Last year I celebrated the solemnity of St. Joseph for the first time. I had found several recipes and an introduction to the traditional celebrations in Italian Holiday Cooking by Michele Scicolone. I wanted to put together a St. Joseph's altar too. I made the St. Joseph's Day soup and my first attempt at pretzels.
This year I had bigger plans for the menu. I prepared the soup again which is meatless and full of lentils and legumes. I also decided to try out the stuffed artichoke recipe since it is also vegan. A Friday dinner can have a few more courses, right? And even though it isn't vegan, I decided I had to have cannoli for dessert this year. It is a traditional item for St. Joseph's Day and since it is a feast a little dairy wouldn't be frowned upon. I knew better than to try to make them myself though. I had visions of way to many leftovers ruining my Lenten quest to be good. Mr. W checked online and read that Di Prima Dolci bakery in Overlook has the best cannoli in the city. They had 3 options and I decided to get each kind.
The Virtual St. Joseph's Altar provided all the instruction for me last year when putting together my own altar. Some of the key items are breads, flowers, fava beans, fruits, fish, pastries, wine, and an image of St. Joseph. In my own interpretations I include photographs of our own father's since St. Joseph was the stepfather of Jesus and the patron of fathers.A bread shaped like a staff would be ideal, but I have yet to tackle this project. Instead I have been purchasing loaves from local bakeries and also some breadsticks. My daffodils have not been great this year so I purchased some hot house tulips and added in some of my own Lenten roses.
The soup calls for fava beans. Last year I was able to find a canned variety, this year my search at two markets turned up unsuccessful. The great thing about this recipe is that there are so many lentils and beans in it, the idea being that it is the end of the season and you could use up the last stocks from your pantry, which is probably running rather low.The stuffed artichokes have anchovies in the mix, I am generally not a fan of this fish, but it was a very mild flavor. I was very please with the artichokes, if I do this recipe again I'll remember that two people could easily split one artichoke...these ones were enormous!For pastries we have the cannoli offering from Di Prima Dolc: pistachios, chocolate chips, or cherries.
My sister brought a very nice French wine. It is called Saint Joseph so she felt she couldn't pass it up for our dinner party.When I was little my grandmother would purchase statues of the saints for me when I received my sacraments. I loved going to The Grotto with her to pick them out. This St. Joseph statue makes a perfect centerpiece to my altar.