Cultural Feasts: A Greek Orthodox Christening
My younger brother's christening..not looking to happy..but neither do I!! Ah..those were the days...!!
Growing up in a Greek home, included attending the local Greek Orthodox Church, where we would look forward to seeing our friends, as well as, stuffing our faces with Koliva; a recipe made up of boiled wheat, icing sugar, nuts, sesame seeds, cinnamon, pomegranate seeds, raisins and anise handed out after the service.
But the event that seemed to take priority was the christenings for the young children of Greek Orthodox families. It was a time of dedicating your child to God and declaring them a Christian. I don’t remember my own christening, as I was barely a toddler, but I do have pictures that seem to indicate it was a scary experience for me!
What was really great about this cultural celebration was the big party that would take place after the service at someone’s home. The Greek music would be playing, the women busily putting finishing touches on the food, the men dancing the hasapiko and the children happily watching on and trying to imitate their parents!
I guess that’s what I love about the Greek culture; the children are included in everything the adults are doing. I never remember being pushed into a corner or given a sandwich or fish fingers to eat. We always participated with the adults in all that was going on and always ate the Greek food that had so lovingly been prepared!
As some of you may have watched the fabulously funny movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” you would remember the scene where Ian goes to the Greek Orthodox Church to be baptized! I so loved that movie…and reminded me of my own life being married to a ‘xeno’ or foreigner.
When I would go visit Greg’s family, it was just like that scene of when they would have dinner with Ian’s parents. Very civil and very quiet! And then we would go to my parent’s home, and it was on for young and old. Loud talking, loud laughing, loud opinions, loud everything!!
Culture is all around us and learning to appreciate the differences and celebrate them is something I highly value!
Therefore, let me share with you a recipe that I love to make when celebrating a Greek Feast – and even though it isn’t Greek, I am celebrating the difference!
Rugelach (Fruit Twists)
2 ½ cups of plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
250g cream cheese, chilled, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup of caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 cup apricot jam
1 cup cranberries
2 cups flaked almonds, toasted & crushed
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon milk
- In a food processor, add flour, sugar, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Process together until mixture comes together and forms dough. Roll into a log and cut 4 even segments. Take each segment, make it into a disc and place between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to a 23cm round. Place each segment between sheets each on a pizza tray and put in freezer for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180*C. Mix together caster sugar and mixed spice.
- Remove dough from freezer one at a time. Peel off top layer of paper. Place a 20cm cake tin on top and cut around edge to neaten. Spread ¼ of jam all around leaving a 2cm edge. Toss ¼ of cranberries and nuts all over jam. Sprinkle with sugar and spice mix. Pat down gently. Cut 8 even-sized wedges and starting from the wider end, roll to narrow end. Place on lined baking trays and freeze for a further 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Whisk egg yolks and milk in a small jug. Brush all over crescents. Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with sugar and spice mix. Cool on a wire rack.