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Flaming foods put us in the spirit of the Holy Spirit

"Fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and cites as examples the experience of the prophet Elijah who “arose like fire” and whose word “burned like a torch” and, of course, the tongues “as of fire” which rested on the disciples’ heads at Pentecost – the first confirmation of the early Church.

In honor of the inaugural celebration of this sacrament, we bring you recipes that incorporate fire and bring a dramatic conclusion to any meal. Two of these are ice cream dishes and can be made in a matter of minutes. The last recipe – apricot rum cake – must be baked, brushed with an apricot glaze, and then flamed. Plan on starting this dessert at least two hours before you want to serve it. If you like, you can even bake the cake several days ahead of time, and flame it later.

Fire Safety Tips:

• Use an 80-proof liquor

• Never pour spirits from a bottle into a pan that is near an open flame.

• Ignite fumes above the liquid not the liquid itself

• Let the flame disappear (all alcohol has burned off at this point)

• Have a fire extinguisher handy

Apricot Rum Cake

Yield: 8 servings

1⁄4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped

3⁄4 cup light rum

1 16 oz. can apricot halves, drained

1 cup butter

1⁄2 cup sour cream

4 eggs

2 Tsp vanilla

2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1⁄2 Tsp salt

1⁄2 Tsp baking soda

1 12-oz. jar apricot preserves

In a small bowl, combine dried apricots and 1⁄2 cup of the rum; let this stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a blender or food processor, purée the apricot halves. Stir in the dried apricots, which have been soaked in the rum. In a large bowl, beat eggs, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and sugar until well blended. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and the apricot mixture. Beat at low speed until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake and invert onto a metal serving platter with a rim.

Next, heat the preserves. Strain and stir in 1⁄2 cup of the rum. Brush this glaze over the cake, repeating every few minutes while the cake is cooling until all the glaze is used. When ready to serve, warm the remaining rum until the fumes rise. Ignite with a long match and carefully pour over the cake. When the flaming is complete, cut and serve the cake.

Cherries Jubilee

Yield: 8 servings

2 lbs. fresh cherries

1 1⁄2 cups cherry juice

1⁄2 cup orange juice

1⁄4 Tsp vanilla

1 cup brandy

1⁄2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Wash and de-stem cherries, but save 16 of the best-looking cherries whole, with stems, for garnish. On a cutting board with a paring knife, roll the cherries under the knife to cut them in half cleanly, and remove the pits. Put the cherries into a stainless steel skillet with the cherry juice, orange juice, and vanilla. Over medium-low heat, cook the cherries for about 10 minutes until they are softened. Taste a few of them; if they seem sour, add up to 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Spoon the ice cream into 8 bowls and place two of the perfect-stemmed cherries in each for garnish.

Pour the brandy into a measuring cup, and then carefully into the pan with the cherry mixture. Let it heat for 30 seconds, then touch a long match to the fumes above the pan and flame them. After the flames have disappeared, spoon the cherry mixture over the ice cream and serve immediately.

Bananas Foster

Yield: 8 servings

10 Tbsp butter

8 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tsp cinnamon

6 Tbsp banana liqueur

8 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved

1⁄2 cup light rum

1⁄2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a stainless steel skillet. Add sugar, cinnamon, and banana liqueur and stir until sugar melts. Add bananas to sauce and sauté until bananas are soft and browned. Add rum and heat until just bubbly, then flame the fumes above the mixture with a long match.

Place ice cream in 8 bowls and top each with 4 pieces of banana and sauce. Serve immediately.