Monday, October 31, 2011

Prayer to St. Rita by Margaret Ullrich

Happy Halloween!!

Some folks were really impressed by how St. Rita was able to help me.
Well, so am I.
Since I've already published the prayer to St. Jude, I agree it's only fair to 
do the same for St. Rita, the other "Saint of the Impossible".


St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) lived a remarkable life.
She was a wife, mother, widow and nun.
Her husband was abusive.
Both of her sons were killed.
Like St. Francis, she received the stigmata.
A thorn wound in her forehead.
She prayed, 
O loving Jesus, increase my patience according as my sufferings increase.
In the years since her death her reputation has grown.

She's truly a woman who's seen it all.
And who loves to help.

                        Prayer to St. Rita

Holy Patroness of those in need,  
St. Rita, you were humble, pure and patient.
Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible,
so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus
the request I make of you (Here make your request).
Be kind to me for the greater glory of God,
and I shall honor you and sing your praises forever.

Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in 
the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation
the troubles of this life,
and protect me in all my needs.   
Amen.

Also say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.
And...

                        Prayer of Thanksgiving

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you
for all the graces and favors which you have given us
through the prayers of your Saint Rita.

Great Saint Rita, we thank you
for your intercession in response to our prayers.
We will always be grateful to you.

Continue to intercede for our needs and in our difficulties.
Be with us particularly in the hour of death
that we may face that decisive moment with courage and serenity.



As I mentioned a while ago, we were also taught 
Miracles do happen, but sometimes, well, there is that line 
"if it is God's desire for us" 
If it isn't, strength to bear the problem is a blessing, too.  

The problem may be part of a bigger picture we can't see. 
It may lead to a greater good than we can imagine. 
It may even be a blessing in disguise. 
How many times have we said, "Who knew?"


Wishing you miracles, strength, courage, serenity and wisdom.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prayer to A Saint by Margaret Ullrich

Just one more sleep.
Halloween.
All Hallows Eve.

Recently I posted about the feastdays of All Souls and All Saints.
I also posted about Danny Thomas and St. Jude.

Timing or what?

But there are many more saints.
I've received a few e mails asking for prayers for special patron saints.
Also for prayers for special concerns.
Some saints are experts at handling special problems.

It's true...
Some saints are specialists:
St. Joseph is the patron of workers.
St. Dymphna helps those who are mentally afflicted.
St. Peregrine is famous as "The Cancer Saint".
St. Anthony Mary Claret is known for helping those suffering from cancer, 
heart trouble, and other serious ailments of soul and body.


St. Anthony (St. Francis's friend) is known as the Wonder-Worker.
He's also something of a detective.
There's a famous quickie prayer to him:
Good St. Anthony, come around.
Something's lost, that must be found.

Have something on your mind?
Here's a prayer that every saint will accept.
They're saints.
They're sympathetic.


                        Prayer to Any Saint

Glorious Saint N. (my beloved patron), you served God 
in humility and confidence on earth.
Now you enjoy His beatific vision in heaven.
You persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life.

Remember now the dangers and confusion and anguish
that surround me, and intercede for me in my needs and troubles
especially (Here make your request).
Amen.

Also say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.


I know we're talking saints, but don't forget your manners.

                        Prayer of Thanksgiving

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you
for all the graces and favors which you have given us
through the prayers of your Saint N.

Great Saint N., we thank you
for your intercession in response to our prayers.
We will always be grateful to you.

Continue to intercede for our needs and in our difficulties.
Be with us particularly in the hour of death
that we may face that decisive moment with courage and serenity.


Just a reminder, praying a novena means the prayers are said for 
nine consecutive days.
Some people also say them six or nine times a day.

Novena is from the Latin root nov, which means nine.
Yes, November was once the nineth month.
It got changed.
A long time ago.
I don't know why.

Don't you have enough problems?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anna Sultana's Hobz - Maltese Bread l Quick Cheese Pizza


Like I said, maybe Carmela just popped into
a good Italian bakery for a few loaves of
Italian bread.
In New York, Italian bakeries are a dime a dozen compared to Maltese bakeries.
Ma had no choice.
If she wanted a taste of home, she had to bake it herself.

And so can you.

Don't get excited by the number of loaves.
Hobz loaves are small.
Orange-size balls of dough can only get so big.
Well, good things come in small packages.

A small hint:  While kneading the dough, dip your hands in water to give the 
dough a smooth elastic finish.


                        Hobz

Makes 7 - 9 loaves 

In a small bowl, pour
1/2 Cup warm water (@ 110º F)
Sprinkle over the water
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
Let stand about 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.

In a large bowl combine
2 teaspoons salt 
6 Cups flour
Make a small depression in the center.

Combine in a small bowl
1/3 Cup milk
1 1/2 Cups warm water (@ 110º F)
dissolved yeast/water mixture

Pour liquids into flour/salt depression.
Mix the flour with the liquids.
Make sure to knead in all the flour.
Knead until it is smooth and the sides of the bowl are clean.
Don't forget to occasionally dip your hands in water.

Cover dough with a towel and let rise in a warm place, about 3 hours.
Pull out orange-size balls and form into smooth balls.
Place them on a towel.
Cover with another towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Roll one piece into a 1/4-inch thick circle.
Place it back on the towel.
Repeat with remaining balls.
Cover with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 475º 
Place dough directly on hot racks in oven.
As soon as dough rises into a mound (2 to 5 minutes), place under broiler 
for a few seconds until lightly browned.
Cool.
Hobz freezes well.

Slice and serve, just like regular bread.

****
Or you can make a quick Cheese Pizza

In the side of a Hobz, slice a pocket 
In the pocket arrange slices of
fresh tomatoes
cheese (mozzarella is nice)
Sprinkle with
oregano
Place Hobz on a baking sheet.
Bake in a hot oven until the cheese is melted.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Anna Sultana's Crusty Italian Bread


Is there anything more basic than bread?

Carmela's Entertaining with The Sopranos included a few bread recipes, 
including a recipe for a loaf of Easter Sweet Bread in the Holidays chapter.
But, there wasn't a recipe for basic Italian bread.
Bread to accompany meals.
Bread that, with a chunk of cheese and a bottle of wine, could be a meal in itself. 


Maybe Carmela had a really good Italian bakery nearby.
Maybe she put this cookbook together while she was on the Atkin's diet.
Maybe, she thought that, if she baked bread, she wouldn't have time for baking anything else.

Well, I have a recipe for you.
This recipe has been an old favorite.
Especially handy when there wasn't a good Italian bakery nearby.


                        Crusty Italian Bread

Makes 2 loaves
Grease 2 large baking sheets
Sprinkle each pan lightly with
Yellow corn meal         

In a large bowl, pour
2 1/2 Cups warm water (@ 110º F)
Sprinkle over the water
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Let stand about 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.
Add
1 Tablespoon salt
Stir in 
4 Cups flour
Turn the dough out on a floured surface.
Knead in
About 2 Cups flour
Knead until it is smooth and elastic (about 20 minutes).
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.
Turn to cover all sides.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours.
It should be about doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough and let rise again, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and turn the dough out on a floured surface.
Cut it into 2 even pieces.
Roll one piece into a rectangle 10 x 15 inches.
Starting on a long side, roll up tightly, pressing dough at each turn.
Pinch the ends and loose edge to seal.
Roll ends between hands to taper them.
Place on prepared pan.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover with a tent of aluminum foil.
Place in a warm place and let rise, about 1 1/2 hours.

Heat oven to 400º 
With a sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slash down each loaf.      
Bake 25 minutes
Remove pans from oven. 

Increase oven temperature to 450º
Beat together
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Brush loaves

Bake 15 minutes, until brown
Remove loaves from pans.
Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
Slice and serve, just like regular bread.


Would I make Crusty Italian Bread again?
Sure.
And serve it with cheese and wine.
By candle light.
After all that work, he'd better not expect a lasagna, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bye, Bye, Carmela Soprano by Margaret Ullrich

All good things must come to an end.
It's been fun cooking my way through Carmela's Entertaining with the Sopranos.
No, more than fun.
It was a reminder of where I came from.

I was an immigrant kid, just off the boat.
Stuck in Queens.
Some of my classmates and neighbors were kind.
Some were not.

Enjoying Ma's cooking was a guilty pleasure.
I loved our food.
Packing leftovers for lunch sometimes led to culture shock moments.
Not good times.

It was the 1950s.
America's idea of Mediterranean was tinned ravioli, a la Chef Boyardee.
Seriously.
An event like Winnipeg's Folklorama was beyond our neighbors' imagination.
Or tolerance.

The movie Julie & Julia just skimmed the excitement Julia Child brought to America.
Julia Child was truly exotic.
Something some Moms would try for a special event.
The more adventurous Moms.


Cooking my way through Entertaining with the Sopranos wasn't a quest for me.
I was on home turf.
Sometimes I shamelessly substituted.
I wanted to go back to my roots.
And for that I have to thank Michele Scicolone.
She was the true source of the recipes in the cookbook.
Carmela was fiction, but fun.
So was her editor.


Before I tackled Michele's recipes I was a sucker for the newest flavor fashion.
Now I just ignore them.
I mean, who needs raspberry vinegar?
Ma's - and Michele's - recipes have been around for centuries.
They're classics.
Raspberry vinegar?  
I don't think so.

Life is short.
I want to savor foods that feed the soul as well as the stomach.


Thank you, Michele. 
And, of course, thank you, Ma.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Anna Sultana's Pastizzi / Ricotta Tarts, Maltese Style


Okay, the Pasticiotti was the last Soprano recipe.
It was what we've come to expect from Carmela.
Delicious.
But... a bit labor intensive.

And it's a little hard to believe that she actually would make a batch for the family.
Let alone a houseful of company.

All that work for 8 tartlets.
It was supposed to serve 6.
Right.
Can't you picture Tony eating 4 all by himself?
And JR grabbing the other 4?


Ma had to feed her family in addition to doing a regular 40-hour shift at Lily Tulip.
She needed more bang for her buck in the kitchen, time-wise.
A favourite special event dessert was Ma's Pastizzi, cheese cakes.

No, Pastizzi is nothing like the Co-op Refrigerator cheesecake.
This was Ma's cheese cake.
And we loved it.

       
                              Pastizzi


Makes 6

Grease a large baking sheet

Press through a sieve
200 g ricotta
Add
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
Mix well.

In a large bowl whisk until pale yellow
3 large eggs
Add seasoned ricotta and mix well.


On a floured surface roll out into long strips
200 g puff pastry (from the frozen food section)
Cut pastry into 6 squares.
Put a tablespoonful of the ricotta filling in the center.
Bring together the corners of the pastry, leaving the top a little open.
Place the cheese cakes on the prepared pan.

Beat together
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water
Brush the yolk mixture over the cheese cakes.

Preheat oven to 425º

Bake 45 minutes until lightly golden.
They're best hot.

My favorite part is the crusty baked egg on top.
Way better than the icing squiggle on the storebought Hostess cupcakes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Carmela Soprano's Pasticiotti / Tartlets with Vanilla Cream Filling


I can't believe it.
We've cooked through Carmela Soprano's Entertaining with the Sopranos.
All of it.

And we have the extra pounds to prove it.

Okay... this is the last recipe.
I'm feeling verklempt.



In the Come to My House chapter of Carmela's Entertaining with the Sopranos, there's a recipe for Pasticiotti (little vanilla cream tartlets).  
It's a nice recipe to bake to end this project.
And I like that it's in the chapter Come to My House.
I feel like you've been in my kitchen.
The best room my house.


A little warning...
The filling and crust have to be refrigerated overnight.
It's worth the wait.

       
                              Pasticiotti 
                              

Serves 6
Pastry Cream Filling

In a medium saucepan heat over low heat
1 Cup milk
Heat until bubbles form around the edge.  Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl whisk until pale yellow
2 large egg yolks
1/2 Cup sugar
Whisk in
2 Tablespoons flour
Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot milk.
Return the mixture to the saucepan.
Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until boiling.
Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute (until mixture is thickened).

Scrape the custard into a bow and stir in
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To prevent a skin from forming, cover the custard with 
plastic wrap directly on the surface.
Let cool slightly, then refrigerate overnight, until cold.


Crust

In a large mixer bowl stir together
3 1/4 Cups flour
1/2 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Add and blend until it is the size of small peas
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Beat together
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add the liquid to the dry ingredient.
Mix just until the dough comes together.
Add some ice water if the dough is too dry.

Gather the dough into a ball.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one piece slightly larger.
Flatten the pieces into disks.
Wrap each in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.


Tartlets

Grease 8  2 1/2 x 1/2 inch tartlet pans.

Keep the smaller piece of dough in the fridge.
On a floured surface roll out the larger dough 1/4 inch thick.
Cut the dough into 8 circles 1 1/2 inches wider than the pans.
Place each circle in a pan, and press it gently in place.
If it tears, just patch it with scraps.  DON'T PANIC.

Fill the shells about 3/4 full with the custard.
Don't overfill - the baking custard will puff and can leak.  BAD.

Roll out the remaining dough 1/4 inch thick.
Cut the dough into 8 circles slightly wider than the pans.
Place a circle on top of each tart and seal the edges by pressing with a fork's tines.

Preheat oven to 350º

Beat together
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water
Brush the mixture on the top of each tartlet.
With a fork, pierce each tartlet.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes until lightly golden.
Let cool on the pans on a rack 5 minutes.

Loosen each tart by inserting the tip of a knife between the crust and the pan.
Transfer each tart to a serving platter.
Store in the refrigerator.

Before serving, dust with
Confectioners' sugar


Would I make Pasticiotti again?
Sure, for special occasions... with a few shortcuts.
It was the caboose, the last recipe, the baby.
It'll always hold a special place for me.
And I hope for you, too.


Another recipe down.  
THE END.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prayer to St. Jude

I got a few emails asking for the prayer to St. Jude.
No problem.
Happy to share it.

Here's a bit of info about St. Jude.
It's good to know to whom you are talking.

                        Prayer to St. Jude

St. Jude, apostle of Christ,
the Church honors and prays to you universally
as the patron of hopeless and difficult cases.
Pray for us in our needs.

Make use, we implore you,
of this powerful privilege given to you
to bring visible and speedy help where help is needed.

Pray that we humbly accept
the trials and disappointments and mistakes
which are a part of our human nature.

Help us to see the reflection of the suffering of Christ
in the trials and tribulations of our own lives.
Let us see in a spirit of great faith and hope
the part we even now share in the joy of Christ's resurrection,
and which we long to share fully in heaven.

Intercede that we may again experience this joy 
in answer to our present needs
if it is God's desire for us.
(Here make your request.)
We know our prayers will be heard through your intercession.

It's usual to also say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.
If you've heard of novenas, but aren't sure what that means, the 
prayers are said for nine consecutive days.
Some people also say them six or nine times a day.

Some people also add
I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great 
favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, 
and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.  Amen.


Miracles do happen, but sometimes, well, there is that line
if it is God's desire for us.
If it isn't, strength to bear the problem is a blessing, too.

The problem may be part of a bigger picture we can't see.
It may lead to a greater good than we can imagine.
It may even be a blessing in disguise.
How many times have we said, "Who knew?"


Not everybody can build a hospital, but saying thank you is just being polite.

                        Prayer of Thanksgiving

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you
for all the graces and favors which you have given us
through the prayers of your apostle, Jude Thaddeus.

Great apostle, St. Jude, we thank you
for your intercession in response to our prayers.
We will always be grateful to you.

Continue to intercede for our needs and in our difficulties.
Be with us particularly in the hour of death
that we may face that decisive moment with courage and serenity.


Wishing you miracles, strength, courage, serenity and wisdom.

Ma and St. Rita by Margaret Ullrich


Okay... mind wandering time again.
I'm over 60.  It happens.

A lot of Malta's special recipes are tied to our holy days.
That's HOLY days, not holidays.
Ma's Dead Man's Bones recipe was traditional for All Souls' Day.
November 2, All Soul's Day, a holy day when we remember our dead.

On All Soul's Day we remember our not quite hallowed friends and family.
Catholics are big on the 'helping others' way.
Remember the Kennedys and the Peace Corps?
Our 'All Souls' are dead, so duh, they need our help.
What goes around, comes around.
When we need a hand, we ask the Halloweds for some help.

We Catholics spend quite a bit of time talking to dead folks.
We're not morbid.
We just like to keep in touch.


Some Saints have gotten a huge reputation for being great at helping.
Hey, miracles happen.
When I was born, there were complications.
The doctors told my parents to prepare for the worst.
They did.
And, wallah, I survived, and was christened Margherita.
Did you catch the RITA bit at the end?


Ma had absolute faith that her prayers would be answered.
How do I know?
She prayed to St. Rita.
St. Rita was a nice Italian girl.
Since Ma knew I'd survive, she wanted me to have a nice Mediterranean name.
Something that would go with Sultana.


For problems that didn't involve names for her children, Ma turned to St. Jude.
St. Jude is huge in Catholic circles as a mega star at helping.
There's a prayer to St. Jude which, according to our prayer books, is said:
when problems arise or when one seems to be deprived of all visible help, 
or for cases almost despaired of. 
Don't take my word for it.
Danny Thomas prayed to St. Jude when he feared his career was going nowhere.
Danny also made a promise.
Opportunites opened up for Danny Thomas.
In gratitude, Danny, with Dr. Diggs, founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
St. Jude hospital was founded on the premise that "no child should die in the 
dawn of life".


St. Jude helped Danny.
Danny helped kids.

Like I said, Catholics are big on the 'helping others' way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anna Sultana's Ladyfingers Cookies

Before I go any further, I must say Maltese are NOT cannibals.
I don't know where our recipes got their names.
I know that a few weeks ago a posted Ma's Death Man's Bones recipe.
A simple, light cookie.
Not a bit of bone in sight.
And wasn't that a nice recipe for All Souls' Day?


Okay... this week I'm posting Ma's recipe for Ladyfingers.
Chill.
You've most likely had them before.
Either as is or as an ingredient in Tiramisu.
A nice simple cookie that dunks well.
Bliss.


                        Ladyfingers

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

In a large bowl sift together
2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350º
Generously grease and flour 3 baking sheets

In a large mixer bowl beat until cream colored
1 Cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon almond extract
Add the sifted dry ingredients
Mix until blended.
The dough will be soft.  Don't add more flour.

Allowing for shaping, drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets.
Also allow for spreading.
Shape the mounds into 'fingers' 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Let cool on a rack.

Before serving, if you want, dust them with
Confectioners' sugar

Friday, October 14, 2011

Carmela Soprano's Anginetti / Italian Lemon Knot Cookies with Lemon Glaze


Hopefully, all your Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone.
Or at least in the deep freeze.
No, I can't face another slice of pumpkin pie, either.

Time to have some cookies.
Simple, basic cookies.
Your waist will thank you.
Your stomach will thank you.
Your family will thank you.
Really.


In the Fit for a Bride chapter of Carmela's Entertaining with the Sopranos,
there's a recipe for Anginetti (Lemon Knot Cookies).  

This is a nice and easy recipe.
No Pizzelle iron.
No fancy cookie cutters.
No cookie cutters at all.

Well, I guess you could roll the dough out and cut some fancy shapes.
But, why bother?


Don't have a lemon to grate?
A teaspoon of lemon extract will do nicely.

Don't like lemon?
Can you say orange... or vanilla... or....?
Hey, they're your cookies.
Paulie ain't gonna visit.
Really. 

                             
                              Anginetti 

Makes 3 dozen cookies

In a large bowl sift together
4 Cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

In a large mixer bowl beat together until light and fluffy
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup solid vegetable shortening
Beat in
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Beat in, one at a time, until blended
3 large eggs
Beat in, scraping the sides of the bowl
1/2 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Add the sifted dry ingredients
Mix until blended.
The dough will be soft.  Don't add more flour.
Just cover the bowl and chill the dough at least 2 hours.
Overnight is better.

Preheat oven to 350º
Line 2 large baking sheets with foil

Divide the dough into thirds.
Cut each third into 12 pieces.
Roll a piece between your hands into a 6-inch rope.
Tie the rope into a loose knot, and place it on the baking sheet.
Make 35 more knots and place them, an inch apart, on the sheets.  
Bake 12 minutes until lightly golden.
Let cool on the pans 5 minutes.
Transfer to racks and cool completely.


GLAZE

Combine in a small bowl
1 1/2 Cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Add water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is like heavy cream.

Brush the glaze over the cookies.
Place them on racks to dry.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Would I make Anginetti again?
Sure.
It's a nice, simple recipe.
And they dunk well.


Another recipe down.  One more to go.
Really.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

VOTE!!! by Margaret Ullrich

Lately it seems like all we Canadians do is vote.
I know...
What, again?
How many months has it been?
Been there, done that. 

Familiarity breeds contempt.

But, really, this is a new election.
Not the same candidates as we had a few months ago.
No, really.


It's none of my business who you vote for.
I'm tired of the commercials, too.
In a perfect world, they'd be able to keep all their promises.
The world's not perfect, so we just do the best we can.
ple disagre

And don't get me started on the Facebook know-it-alls.
You know what I mean...
They fill the wall with links to articles and videos.
All for your benefit, because of course you didn't know.
If you did, you'd agree with them.

Right.


You're smart enough.
You're informed enough.
You're aware enough.


You count!!
Please VOTE!!!