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
·Filled sfogliatelle (before being brushed with lard butter and baked) can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered, or frozen 1 month, wrapped well in plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Maine is all about Lobsters and Blueberries!
Extra little fun notes on Maine!
Maine Lobster Festival: 71st Annual Celebration of All Things Lobster, August 1 - 5, 2018 in Rockland, Maine
Maine Blueberry Festival
And if lobsters are not enough for you then add a blueberry festival to your schedule. About two hours northwest of Rockland in the small town of Wilton, Maine. Wilton has their own special festival for blueberries! Pie and Lobster as much as one can stand, oh my!