A Simple Feast for a Scholarly Saint

Today is the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Years ago, we belonged to a parish that had the tradition of handing out small loaves of dark bread at the end of Mass in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Tucked inside the wrappings were quotes from Saint Thomas Aquinas. I miss that tradition.

Saint Thomas was a Dominican Friar, philosopher and great theologian. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the country of Aquino in the present-day Lazio, Italy. Combining the theological principles of faith with the philosophical principles of reason, Saint Thomas Aquinas was considered to be among the most influential thinkers of medieval Scholasticism. Often called “The Universal Teacher”, Saint Thomas Aquinas died at the monastery of Fossanova on March 7, 1274. He was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323. His writings are considered to be timeless.

To pretend angels do not exist because they are invisible
Is to believe we never sleep because we don’t see ourselves sleeping.

Nothing so likens you to God, as to forgive him who has injured you.

Is the desire for

The highest manifestation of life consists in this:
That a being governs its own actions.
A thing which is always subject to the direction of another
Is somewhat of a dead thing.

A Simple Feast for a Scholarly Saint
Honey Wheat Bread
Italian Beef Stew over Parmesan Polenta

Honey Wheat Bread
2-1/2 cups warm Water (100 to 110 degrees)
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Honey
3-1/2 cup Whole-Wheat Flour
2 tablespoons Cocoa
2 tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon Fine Salt
2 to 3 cups Bread Flour
1/3 cups Rolled Oats (for dusting loaves)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together water, oil, and honey until mixed well.

Add wheat flour to water mixture. Add cocoa, yeast, and salt. Stir until blended. Allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes.

Stir in bread flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost clears the sides of mixer, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in the bowl until doubled, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Cover each piece with greased plastic wrap, and let dough rest for 5 minutes. While the bread dough rests, grease two 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan.

Shape the dough pieces into loaves, and sprinkle with oats. Place each loaf in the prepared pans and let rise until doubled, another 30 to 60 minutes.

Toward the end of the rising time, heat oven to 350 degrees. Once the loaves have doubled, place in the heated oven and bake at for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove from bread pan and let cool on a wire rack. When ready, slice and serve.

Italian Beef Stew over Cheese Polenta
Beef Stew

2 lbs Stew Meat
2 cups Carrots
1 small White Onion
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Pinch Celery Seeds
Sea Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon dried Sage
3 cups Beef Stock
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
2 tablespoons Water
Dried Parsley for garnish

Trim stew meat. If the chunks are overly large, cut into smaller uniformed pieces and set aside. Peel carrots, trim ends and dice carrots into nice bite-size pieces. Set aside. Peel onion, dice and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stew pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion, and cook 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent, stirring frequently.

Add the chunks of stew meat, cook until evenly browned with no visible pink. Season stew with celery seeds, salt, fresh pepper, Herbs de Provence and dried sage. Use a wooden spoon to stir and combine well.

Add enough beef stock to cover the meat completely. Heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 2 hours. Should the stew become too dry, add more stock as needed. Once the meat and vegetables are fork tender, thicken the broth with a cornstarch slurry. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with water until smooth. Pour into the stew and continue to cook about 10 minutes longer.

Start the Polenta about 90 minutes after the stew has begun to simmer.

Parmesan Polenta
2 cups Chicken Stock
2 cups Water
1 cup Polenta or Cornmeal
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

In a large pot combine the water and chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil.

Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, (think hot cereal) then immediately lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 20 minutes, until polenta has thickened almost to the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat, add the butter, cheeses and a good amount of fresh black pepper.

Spoon the polenta into a bowl and top with the beef stew. Sprinkle dried parsley over the stew, serve and enjoy.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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