Tag Archives: Greek Festival

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

It’s time everyone, time for the 2018 Saint Demetrios Greek Festival in Fort Lauderdale.  It’s this weekend February 8th through the 11th.  The sun is shining, there’s a stiff breeze and the huge, white tents are up.  The kitchen’s a veritable hive of activity; our ladies group, Philoptochos, is in charge of the mouth-watering baked goods.  You know….all those little butter cookies calling out to you and no one else, telling you how perfect they are dunked in a hot cup of coffee with steamed milk for breakfast?  Or how about the butter and nut cookies resting on a thick pillow of powdered sugar?  I’m partial to the spice cookie that has been quickly dipped in a honey and orange syrup called melomakarona, redolent with cinnamon and cloves.  Ugh!  It’s a dieter’s nightmare.  But I tell myself it’s once a year and IT’S FOR THE CHURCH.  Thinking of all these ladies, most of them grandmothers and great-grandmothers, mixing and rolling and baking all these sweets from days gone by makes me incredibly happy.  Also sharing the kitchen is a team of chefs who crank out hundreds of trays of the most delectable food ever.  They are known for their enormous, meat falling off the bone lamb shanks.  Having worked on the outside food lines for years, I can tell you folks drive down from the Palm Beaches and up from Miami to savor this lamb.  They often purchase two or three additional lamb dinners to take home.  I don’t blame them.  These shanks aren’t available in grocery stores so you can’t make them at home even if you wanted to.  Again, it’s a once a year treat.  For those who might not care for lamb, thick, fat wedges of moussaka or the Greek version of lasagna, pastitsio, are available, both oozing with warm cheese and creamy bechamel.  But let’s pretend you don’t want a full meal, (who am I trying to kid but I’ll try), all you have to do is step outside for authentic Greek grilled sausage with cheese flamed in brandy, gyro sandwiches stuffed with savory meat, lettuce, tomato and cold Greek yoghurt sauce, hand-held spinach and cheese pies wrapped in phyllo dough so crispy they shatter when you bite into them.  Want more?  There is a whole lamb roasting on a spit outside while being basted with garlic, oregano and olive oil.  Boom.  It gets no better.  And, because we’re all adults here, you can enjoy your delicacies with an assortment of beer and wine or an ice-cold bottle of water or soft drink.  We, who volunteer all weekend, will also drink our weight in Greek coffee, hot or iced and prepared right in front of you.  I can’t wait!  As you walk in from any direction the gorgeous perfume of grilled food and the strains of Greek music surround you.  The children of the church, some small and some not so small, dance the dances from the villages of Greece all in authentic costumes of the region.  They’ve practiced all year, all the intricate steps seared into their memory banks.  They dance with joy and abandon as the choreography is now second nature.  You’ll meet kids in their late teens through their twenties smiling at you while serving beer and wine, parking cars or clearing food trays, all parishioners and most of them alumni dancers having started at five or six old.  And you know what the beautiful part is?  They’re ALL still close, close friends.  They’ve passed the baton to the younger kids and accepted the baton handed them from older parishioners whose achy knees or backs no longer allow them the pleasure of standing all day and selling homemade rice pudding or pushing around a dolly with five or six cases of tomatoes or pork souvlaki.  No, these men have earned their spots on fold out chairs.  This is their time to flip worry beads while wearing black wool fishermen’s caps.  And ladies, sit right down and enjoy that frothy Nescafe frappe while gossiping with your best friend about how your loukoumades syrup is made.  God bless you all for tirelessly giving so many years to this church and festival!  There is so much more I haven’t touched on.  There are glorious tours of the church touching on and explaining a myriad of details and facts about the architecture and iconography.  There will be Greek food demonstrations…you might just see me preparing hummus or roasted eggplant dip.  I hope you come see us and taste life at the Greek table!

Greek Fish Roe Dip, Taramasalata

  • Servings: 2 to 2 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 ounces tarama (fish roe)
  • 8 slices white bread, stale and crusts removed
  • 3+ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, additional if needed
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup, half canola oil and half extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • bread for serving
  1. Place slices of bread in a bowl and cover with water.  Allow the bread to soak up the water then, using your hands, squeeze the water out.
  2. Using a food processor or blender, add the bread, fish roe and lemon juice.
  3. With the food processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  4. Taste for any flavor adjustments such as more lemon juice or olive oil.
  5. Continue blending until light and fluffy, 7-10 minutes.
  6. Serve with bread or transfer to container, cover and refrigerate.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Olive Oil Cake at the Greek Table

The 2018 Saint Demetrios  Greek Festival is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited.  I am one of the thousands who love this church’s festival because of it’s authenticity…baked goods and Greek dishes prepared from old family recipes which over the years have been converted to feed the hordes of festival goers.  Whether in Crete, the mainland or the islands, these festival dishes are the foods you find in the Greek home.  The Greek table is a marvel regardless of lean times or times of ease and plenty.  Every time I’ve been to Greece, I’ve discovered new foods or a completely new spin on an old dish.  Of course, we all know feta cheese; briny and tangy sitting atop a Greek salad wearing a green and gold crown of locally grown oregano or still salty but now creamy tucked between several buttery sheets of shatteringly crisp filo dough married with spinach and sliced spring onion having been baked to perfection.  How surprised I was when I was introduced to a typical appetizer, Feta Psiti, which is baked feta cheese topped with a good shower of hot pepper flakes and local oregano then doused with a liberal splash of fruity Greek olive oil!  I had never had anything like that here in the States.  My husband’s Greek family looked on with amusement as I dove in with abandon scooping up the melted cheese with torn off chunks of hot, crunchy bread.  At another family gathering around the table, I thought I had found my new favorite food when my husband’s cousin served me Koukia, a gorgeous, creamy dish made from yellow split peas which have cooked down to a smooth, firm dip.  Considered a salad, this dish is topped with Greek olive oil, chopped red onion, and a good dusting of oregano and I’m more than happy to call this dinner.  My husband’s cousin was thrilled to have presented me with this humble yet unexpected treasure.  The Greek table is like that.  Always gathering one in, never shutting one out.  “Come!  Have coffee at my house and we’ll talk.  I baked a cake”,  is heard so often all through Greece.  When you hear that, you ought to take them up on the offer for Greek coffee and baked goods are beyond delicious and the Greek table is where you’ll hear all the good village gossip.  The following Greek olive oil cake is a recipe found throughout the country of Greece.  Each recipe is slightly different…some add Greek yoghurt, liquors, orange or lemon but all are lovely and will bring you to the Greek table.

Dense, moist and velvety, this cake is an unlikely wonder touched with tones of orange, lemon, almond, and of course, green, fruity olive oil.  Olive oil cake is a classic throughout Greece and once you have a taste you’ll know why.  Somehow it works…all the flavors sing in perfect harmony.  It’s a rather substantial cake so don’t be alarmed at the large amount of olive oil called for nor the fact that the batter will be rather runny.  It will be gorgeous.  And it’s a great do-ahead as the flavor improves the following day.  Kali orexi!

 

Greek Olive Oil Cake

  • Servings: 12-14
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin Greek olive oil, Trader Joe’s makes a decent one
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, I’ve used almond milk and the cake turned out fabulous
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange liquor
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup finely, finely chopped sliced almonds.  I use a mini-processor and pulse the nuts until they are small bits.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin Greek olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one lime
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Butter an 11-inch cake pan and set aside.
  2. Into a medium-sized bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix well the eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, lemon juice, liquor, lemon and orange zest and almond bits.  Mix well until there are no lumps of sugar and the olive oil is completely incorporated.
  4. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well blended, pour  into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a plate.
  7. Allow to cool completely prior to icing the cake.  If the cake is to be served the following day, prepare and drizzle the glaze right before serving.

Glaze:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the lemon and lime zest in a small bowl and whisk until smooth
  2. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon and lime zest and serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

 

How to Get Your Greek On at the Saint Demetrios festival

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One fast year has gone by since our last Greek festival and it’s looking like the 2014 St. Demetrios’ Greek festival is going to be bigger and better than ever!  I took a quick stroll this morning through the church grounds and was I impressed. It looks tight and well put together.  Many folk have worked long and hard on this event and I’m happy to report it paid off.  Let’s take a behind the scenes peek-see at what REALLY goes on!

The glorious dome!
The glorious dome!

It all begins in the church.  Under our magnificent dome tours are given to educate those interested on many different topics represented in the architecture of the church.  For many years I’ve caught snippets and bits of these tours while running from the kitchen to the food line or back but this I have deemed is the year I get to enjoy the entire presentation.  And you get to ask questions!

7 years of Greek school and I'm still stuck on the English side!
7 years of Greek school and I’m still stuck on the English side!

Signing in at the volunteer station was a breeze.  People are coming and going so there’s always someone you run into that you haven’t seen in a while.  Father John’s wife, Presbytera Abbey, seen left, is always ready to give of her time AND with a sincere smile on her face.  Anna, fluent in Greek, is a Greek school classmate of mine.  Her son, Dimitri, and my son James, which is Dimitri in Greek, danced together for many years.  Best of friends, they were on the altar together, traveled through Greece together and got in trouble together.  Anna and I will toast with a Metaxa to both of them later!

Sign in, please!  And thanks for all your help!
Sign in, please! And thanks for all your help!

As you can well imagine the kitchen is a hive of activity.  Chicken is roasting, salads are prepped and onions are chopped for a myriad of dishes.  Mammoth lamb shanks are bathed in a thick tomato sauce perfumed with cinnamon, onion and parsley.  That same sauce will be drizzled over hot krytharaki, orzo, and with a little feta on top???  It’s just sublime.

I eat these beans called 'yigantes" all year long.  Creamy and oh so savory I could eat this whole pot!
I eat these beans called ‘yigantes” all year long. Creamy and oh so savory I could eat this whole pot!

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We are blessed this year that the person who stepped up for kitchen duty is our Nicole.  She is staggeringly talented but always calm and collected in the midst of a huge amount of kitchen activity.  And she’s cute!  You can thank her for just about everything you eat with the exception of the pastries.

Chef Nicole.  Don't EVEN think about messing with her!
Chef Nicole. Don’t EVEN think about messing with her!

Wait wait!  Did I say pastries?  Why, yes.  Yes I did.  Our women’s group, Philoptochos, has worked tirelessly on the pastries and desserts for the festival.  All your dearest and best-loved sweets are here.  And these beautiful women have baked them.  In between mixing dough and tossing confectioner’s sugar they visit and catch up with each other.  It’s fantastic!  I was able to join them once when I wasn’t working and I had the time of my life.

Beer and pastries for all! (I wish.)
Beer and pastries for all! (I wish.)

These ladies are the best of friends.  They laugh together and cry together.  And they move mountains.  They will end up spending most of the weekend helping at the festival.

Loved by all!
Loved by all!

Now that we’ve bought our desserts let’s go outside for drinks and dinner!

Meze, Father?
Meze, Father?

Shall we start with an appetizer of flaming cheese and sausage, saganaki kai loukaniko?  I’ve found if you share it you have plenty of room for lamb shanks or an over the top stuffed gyro!  Or if you wish for something lighter go for some Greek meatballs, keftedes and a Greek salad studded with shards of feta.  Mmmmm…!

The czar of saganaki and loukaniko, Louie has been lighting Metaxa brandy to the delight of scores since the inception of the festival.  He makes a killer sandwich.  Watch your eyebrows.
The czar of saganaki and loukaniko, Louis has been lighting Metaxa brandy to the delight of scores since the inception of the festival. He makes a killer plate. Watch your eyebrows.

Everyone in the church is invited to help out for festival.  Every year we hear who’s coming back, from college kids to young married couples who know how important this festival is.  James is knee-deep in schoolwork, concentrating on his senior capstone project and won’t be able to come down this year.  But Louie’s grandson, Elias, is carrying on the tradition of working at the St. Demetrios festival.

Don't let Elias' good looks fool you!  He is a gifted and powerful speaker having won countless oratorical competitions nationwide representing Saint Demetrios.
Don’t let Elias’ good looks fool you! He is a gifted and powerful speaker having won countless oratorical competitions nationwide representing Saint Demetrios.  We’re so proud of him!

Did you think I forgot drinks?  And coffee?  Heck, no!  Stroll on over to the bar for some smooth, full Greek red wine or a cold Greek beer.

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After all that you’ll need a coffee.  Greek coffee.  It’s thick and strong.  If you’re lucky maybe one of the pastry ladies will read your grounds for you.

The pot used to make Greek coffee is called a "briki".
The pot used to make Greek coffee is called a “briki”.
This is a great little cookie perfect for dunking in your coffee.  They're called "koulourakia" and I love them because they're not too sweet...Just loaded with butter!
This is a great little cookie perfect for dunking in your coffee. They’re called “koulourakia” and I love them because they’re not too sweet…just loaded with butter!

My last stop is always the church bookstore on the way out.  Larry has beautiful little icons, incense burners and incense which has been blessed.  There are prayer bracelets, theology books and cookbooks.  It’s a real treasure trove and I always walk to my car with bags loaded with goodies.

Shopping!
Shopping!

You know? Maybe I’ll just get another beer and sit over here and check out my new cookbook!

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2013 Greek Festival…deconstructed!

If it’s the second weekend in February it’s the Greek festival at Saint Demetrios! It’s such an exciting event but there’s a tremendous amount of work involved.  I thought I’d bring you a “behind the scene” peek-see look.  All weekend the kitchen is slammed with people rushing in and out carrying scalding hot trays of succulent lamb shanks or pulling out of the many ovens trays of tender Greek chicken.

Chef Delcho in action!
Chef Delcho in action!

The amount of food that comes out of that kitchen is astounding!  On the other side of the kitchen counter is the baked goods area in the capable hands of our ladies group, Philoptochos.  In the days prior to the festival these ladies have mixed and rolled out cookies that only scream “homemade”!!  Hundreds of snowy white Kourabiedes are stacked waiting for a happy home.

The powdered suger butter cookies just melt in your mouth!
The powdered sugar butter cookies just melt in your mouth!

A fellow Greek school classmate of mine baked cakes from scratch for the festival!  No one asked her to.  But that’s the spirit of our volunteers at St. Demetrios.  That was Mary’s way of doing her part.

This ancient, moist cake is Karythopita.  Its principal ingredient is walnuts...finely chopped, NEVER ground!
This ancient, moist cake is Karythopita. Its principal ingredient is walnuts…finely chopped, NEVER ground!

The list of Greek sweets is almost but not quite endless!

The ladies offer you Diples, sweet, fried ribbons of pastry  splashed with a honey syrup, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and finally dusted with a pinch of cinnamon.  Can you stand it?
The ladies offer you Diples, sweet, fried ribbons of pastry splashed with a honey syrup, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and finally dusted with a pinch of cinnamon. Can you stand it?
Chocolate Baklava.  We have without chocolate if you're watching your weight.
Chocolate Baklava. We have without chocolate if you’re watching your weight.

The Greek festival is where you see family members savoring time with each other.  Mom will keep a watchful eye on the children who dance while Dad might help out in the Gyro or Souvlaki booth.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful mother-in-law daughter-in-law team?
Have you ever seen a more beautiful mother-in-law daughter-in-law team?

And what goes perfectly with a Frappe, the Greek equivalent of iced coffee?  Loukoumades!  Soft, round nuggets of dough dropped into vats of boiling oil and fried to golden perfection.  And being Greek you HAVE to gild the lily!  The hot balls are quickly tossed in a honey syrup, then strewn with chopped walnuts and finished with cinnamon.  It’s truly a bowl straight from heaven!

I want this machine!!!!
I want this machine!!!!
And I WILL have Loukoumades!
And I WILL have Loukoumades!

The music plays joyously from speakers well-placed under the tents urging a quick dance with a friend and then a longer drink to catch up.  The kids who dance with the church have been together sometimes since they were toddlers!!  They love to dance, in costume and out, at parties and celebrations.

Handsome Greek boys!
Handsome Greek boys!

All the kids take pride in their costumes, most handmade in Greece, all have meaning.  Ask any one of these kids where their costume’s from and is there any significance to the braiding, the coins or the pleats and they will give a quick lesson.  But in costume or out they truly love dance.

Dance hard and dance fast!
Dance hard and dance fast!

It’s just terrific.  The friendships are lifelong and many of the young people you see come back from college on their own to help out at Festival.  It’s what we do.

Been dancing since grade school and now...college!!
Been dancing since grade school and now…college!!

Dinner’s on and the lamb shanks at St. Demetrios festival are legendary.  The size of a caveman’s club, this is one succulent, fall-off-the-bone tender feast.  Served with Greek orzo, Krytharaki, and a Greek salad you’ll be begging for mercy.

Battle of the Titans!
Battle of the Titans!

There’s spinach pie, Spanakopita and cheese pie, Tyropita.  We have Moussaka, Gyros and Loukaniko, that exquisite Greek sausage flavored with orange peel, flambeed in Metaxa, Greek brandy and served on warm, soft pita bread.  We have a Greek market with gorgeous Greek olives and Greek cheeses that are like nothing you’ve ever had before.

Manouri, Mizithra, Kefalograviera...you can get it all.  Right here.
Manouri, Mizithra, Kefalograviera…you can get it all. Right here.

There’s really something for everyone.  There’s plenty of room to spread out.  Pick up a bottle of wine or couple of Mythos beers,

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gather your parea, your group of friends

Your friendly bartender will help you make wise choices!
Your friendly bartender will help you make wise choices!

and spend a day or two with us as if on an island in Greece. Yassas!