Cooking with the Saints, by Ernst Schuegraf, is a magnificent volume of cooking inspiration for Catholics. This full-color hard-cover book is so elegant, I hated to drop batter on the beautifully designed pages! At 330 pages, this heavy volume covers recipes for saints from Agnes to Wilfrid. The recipes have been meticulously culled from many nations, traditions, and time periods, to arrive to us in one complete book.
The recipes have conversions for United States and European cooks. Each recipe features a short biography of it's namesake saint, as well as full-color photograph. The recipes are diverse and include: Stuffed Peppers in Walnut Sauce, Soup for Saint Francis Xavier's Day, Melachrino Cake, Saint Margaret's Lebkuchen, Saint Martin's Day Duck, Saint Roch's Fingers, and Saint Theresa's Bread.
The 3-page Introduction by Schuegraf tells us the story of his inspiration. He discusses some of the differences cooking and baking has undergone, and tells us that he has done his best to retain the recipes as they were found. Some of the recipes are pulled from antique cookbooks, and many others were carefully researched at St. Francis Xavier Library.
Saint Barbara, pages 33 - 36, is a prime example of the quality of work put into this book. The biography of Saint Barbara encompasses what is known of her life from the third century, a thirteenth-century book about her, and even legends about her father. Page 33 features a beautiful fifteenth century painting of her by Jan Van Eyck. The author attributes three recipes to Saint Barbara's name: Saint Barbara Cake, Pork Tenderloin Saint Barbara, and Dessert for Saint Barbara's Day.
I prepared the Saint Barbara Cake in my kitchen at home. The ingredients were readily on hand: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and a lemon. This cake has a silky texture, due to the large amount of cornstarch that goes into the recipe. The cake possesses a light, lemony flavor with a dense but silky texture. It is a perfect accompaniment to your morning ritual, substitute this lovely cake on December 4th (Saint Barbara's day) for your muffin or bagel.
Ernst Schuegraf has created a treasure for Christian bakers with Cooking With the Saints. Christians can enhance their experience of the holy days with their families by cooking from this volume. Enjoy!