On May 7 of this year, we made the trek to Bryan, Abby’s hometown, to attend the 37th annual St. Joseph Parish Festival held by St. Joseph Catholic Church, which Abby attended when she was a child.
St. Joseph was founded in 1873 and is the oldest Catholic church in the Bryan-College Station area. The event is St. Joseph’s sole fundraiser each year, and there are plenty of ways for festivalgoers to support the church. The festival features a live auction, raffle, games, plant sales and a wonderful barbecue lunch.
Abby’s aunt, Liz Zemanek, a longtime member and tireless volunteer at St. Joseph, was kind enough to pay for our lunch and give the kids tickets so they could play some of the games in hopes of winning prizes. We came home with a couple of 2-liter sodas and a small bag of groceries, I believe.
While the kids were occupied, I wandered around a bit and found a tent that was labeled Book Nook (much like the bookstore next door to Montgomery Ward in the old Lake Air Mall). Inside were several tables loaded with used books that had been donated by church members. While browsing through the cookbooks, I found “Cooking with the Saints: An Illustrated Treasury of Authentic Recipes Old and Modern,” which was compiled and translated by Ernst Schuegraf, a German native who, beginning in 1968, taught in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.
He probably retired about 10 years ago because the last update to his RateMyProfessors.com page was in 2007. He was, according to that site, a good but tough teacher. My favorite comment from a student: “Makes jokes but is still intimidating.”
Schuegraf’s webpage says that “during a sabbatical in 1996, the idea for a cookbook struck and it took four years to get it completed and published. It appeared in August 2001. It turned out really well.” A German version of the book was published two years later, and in 2007, he produced “an enlarged Polish version with more saints and a recipe for Pope John Paul II,” a native of Poland.
Of course, I bought the book, and we had the idea of creating a meal from it and pairing the food with beverages from “Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour,” by Michael P. Foley, who teaches in the Great Texts Program at Baylor. (I wrote about Foley and his book for this publication in October 2015.) After reading through both books, we decided on a St. Clement-themed dinner.
St. Clement was a bishop of Rome and was the fourth pope, serving from the years 88 to 99. It’s believed that he was the Clement mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians. Paul refers to Clement and some others as “fellow laborers.”
In “Drinking with the Saints,” Foley writes in his entry for November 23, “Oranges and lemons/Say the bells of St. Clement’s,” quoting an old English nursery rhyme. It’s believed that the bells belong to a church that is close to the wharves where citrus fruit would arrive from warmer parts of the world. Many recipes — both food and drink — associated with Clement involve some variety of citrus.
On a recent Friday night, we invited Foley and his wife, Alexandra, over for dinner along with Dana and Bruce Gietzen. Michael acted as bartender and expertly mixed up a batch of St. Clements Gin. (The drink recipes below are, of course, from “Drinking with the Saints.”) For an appetizer, we had freshly popped
popcorn that was topped with a mixture of toasted coconut, toasted pecans and Moroccan spice.
For dinner, we adapted a recipe for St. Clement’s chicken from Schuegraf’s book. The original recipe called for browning the chicken and then boiling it. Instead, Abby browned it and finished cooking it in the oven. She then used white wine to deglaze the pan and make a sauce that was spooned over the chicken, which was served over sweet potatoes and broccoli. That might sound like an odd mixing of flavors, but it worked really well. We served it with freshly baked bread and for dessert, St. Francis Cuffs, a sponge cake layered with tiramisu mousse.
During dinner, conversation turned to Michael’s book, and a couple of folks wondered about the saints and drinks on their particular birthdays. Michael asked the dates and rattled off information about the saints and the drinks from those days. It was most impressive.
St. Clement’s Chicken
- 3 chicken breasts, sliced horizontally
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 2 oranges
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Fresh parsley or chives, for garnish
Heat oven to 325 F.
Mix together the garlic, ground ginger and cinnamon and rub it liberally over the chicken.
In a large, heavy saucepan heat the oil. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. While it’s browning, zest lemon and 1 orange and set aside. Squeeze the juice of the oranges and lemon and in a small bowl mix the juice with the zest, grated ginger and honey.
Remove the chicken from the pan, place on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
Take the saucepan off the heat and add the white wine. Deglaze the saucepan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the citrus mixture and stir. Place over low heat and let the sauce simmer to thicken slightly. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the cream, then swirl in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon a generous helping of St. Clement’s Sweet Potatoes in the center of a plate and top with two or three stalks of roasted broccoli. Place the chicken on top of the broccoli and drizzle with the sauce. Makes 4-6 servings.
St. Clement’s Sweet Potatoes
- 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Place potato cubes in a pan of boiling water and cook until tender, then drain and place potatoes back in the pan.
Add the orange zest and juice, butter, and brown sugar. Blend until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 6 servings.
- 2 heads broccoli, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
Heat oven to 425 F.
Place broccoli on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper and toss again. Bake for 20 minutes or until broccoli is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Makes about 6 servings.
St. Clements Gin
- 2 ounces gin
- 3/4 ounce orange juice
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar or simple syrup
- Soda water
- 1 lemon or orange wheel
In a mixing glass or shaker filled with ice, stir together gin, juices and sugar or simple syrup. Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice and top with soda water. Garnish with the lemon or orange. Makes 1 drink.
- 2 ounces orange juice
- 2 ounces bitter lemon (tonic water flavored with lemon)
- 1 lemon or orange wheel
Pour juice and lemon into an old fashioned glass filled with ice, and stir. Garnish with the lemon or orange. Makes 1 drink.
St. Francis Cuffs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate
Heat oven to 375 F.
Line a jellyroll pan with parchment and liberally spray the sides and paper with nonstick spray. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, add the milk, butter and vanilla. Simmer until the butter is mostly melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Place the sugar, eggs and eggs yolks in a bowl and whip until the mixture has nearly tripled in volume and has turned
a pale yellow.
In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour and baking powder. Sprinkle this mixture over the whipped egg mixture and gently fold together.
When most of the flour has been mixed, add the milk mixture in three additions, making sure the milk has been absorbed into the batter before adding more.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely.
When the cake is cool, slice into 3-inch wide strips. Place one strip on a platter and pipe a layer of Quick Tiramisu Mousse to cover the cake. Place another strip of cake on top and pipe more tiramisu on that. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, dust the cake with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate. Makes about 6 servings.
Quick Tiramisu Mousse
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Place the coffee granules in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Stir until the granules are dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form, then chill until ready to use.
Mix together the powdered sugar and mascarpone or cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and half of the coffee. (Add more coffee, depending on how strong you want the tiramisu.) Fold whipped cream into the coffee mixture gently.
To use in St. Francis Cuffs recipe above, scrape the tiramisu into a large piping bag fitted with a plain tip.