Thirty years ago, a hospice volunteer named Ganga Stone visited an AIDS patient named Richard. Little did she know, that experience would change not only her life, but the lives of millions of New Yorkers. Wanting to be of some help, Ganga delivered a bag of groceries to Richard’s apartment. Returning the next day to find the groceries still on the counter, Ganga realized that he was too ill to cook for himself, so she decided to bring him a homemade meal on her next visit. Ganga understood that something as simples as offering a freshly prepared meal to a person in need would not only bring them critical nutrition but also the compassion of someone who cares about them. One day, while delivering a meal, she was stopped by a minister in the neighborhood who asked her what she was doing. After she told him, he said, “You’re not just delivering food, you’re delivering God’s love.” And so, God’s Love We Deliver was born.
Three decades later, with an expanded mission to include people living with any life-altering illness, God’s Love cooks and delivers 1.5 million meals a year to more than 6,000 individuals. Every meal is specifically designed and planned for each client by a registered nutrition dietitian, because God’s Love realizes that every person with a severe illness has a different nutritional requirement. For those GLWD serves, food is much more than just sustenance – it’s also medicine. Good nutrition helps people heal faster. So basic but so important.
That information alone demonstrated the incredible difference that God’s Love makes in the New York City community, but the fact that 10,000 volunteers show up every year to cook, bake, pack, and deliver all those is equally astounding. Consider this: someone personally delivers every single meal a warm smile to client – on nearly every day of the year. I have chopped vegetables in the God’s Love kitchen in SoHo alongside some of these dedicated men and women, and I can tell you it is an inspiring and heartwarming experience.
Because God’s Love knows that illness affects the whole family, they also provide meals for the caregivers and children of their clients – complete with a menu of kid-friendly dishes. They even send a personalized cake to each client on his or her birthday! One man wrote to tell them that his wife had died and he was home alone and ill. He had completely forgotten that it was his birthday until a beautiful young woman showed up with a cake inscribed with his name, and he was overwhelmed with gratitude. How lovely is that?
Though not precisely a cake, this beautiful cookbook is a delicious celebration of God’s Love’s 30th birthday, complete with their name on top. It is a tribute to the simple but powerful notion that is at the core of the organization’s guiding philosophy: Food is love. As someone who her living feeding other, I know every initially true that is. Every recipe has been contributed by a prominent supporter of God’s Love (including me!) and is accompanied by a personal memory, story, or musing that reflects how meaningful, comforting, or even life-changing a home-cooked meal can be.
I hope you’ll enjoy cooking from this collection of marvelous recipes and reading these stories from the heart – and I also hope you’ll consider giving to God’s Love We Deliver, so that people who are ill can continue to receive nutritional meals along with the extraordinary compassion of this remarkable organization. I couldn’t be prouder of my involvement with God’s Love, or more certain of their profound and positive impact.
Donna Karan Forever-Green Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing (serves 8)
1 (3/4-pound) bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
4 ounces baby arugula (about 4 cups)
4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 cups)
1 green apple, diced
2 tablespoons sprouted pumpkin seeds or sunflower sprouts
Creamy Basil Dressing
½ cup fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw cashews
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt or kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- To make the dressing, put the basil, lemon juice, cashews, ginger, garlic, and salt in a blender along with 1 tablespoon of water; blend, slowly added oil, until smooth. Season with more salt if needed.
- Combine all the greens in a salad bowl. Add the apple and sprouts and toss with enough dressing to coat. Serve.
Editor’s Note: Leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Janet’s “Land & Sea” Oyster Stuffing (serves 8 to 12)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for greasing the pan
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup diced onion
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Pinch of cayenne
3 cups dry stuffing cubes
3 cups dry Italian bread crumbs
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint shucked fresh oysters and their liquid (you will need ½ cup liquid; use clam juice to supplement if you don’t have enough)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
- Melt half of the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the celery, onion, and scallions and cook, stirring, until softened. Remove from heat, stir in the cayenne, and let cool slightly.
- Combine the stuffing cubes and bread crumbs in a large bowl. Gently fold in the sautéed vegetables and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Add the beaten eggs and toss to distribute. Strain the oysters over a bowl and add the oyster liquid (and/or clam juice) to the stuffing. The mixture should be moist but not soggy. Gently fold in the oysters. Dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Cover the stuffing with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, about another 30 minutes. Serve.
Bill T Jones Corn Bread (serves 9)
½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
1 large egg
¼ cup vegetable oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
- Stir the dry ingredients together in a bow. Whisk together the yogurt, egg, oil, and ¼ cup of water in a small bowl and stir into the flour mixture.
- Pour the batter into a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and bake until a toothpick come out clean, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Barefoot Contessa Parties! Perfect Roast Turkey (serves 8)
1 (12 pound) fresh turkey, preferably organic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
3 large Spanish onions
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
2 ounces (1/2 stick), unsalted butter, melted
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
10 red new potatoes, halved
3 medium heads fennel, stalks and fronds removed, cut into wedges through the core
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the thyme; lemon halves, one of the onions, peeled and quartered; and garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
- Roast the turkey for 1 hour. Toss the carrots, potatoes, and fennel with the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil and add to the roasting pan. Continue to roast for about 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the body.
- Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with foil; let rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir the vegetables and return the pan to the oven. Continue to cook the vegetables while the turkey rests.
- Slice the turkey and serve on a platter with the roasted vegetables and pan juices.
Meredith Vieira Elsie’s Apple Pie (makes one 9-inch pie)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into bits
2 ounces (1/4 cup) frozen vegetable shortening
5 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
6 medium apples, preferably a mix of Macintosh and Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple-pie spice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon milk
- Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Work the butter and vegetable shortening into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingers until the butter is mostly combined but still has some small, pea-sized lumps. Stir in 5 tablespoons of the water with a fork, then squeeze a small handful of the dough. If it is crumbly, stir in the remaining tablespoon of water.
- Turn the dough out into a work surface and form into a mound. Smear sections of the dough outward with the palm of your hand to help incorporate the butter. Form the dough into two disks, one slightly larger than the other, wrap them in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Roll out the larger disk of dough on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin to a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Brush with some of the beaten egg white. Mound the apple slices in the crust.
- Mix the sugar and apple-pie spice in a small bowl and sprinkle over the apples. Dot the apples with the butter.
- Roll out the smaller disk of dough in the same manner to an 11-inch round. Cut four (2-inch) slits in the dough to let the steam escape and lay the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the two crust together, cut off the excess, fold the edges under themselves, and crimp decoratively.
- Mix the remaining egg white with the milk and brush over the top crust. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Let cool before serving.