IT’S TIME TO GO GREEK
HUNTINGTON — A taste of Greece ... more than 6,700 pieces of baklava and more than 10,000 pastries can be found this weekend in Huntington as the 36th annual Greek Festival takes place at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, along with experiencing the country’s centuries-old culture, ancestry, heritage and traditions — something that the country experiences daily.
The festival committee and chairpersons agree that it takes the entire church village of members and volunteers to have a successful festival for this many years.
The annual event is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Sept. 28-29, and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at the church, 701 11th Ave.
Preparation for the festival begins months before the actual event. The pastry area committee, headed by Valerie Dickson, begins assembling 142 pans of baklava in late spring. They are frozen, then baked one week before the festival.
“We are offering new this year a vegan twist cookie (Koulouria) and our variety boxes will be available while quantities last,” said Dickson. “One dozen delicious pastries are in the variety box.”
The traditional gyro is available, as Greek fries with special seasonings serve as an additional complement. Fried smelts, a very popular appetizer among Greeks and similar to a sardine or anchovy lightly floured and deep fried quickly before sprinkled with salt and pepper, are available along with the village salad.
“The lambs seen roasting on the spit on the grounds are locally raised,” commented Nick Svingos, co-chair, along with sister, Joanna Svingos-Smith. “More than 12 lambs are roasted throughout the weekend.”
Lambs are served up on a pita bread and topped with the traditional tzatziki sauce, which is made with yogurt, cucumber and spices.
Roasted lamb and chicken dinners are available with ala carte items, featuring (macaroni and beef casserole) pastichio, beef casserole with eggplant, potatoes and bechamel sauce) moussaka, and other menu items.
Sagamalo (flaming cheese) demonstrations takes place at the Souviakitent on the church grounds. This is a slice of kasseri cheese that is grilled, lightly floured and placed on a grill and as it browns and softens, it is doused with brandy and lighted. This is then served flaming and put out by squeezing a lemon on the flame.
This year’s Greek coffee both features hot decaffeinated Greek coffee, regular espresso-style coffee, which includes a small Greek biscuit cookie (paximathe). Frappes over ice also use the espresso Greek coffee. Regular brewed coffee is also available. As in the past 35 years, church tours are conducted. Father Mark Elliott, who hasserved at the church 14 years, leads the tours at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and noon and 7 p.m. Friday. He also explains why the “toweling” has been added along the bottom side walls.
The gift shop, manned by Lambros Svingos, features unusual and unique Grecian collectible gifts, which some are even handmade. T-shirts, cookbooks and wine glasses with the church engraved on one side are also available for purchase.
Missy Adkins, whose family has been members since 2002, is the Greek dancing chairwoman. All the embroidery on the vests were done by her.
“The girl dancers will be in new blouses and vests this year,” she said.
The dancing is available at 6 p.m. Friday; 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Our festival is the best Greek festival you’ll ever attend,” said Nick Svingos. “We look forward in fellowship, socializing and sharing our Orthodox faith with the entire Tri-State area. We enjoy bringing “A Taste of Greece” once again this year.”
Greek recipes taken from the church’s cookbook, “Kali Orexi Mediterranean Pleasures and Other Delights:”
KEFTETHES (GREEK MEAT BALLS)
2 pounds ground beef
4 slices white bread, crusts removed, moistened with water
4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons dried mint
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons vinegar
Place meat in large bowl. Add moistened bread, eggs, cheese, onion, mint, salt, pepper to taste and vinegar. Mix very well. Take teaspoon of mixture; roll into ball. Lightly flour. Fry in hot oil until brown on all sides. Can be served hot or cold.
1 cup uncooked rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 can pasta-style tomatoes
1 box frozen spinach
Saute rice and onion in olive oil in saucepan, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Defrost spinach and squeeze out any liquid; set aside.
Add boiling water and full can of tomatoes, including liquid. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add spinach to mixture; mix thoroughly.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally 15 minutes.
ARNI PSITO (ROAST LEG OF LAMB)
5-6 pound leg of young spring lamb
4 cloves garlic, cut in several pieces
Salt and pepper
1 stick margarine or butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Rinse leg of lamb. Make several slits on both sides of lamb with sharp knife. Insert slivers of garlic into slits. Season meat with salt and pepper. Melt margarine and squeeze lemon juice into margarine. Pour over lamb; place in roasting pan, fat-side up. Roast at 400 degrees 1 hour in covered pan. This seals in juices.
Then baste again; cook at 350 degrees until meat pulls away from bone (about 3 hours). From time to time, check to see if any additional hot water is necessary.
1 package Tostitos chips, crushed
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon picante sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups diced chicken
2 cups grated Longhorn cheese
1 can mushroom soup
In greased 9-by 13-inch casserole, place 1/2 crushed tortilla chips. Saute onions until tender in butter. Add both soups, milk and picante sauce; cook over low heat until well blended. Spoon half of soup mixture over chips; then sprinkle with 1 cup chicken and half of cheese.
Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
TZATZIKI (YOGURT SAUCE)
2 cucumbers, peeled
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound plain yogurt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Peel cucumbers and coarsely grate. Squeeze excess water out of cucumber. Add salt, pepper and vinegar; mix well.
Mix yogurt with garlic, mint and oil. Combine cucumber and yogurt mixtures; mix well.