Inviting people I love to the table

There are 2 kinds of people – those who eat to live and those who live to eat.  I don’t remember when I moved from the first to the latter, but I always enjoy food, especially when someone took the time to plan, cook and serve the food.  Cooking for me is inviting people I love to the table.  The table is where we disconnect from our cell phones and our to-do -lists to be present, slow down, and share our lives with each other.

Cooking for me is taking ordinary, simple ingredients like onions, seasonings, olive oil and creating delicious food that will excite and surprise. Food doesn’t have to be elaborate, just cooked with love, creativity and flavor.  Food should remind us of our shared lived in Christ, inviting us to the abundant life God offers at His table.

I had the opportunity to cook for the Metro Staff at their retreat last week.  The Table here was in the Poconos Mountains as the Staff was spending a few days to renew and refresh their souls and bodies.  We gathered as family and friends over times of Solitude & Silence, team building exercises, breakfasts, lunch, dinners and late-night snacks to learn, listen, pray, share, play, eat, and laugh, savoring every moment.

We are sharing 3 recipes with you that we ate at the Retreat.  Enjoy them around a table with people you love.  Remember to gather around the table often and savor each bite, each moment.

Betty Hosang

Baked oatmeal

1 cup organic old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbl agave
2 Tbl maple syrup
1 cup organic milk (I used 1 percent)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup organic blueberries

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
3. Fill dish with most of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
4. Sprinkle remaining handful of berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. If you used quick oats bake for 25 minutes.


Orange-Vanilla Monkey Bread
Serves: 12
Ingredients
• 4 cans (7.5 Ounces Each) Buttermilk Biscuits (not The Flaky Kind)
• 1 cup Sugar
• 2 whole Oranges, Zested
• 1 dash Salt
• 2 sticks Salted Butter
• 3/4 cups Brown Sugar
• 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Open all the cans of biscuits and cut the biscuits into quarters. Fill a large Ziplock bag with the granulated sugar, the orange zest, and the dash of salt. Seal the bag and shake it around until the zest and the sugar are totally combined. Add the biscuit pieces to the bag, seal it and shake/toss it around until all the biscuit pieces are coated in the orange sugar. Pour the pieces into a bundt or tube pan and set it aside. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until just barely combined. Pour the mixture all over the biscuit pieces, scraping the pan to get all the butter/brown sugar out of there. Let it settle for a second, then place the pan in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the biscuits are golden brown. Then remove the pan from the oven and set it on a rack. Let the pan sit for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 15), then turn the cake out of the pan onto a cake plate.

Note: When it first comes out of the pan, the melted sugar/caramel will be a little on the hot side. Wait a few minutes after turning it out before serving.

Delicious!

Spinach and Matzoh Pie
Serves 8 (main course)
Ingredients
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
• 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill, divided
• 1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
• 2 cups whole milk
• 3 large eggs
• 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups), divided
• 6 matzos (about 6 inches square)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put spinach in a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. Add spinach to onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup dill, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Purée cottage cheese in a blender with milk, eggs, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until smooth. Reserve 2 cups in a bowl and stir remainder into spinach with 1 cup feta. Stack matzos in a deep dish and pour reserved cottage-cheese mixture over them. Let stand 15 minutes to soften. Arrange 2 soaked matzos side by side in a generously oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch (3-quart shallow) baking dish. Pour in half of spinach filling.
Cover with 2 more matzos, then pour in remaining filling. Put remaining 2 matzos on top and pour any remaining cottage-cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup feta.
Bake, uncovered, until golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tablespoons dill.

Cooks’ note:
Pie can be assembled (but not baked) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.