The Kitchen Witch

The Kitchen Witch is written by Aviva, and illustrated by Sue Miller ♥

SAMHAIN
Greetings and merry meet! How quickly the wheel has turned and brought us to the exciting Sabbat of Samhain. Just step outside and you can feel the chill in the air, see the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, leaving summer behind us as a fond memory. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air’s energy this time of year as we physically and emotionally prepare ourselves for the coming holidays and cold season. The time between Samhain and Yule is my favorite time of year for cooking. Our bounty is still abundant, but the flavors become more rich and the meals become more hearty. Long, slow cooking processes leave your home smelling fabulous!

Being seen as one of the most, or even THE most important holiday in Pagan celebrations, the Samhain meal is very significant. Many consider this Sabbat as the Pagan new year, so it is a time for new beginnings and endings. As you may know, the American Halloween tradition of dressing in costume comes from the idea of dressing up for this date in a costume that will attract the qualities you want to bring for yourself into the new year. The other big influence on our celebration is the Celtic Feast of the Dead. This is the time of the year when the veil between our conscious world and the spirit realm is thin, making communication with our deceased loved ones easier than during the rest of the year. The Halloween tradition of Trick or Treat has evolved from making a feast to honor our ancestors, leaving out for them the most choice cuts of the meal, and leaving treats to appease any mischievous spirits that may come to play.

Our Samhain feast focuses more on the traditional meaning of the ancestor feast to honor our loved ones who are no longer living, but I’ve thrown in a few fun witchy Halloween items too. Most of the dinner recipes I’ve included are traditional in my family and honor my own ancestors by using recipes that have been handed down to me. I’d like you to focus on being creative in planning your own Samhain dinner by asking parents, grandparents or other respected elders for their favorite recipes and adding them to your own feast. There may be items that you wouldn’t normally see on the table for the same meal, and that’s okay, because we’ve got a dish that represents each one of the people we’re hoping to honor with our feast. The desserts, however, are fun and festive for either a Samhain dinner or a Halloween party with friends. Here’s what we’ve got cooking for Samhain:

NANA’S ANTIPASTI 
There was never a family gathering without Nana’s antipasti plate as an appetizer. There are no specific amounts and you can substitute anything that you like with this one. Set out a tray of antipasti so your guests can snack while you’re preparing the rest of the fabulous meal. 

Thinly sliced Genoa salami, prosciutto, ham
Breadsticks
Fresh mozzarella cheese, either in small balls or cut into thin strips
Thinly sliced provolone cheese
Olives
Roasted peppers cut into strips
Celery sticks
Fresh shrimp that has been deveined and cooked, shells removed.

Roll each slice of salami and prosciutto up into cigar-shaped rolls. Arrange all the meats, cheeses, vegetables and breadsticks on a platter in a pretty display. Easy! 

GRANNY’S SOUTH CAROLINA POP-OVERS 
When I was a child, my grandmother took me on a vacation to South Carolina and we sat each morning in the beautiful garden of our Bed and Breakfast, eating fresh-baked pop-overs with home made jelly. Pop-overs are a light, airy bread made in a muffin tin, best served hot with melted butter as an addition to any meal. I can’t have these without fondly remembering her and our trip. If you’re making the full Samhain menu, you can bake these while the roast is resting. 

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of melted butter
1 cup MINUS 2 Tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt Preheat oven to 375.

Generously grease 9 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, water. Add butter in a stream, whisking the entire time. Add flour and salt. Whisk until just combined, but still slightly lumpy. Divide the batter into the tins of the muffin pan. Bake in the lower 3rd of the oven for 45 minutes. Cut a slit about 1/2 ” long on top of each popover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately with butter and/or jam.

OPAPASAN’S RIB ROAST WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND HORSERADISH CRUST 
Opapasan was my father and while he didn't cook EVER, this was his favorite dish so I make it to represent him at our Samhain meal. A rib roast is a very expensive cut of meat but it is so worth it. It’s delicious and everyone will be impressed. It has a few steps in it, and requires some advanced preparation, so plan ahead. 

Two full heads of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of prepared white cream-style horseradish
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 6-pound rib roast **Note: You can have the butcher remove the ribs from the roast then tie them back on with butcher twine. The bones give the meat so much flavor, plus they’re fun to chew on later, but it makes for more difficult carving if they’re still attached.

Preheat oven to 350. Carefully slice the tops off the two heads of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place garlic heads onto a sheet of heavy duty foil. Drizzle the top of each with some of the olive oil and seal them in the foil. Bake for 40 minutes, until garlic is soft. Cool 15 minutes. 

Carefully squeeze the garlic heads to get the roasted garlic cloves out into the bowl of a food processor, adding any of the oil that collected in the foil. Add the horseradish, salt and the rest of the garlic. Puree until almost smooth. 

Place the roast in a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of the garlic mixture on all sides of the meat. Put the roast, rib side down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to one day. Position the oven rack towards the bottom third of the oven. Preheat to 350. Uncover the meat. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the top center registers 125* for rare, about 1 3/4 hours. Transfer the meat to a platter and let it rest for 30 minutes before removing the bones and slicing cross-wise. Pan drippings can be defatted and warmed to serve over the meat. 

BUBBI’S CANDIED SWEET POTATOES 
A simple, sweet side dish that was offered at my other grandmother’s Thanksgiving table.

1 large can of peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup water
Dash of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter

Sprinkle of cinnamon Walnuts Cut potatoes into 1/2” slices. Combine sugar, water, salt, butter and cinnamon in a large sauté pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, gently turning the potatoes occasionally to coat. During last 5 minutes, add the walnuts. 

EASY ZUCCHINI PARMESAN 
No one in my family actually remembers the origin of this recipe, but somehow it has made it to our family table on more than one occasion. This will help use up some of that extra zucchini that the garden produced at the end of the season! 

2-3 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the zucchini length-wise into long strips. Heat one inch deep of salted water in a pot until boiling, add zucchini, cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the water out, return zucchini to the pot. Add butter and toss. Sprinkle cheese over the zucchini and serve warm. 

SAMHAIN PUMPKIN BREAD 
Okay, here it is! The recipe I am asked to make more times a year than any other. I must make 4 or 5 batches between Mabon and Yule. This is adapted from Lori Cabot’s recipe, and it comes from her book Celebrate the Earth. I doubt there are many who know more about Sabbat celebrations than Ms. Cabot, so it’s an honor to take some of her wisdom and add it to my own holiday table. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of butter and eggs, as this recipe makes two large loaves of pumpkin bread. 

2 cups of pumpkin (canned, cooked… don’t use pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin)
1 cup of melted butter (yes, that’s two sticks)
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
3 2/3 cup flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons (I use 3) cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup (I use
1 1/2) of raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Blend pumpkin, butter, water and eggs until well-mixed. Add sugar and mix. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture in small batches, mixing well to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into two loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 for one hour, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly dry. 

WITCHES’ BROOMSTICKS 
These are adorable, fun treats that are easy to make. A packaged peanut butter cookie mix makes this very simple. 

Package of peanut butter cookie mix
16 pretzel rods
2 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tube of red or orange decorator icing

Make the cookie mix according to package directions. Form dough into 16 balls, each 1 1/4 inch big. Place pretzel rods onto an ungreased baking sheet. Press ball of dough onto end of each pretzel. Press fork firmly into each dough ball to leave marks that look like broom bristles. Bake for 12 minutes. Let brooms cool completely, for about 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then completely on a wire rack. When cool, place brooms on wax paper. Carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave, using a microwave-safe dish, stopping to check and mix the chocolate often. Spoon chocolate over the part where the pretzel and cookie join. Let it stand until firm. Decorate the broom ties with colored icing. 

DELICIOUS EDIBLE GRAVEYARD DESSERT 
This is a popular dessert for larger groups and to bring with you if you’re going to a Samhain or Halloween party. 

3 cups cold milk
2 packages (4-serving size each) Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 tub (12 oz.) Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
15 Chocolate sandwich cookies (Okay, Oreos), crushed 
Fun, assorted decorations, see notes below.

 Pour milk into a large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with a wire whisk for two minutes, or until well-blended. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir in three cups of the whipped topping and half of the cookie crumbs. Spread evenly into a 13x9 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cookie crumbs. Refrigerate at least one hour. Meanwhile… here are some ideas to fill your graveyard: Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies make good tombstones! Use decorator icing to write RIP on them, or any other dates & names you like. Take Nutter Butter cookies, dip them in melted white chocolate to make ghosts. Use mini chocolate chips to stick on as eyes, and decorator icing to make red mouths. Gummy worms can stick out of your dirt wherever you like Candy corns and pumpkins can be used to decorate the top as well. The rest of the whipped topping can be plopped on top to make ghosts too Peeps now makes marshmallow ghosts too Be creative!



OSTARA
The Witch's Kitchen by Morgaine du Mer ♥
Greetings and merry meet! The Spring Equinox, or the Sabbat called Ostara, is here and, with it, some excitement and new energy. This is a time of rebirth and fertility as our earth awakens and begins to grow the seeds we planted before the frost. No longer do we just wish the harshness of the winter to be behind us, but we see more and more signs of Spring each day. Look out your window… what do you see happening? Here in New York, it’s not as dark in the mornings, and the sun is now setting noticeably later in the evenings as well. Birds are back. Daffodils are beginning to push through the earth.

Now, more importantly, look within yourself. What do you see happening there? Is there a new excitement building? Are you seeing signs of change and growth? There is such promise ahead! To celebrate the beautiful Sabbat of Ostara, we honor these new seasonal changes and celebrate two major themes: the rebirth of the Earth, and the sense of balance that the Equinox represents. Where in our lives do we need to find more balance? Between work and play? Between serious and fun? Between productive and relaxed? This is the time of year to find that balance. 

Our Ostara reflects these themes as well. While the Winter fare tended to be more hearty and heavy, and summer fare is lighter, Spring has a balance. Still with a chill outside, more savory dishes continue to bring us comfort, but with the added sunlight, increased activity and shedding some extra clothing layers, we look for healthier, lighter meals. This Sabbat’s recipes are not a regular holiday menu like usual. Rather, it’s a collection of recipes that would be appropriate for Ostara, but I don’t suggest you make them all for one meal for health reasons. All the recipes star our feature ingredient: the egg! 

OSTARA DEVILED EGGS 
6 hard-boiled eggs (See note below for directions if needed)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use light if desired)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper Paprika

Remove the shells from the eggs and slice them in half, length-wise. Gently pop out the yolk halves from each egg into a small bowl and mash them with a fork. Mix in the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper until nicely combined. With a spoon, fill the hole of each egg with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle the tops of the eggs with a touch of paprika for garnish. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can put the yolk mixture into a piping bag with a decorative tip and pipe the yolks into the eggs to make them look pretty. Cover and keep refrigerated up to one day. 

*To hard-boil an egg: Place your eggs into a pot just wide enough to contain the eggs. Pour cold water into the pot, enough to cover the eggs by about an inch. Add a generous amount of salt to the water (it actually makes the egg easier to peel later). Bring the pot to a rapid boil. As soon as it is boiling, turn the heat off, put a cover onto the pot and let it sit (still on the burner but off) for about 17 minutes. Stop the cooking process by running the eggs under cold tap water or by placing them in ice water. Let them sit in the cold water until the eggs are cooled before peeling, handling or eating.

QUICHE WITH SPINACH AND BACON 
1 partially baked deep dish pie shell (buy the ones already prepared, poke it all over with a fork and bake it according to package directions)
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
5 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled.
2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt Dash pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium sautee pan, heat the olive oil. Sautee the onions over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to the pan and mix well, heating through. Drain and cool. Put spinach mixture in the bottom of the quiche pan, sprinkle cheese and bacon over it. In a small mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, eggs, flour, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and melted butter. Pour egg mixture over the spinach in the pie pan. Place pan on top of a baking sheet lined with foil (don’t skip this step, the quiche will leak and this will save you from TONS of clean-up!) and put into the oven for 30 minutes until golden on top and no longer runny. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to become firm before cutting and serving. 

CHICKEN FRANCESE 
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
All-purpose flour, enough for dredging, about a cup
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken broth Juice from
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. Dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the chicken cutlets to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm. Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice, simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet, this will thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan; place the lemon slices on top of the cutlets. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving. 

FETTUCCINE CARBONARA
5 teaspoons olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
1 pound bacon, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package fettuccini pasta 3 egg yolks (see note below on how to separate an egg)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallots until softened. Stir in onion and bacon, and cook until bacon is evenly browned. Stir in garlic when bacon is about half done. Remove from heat. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, then return it to the pot. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and shredded Parmesan. Pour the bacon mixture over the pasta, then stir in the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve while hot! 

*To separate an egg: Lightly crack an egg on the edge of a bowl. Turning the egg upright, carefully open the shell into two halves, keeping the egg in the lower half. Over the bowl, pour the egg from one half of the broken shell into the other, letting the egg white fall into the bowl, but keeping the yolk intact in the shell halves as you pour. Repeat until all the white has fallen into the bowl, leaving only the yolk in the shell. 

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM 
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split in half and scraped (see note below)
6 egg yolks

In a medium size heavy sauce pan, heat cream, milk, vanilla bean (and the scraped pulp), sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a gentle simmer but DO NOT BOIL. In a separate, small mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Pour one cup of the hot liquid into the eggs and whisk constantly until smooth. Add the entire yolk mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Bring it back to a simmer and continue to cook mixing constantly, until the mixture becomes thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 4-6 minutes. Slowly pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve fitted over a glass or ceramic bowl to strain out any solids and the vanilla bean. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to get all that great liquid out. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap across the top, touching the top of the liquid so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions for processing, freezing and storing. 

Keep in mind that being a Kitchen Witch isn’t just about being a fabulous cook (although when you create some of these meals everyone will think you are!), it’s about learning how to use your energy and intent with all you do, even in the most mundane tasks around the house. Be mindful about your ingredients; make sure your thoughts as you cook focus on those you are cooking for and what you want this meal to bring them. Stir your pot deosil, or clockwise, to infuse your meal with the energy you wish for it to have. You can consecrate your cooking tools and even set up a small kitchen altar with some flowers and herbs. Most Sabbat meals use a combination of ingredients symbolic of the holiday as well as the freshest seasonally-appropriate ingredients. Those of you who are younger readers, please make sure that you have the necessary adult supervision with knife and stove/grill use while you are in the kitchen!



BELTANE
Greetings and merry meet! I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by and we return, once again, to Beltane, a major Sabbat and fun holiday. 

At Beltane we celebrate the marriage of the God and Goddess so our celebration is all about love. Romance definitely fills the air, playful faeries are out and about, the Earth’s fertility is evident everywhere we look. Our holiday table is festive with the beautiful blooms of spring, and our Sabbat meal is full of the flavor, color and variety that is beginning to show in our local markets. The mood of the celebration should be fun and lively as we laugh, dance the maypole and feast in honor of our Lord and Lady. This is the theme that is reflected in our Beltane menu… it’s a party! A wedding reception, only more fun. 

Foods known for their romantic nature are perfect for the Beltane feast. This meal should delight all of your senses; foods should not only taste good, but look beautiful and be wonderfully aromatic as well. Herbs such as rosemary, coriander and mint fit right in to our meal as they all enhance romance and love. Oatmeal is another important ingredient in attracting love and good fortune. Other delights such as strawberries and chocolate are fabulous here too. Similar to Ostara, dishes that use eggs and/or custards fit in with the fertility theme as well. Be creative and enjoy! Here’s what we've got cooking for Beltane: 

ALCOHOL-FREE MINT JULEPS 
1/4 cup of water 
1/4 cup of white sugar 
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves 
2 cups of crushed ice 
1/2 cup of prepared lemonade 
Fresh mint springs, for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and 1 tablespoon of chopped mint. Stir, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool. After about an hour, strain out the mint leaves. Fill two cups (even better if you can freeze the cups in advance!) with crushed ice. Pour 1/2 of the lemonade into each glass and top with a splash of the sugar syrup. Garnish each with a mint sprig. 

ALMOND STRAWBERRY SALAD 
3 cups of fresh baby spinach 
1/2 cup of washed, sliced strawberries (hulls removed first) 
1/4 cup of sliced honey-roasted almonds 
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon of honey 
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar 

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, honey and sugar. Shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately. 

FABULOUS CHICKEN ROLLATINI 
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped 
4 teaspoons of butter 
4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto 
10 ounces of sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese 
1/3 cup of white wine (or use chicken stock if you wish) 
1/4 cup of olive oil 
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper, pound the chicken breasts flat so they are of an even thickness. Lay the chicken on a work surface. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese on both sides. Place a pinch of the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of butter in the center of each breast. Cover each breast with a layer of prosciutto and mozzarella, keeping some of the prosciutto for later, to top the chicken. Roll up each piece of chicken tightly, with the filling in the middle. Secure each piece with toothpicks. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, combine water, wine (or stock) and oil. Arrange chicken rolls in the dish. Place a small piece of prosciutto over each one and sprinkle with pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. 

LEMONY HERBED POTATOES 
3 pounds of red skin potatoes, quartered if large, halved if small 
3 cups of hot water 
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/3 cup olive oil 
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano 
2 teaspoons of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes, water, lemon juice, and olive oil into a 9x13 baking dish or roasting pan. Season with oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss to coat the potatoes evenly. Roast, uncovered, in the oven until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir the potatoes every 20 minutes as they bake, adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking. Allow the water to evaporate during the final 15 minutes of cooking but be careful not to let the potatoes burn. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and serve. 

GARLIC GREEN BEANS 
1 tablespoon of butter 
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly 
1 pound of fresh green beans, ends snipped (or can use frozen) 
Salt and pepper to taste 
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 

Either steam the green beans in the microwave or boil them until crisp-tender, then run them under cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the beautiful green color. Skip this step if using frozen beans! In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant but don’t let it get brown, stirring frequently. Stir in green beans, season with salt and pepper. Cook until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

DECADENT CHOCOLATE FONDUE 
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, keeping 1/4 cup of it aside to add in later if the fondue becomes too thick 
4 bittersweet chocolate bars, each 3 1/2 ounce, chopped 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yummy things to dip: marshmallows, sliced bananas, strawberries, cubed pound cake, pretzels, orange sections, use your imagination! Graham crackers are my favorite! 

 Heat 1/2 cup of the cream in a heavy non-reactive sauce pot over moderate heat until cream comes to a low boil. Remove pan from the heat and add chocolate. Let the chocolate stand in the hot cream for 3-5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with the cream. Stir in vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot if you have one, or into a heat-safe mixing bowl set over a small lit candle. Make a beautiful arrangement of the items to dip on a platter alongside the fondue, and serve with fondue forks, bamboo skewers or forks for dipping. **If the fondue becomes too thick while it sits, stir in the reserved cream, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the proper consistency.



LAMMAS
Greetings and merry meet again! Good Lammas (or Lughnasadh) to you! At this point of the year, we celebrate the first harvest. Nature’s bounty is so evident which makes our Sabbat feast such a wonderful one. Look at the garden, the vines beginning to hang heavily with ripe fruits and vegetables. If you’re an urban dweller, a trip down the produce aisle of your local supermarket will show the vibrant colors and bounty of summer produce. The intent of our Lammas feast is to offer gratitude to the Lord and Lady for the gifts of the harvest, and to enjoy easy to prepare, fresh ingredients. Traditional Pagan celebrations for this Sabbat honor Lugh, the Celtic Sun God who is also associated with the grain harvest as well as other deities who have an agricultural significance. Lammas is closely connected with bread and grains reaped from our early crops. As always, our Sabbat feast is a combination of fresh, seasonal ingredients and foods symbolic of this turn of the wheel. Our Lammas menu is filled with a culinary celebration of harvest and grains as well as quick, easy summertime fare. Be sure to offer your thanks to Mother Nature for providing us with such a rich bounty. Don’t forget to make your corn dollies and decorate your table with sunflowers! 

LUGHNASAD RITUAL BREAD MAN 
A true Lughnasad celebration would not be complete with fresh, home-made bread that’s infused with the season’s best herbs. At our family’s ritual, we form the loaf into the shape of a man to honor Lugh, but traditionally-shaped loaves of bread are just as good. For those who have never made home-made bread before, here’s an easy recipe to use. 

Two (.25 ounce) packages of active dry yeast
2 cups of warm water (110 degrees F)
2 Tablespoons of white sugar
¼ Cup of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoon of dried herbs of your choice. I use oregano & basil, but you can use a combination of herbs that you like such as parsley, thyme & rosemary
1 Teaspoon of garlic powder
½ Cup grated Romano Cheese
6 Cups of bread flour

Mix yeast, warm water and sugar together into a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy. Gently stir in the olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, cheese and only 3 cups of the flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually add in the next three cups of flour. Dough should be rather stiff. 

When the flour has been incorporated, turn out the dough onto a smooth surface (may need to dust the surface with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking) and knead dough with the palms of your hands for 5-10 minutes, until it is smooth and rubbery. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, and turn the dough to cover the surface with oil. Cover with a damp dish towel and let it sit somewhere warm with few drafts. Allow the dough to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. 

Punch down the dough to release all the air. Shape into two loaves. One or both can be formed into bread men. With a sharp knife or scissors, make a snip up the middle of the bottom of one loaf to separate the bottom part of the bread into legs. At the middle of the loaf, make snips on each side to form arms. Towards the top of the loaf, use the scissors to make a small indentation on both sides to form a neck & head. Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise a second time until doubled in size, about 30 more minutes. 

 Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and let cool on wire racks for at least 20 minutes before cutting. 

FRUITED SUN TEA 
It’s easy to bring the sun’s power right into your Sabbat feast with this refreshing beverage. Exact amounts aren’t needed here, let your taste buds be your guide! 

4-6 Tea bags (a combination of orange pekoe, berry and/or peach teas will give your tea its fruity flavor)
2 Quarts of water
Sugar to taste
Fresh raspberries, peach slices or other fruit as garnish

Add 4-6 tea bags to your water in a large glass jar, using more tea bags if you prefer a stronger flavor--remember, sun tea is not as strong as tea made from boiled water. Cover. Place the jar in a sunny spot outside, moving it around as necessary so that it stays in the sun. Brew your tea to the desired strength, but not longer than 5 hours. Sweeten with sugar (if you wish) and refrigerate immediately. Serve over ice, garnish with fresh fruit and drink in all that wonderful sun energy! Use the same day; since the water isn’t boiled, the tea won’t keep longer than a day or two. 

MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE GREEN SALAD WITH MARINATED GRILLED CHICKEN 
This is one of those wonderful quick & easy summertime recipes that is light, delicious and doesn’t keep you working over that stove on a hot summer day. Exact amounts aren’t included as it’s all done to your liking. 

Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (approximately one per person)
One bottle of your favorite vinaigrette-style salad dressing
Mixed salad lettuce greens
½ Cup crumbled feta cheese
Kalamata olives
Your favorite salad ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, celery

Cut the chicken breast halves into one inch cubes. Toss them into a large plastic zip lock bag with about half of the bottle of salad dressing. Allow the chicken to marinate for approximately 1-3 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the barbecue grill or an oiled grill pan. In a large bowl, put your lettuces and assorted vegetables that have all been peeled, chopped, sliced or otherwise cut into bite-sized pieces. Pour some of the remaining salad dressing over the top and gently mix the salad. Fill individual bowls with the salad, sprinkle each serving with feta cheese and a few olives. Remove the chicken from the dressing and discard the marinade. Grill the pieces of chicken until they are no longer pink in the middle and nice grill-marks are made, about 3-5 minutes. Put chicken cubes over each salad and enjoy! 

CORN PUDDING 
There are so many ways to enjoy corn this time of year, simple steamed corn on the cob being the easiest. This is my family’s favorite corn recipe, yet another way to bring this fabulous grain into our Sabbat feast. 

One 16-ounce can of cream-style corn
One 16-ounce can of regular corn kernels, drained of liquid
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons of sugar (you can reduce this if you wish)
4 Tablespoons of butter that has been softened
4 Tablespoons of flour
2-4 Tablespoons of milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the flour into a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time, mix with a fork using just enough milk to make the flour into a paste. Mix the rest of the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour/milk mixture and stir until all the ingredients are well-combined. Spray a 13x9 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the corn mixture into the dish and bake until golden brown and no longer liquid in the center, approximately 60 to 75 minutes. 

BLUEBERRY PIE 
Fruit is so delicious and ripe this time of year, it’s a wonderful dessert without having to cook it. But since it’s a special occasion, we add this extraordinary touch. Any fruit pie would be a welcome addition to a Lammas feast. If blueberry isn’t your thing, a peach pie would be right at home here too. Save the apple pies for the autumn season when apples are at their peak. As with any recipe, once you’ve got the dish down right, play with it. Try different combinations of berries that suit your liking. If you’re ambitious, you can make your own pie crust with your own favorite recipe. I find that the packaged ones (the kind that come in a roll that you can unwrap and fold into your pie dish) work so well and save tons of time and effort. 

Pie crust for a two-crust pie
2 pints of blueberries, rinsed, drained and picked over for stems
¾ cups of sugar (can reduce or add to this amount depending on sweetness of berries)
3 Tablespoons of cornstarch
3 Tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons of butter

For the top: 
Egg wash (one egg beaten with a pinch of salt),
1 teaspoon of sugar

Combine one cup of blueberries with sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is very liquid, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together. Slowly add the blueberry/sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture and whisk well. Return everything to the pan and cook, being sure to stir constantly, over low heat until the mixture comes to a boil, thickens and is clear and no longer cloudy. Don’t rush this step, make sure the mixture turns clear before you continue. 

Pour this mixture into a large bowl and stir in the lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Add the remaining 3 cups of blueberries, stirring very gently, and set aside to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, arranging the oven racks at the top third and lower third of the oven. Roll out the bottom crust and arrange it in a pie dish. Pour the cooled filling into the bottom crust. On a smooth surface or wax paper, cut the top crust into narrow strips and form a lattice pattern by weaving the long strips over and under each other. Slide the entire formed lattice on top of the pie, and crimp the edges of the pie. Carefully brush the edges and top pie crust with egg wash. Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar. 

Place pie in the oven on the lower rack and lower the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the crust is baked through and a deep golden brown, and the filling is gently bubbling. If the top crust has not started to brown after 30 minutes of baking, move the pie to the upper rack of the oven for the last ten minutes. Cool well before serving.



MABON
Autumnal Greetings! 

This turn of the wheel now brings us to the Autumnal Equinox, also known as Mabon. There is so much going on this time of year, one must only look out the window to see it! The temperature drops noticeably, the leaves are already changing and falling off the trees in wisps of beautiful colors. Many people celebrate Mabon as a Pagan Thanksgiving. We offer our gratitude for the full bounty of our harvest, a successful growing season, and prepare our homes to settle in for the long winter ahead. The equinox is also a time for balance, and we take this time to bring this lesson into our lives in so many ways. Light and dark are in perfect balance on Mabon and from now until Yule, the sun’s strength wanes each day.How do we bring this symbolism to our Mabon table? The first step is to decorate our tables with the beautiful colors of the new season. Oranges, reds, yellows, golds and browns should grace the table. Collect beautiful leaves from your yard and fill a vase for your table, or use the leaves to create personalized place cards for each of your guests. My family takes a nature walk each Mabon. We collect leaves, place them between two sheets of wax paper with some crayon shavings, iron the sheets together, then make a border with construction paper—Mabon place mats! Make sure you have an adult’s supervision with the iron. Our common theme for Mabon’s feast is the apple, a very typical and symbolic food that has great significance in Pagan celebrations. Slice an apple in half, across the seeds, and you’ll see nature’s very own pentacle! Herbs such as sage and rosemary are typical this time of year, as are grapes, gourds and peaches. Remember to bring your goal into your cooking; you’re not just making a meal, you’re nourishing the soul and appreciating the bounty given to us by the God and Goddess. 

HOT SPICED APPLE CIDER 
Wonderful for a chilly autumn evening, or to use during the Cakes & Ale part of your Mabon ritual. Be creative with your spices, add what you like. It’s all up to you! Here’s what you need for a basic recipe: 

6 cups of fresh apple cider
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup (not pancake syrup!)
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips (try to get the orange part, not the bitter white part underneath)
1 lemon peel, cut into strips (same thing, just the yellow)

Pour the cider and maple syrup into a large, non-reactive saucepan. Take a piece of cheesecloth (available at the supermarket), wash it, and cut a large square. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and citrus peels into the center of the cheesecloth. Fold the sides up into a bundle and tie it up with kitchen string, also available in your supermarket. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture. Place the pan over medium high heat for 5-10 minutes, until the cider is very hot, but not boiling. Remove cider from the heat. Discard spice bundle. Pour carefully, with a large ladle, into mugs. You can garnish each serving with a cinnamon stick or a thin orange slice if you wish. 

APPLE-STUFFED SWEET POTATOES 
I found this recipe when looking for healthier alternatives to glopping butter onto my potatoes. Not only is this sweet and delicious, it’s low in fat! 

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped apples (approximately 2 apples)
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup sugar (you can use less, or you can use an artificial sweetener like Splenda)
1 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest

Heat the oven to 400 degrees, put potatoes on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake them until soft, approximately 45 minutes to one hour. When potatoes are ready, combine remaining ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for three minutes. Stir carefully. Cook uncovered 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes more until thick. IT WILL BE VERY HOT! BE CAREFUL! Cut a slit down each potato with a knife, and spoon a generous serving of the apple mixture into each. Yummmm…. 

HONEY CITRUS CHICKEN

One large roasting chicken, or 4-6 Cornish game hens
1-2 oranges, unpeeled, cut into wedges
2 lemons, unpeeled, cut into wedges
1/2 cup of honey
1 Tablespoon of orange zest
1 Tablespoon of lemon zest
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff the chicken or game hens with orange and lemon wedges; place in a roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, and brush the chicken with this mixture. Bake in oven, basting with honey mixture twice during cooking, until cooked through, 60 – 75 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken (45 minutes if using game hens). 

THYME GREEN BEANS WITH ALMONDS 
A savory vegetable side dish will break up the sweetness of the other items on the Mabon menu. Here’s one of my favorites. 

2 pounds of fresh green beans, ends snipped off
2 tablespoons of butter, can use olive oil
1 tablespoon of minced fresh thyme (1 teaspoon if using dried thyme)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/3 cup of slivered almonds, toasted

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully put the green beans into the water and let them cook for about 8-10 minutes, until just crisp-tender and still bright green. Remove the beans from the water and plunge them into a large bowl of ice-water. This will help them keep their beautiful color and prevent them from overcooking by their own heat. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the beans, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with almonds when ready to serve. 

BEST EVER APPLE PIE 
To me, it’s not autumn until we’ve gone apple picking and made an apple pie. Is it really the “best ever” apple pie? My family thinks it is! This is the one request that I get when guests join us for dinner this time of year. (It’s second only to the Pumpkin Bread I make at Samhain, wait until next issue for that one!) Use a mixture of great apples to get full flavor. My personal favorite mix is Gala, Granny Smith and Macintosh apples. I hope you enjoy it as well. 

Pastry for 2 crust pie (can use your favorite recipe, or a premade one works just fine and saves TONS of work!)
1 cup of sugar
4 Tablespoons of flour
Dash of salt
6 cups of peeled, pared and thinly-sliced apples (about 6 apples)
2 Tablespoon of butter
2 Tablespoons of milk
1 more tablespoon of sugar Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt. Put apples into a very large mixing bowl. Pour sugar mixture over the apples and toss them lightly to coat them evenly. Place one pie crust into the bottom of your pie dish, pour in apples. Dot with small pieces of butter. Roll on the top layer of pastry, adjusting it over the filling. Make several slits in the top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape during cooking. Crimp the edge with your fingers or with a fork. Brush the top of the pie with milk using a pastry brush, and sprinkle on a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet on the center oven rack for 45-50 minutes, or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. **Variation: When dotting the pie filling with butter, you can add some squares of caramel in there too! Fabulous!

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