Side Orders: Get ready for a day of Greek goodies

Side Orders: Get ready for a day of Greek goodies

October 30th, 2013 by Anne Braly in Life Entertainment

It's that time of year again ... get your tastebuds ready for the annual Greek Bake Sale.

It's scheduled to happen on Nov. 7, so you have eight days to make up your mind. Do you want an order of baklava, perhaps the most-popular of all Greek desserts? Or are spanokopita, those wonderfully crisp spinach squares, your favorite of all Greek pastries? Decisions, decisions.

Oh, go ahead and get them all. But be sure to get there early. When all have been purchased, that will be it. And it's always a sellout, says bake sale chairwoman Thea Ballas.

Here's some bake-sale trivia you may find interesting.

Q: What's the first to go?

A: It's always the baklava. We cannot make enough of that. Last year, we made 51 pans, and we can get 64 pieces of baklava per pan. People even buy the corner pieces and the crumbs, so we bagged those up and sold them, too. This year, we'll be making a few dozen more. It's just unbelievable.

Q: What is one of the least-known items on the menu?

A: Everything does pretty well, but some people look at the kataifee and aren't really sure about it. It's a lot the same as baklava. It has the same nutty filling, but the phyllo dough is shredded. Once we explain that to people, they take our word for it and buy it. And now we've had to start making more of that, too. When the baklava goes, we turn to that.

Q: How many pounds of ingredients go into making all the pastries?

A: We'll go through about 20 cases of butter, and there's 36 pounds to a case. Sugar? We'll be using about 20 50-pound bags. And flour? About 18 50-pound bags. But the amount of phyllo we order is staggering. I used to live in Flint, Mich., and we didn't come close to using as much as we use here. I've never OVERSET FOLLOWS:seen anything like it. This year, we'll go through well over 100 12-pound cases of phyllo.

Q: How long does it take to make all the pastries?

A: We started baking in late August, working five hours a day, three days a week. But the last two weeks before the sale, we're working 30 to 40 hours a week, making primarily baklava. We always wait till last to make that. One pan takes about an hour or hour and a half to make.

Q: Does the sale continue to grow in popularity each year?

A: I've been able to gauge interest by the number of people who come to the sale each year and ask to be put on our mailing list so they'll know when the sale will happen. The list grows by 50 to 100 every year.

The Greek Bake Sale begins at 8 a.m. and will remain open until the last pastries sell or until 6 p.m. Ballas says things usually wrap up around 3 p.m. The menu includes:

• Almond cakes (small cakes made with almond flour and topped with honey syrup).

• Amygdalota (large, crescent-shaped pastries made of ground almonds, sugar and spices).

• Baklava (layers of crispy phyllo with a nutty filling and covered in syrup).

• Finikia (spice cookies dipped in syrup and rolled in nuts).

• Galaktoboureko (phyllo pastry filled with custard and topped with syrup).

• Kataifi (shredded wheat phyllo with a nut filling and covered in syrup).

• Koulourakia (crisp butter cookies, sold by the dozen).

• Kourambiethes (rich butter wedding-style cookies covered in powdered sugar).

• Pastitsio (a casserole of macaroni, Parmesan cheese, ground beef and spices in a bechamel sauce; sold by the pan).

• Sfeeha (Middle Eastern "burger" pies made of ground chuck and spices).

• Spanakopita (layered phyllo filled with spinach, eggs and feta cheese; sold by the pan).

• Sweet bread (traditional Greek bread perfect with coffee for breakfast).

• Tiropetes (cheese triangle with layers of phyllo).

Coffee and warm loukoumades (Greek doughnuts) will also be served.

The sale supports the church's many philanthropic endeavors and will be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 722 Glenwood Ave., across from Memorial Hospital.


If you're looking for a great tea recipe, Margaret Mcneil sent hers in not too long ago after reading a column with some iced-tea trivia.

"No family function would be complete without a pitcher of fruit tea," she says. And with all the family holiday functions coming up, you may need this recipe. Iced tea is a year-round drink in the South, after all. Mcneil says the secret ingredient to this tea is ginger ale, and it blends perfectly with the lemon and pineapple juices added to the tea.

Fruit Tea

2-1/2 cups water

2 family size tea bags

1 cup sugar

2 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 (12-ounce) cans ginger ale

Bring water to a boil. Pour over tea bags; cover and steep 5 minutes. Pour tea over sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients; stir well and refrigerate.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.