A photojournal of the Wooster Square neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut. And, occasionally a photo of New Haven, of course, of course.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Night at St. Barbara's

Another Tuesday night at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church and that means another night of Greek cooking. Oh yeah, this is becoming a habit. Tonight's delights were Pastitsio and Glazed Fruits in Phyllo Roll. We'll start with Pastitsio.Oly, short for Olympia, says "Pastitsio is the ultimate Greek comfort food." So it is and every region of Greece makes it but each with its own little twist. Greeks from the south add ground cinnamon to the meat sauce while the northerners leave it out. People from Cypress make it at Easter time using pork rather than beef with parsley and mint. However you make it, I'm sure it brings anyone a little comfort and a little taste of home. Here Oly is separating eggs which seem to be a staple in the recipes.
While Oly was sauteing the onion we got into a debate about making your own ground beef or buying it at the store already ground. Maria is trying her hardest to convince us that grinding your own top round and shoulder is much better. That's what she does at her restuarant, Yorkside Pizza. That's what Oly does and all of the other woman from the Philoptochos Society do. I guess that's why the food is so good...among other reasons. I have to admit the ground beef that Oly brought in looked great. I'll have to think about this for a while!
By now the air was getting thick with onions cooking and you KNOW how delicious that is.
The ground beef is added and eventually so is a little wine and tomatoes.
Whisking up flour and butter to make the Bechamel sauce along with milk.
Egg yolk is added to make the creamy sauce that gets poured on top of the macaroni and meat.
Nothing is ever wasted in Greek cooking. The egg whites leftover from the Bechamel sauce are added along with some cheese to the pasta.
Let the layering begin. Macaroni, meat sauce, macaroni, Bechamel sauce.
Pastitsio baked to perfection.
Oly is cutting the Pastitsio for us to eat. She's from Thessaloniki in Northern Greece (so no cinnamon in our meat sauce!) According to one traveler to Greece Thessaloniki is the 'hippest' Greek city. Of course, me being a Bible geek, not to be confused with a Bible Greek, could only think of the apostle Paul and his Epistle or Letter to the Church at Thessalonia. 1 Thessalonians happens to be the oldest book in the New Testament, but don't get me started on this. Back to Pastitsio. It was remarkably delicious and so, so comforting on a cold night in January.

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