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Memphis Greek Festival

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Efthimis Koukakis
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Get ready for some great food! Memphis Greek Festival is this weekend.

For 62 years the congregation of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Highland has been hosting this annual celebration of all things Greek. The event usually happens in May, but due to the pandemic, it was pushed back to October this year. It will be October 8th & 9th from 11 am – 8 pm.

One of the things I love most about this event is the food. For the weeks leading up to the festival, members of the church start cooking and baking. I always get both the spanakopita spinach pie and the baklava.

I asked Kathy Zambelis, one of the organizers of Greek Fest, to share some tips on cooking with phyllo – the base of both my favorite Greek Fest recipes.

Kathy said that first and foremost - do not be frustrated or scared to use phyllo! It is a lot more forgiving than people think it is!

Tip number 1: The phyllo sheets thaw more evenly and will be less likely to stick if you allow the unopened package to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It will last there unopened for up to a month.

Tip number 2: One important thing to remember is DO NOT OPEN the package until you have all the other ingredients prepared and you are ready to use the phyllo. Otherwise - it will dry out quickly.

Tip number 3: When unrolling the sheets out, lay them flat on a dry surface and immediately cover with plastic wrap and then a damp towel. Be sure to keep it covered when you are not working with it, and work as fast as you can.

And her last tip: Always butter or oil layers with a soft brush to keep them moist.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Memphis Greek Fest is October 8 & 9 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. at The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (573 N. Highland St.).

For additional information about the festival, please visit: www.memphisgreekfestival.com.

Greek Fest recipes like the one below can be found in the "It's Greek to Me Cookbook” which will be on sale at the festival for $20.

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

Recipe from “It’s Greek to Me” Cookbook. The recipe was originally from Tasia Vergos.

Temperature - 400 degrees

Pan size 11' x 15" x 2"

Yield: 40 squares

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds Fresh spinach or 5 boxes of Frozen Spinach
  • 3 bunches Fresh Green Onions Choppe
  • 2 Tbsp. dry dill weed
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley
  • 7-8 well beaten eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. farina (or Cream of Wheat)
  • 1/2 pound crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 Sticks of Butter, Melted
  • 1 Pound Phyllo

Step 1: Wash spinach and drain well (if using frozen spinach, thaw overnight and press out all water.) Sprinkle with salt and cut. Combine with onions, dill, parsley, farina, cheese, oil and eggs.

Step 2: Line pan with 8 Phyllo layers brushing with melted butter between each layer. Pour in spinach mixture. Cover with 8 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Brush top with butter and sprinkle lightly with water.

Step 3: Bake in a 450 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes until the phyllo begins to turn a light golden color and puffs in the center. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes longer until golden brown.

Step 4: Let the pita stand 15 - 20 minutes before cutting.