Do you believe in miracles? What is a miracle? And do we use that word just a little too freely. Maybe, but it all depends upon your perspective. A miracle, in my opinion, always involves Heavenly Intervention. Surviving a natural disaster or a terrible accident is a miracle. Finding something once thought as lost is a miracle. Life is a miracle.
When my daughter was only a few months old, we were in a car accident. Way back then, children didn’t have the type of protection we have today in the way of car seats. She was in an infant seat that wasn’t strapped in. She was next to me in the front seat and I could hear her cooing. So I picked her up, held her in my arms. Moments later, there was a multi-car accident and her seat was thrown from the car. She would have died. She didn’t. That was a miracle.
Millions of people make a pilgrimage to Lourdes each year. While few receive miraculous healing, most experience a renewal of faith, a desire to care for others, and a deeper sense of humility. Those are miracles. God works in mysterious ways. We are His instruments on earth.
Saint Bernadette once said of the pilgrimage to Lourdes, “This water is being taken as medicine. One must have faith; one must pray. This water would have no virtue without faith.” Faith is what quiets the soul enough to hear the whispers of God. Faith is what brings an inner peace even in the most turbulent times. Believe!
Today Our Lady of Lourdes Feast falls on a Friday. As an old-school Catholic, I have crafted a feast that is in keeping with the penance of abstinence on Fridays. Although I must confess, this Extravaganza is hardly a sacrifice. Today is also Peppermint Patty Day. Between Friday’s meatless choices and Peppermint Patties, my menu nearly wrote itself. The most difficult part was narrowing the selection from such a wide range of delicious recipes.
Sole Meunière happens to be a favorite of mine. Fitting, since it is French. While it may sound fancy, Sole Meunière really is quite simple. Mushroom Bundles might also sound a bit high-brow. I made that choice because Saint Bernadette was gathering bundles of firewood when she experienced Our Lady. Again, a fitting selection. So while the menu may seem fancy, it’s really not. Enjoy!
Our Lady of Lourdes Friday Night Extravaganza
Champignons Bundle Apéritifs
Main Entrée –
Pommes de terre Romanoff
Vegetable Course –
Tarte au Chocolat à la Menthe Poivrée
Champignons Bundle Apéritifs (Mushroom Bundles)
4 (14-inch by 9-inch) sheets Phyllo Dough
1 cup Button Mushrooms
1 cup Baby Portobello Mushrooms
1/4 cup Red Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1 tablespoon Olive 0il
1/4 teaspoon dried Crushed Rosemary
Pinch Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons crumbled Feta Cheese
Heat oven to 375-degrees. Cover Phyllo Dough in a damp cloth, set aside.
Clean, stem and chop mushrooms, set aside. Finely dice red onion, set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic, set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook and about 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, rosemary and a pinch of black pepper; cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
While the mushroom mixture cooks, melt the butter and set aside.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface; brush with butter.
Note: Keep remaining phyllo sheets covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
Layer with 3 additional phyllo sheets, brushing each layer with butter.
Using a sharp knife, cut the layered sheets into twelve 3-in. squares. Carefully press each stack into an ungreased mini-muffin cup.
Stir feta into mushroom mixture; using a small cookie scoop, spoon 1 tablespoon of the mushroom mixture into each phyllo cup. Form into bundles by gathering edges of phyllo squares and twisting centers to close. Brush tops with remaining butter. Bake in the heated oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Make Ahead Tip: Once baked, let bundles cool. Freeze cooled bundles in freezer containers. To use, reheat bundles on a greased baking sheet in a 375-degree heated oven until crisp and heated through.
Classic Sole Meunière
1/2 cup Flour
4 Sole Fillets
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
Place flour in pie dish. Rinse fish; pat with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of fish with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge fish on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Place on platter.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot and shimmers. Add butter; quickly swirl skillet to coat. When foam subsides, add fish and cook until golden on bottom, about 2-1/2 minutes.
Carefully turn fish over and cook until opaque in center and golden on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Plate fish on a warm serving platter, tent to keep warm while the sauce is made.
1/2 cup Butter
2 tablespoons Parsley
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 large Lemon
Pour off drippings in the now empty skillet; wipe with paper towels.
Place skillet over medium-high heat. Cut butter into 4 pieces. Add butter; cook until golden, about 90 seconds. Remove from heat.
Snip parsley, add to the skillet. Stir in lemon juice (sauce may sputter). Spoon sauce over fish.
Cut lemon into wedges to serve alongside the sole.
Pommes de terre Romanoff (Potatoes Romanoff)
3 large Russet Potatoes
2-3/4 cups White Cheddar Cheese
1-1/2 cups Sour Cream
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut 3 pieces of foil large enough to wrap potatoes, set aside.
Scrub potatoes, pat dry. Wrap each potato in foil. pierce several times with a fork. Place potatoes directly on the center rack of the oven. Bake, undisturbed, for 1 hour.
Remove potatoes from oven, carefully unwrap. Place baked potatoes on a cooling rack, let cool to room temperature. Place the potatoes on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate potatoes overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 350.
Peel and finely mince shallots, set aside. Grate white Cheddar, set aside.
Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the potatoes, including the skins. Transfer grated potatoes to a bowl. Scatter the shallots and 2 cups of the cheese. Season mixture with salt and white pepper. Use hands to gently toss the mixture together to combine, then fold in the sour cream in 2 additions.
Transfer the potato mixture to a Gratin dish; do not compress. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup cheese on top.
Bake potatoes in the heated oven for about 30 minutes, until hot and the cheese is golden brown.
Asperges Mimosa (Asparagus Mimosa)
1 lb Asparagus
1 Hard-boiled Egg
Break off the tough woody ends of the asparagus. If the asparagus are thick, use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin of the bottom 1 to 2 inches of the asparagus.
Prepare a bowl filled with ice water, set aside. Peel hard-cooked egg, set aside.
Add enough water to cover the bottom of a wide sauté pan by about an inch and a half deep. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring the water to a simmer. Add the asparagus to the pan.
Return to a simmer; cook uncovered for 4 minutes, depending upon thickness of stalks. Remove from heat and drain asparagus once cooked through, while still a little firm.
Immediately place the asparagus in the ice water to shock and prevent further cooking.
While the asparagus cooks, peel the hard-boiled egg. Use a box grater to grate the egg. Set aside.
1 tablespoon Shallots
1 tablespoon Capers
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Pinch Fresh Black Pepper
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Finely mince shallot, set aside. Rinse capers, chop and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallots, mustard, vinegar, salt, black pepper, capers. Whisk in the olive oil.
Place asparagus on a rimmed serving platter. Drizzle asparagus with vinaigrette, sprinkle with grated egg. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh black pepper. Serve and enjoy.
Tarte au Chocolat à la Menthe Poivrée (Peppermint Patty Chocolate Torte)
6 large Eggs
12 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate
5-2/3 oz Brown Sugar
8 oz Butter
1 tablespoon Black Coffee
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoons Salt
Heat oven to 350-degrees. Line a 9-inch torte pan with a removable bottom with parchment paper. Spray the pan and paper with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
To warm the eggs, place in a large bowl with warm water for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Finely chop chocolate, set aside. Measure and weigh lightly packed brown sugar, set aside.
Combine the chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each increment, until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine eggs with brown sugar at medium speed until tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
Gently fold in melted chocolate, coffee, vanilla and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth into an even layer.
Bake the torte in the heated oven for about 40 minutes, until edges are set while torte still giggles in the center.
Torte will appear puffy. A cake tester inserted into the center will come out with moist crumbs, but no raw batter when done.
Cool torte on a wire rack until cooled completely. As the torte cools, the center will sink. That’s natural.
White Chocolate Mint Ganache
12 oz White Chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
2 tablespoons Butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Mint Extract
Pinch of Salt
Finely chop the white chocolate. Place in a medium bowl, set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy cream and corn syrup. Heat the cream until it comes to a simmer with small bubbles appearing around the sides of the pan.
Pour hot cream over the white chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute for chocolate to melt.
Gently whisk the cream and white chocolate together until it is smooth, blended and the chocolate is completely melted.
Add the butter, whisk in. Add mint extract and a pinch of salt. Whisk well. Taste the ganache, add additional mint extract a little at a time if desired.
Pour the white chocolate mint ganache into the indentation in the center of the torte.
Smooth ganache into an even layer that is flush with the edge of the torte. The top should be flat.
Refrigerate torte until the ganache is very firm, at least 2 hours.
10 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate
1 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
10 oz Heavy Cream
Finely chop chocolate, set aside.
Unmold the cake from the pan and place it on a cardboard cake circle the same size or slightly smaller than the torte itself. Place the torte on a wire rack.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up. Place wire rack with torte on the baking sheet. Set aside.
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Heat the cream until it comes to a simmer and small bubbles appear along the sides of the pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for one minute to melt the chocolate.
Gently whisk the cream and chocolate together until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate has melted. Immediately pour the warm chocolate over the cake, using a small offset spatula to push it to the edges and to smooth it over the sides.
Refrigerate the torte to set the chocolate glaze, for about 30 minutes.
Transfer torte with cake board to a cake platter. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Fresh Mint Leaves
Gold Leaf Sprinkles
Silver Leaf Sprinkles
When ready to serve, garnish the torte with fresh mint and a sprinkling of leaves.
Slice torte while still cold for a smooth cut. Place slices on dessert plates. Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.