Friday, October 31, 2008

More Feasts...

These next three are from by The Feast Day Cookbook by KATHERINE BURTON & HELMUT RIPPERGER. I think I accessed this at the EWTN site, but it was years ago...

November 1: All Saints' Day

THIS DAY, formerly known in England as All Hallows and in France called "Toussaint," honors, as its name implies, all the saints canonized and uncanonized, known and unknown. Long ago the church bells rang for most of the night before All Saints' Day to praise the saints "risen in their glory." Everywhere patronal and family saints are especially remembered. It is a feast to give them praise rather than to ask favors of them, a day for praising them to God rather than asking them to remember the living to Him. The observance of this feast merges into the next, which is All Souls' Day, so that by evening it has become the eve of the day of the dead. On All Souls' Eve the graves in Hungary are lighted with candles and decorated with flowers. Indeed, the custom of visiting the cemeteries and adorning the graves of relatives and friends with wreaths and bouquets prevails in most Latin and Central European countries. In Czechoslovakia, and in Belgium, there is an old tradition of eating special cakes on All Souls' Eve. In many old English towns, maids still go "souling" on All Souls' Eve, that is, singing for cakes, and one hears such ancient ballads as: Soul! soul! for a soul-cake! I pray, good misses a soul-cake-- An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry, Any good thing to make us merry, One for Peter, two for Paul, Three for Him who made us all.

Soul Cakes

1 yeast cake
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups flour
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb. Butter
3 teaspoons cinnamon
Dissolve the yeast cake with 1 teaspoon of sugar in the lukewarm water and let it stand in a warm place. Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the milk which has been scalded and slightly cooled and then add the yeast. Sift the flour with the salt and cinnamon and add to the mixture, kneading for a few minutes. Place in a bowl and allow it to rise in a warm place to double its bulk. Shape the dough into round buns and bake at 375 degrees F. for about thirty minutes or until lightly browned. Originally, these cakes were shaped like men and women and were given raisins or currants for eyes.

November 2: All Souls' Day

After the feast in honor of the saints in heaven, comes the day of praying for the dead, particularly for members of the family, so "that they may quickly attain to the fellowship of the heavenly citizens." As we have said, many of the observances of this day take place on the eve. In the Old World, superstition was more observed than doctrine and lights were set in windows to guide the departed back to their homes, and food was placed beside a candle or lighted lamp on the table to await them. In Brittany, where belief in the supernatural is intensified on this night, the people, dressed appropriately in black, hurry home after vespers to talk together about the departed, speaking of them in low tones as if at a funeral. On the table with the best cloth are placed plates of bread and cheese and mugs of cider for the refreshment of the departed ones. As the living sit whispering together, they hear, or think they hear, in creaking floorboard and empty benches about the table the movements of the ghosts who have come to rest that night in their former home. And knowing that the saddest of all are the homeless dead who roam about the countryside on this one night of the year permitted them on earth, it is a custom of Celtic people to set food and drink on doorstep and window sill, so that homeless spirits too may have a share. In Italy, and especially in Sicily, good children who have prayed for the dead through the year are rewarded by having the "morti" leave gifts, sometimes cakes, none the less welcome because they have been made by the hands of mundane bakers. Especially good are these "Fave dei Morti," and as fine a reward for a pious child as was the "Pretiolium" or pretzel of the Middle Ages.

Fave dei Morti (Beans of the Dead)

1/4 lb. Almonds
butter, size of a walnut
1/4 lb. sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg
1/2 lemon peel, grated
Pound some of the almonds (unblanched) with some of the sugar in a mortar, and then rub through a sieve. Continue this process until all of the almonds and sugar have been used. Any of the mixture remaining in the sieve should be pounded again until it is fine enough to pass through the sieve. Work this paste with the flour, butter, cinnamon, egg, and lemon peel until the whole is quite smooth. When done, roll into long thin rolls; divide into small pieces and shape them to resemble a broad bean. Bake on a greased tin at 350 degrees F. for about twenty minutes or until light brown. Though soft at first they will harden when cold.

In Poland on All Souls' Day vespers are sometimes sung in the churchyards, and alms are given to the poor who in return are expected to offer prayers and petitions for the dead of the donor's family. Lighted candles are placed on the graves. In Spain every theater gives a performance of the famous play "Don Juan Tenorio" and thrills anew to the drama of the wicked lover who is dragged to hell by the ghost of the fair damsel to whom Don Juan proved unfaithful. The "Dia de Muertos" is an occasion so important in Mexico that its observance lasts for several days. Several days before, on October 30th, the souls of dead children are said to revisit their homes and spend the night. They are welcomed with flowers and food in gourds, as many gourds as there are "angelitos"--souls of dead children expected. And in the doorway of homes are placed chocolates and cakes and a lighted candle for those children who have no one to remember them. On the Day of the Dead, Mexican crowds stream into the cemeteries long before daybreak, bearing flowers, candles, and food. Breads, candies, and cakes have been made in the form of grinning skulls with eyes of shining purple paper, of little chocolate hearses [emphasis mine] and coffins and funeral wreaths. With picnic gaiety the families group about the graves in the cemeteries, everyone laughing and enjoying the fine fiesta and sharing the food they have brought. And as in Spain, in the evening the whole village repairs to see the perennial drama of the faithless Don Juan and his luckless lady.

Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)
1 yeast cake
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6 eggs
5 cups flour
1/3 cup orange blossom
1 teaspoon salt water
1 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup anisette
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let it stand in a warm place. Sift the flour with the salt. Taking about half the flour, add the yeast, mix well, and allow to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Cream the butter with the sugar; add the egg yolks and the orange blossom water. Then add the remaining flour, the milk and anisette. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Then add the egg whites, one at a time, kneading after each addition. Finally add the fermented dough and beat and knead until thoroughly mixed. Allow it to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Knead once more and divide into two portions. Remove a bit of the dough from each portion, enough to form two "bones." Shape the dough into round loaves and moisten the tops with water. Place the "bones" in the shape of a cross on each loaf and bake at 375 degrees F. for about fifty minutes or until done. The loaves are usually covered with a light sugar glaze when baked.

November 3: Feast of Saint Hubert

Born in the 8th Century, St. Hubert is the patron of hunters, and is a saint greatly honored in France and Belgium. Saint Hubert lived a full life. He became bishop of Tongres and traveled through his huge diocese on horseback and by boat, preaching and building churches to the glory of God. He was the friend of the great of his day--Pepin of Heristal and Charles Martel among them--and also of the poor. In particular his heart went out to prisoners, and he would secretly place food for them before their dungeon windows. As he died he said to those about him, "Stretch the pallium over my mouth for I am now going to give back to God the soul I received from Him." In parts of France and Belgium there has long been a custom of holding stag hunts on Saint Hubert's Day, and the hunters gather before the chase for Mass and the blessing of men and horses and dogs. After the hunt is over, those taking part gather for a bountiful breakfast consisting of fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert. Naturally the meat is venison of some sort, and the salad may well be one of dandelion greens.

Venaison Roti (Roast Venison)

If the venison is young, it does not need marinating; otherwise marinate several hours or even overnight. For the marinade use
1 pint of vinegar,
1 pint of red wine,
several bay leaves,
4 shallots,
2 sliced carrots,
1 lemon cut into thin slices,
some freshly ground pepper,
and a handful of juniper berries.
Carefully remove the skin from a loin of venison without tearing the meat and wipe it with a damp cloth. Lard the loin symmetrically with bacon (not larding pork). Dust with salt and pepper, cover liberally with butter, and roast in a hot oven for one hour, basting almost continuously with the butter in the pan and 2 cups of sour cream. Remove the meat to a hot platter; carefully stir 1 tablespoon of flour into the pan, then add a cup of hot stock, cook for several minutes, and strain through a fine sieve. (Though not orthodox, a leg of lamb may be substituted but in that case marinate for several days.)

Pissenlit au Lard (Dandelion Greens with Bacon)

Wash the dandelion greens carefully to remove all grit and dry thoroughly in a salad basket. Cut up 1/4 pound of lean bacon into dice and fry over a slow fire until very crisp. Add 3 tablespoons of tarragon vinegar to the bacon grease and season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour, while hot, over the greens, mix well, and serve at once. I’m actually not sure one can find dandelion leaves in November…

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