Spanakopitakia, baklava, gyros, dolmades and ouzo. Opa!
The Greek Festival, put on by the members of Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, 2215 Paseo Road, will be in high gear this weekend with some of the aforementioned foods and drinks available. The event, which starts at 4 p.m. Friday and ends at 4 p.m. Sunday, is a fun-packed event featuring Greek dancers, music and traditional Greek cuisine. It’s a great time to feel Greek for a day.
If you’d like to keep the festive feeling going and learn to prepare some traditional Greek dishes, buy a copy of the new “Festival of Greek Flavors — A Mediterranean Culinary Adventure” by the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Assumption Cathedral of Denver, that will be available at the festival.
If you’re like me, you may have bought one of the leafletlike cookbooks at the festival in years past. That handy little cookbook has gotten the job done when I need to have an authentic baklava or spanakopitakia recipe. However, the new cookbook has a lot more going for it — loads of beautiful color photographs for starters.
This professionally produced, hard-bound cookbook with 175 kitchen-tested recipes was two years in development. It went through the same scrutiny as one of the reliable Junior League cookbooks. As a matter of fact, Eva Vasilas Fry, one of the leaders of the cookbook committee, had worked on other Colorado Junior League cookbook projects. So she brought that background to the Greek cookbook project and it shows.
“We started, like most cookbook projects, calling for recipes,” she said at the June cookbook launch in Denver. “Some of us had to go to our mother’s home and write down a recipe as she made it to be sure we had everything exact.”
Another feature of the book is having wine recommendations made for most of the recipes. That finishing touch was provided by Telly Topakas, who co-owns Jake and Telly’s Greek Taverna with his brother Jake.
I didn’t realize until I read the credits for the cookbook that Telly has his first level of the Court of Master Sommelier and has audited the second level of examinations. I also learned that in 2008 he won the San Francisco Sommelier Greek Wine Competition. So when I see he recommends a full-bodied St. George from Nemea to pair with the Greek Lamb Burger recipe below, I know to go find that exact wine. And, I did find it at Vintages Wine & Spirits, 9 S. Tejon St.
“We have Skouras St. George Nemea,” said Erin Collins, owner of Vintages Wine & Spirits. “To me, it tastes like a rioja. It is reasonably priced at $15.49 a bottle.”
Admission to the festival is free. Food, wine, beer and ouzo will be available to buy. The “Festival of Greek Flavors, A Mediterranean Culinary Adventure,” will be available for $25.95. It can also be purchased at Jake & Telly’s Greek Taverna, 2616 W. Colorado Ave.; online at festivalofgreekflavors.com; and at Amazon.com.
Here are a couple of recipes from the book:
GREEK LAMB BURGERS
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 small pita bread rounds
1 cup diced kalamata olives
1/2 cup diced red onion
1. Preheat broiler or grill. In medium bowl, combine lamb, cheese, onions, spinach, Greek seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Form into patties.
2. Broil 6 inches from heat source or place on outdoor grill, cooking 5-6 minutes per side, until well done.
3. To serve, place burgers on pita bread, top with tzatziki sauce and garnish with olives and onion.
“Festival of Greek Flavors, A Mediterranean Culinary Adventure” by Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
1 medium English cucumber
2 cups Greek-style yogurt (drain if necessary)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or mint
1 tablespoon each olive oil (optional) and lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Line colander with cheesecloth. Peel and grate cucumber; salt lightly and let drain 30 minutes in colander. Squeeze cucumber as dry as possible by twisting mixture in cheesecloth.
2. In bowl, combine cucumber with yogurt, garlic, dill or mint, olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper. Mix or process ingredients and chill 2 hours.
3. Serve as a dip with crackers and pita bread, or as a sauce for fried or grilled fish, lamb gyros sandwiches or zucchini fritters.
“Festival of Greek Flavors, A Mediterranean Culinary Adventure,” by Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society
Reach Farney at 636-0271. Hear her “KVOR Table Talk” radio show noon to 1 p.m. Saturdays on 740 AM. Friend her on Facebook.