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Each week, Jennifer Chandler shares recipes, menu ideas, and tips on eating local – anything food-related is on the menu!Tuesdays7:49 a.m.8:49 a.m.4:48 p.m.6:48 p.m.

It's Greek Festival Time!

Traditional Greek desserts galaktoboureko on the table
littleclie/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Traditional Greek desserts galaktoboureko on the table

Opa! If you love Greek food, you need to put the 64th annual Memphis Greek Festival on your to-do list this weekend. 

The festival is May 12 and 13 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located at 573 N. Highland St.

The festival features a variety of Greek food options, including spanakopita, gyros, moussaka, baklava and more than a dozen Greek pastries. Each dish is handmade with love by a small army of volunteers.

I asked Kathy Zambelis, longtime spokesperson for the festival, to share tips for making one of the most popular dishes – Galaktoboureko.

Kathy describes this custard pastry as the "Creme Brulee" of Greek pastries.

The recipe used at the festival is from the late Diana Mazas. Diana was the longtime chairperson in charge of making this treat for the annual event, and she remained involved every year until her passing at 101 years old!

Tip #1: When making the custard, do not walk away from the pot. Kathy says if you stir constantly until it thickens, you will not burn it.

Tip #2: Working with phyllo dough requires a little care and patience. Kathy says to cover the phyllo sheets with a lightly dampened towel so they don’t dry out. But she also says not to be afraid of the phyllo. It is very forgiving. If it tears, it is okay, to still use the sheets.

Tip #3: When cooking Greek pastries which have syrup poured over them, Kathy says to remember this tip. When the syrup is cool, the pastry should be hot. When the syrup is hot, the pastry should be cool. It is always the opposite!

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

For more information about Memphis Greek Festival, visit memphisgreekfestival.com.

Diana's Galaktoboureko

Yield: 45 servings

For the custard:

  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Cream of Wheat, regular
  • 1 pound butter, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp. orange extract
  • 1 pound Filo (Phyllo dough)

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon

Step 1: Combine milk, Cream of Wheat, 1 stick butter, vanilla, and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, Set aside to cool.

Step 2: Combine eggs, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, an orange extract in a mixer bowl and beat well. Stir the egg mixture into cream of wheat mixture.

Step 3: Butter 12x18-inch pan, place half of the filo sheets (8) on the bottom, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Carefully pour in mixture. Top with remaining filo sheets, brushing each layer with butter.

Step 4: Slit top filo sheet lengthwise into 5-6 strips. Pour remaining butter over the top. Lightly sprinkle with water, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown.

Step 5: Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 6: Make the syrup. Place the sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the syrup thickens, approximately 15 minutes.

Let cool. Pour cooled syrup over the hot pastry.

Let cool for about 1 hour and cut into squares about 2x2-inches or 3x3-inches. This also tastes delicious after sitting overnight in the refrigerator so it settles. But - warm and yummy is certainly the BEST way to eat it.

Recipe used with permission from the "It's Greek to Me" Cookbook. The book will be sold at the festival for $20.

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.