Friday, August 10, 2012

A Cooking Competition of Olympic Proportions

There's nothing like a good meal to put a smile on your face, isn't there?  And sometimes, just reading about a good meal can cause you to smile without even actually eating it. What follows is a post written by my friend Christi Jentz as part of a series that we have been working on together this summer. Christi's detailed description of the dinner that she, her husband Dave and her son Paul prepared for some of her favorite church people this past week put a smile on my face just by reading about it.  I am sure that after you enjoy her description and pictures of her dinner, you will be quick to order "From A Rectory Kitchen" by Fr. Matthew Mauriello and Franca Bosio Bertoli so that you can also prepare lovely Italian meals for the priests and seminarians that you love.  And now, without further ado, I give you....

Christi's Dinner

Welcome to the third competition in our cookbook series.

Anne wrote on July 19, 2012:

“You may recall that Christi and I have agreed to invite priests and seminarians to our homes to prepare Italian meals for them using recipes found in From A Rectory Kitchen which was written by Fr. Matthew Mauriello and Franca Bosio Bertoli. You can read my previous post on this subject here and can order your own copy of the cookbook here.” 

The thought behind this promotion was that if we could prepare these dishes based purely on blind faith with little Italian cooking experience (dining at the Olive Garden doesn’t count) then others can too. The subtitle of this cookbook is “Italian Food Cooked and Served in the Joy of the Lord”. It was a pleasure for our family  to serve St. Francis de Sales Seminary Rector, Fr.  John Hemsing (the King), Uber youth and adult ministers Brian Magliocco and Dave Braun and their families from St Mary’s Parish, Elm Grove (who so graciously hosted Paul this summer) and fellow seminarians, Charlie and John.

the dinner table

The Braun's and the Magliocco's-Brian's mom probably told him many times that if he didn't stop that his face would stay that way!

Fr. John Hemsing with college seminarians Paul, Charlie and John-notice the orb over Fr. John's head-a good sign?

After two spectacular cookbook runs by Anne I decided to pull out the big guns and request recipes directly from Iron Chef Mauriello. It was time to raise this to Olympic status. Fr. Matt sent back these meal suggestions:

Appetizer- Bruschetta

First course- Manicotti

Second course- Chicken Primavera with Arugula Salad

Side dish- potato croquets

For dessert- (we chose all three)
Tiramisu or Flan Portuguese or Dolce Torino

Here’s how it went.
The comment selections are from our interesting dinner critics.
The numbers are the total scores on a scale of 10 being best.

Desserts: Paul and I began the three desserts the day before.

Flan Portugesa, pg. 306, score 8.8

caramel for bottom of flan and custard mix

flan just baked
This is simple recipe. All went well except that Paul attempted to sample the hot caramel topping with his thumb. Resolution # 1- don’t do that, it burns.  

“Melts in your mouth, light, sweet, fluffy”
“Not a flan fan”
“It went down smooth- it was cool and caramelly”.

Dolce Torino, pg. 320, score 8.2

ladyfinger cookie dough
We used homemade ladyfingers for this. It called for 4 tbsp of Frangelico but we substituted the Amaretto because that is what we had on hand. The chocolate cream didn’t seem quite right; perhaps it was a bit soupy, but it tasted really good. Resolution # 2- improvise when necessary. We placed the cookies with the cream spread in the refrigerator and they set up just fine. I made a chocolate drizzle to cover up any of the defects. (No one seemed to know how they were supposed to look anyway and everyone ate them just fine). 

“Yummy in my tummy”.
“Amazing light chocolate taste”.
“Tastes like an E.L. Fudge Cookie”.
“Well proportioned. Cookie was a bit chewy. Overall satisfying”.

Tiramisu, pg. 292, score 8.8

the end of the tiramisu

With half a team member we proceeded to the next dessert recipe Tiramisu. While I was preparing the homemade ladyfingers (recipe found online) Paul proceeded to mix the Amaretto with the egg whites instead of the egg yolks. Oops. Resolution # 3 – don’t do that. We poured the Amaretto $$$ mix down the drain and began over.

“A pleasure to behold, a delight on the tongue”.
“I don’t like coffee”.
“Raspberries- a nice finish”!

Main Courses: Made the day of and stored in the refrigerator until bake time.

Appetizer Bruschetta, pg. 9, score 9.25

 The fresh basil/tomato combination makes this a hit. We served it on the porch with a fresh strawberry, white grape, lemonade punch. (That scored a perfect 10!!!)

“Wake me up I must be dreaming, I thought I was in Italy”.

First course/ Pasta Manicotti, pg. 76, score 9

manicotti crepe

folded manicotti before sauce

manicotti before baking

This is a fantastic single dish recipe for meatless Friday meals. The wrap is a crepe more than a pasta and very fun to flip- sort of like a pancake but lighter. I selected the spinach ricotta mix for the inside. Coated with a creamy Béchamel Sauce and topped with Tomato Basil Sauce and grated mozzarella.

 “Appetizing, Surprisingly not too heavy- creamy, mild”.

“The spinach inside would make Popeye smile”.

Second course/ Chicken Breast Primavera with Arugula Salad,
pg. 152, score 9.67

chicken breast primavera with arugula salad and potato croquettes

This recipe is a keeper. It requires a little bit of fancy work like pounding the pre-seasoned chicken breasts into flat, even pieces using a food mallet (we just happened to have on hand). It work really well but I thought Paul was bit aggressive (and noisy) with the mallet until I tried it. It does require a little elbow grease but its well worth the effort. The pieces were sooo tender.

“Hay Naku! Mabuti!”
“Amazing, a full bodied taste explosion of many flavors”
“The chicken breast was perfectly seasoned and lightly breaded; the salad added a spring like freshness. The cheese added a creamy finish”.

Side dish/ Potato Croquets p. 277, score 9.2

potato balls before breading and frying

Fr Matt wrote that these were his favorites. They are seasoned mashed potatoes rolled into a ball with mozzarella filling. The balls are dipped in an egg mix, rolled in seasoned bread crumbs then fried.

“Filled with cheesy goodness. A Wisconsinite’s delight”!
“I could tell this scrumptious dish was made with love and care”.
“Potatoes and cheese- always a good combo”!

A fellow art friend once commented that she occasionally burns meals because she walks out of the kitchen to finish her projects and forgets about the food cooking. Amen to that. No Martha’s here- staying in the kitchen is half the battle. So one final resolution – don’t leave the kitchen. Go for the gold. These recipes deserve your attention!

Additionally- Please note two silvers earned in a different category.

Fr John Hemsing, will be celebrating his 25th Silver Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood in early 2013. Fr Matt Mauriello already kicked off his Silver Anniversary commemoration with an event in July. Here are the wonderful and encouraging words from his Bishop:

Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello Sunday, July 29, 2012

by: His Excellency, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, NJ

          The author, Robert Fulghum, who wrote the book, Everything I ever need to know I learned in Kindergarten, keeps the picture of a woman who is not his wife next to the mirror in his bathroom. Every morning as he shaves, he looks at the picture. The picture is of a small humped-over woman. She is surrounded by important-looking people in tuxedos, evening gowns and the regalia of royalty. It is the picture of Mother Theresa, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize!

          The picture reminds him that, more than a president of any nation and more than any CEO, she did good because she was a servant. Mother Theresa followed Jesus who was the servant of all. Again and again, Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is brought about by deeds of compassionate service to others.

          We see this in today’s gospel event. When Jesus sees the crowds coming to Him to be nourished spiritually by His word, He says to Philip, “Where can we get enough bread to feed them?” Jesus is already looking for a way to meet not only their spiritual, but their physical needs as well. He Who is the Bread of Life provides for the thousands bread for life, for Jesus is the servant Who loves and cares for us completely. Today, Jesus Crucified and Risen continues to care for us in love. He continues to give us a share in His life through those He calls to be His priests.

          Generously, joyfully and faithfully, Fr. Matthew has answered that call and, for the last 25 years, has had the privilege and responsibility to continue the work of Christ among us. In Ponce, Puerto Rico, in Danbury, Monroe, Stamford, Bridgeport and here in Greenwich, through his preaching of the Word, in baptizing, in forgiving sins, in anointing the sick, in blessing marriages and, most especially, in the daily celebration of the Eucharist- Fr. Matt has given his life in making Christ present among us.

          On the day of his ordination, the bishop handed Fr. Matt the bread and wine to be offered at Mass and said,
          “Receive the oblation of the holy people to be offered to God.
          Understand what you do and imitate what you celebrate.
          Conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”

          As a priest, Fr. Matt has joined his whole life, every moment of his day, to the mystery of the Cross, dying to self and rising with Christ for others. He has taken his great gifts of intellect and art, of vision and compassion, of understanding and dedication and placed them at the service of others.

          Both in his advanced academic degree and his honor as a canon of Orvieto witness to his dedication and love of the church that extends far beyond parochial borders. Whether ministering in this parish, or others, whether using his artistic talents in the service of beauty and the church, whether fostering devotion to the Divine Mercy or Our Blessed Mother, he has lived his priesthood for others. This is why people who truly know him love him.

          This day, with Fr. Matt, we give thanks for the grace God has given him for our good. His priesthood, his life, his countless hours of selfless work remind us that God’s kingdom is not established in this world by decrees issued by the powerful, but by deeds of service done by the compassionate and caring.

          For when we love each other as Jesus loves us, giving up, not grasping after, not insisting what is ours, but sacrificing for the other, it is then the kingdom of God comes and Jesus can meet the deepest hungers of His people.


  1. After days of eating toast and cereal, a visit to my mother and the incredible smells that come from her cooker really warms my heart and my belly!! My grandmother's name was Magliocco, I wonder if we are related in some way to the people in your post. Pip.

    1. Pip, it's a small world, isn't it? I wouldn't be at all surprised if your grandma Magliocco in Ireland and the Magliocco family here in Wisconsin USA were distantly related somehow!

      There's nothing like a home-cooked meal prepared with love! So glad you were able to get some real nourishment after days of toast and cereal!

  2. These recipes look delicious! And described soooo well! Yes, that is my son and I warned him about the face thing. Too late, I guess! Who is grandma Magliocco mentioned above and where is she from?

    1. Thanks for this good-hearted comment! You made me laugh! When will our children ever learn to listen to the wisdom of their mothers?

      You could send a note to Pip in Ireland who wrote the above comment and see if you can sift through your family tree to find out if you are really related or not!

  3. I agree with the commenter, "potatoes and cheese--always a good combo." This looks lovely and like so much fun. Thanks for the 'resolutions' very helpful, especially involving hot carmel!

  4. All this food looks so delish!

  5. This whole idea is just SO cool, Anne:) I just love it! I will be referring back to those recipes...The crepe wrapped manicotti sounds divine. God bless you in this wonderful ministry with your friends...Our Shepherds deserve nothing less:)