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St. John's dinner is its annual fundraiser

By Judy Hamilton

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Food aficionados have come to rely on the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. John Greek Orthodox Church for a delicious authentic Greek food fix.

The 11-member ladies group is holding its annual Greek dinner and bake sale from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 and noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 17.  The church is located at 3512 MacCorkle Ave.S.E.

"It's a very, very small church, but we accomplish a lot. All our profits go to charities. We give to Ronald McDonald House, Sojourners, Salvation Army, St. Basil's Academy, an orphanage, Secret Santa and other charities," said Tina Tabor, a member of the charitable ladies group. 

The group also contributes to the national chapter to support the St. Mary's of Egypt Mission, the Nuns of St. Elias and the Good Samaritan Fund.  They also provide blankets to people confined to their homes.

Tabor supplied a recipe for galatobouriko, a Greek custard filled pastry roll, to entice readers to come enjoy the dinner and bake sale. The recipe is from Joann Birurakis, the president of the ladies group.

Birurakis was the matriarch of the Charleston restaurant Best of Crete. The popular Charleston Town Center restaurant opened in 1983 and closed in February because of family health issues. The restaurant exclusively used the recipes of Birurakis.

"It is a dinner and a bake sale," Tabor said. "For the dinner, you have a choice of Greek meatballs and rice or the Greek chicken and rice. Those are the two choices. With the entrée, you get green beans, Greek salad, a choice of grape leaf or spinach pie, bread and a piece of baklava. Dinners are $14.

"We sell some things a la cart.  So if you want some extra meatballs and spanakopitas, you can buy those, too. We also have soda, water, Greek wines and beer to accompany the dinners."

Spanakopitas, sometimes called spinach pies, are $20 per dozen. Grape leaf rolls are $12 per dozen.

The bake sale will feature five traditional Greek pastries: baklava, kourambiethes, koulourakia, finikia and galatobourikos. 

Baklava is what most people think of when they think of a Greek dessert. It is made with layers of flaky buttery phyllo dough, a spiced nut filling and bathed in honey syrup.  It's crunchy, sweet and decadent.

Kourambiethes is a Greek shortbread cookie.  It is a favorite Christmas cookie and sometimes known as a wedding cookie. The cookie is usually shaped in a curved half moon shape or as a small ball, coated in confectioners' sugar.

Koulourakia is a Greek butter twist cookie. Sometimes it is shaped as a small braid or in the shape of the letter "S." It is often dunked in coffee or milk.

Finikia is a Greek cookie with orange and cinnamon flavor topped with chopped walnuts.

Galatobouriko is a Greek custard-filled pastry roll (recipe featured below). This sweet roll has a light and flaky crunch on the outside and a slightly firm custard on the inside.

"We have these five pastries and Tsoureki, Greek sweet bread loaves, at the bake sale and some of the ladies are bringing their specialties from their homes. A retired couple, Tony and Katia Abatjoglou, chemists from Union Carbide, make the sweet bread loaves. They are delicious," Tabor said. The bread is $7 a loaf.

For more information about the dinner, call the church at 304-925-3906. To place an order,  call Tabor at 304-343-5948 and leave a message with name, telephone number and food request.

Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.hamilton@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.

 

Galatobouriko (Greek Custard-filled Phyllo Pastry Dessert)

Custard filling:

   1          pint (2 cups) whole milk

   1          cup (2 sticks) butter (real butter only)

   5          eggs

   1          cup sugar

   1/2       pound (about 1 1/3 cups) semolina (Joann Birurakis said this may be  purchased at health food stores)

   1          lemon, rind only, finely grated

   1          tablespoon vanilla extract

 

COMBINE in a saucepan the milk, butter, sugar, vanilla and grated lemon rinds.

BRING to a boil, stirring constantly.  (If you use an electric stove, turn it off as soon as the milk begins to boil.)

SLOWLY add the semolina.

BEAT the eggs; slowly add to the mixture.

MIX on the stove until thickened, stirring constantly.

Phyllo rolling:

   1          pound box of phyllo pastry sheets, room temperature

   1          cup (2 sticks) butter, melted (more, if necessary)

CUT phyllo pastry sheet in half and fold each half to equal four layers.

LAY out one section of phyllo pastry; brush melted butter on top.

FOLD over another section of phyllo pastry on top of the first section, brush again with melted butter.

PLACE 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture, at the side of the square (Mrs. Birurakis suggests that cherries or chocolate chips may be added at this step if the baker wants to add variety to the cookies).

FOLD over the sides slightly and roll, bottom to top, like a jelly roll

PLACE the rolls in a shallow baking pan or sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until slightly browned and crisp.

COOL for 10 minutes. 

SPRINKLE with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Recipe courtesy of Joann Birurakis.


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