After continually hearing people ask, “Could I get the recipe for that?” as they assisted at St. Angela Merici’s quarterly parish potlucks, Kay Dornier and Kim Schaff decided to act on an idea that had been quietly percolating for more than a decade.
“We have always had these wonderful cooks in the parish, so when our 50th anniversary came up, we thought it might be a good time to do a parish cookbook,” said Dornier of the inspiration for “Celebrating Faith & Food,” St. Angela’s first published cookbook.
Available since June, the collection of 300-plus recipes has sold more than 600 copies to date.
The labor of love took about a year to complete, from its inception to the final proofing. Dornier and Schaff solicited recipes for three months, approaching school families at the beginning of the school year and announcing the push at meetings of every parish organization. To make the endeavor less labor intensive, the duo passed out pre-printed sheets listing a recipe template provided by the publisher, Morris Press Cookbooks, that each contributing cook could fill in and which Morris keyboarded in for a small extra charge.
“We were looking for a tangible reminder of the 50th anniversary, and we thought this would be a fun idea,” said Schaff, who with Dornier is a founding member of the parish’s Family Life Apostolate.
“A lot of the Family Life members submitted their children’s favorite recipes – something that was significant to their families,” Dornier added.
The cookbook’s tabbed section dividers, depicting examples of St. Angela Church’s vibrant stained glass and mosaic work, were created by parishioner and volunteer photographer Eric Broadbridge. The photographer’s niece, Kimberly Broadbridge, created the 50th anniversary logo on the cookbook’s cover, with the zero in the number “50” depicting St. Angela Merici in silhouette. A quote from St. Angela Merici, which graces one of the entrances to the church, also is included: “Let your first refuge be at the feet of Jesus Christ.”
Msgr. Kenneth Hedrick, St. Angela’s pastor from 2003-13 and an accomplished cook, wrote the cookbook’s forward (see excerpt at bottom right) and contributed several recipes to its “Lagniappe” section, including those for brunch casserole, crab cakes and his mother’s rice pudding; however, there was one recipe the priest didn’t share: the one for his much lauded bread pudding, a magnet at parish fairs and fish fries.
“Father Ken submitted abread pudding recipe, but not thebread pudding recipe – I believe that we sold several cookbooks because people thought his bread pudding recipe would be in there,” said Schaff, laughing.
“(At the fair) all the other treats on the dessert table got sold for 50 cents; Father Ken’s bread pudding went for a dollar,” Schaff said. “He made two pans and that was it. He’d say, ‘Now Kim, you’re putting a little too much into the bowls. Make it last!’”
Pressed to name a few of her Lenten favorites, Schaff, insisting she was more of a baker than a savory cook, cited her Yankee Cheesecake. The crustless dessert achieves its trademark richness via a trio of cheeses: sour cream, cream cheese and cottage cheese, she said.
“It’s just very different from anything I’ve ever eaten here,” said the New York-born Schaff. “This is a recipe that my mother made. I never knew any other kind of cheesecake. It’s about three inches high. You could hold a door open with this!”
For a more savory option, Schaff said she often will default to Cheddar Grits Casserole on Lenten Fridays.
“I’ll put some grilled salmon next to it,” Schaff said. “I’m a Yankee, but grits has become a comfort food, and you can’t go wrong when you put cheese in something. The eggs give (the grits) a little more body, so you don’t feel like you’re eating breakfast. It works well as a dinner or a side – as a starch. You can cut it into squares.”
Schaff said one of the faith-bolstering effects of the cookbook was collecting recipes from St. Angela’s schoolchildren.
“I really tried to use everything they sent me; I didn’t care if it was smoothies,” she said, adding that she was adamant about including student Noah Catalanotto’s recipe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Noah’s directions instruct: “Put 2 pieces of bread on a paper towel. Put jelly on one side and peanut butter on the other. Bam, you have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
Said Schaff: “It just touched my heart, so I had to put it in there!”
“Celebrating Faith & Food” is available for purchase at the parish office at 901 Beverly Garden Drive, Metairie (entrance on Pomona Street). Cost is $10. Arrangements to have it mailed for an additional charge can be made by calling the parish office at 835-0324, ext. 301.