While I cannot testify for other Christian denominations, I can tell you that Jewish Roots are very much reflected in Catholic teachings. It can be seen in our observations, customs and traditions. Advent and Chanukah. Sunday Mass and Passover observations. Fasting and prayer.
The very structure of the Mass was designed to bring to life Christ’s Last Supper. Jesus gathered with his apostles in observance of Passover at the Last Supper. The customs of unleavened bread (the Eucharist) and the wine of Catholic Communion are a part of Jewish Passover. Easter and Pentecost are extensions of Passover. While the language of the Mass has changed, much in the customs and observation have remained the same. These rituals would have been easily understood by early Christians as Jewish. After all, the first Christians were Jews.
The Candlemas or Presentation of the Lord in the temple and the purification of Mary are very much old-testament Jewish traditions. Jewish custom was that the first born son of a union of two Jewish parents was to be presented in the temple when he had reached six weeks of age. This is the law of Mosses, as a reminder to the people of Israel that their first-born sons were spared death on the night of Passover. Therefore, the first born son belonged to God, and his parents were to buy him back on the 40th day with a sacrificial offering in the temple.
You may have noticed that the Presentation of the Lord and Candlemas just happens to fall on Groundhog Day. This isn’t a coincidence. While Candlemas was observed first, the secular community did not wish to be left out. Groundhog Day is a secular observance with an emphasis on light in the last weeks of winter. I guess you could say Groundhogs are the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause version of Candlemas.
The title Candlemas comes from the words of Canticle of Simeon, declaring that the Christ Child was a light of revelation to the Gentiles. To reflect this light, Catholic tradition begins with the blessing of candles, followed by a candlelit procession through a darkened church, bringing light to the gentiles.
Crêpes are the traditional foods of Candlemas. While most think of crêpes as a brunch or dessert treat, crêpes can be served plain or sweet or savory. Filled with things such as Chicken Florentine or Stroganoff, crêpes are a way to elevate a simple supper without much fuss. Enjoy!
Beef Stroganoff Crêpes
2 tablespoon unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup Flour
1-1/3 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
In a small, microwave-proof bowl, melt butter. Set aside to allow butter to cool to the touch.
In another bowl, beat eggs. Pour eggs in a blender. Add butter, flour, milk and salt. Beat until smooth.
Pour batter through a sieve set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate batter for an hour to allow gluten to rest.
Note: batter may rest up to 1 day.
Using a small, heavy bottom stainless steel pan (or a crêpe pan), slowly heat pan until reaching medium to medium-high.
Note: Different pans will heat differently – it may be necessary to make adjustments after the first crêpe is cooked. The pan must be hot enough that the crêpe won’t stick, but not too hot that it burns.
Lightly coat pan with a little butter for the first crêpe. The best way to do this is to unwrap one end of a stick of butter, swirl stick in the bottom and up the sides. A LIGHT coating of butter is all you need.
Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter to the bottom of the pan.
Note: A 6-inchpan will take about 1/4 cup, an 8-inch pan no more than 1/2 cup.
Tilt and swirl pan to coat bottom with batter. Cook crêpe for about 2 minutes or until lightly brown and dry – the surface will no longer appear shiny and the edges just beginning to brown. Carefully flip crêpe to cook the other side for about a minute. Don’t worry if the first crêpe is buttery and a little crisp – consider this your test crêpe and adjust time and temperature accordingly.
Don’t worry if the crêpe isn’t perfect. Sometimes my first two or three are a little “off” – they might not be the prettiest crêpes around, but they taste just fine.
Continue to cook each crêpe, buttering the pan with a quick swipe after about 4 crêpes.
1/2 whole White Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
8 oz fresh Button Mushrooms
1 lb lean ground beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 (10-¾ oz) can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup snipped Chives
Additional Sour Cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside until ready to use.
Cut onion in half from tip to root. Reserve half the onion for another purpose. Peel and dice remaining half, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside. Clean and slice mushrooms, set aside.
In a large, nonstick skillet, brown the beef and onions together until meat is no longer pink. Break meat into small pieces as it browns. Drain well and return to the pan.
Add garlic and mushrooms to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their juices and are tender.
Add the salt, pepper, paprika, and mushroom soup. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until warm and thick. Remove from heat and add the sour cream.
Divide Stroganoff filing among the crêpes, spooning filling into each crêpe. Place filling down the center, leaving enough of the crêpe exposed on either side of the filling to fold over, and tuck slightly under the filling. This will get your roll started. Gently roll crêpe away from you, creating a tightly rolled crêpe that will hold its shape. Place seam-side down in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all the crêpes have been filled.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or heated through. While the crêpes bake, snip chives for the garnish and set aside.
Serve crêpes with additional dollops of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives.
1 bunch Asparagus
Olive Oil as needed
Salt to taste
Lemon Juice as needed
Chives for garnish
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Bend each asparagus spear near the end and to snap naturally at the point that stock is no longer tough. For an elegant presentation of the spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin layer of the outer skin of the lower two to three inches of the asparagus spears.
Lay asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt.
Bake in the heated oven for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with lemon juice, toss. Transfer asparagus to a serving dish. Snip chives, scatter over the asparagus. Keep warm until ready to serve.
10 tablespoons Butter, melted
3 Egg Yolks
1/2 tablespoon Lemon Juice
Pinch or 2 Cayenne Pepper
Fill a wide-mouth thermoses with boiling water. Place lid on tightly on thermoses to keep interior warm. Set aside until ready to fill.
Melt the butter in the microwave in 2-cup glass measuring cup.
Separate eggs, place the yolks in a blender. Add lemon juice, and cayenne into a blender. Blend the yolks for 20-30 seconds at medium to medium high-speed until lighter in color. Turn blender down to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter while the blender is running. Continue to blend for a few seconds after all of the butter is incorporated. Sauce with thicken and become silky. Taste the sauce and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
Empty thermoses, wipe dry. Pour sauce into the thermoses to keep at serving temperature.
When ready to serve, use a ladle to drizzle Hollandaise Sauce over the asparagus as desired.