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

Friday, January 29, 2010

If Looks Could Kill

I'd be a goner by now. I got my suitcase out and Milo at first hid behind the pillows acting as if he was completely unaffected by the soon-to-be two week change in his life. And then he looked at me letting his real feeling show. He is not happy or filled with joy.
All this to say I'll be away for two weeks from Wooster Square Daily Photo. But I'll be back, please check in again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's the Next Best Thing to Heaven?

Glazed fruits in Phyllo dough. That's what! I wrote off these little things, glazed fruit that is, years ago because I was never fond of Christmas fruit cake with it's 15 year shelf life. But Greek style these little gems are gooooood. I have come to believe that ANYTHING is good wrapped in phyllo dough. This recipe is from Patras where, according to the ladies, it is known for it's tough men. Worth a trip perhaps.Maria is whipping up the egg whites while Virginia is getting ready to make the fruit mixture.
Virginia is making the fruit mixture and, as you can see, she encountered some rambuncious powdered sugar. No problem. The cooking must go on.
I think that it's an unusual mixture but it sure is good when baked. Sugar, egg yolks, almonds, zwieback, glazed fruit are mixed first and then the egg whites are folded in.
Now. Clarified butter. Whenever I've baked in the past I never clarified butter because quite frankly, I didn't know how and was to lazy to look it up. Now I do however, in fact there were two differing ways which we were told how to clarify butter. Seems pretty essential to phyllo dough baking. I'll have to get busy.
After the fruit mixture is done you need to brush clarified butter between each individual sheet of phyllo dough. That's why this stuff is so incredibly great. You then spread the mixture on top of the phyllo dough sheets - four of them NOT three - according to Virginia. Then you roll everything into a little tube.
You score the top before you bake it.....
....and walah!! Glazed fruit in phyllo dough.
After it's baked you make a syrup to glaze the top. You also make little holes into the top of the roll so that the glaze permeates the entire roll. Honestly, the secrets in the syrup, that's what makes the flavors of everything else in this little slice of heaven so sweet. This is my last class out of the series of four. I'll be back for more tips, treasures and tantalizing food.
Efxaristo ladies, see you in March.

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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Strouse, Adler Company

In Wooster Square, which is part of the Downtown District of New Haven, you'll find the Strouse, Adler Company, a now defunct corset company. The building itself was constructed during the Civil War era, circa 1860 and was in business producing foundations and garments until 1999. Lara Corset and Gown's says, "Max Adler and Isaac Strouse were the leaders of New Haven’s corset industry. In 1860, Strouse bought out the McAlister and Smith Corset Manufacturing Business, and, with Adler, his employee, began to develop a home industry for corset production by selling newly minted Singer sewing machines door to door to Yankee, Irish, and German women. In 1866, Strouse established the first corset factory in the United States, a precursor to Strouse, Adler on Oak Street in New Haven. By 1890, there were nine corset firms operating in New Haven, making the city the largest manufacturer of corsets in the United States." WOW, all here in New Haven!
Today it's known as the Smoothie Building which has been converted into a 5 story apartment building with 146 spacious apartments.Ugh.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Side Room

I'd love to sit inside of this little room on a sunny day with a cup of tea and a good book. Architecturally I don't know what this type of structure is called but it is attached to a brownstone on Chapel Street.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weekend Reflection

The Chase Bank Building on Church Street in downtown New Haven at sunset. For more reflections on the weekend see the meme Jame's Weekend Reflection.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Kiss

A very large and bizarre finial on a cast iron fence over at Yale.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cooking - Greek Style! Part 2 - Kolokithopita

The other half of the evening featured Virginia showing us how to make Kolokithopita. "I am the pita lady, I know!" exclaims Virginia and she's right. Pita is much more than just for scooping hummus or tzatziki, it's also a pie like item. Kolokithopita is the Greek version of pumpkin pie. The villages around Mount Olympus are the most famous for pita....long winters....many children....lots of pita-making! I can't help but think that St. Barbara is giving her total blessing to Virginia as she is blessing her with her hand in the icon behind her.Although you can use pumpkin, she used fresh butternut squash mixed with a little sugar and walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, Farina. You can also skip the sugar and add feta to make it a hardy meal rather than dessert.
Here's Maria watching on as Virginia spreads the mixture onto phyllo dough. The phyllo dough is layered...10 sheets on the top and 10 on the bottom. Each sheet is put down and then a generous amount of butter and oil is brushed on top. "All healthy", Virginia reassures us.
You can imagine, there are lots of wonderful stories told about growing up in Greece and family life. Like the one about the farmer who had an ill donkey. The farmer left the donkey out to pasture believing that there was no hope for the donkey. But when the donkey was out he began to graze in a pasture of rosemary. The farmer went out after some time and found that the donkey was completely cured.
Layering the phyllo dough and a double blessing.
Virginia is from the island of Lesbos and loves to cook. Here she is very intent on what she is doing.
Scoring the layered phyllo dough and squash mixture - before and after!
Oh yum, it was delicious.
So was this!
Although we are learning to cook and bake, Greek style, the best part of the evening comes when we sit down to the meal. They've pre-cooked and baked for us so we each get a generous helping to eat and to take home. Each week features a different type of Greek wine as well.
See a need, fill a need, the motto of the Philoptochos Woman's Society certainly does just that because we share stories of our lives, our children, our struggles with cancer around the table. It is a table of blessing and friendship all because we love Greek food.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cooking - Greek Style! Part 1- Dolmades.

Tonight was cooking class at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Orange, CT. St. Barbara had her start in New Haven, you'll remember that I took a bread class in December and posted about the Vasilopita Bread Class. This was the first night of another four weeks of cooking classes offered by the Philoptochos Society. The Philoptochos Society is a ministry of women whose creed is "see a need, fill a need". They've been offering Greek cooking classes to help raise money for their outreach ministries.
Tonight's specialty was Dolmades and Kolokithopita. My first entry is about the Dolmades, chopped meat stuffed cabbage leaves with a Avgolemono (lemon) sauce. The above photo is Maria, our teacher. She's showing us lemons that are from her tree. I guess they are from Greece...since it's the dead of winter here in Connecticut and the sky is grey as grey can be.
Egg whites being whisked to a very frothy mixture. Maria said that her father and mother used to make this together since it was so labor intensive. Indeed it was, we all used the whisks, Maria used a hand mixer, the advantage of being the teacher.
Avgolemono Sauce that we made packed up and ready to be taken home. It will be used with the Dolmades that we also made to bring home.
Boiled cabbage leaves, separated and ready for the meat mixture.
Maria is an amazing cook. Here she is preparing the meat mixture. Maria is from the village of Aigion. She and her family own Yorkside Pizza in New Haven - a landmark in the heart of downtown New Haven on York Street. Yorkside was the very first restaurant that I went to in New Haven many years ago.
Dolmades after it has simmered for 45 minutes...just awaiting the Avgolemono Sauce.
Honestly folks, this is tricky cooking if you're not a regular at cooking! You've got to swirl the Avgolemono Sauce into the Dolmades making sure that the Avgolemono Sauce doesn't curddle because of the egg whites and yolks. She made it look so easy and I think it was but my German and Swiss heritage wanted to know exact amounts and the exact amount of swirls. I'll have to practise this. Who wants to come for dinner?
Tomorrow's post will continue with the second half of the evening, the making of Kolokitopita, a nice little sweet.