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Recipes from parishioners

Nana’s kothembedes recipe

This recipe is from my nana, Victoria Cotto. Nana was a loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother and friend.  She was an Albanian beauty, and fabulous cook.  So many of my memories of nana are set in her kitchen and some of my best times took place there with my mom, sister, aunts and girl cousins helping nana cook, while we laughed and worked.  Nana and Papa’s house was the place where everyone came for holiday meals and the name day feasts of papa (St. Constantine) and the boys (of course the boys!) The smells of freshly baked bread, hot percolated café and supper simmering on the stove were ever present. The bounty from papa’s garden was often the central portion of summertime meals.  Nana never ate her meal until everyone else had theirs. If there wasn’t enough to go around, only nana ever knew.  If we asked her why she didn’t have more she would simply tell us that she wasn’t hungry.

Nana’s koudebethes were always favorites for special events. For everything that she made, getting her recipes was tough.  Not that she wouldn’t share!  Just that she didn’t measure.  She knew by sight and feel when a recipe was right.  Nana’s koudebethes were always thick and perfectly lightly browned on the bottom. Playing card suit cookie cutters were always used…no other shapes were ever considered.

The dough for these cookies feels like velvet every time. Maybe it is because a little bit of my grandmother’s love comes through when I bake her kouthembedes. Nana showed us how much she loved us every time she saw us and with everything she did...and man, could she cook! I hope that you enjoy this recipe and with it, get a little peak into my heart were nana still lives.

  • 1 pound butter at room temp.
  • 3/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 5 1/2 C. sifted flour (unbleached is best)                 

In a large bowl beat butter till soft.  Add powdered sugar and baking powder and beat for 4-5 minutes.  Add egg yolk and continue mixing.  Add flour till dough will roll easily in palm of hand without sticking and then mix in whiskey.  Roll out and cut with cookie cutters.  Do not grease pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, 30 minutes if thick.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy! 

 

Church Bread (MESHË)

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 yeast cake or 1 dry yeast
  • ¼ cup of warm water
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Religious seal

Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water and let stand for a few minutes. Measure flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour yeast and 2 cups warm water in the center, mixing the flour and water. Knead for 10 minutes; dough will be slightly sticky. Place in a large bowl; cover and let rise for 1 hour. Place dough on floured board and knead for another 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Dough should be firm and smooth. Form dough into one round loaf and place in a floured baking pan. Make the sign of the Cross over the dough and make an impression with the seal.* Let rise in warm place again. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Insert tipoff knife carefully under edge of seal to release suction and remove seal. With a pin, prick dough all over to release air from inside.

 


Church Bread (MESHË)  -2nd version

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 yeast cake or 1 dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups warm water (approx.)
  • Religious seal

If yeast cake is used, mix with small amount of water to dissolve. If dry yeast is used, mix with flour, salt and sugar, Add water slowly; mixing well – judge the amount of water depending on the dough. Dough should be workable, not sticky, not dry. Knead for at least 10 minutes and let rise in warm place until double in size. Then punch down and knead again. Divide dough in two sections, one slightly larger than the other. Flour the bottom of baking pan, shape larger portion of dough round and flatten into pan. Moisten top of dough; shape smaller portion of dough and set on top. Rub small amount of flour on top, make the sign of the Cross over the dough, firmly press stamp or seal straight down onto dough. Insert tip of knife carefully under the edge of seal to release suction and remove seal. With a pin, prick dough all over to release air from inside. In a warm place, let dough rise again. Bake at 375° for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool. DO NOT COVER until completely cool.


November recipe

Try this cookie recipe for the holidays.  They come out perfect everytime and taste just like Christmas.  It is from an old popular recipe that my mom made and so did many others from her generation and continues to be a favorite in my family today  Enjoy!

Nutmeg Logs  from Linda Croke Biando

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Shape dough into a slab ½ inch thick and 3 inches wide
  3. Slice into shape of log ½ inch wide by 3 inches long
  4. Bake on ungreased pan at 350° for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Ice cookies when cool

ICING:

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon run
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk  

October

Nana’s koudebethes from Linda Croke Biando

This recipe is from my nana, Victoria Cotto.  Nana was a loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother and friend.  She was an Albanian beauty, and fabulous cook.  So many of my memories of nana are set in her kitchen and some of my best times took place there with my mom, sister, aunts and girl cousins helping nana cook, while we laughed and worked.  Nana and Papa’s house was the place where everyone came for holiday meals and the name day feasts of papa (St. Constantine) and the boys (of course the boys!)  The smells of freshly baked bread, hot percolated café and supper simmering on the stove were ever present.  The bounty from papa’s garden was often the central portion of summertime meals.  Nana never ate her meal until everyone else had theirs.  If there wasn’t enough to go around, only nana ever knew.  If we asked her why she didn’t have more she would simply tell us that she wasn’t hungry. 

Nana’s koudebethes were always favorites for special events.  For everything that she made, getting her recipes was tough.  Not that she wouldn’t share!  Just that she didn’t measure.  She knew by sight and feel when a recipe was right.  Nana’s koudebethes were always thick and perfectly lightly browned on the bottom.  Playing card suit cookie cutters were always used…no other shapes were ever considered.

The dough for these cookies feels like velvet every time.  Maybe it is because a little bit of my grandmother’s love comes through when I bake her kouthembedes.  Nana showed us how much she loved us every time she saw us and with everything she did...and man, could she cook!  I hope that you enjoy this recipe and with it, get a little peak into my heart were nana still lives.

  • 1 pound butter at room temp.
  • 3/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 5 1/2 C. sifted flour (unbleached is best)

 

In a large bowl beat butter till soft.  Add powdered sugar and baking powder and beat for 4-5 minutes.  Add egg yolk and continue mixing.  Add flour till dough will roll easily in palm of hand without sticking and then mix in whiskey.  Roll out and cut with cookie cutters.  Do not grease pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, 30 minutes if thick.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy! 

 


September

Mom’s Albanian String Beans from Mary Croke

Remember when this was the only way we ate green beans at get togethers?  This recipe is a blast from the past.  The addition of feta is new but as we say in our family, "everything is betta with feta"

  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (141/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp each finely chopped fresh oregano and flat leaf parsley (use less if dried)
  • 1 lb fresh green beans trimmed (or frozen/ thawed)
  • ½ - 3/4 C water (mom says use about 3/4C)
  • Crumbled feta (amount as per your preference)
In a sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until soft and clear, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook briefly until golden.  Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and water.  Stir in the green beans and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until beans are just tender, about 12 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Spoon onto platter and top with feta.  Thiss even better the next day! Enjoy!

August's Recipe

Recipe in revision

June's Recipe

Dad's Famous Albanian Chicken Wings

- Submitted by Tim & Ann Subashi

- Student: Benjamin Subashi

Ingredients: measurements are approximate, since we just sprinkle each ingredient on the wings, you'll see what I mean when you try it.

  • One package of chicken wings (Perdue Wingettes work best - because they're already split into both wing pieces ~20 wing pieces per package).
  • Italian dressing: one 12 oz bottle
  • Lemon Juice: two tablespoons
  • Cajun Seasoning: three tablespoons
  • Garlic Powder: two tablespoons
  • Salt: one tablespoon
  • Pepper: two tablespoons
  • Paprika: two tablespoons

Preparation: pre-warm your oven to 375 degrees. Spread out the chicken wings side by side on a flat cookie tray (tray should have edges to keep the juices in). Gently squirt Italian dressing on top of the wings to get them wet. Lightly sprinkle lemon juice on top of that. Gently sprinkle Cajun seasoning onto the wings, followed by garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika (the dry ingredients easily stick to the wings). Cook the wings in the oven for 60 minutes - the top of the wings will have a beautiful brown color - and your kitchen will smell heavenly! Take the tray of wings out of the oven and carefully flip the wings over with a spatula. If necessary, drain (pour off) any overly excessive juices from the tray (you don't want the wings to get mushy). Now re-coat the wings by sprinkling on a little more Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, pepper and paprika. Place the tray back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes or so.

 Some people like the wings more on the crispy side, some people like them a little less crispy, so you can adjust your cooking time accordingly. When they're done to your preference, remove them from the oven and using a spatula, scoop them out into your favorite UConn serving bowl. The wings go great with any kind of dip (ranch is a good choice). We also serve them with baked potatoes on the side and sometimes corn on the cob. The wings can also easily be reheated for late night munching! Some serious home cooked comfort food! Enjoy.

 OR . . . . .

 Dad's Famous Albanian Chicken Wings - 2nd version

  •  1 pkg chicken wings ( ab 20 )
  •  1- 12oz bottle italian drsg
  •  2 Tbsp lemon juice
  •  3 Tbsp cajun seasoning
  •  2 Tbsp garlic powder
  •  1 Tbsp salt
  •  2 Tbsp pepper
  •  2 Tbsp paprika

Preheat oven to 375. spread chicken wings side by side on flat cookie sheet w/ edges to keep juices in. squirt italian drsg on wings to get them wet, then lightly sprinkle lemon juice on top. sprinkle cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika on wings.

Cook 60 minutes until tops of wings are brown. flip the wings over w/ spatula and drain excess juices from tray if necessary. coat the wings on that side w/ the seasonings. return to oven for about 20-30 minutes- adjust cooking time accordingly for wings to be more or less crispy. serve w/ ranch or blue cheese drsg..

 Enjoy !!!! 


May's Recipe

Uncle Tom’s Rice Pudding

Uncle Tom (my Father Tom Dimitri, but “Uncle Tom” to many who knew him) owned many restaurants over the course of his life. He was an excellent cook! I wish I could say that I smelled his delicious rice pudding cooking on the stove, but the truth is he rarely, if ever, cooked at home. The kitchen in the restaurant was where he did his “home cooking.” Rice pudding was one of his very special recipes. Rich and exceptionally creamy, it’s truly a delectable treat. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice (Carolina)
  • ½ gallon milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ lb butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)

Recipe:

In a heavy pot wash rice and then cover it with water.

Place on the stove and boil until most of the water evaporates.

Add butter and milk and ½ cup sugar; bring to a boil then lower heat until it slightly simmers.

Cook for 2 hours stirring every 15 minutes to ensure it does not stick to the bottom.

Pudding will thicken as it cooks; if you want it thicker cook longer.  After 2 hours add remainder of sugar and vanilla.  Taste…. if you want it sweeter add more sugar, a little at a time until you obtain the level of sweetness you desire.

You can add a couple of scoops of vanilla ice-cream at the end to make it creamier.

 Pour into a 9 x 13 pan or glass dish.  Place on a wire rack to allow cooling.

 Sprinkle top with cinnamon – if desired.


April's Recipe
 
Banana Bread/Cake by Fiori Papa
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 6 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Directions:
Mix all ingredients well and bake for an hour at 250•F.
 
I also made a second one and instead of the bananas I used one apple (used a grinder to make an apple sauce like mash) and used two tablespoons of cocoa. 
 
Both taste great and what's left (if any) will go well with coffee or tea in the morning to make up for the lack of creamer and milk.
 
 
Chickpeas with Spinach and Spices
by Fiori Papa
 
It's a cross between an indian recipe and my adaptation to albanian cooking, made very easy for someone who doesn't have a whole lot of time to spend in the kitchen but still would want to eat a homemade meal during lent.  

Ingredients:

  • Two cans of garbanzo beans in water (or 3 cups of dry chickpeas - these will have to be cooked in water)
  • One sliced onion (thin slices)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tbsps of olive oil
  • 2 tbsps of lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsps ground curry
  • 1 tbsps ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tbsps ground cumin 
  • 1 1/2 tbsps ground garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsps ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeic
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • rice/water/olive oil to make simple rice pilaf (two measurements of water for each measurement of rice)

Directions:

Saute in a non stick skillet the onions & garlic in hot olive oil, until browned.

It'll take 4-5 minutes for them to soften enough in which point you may turn the heat to low and add the two cans of garbanzo beans (including the water from the cans).

Now you can also add all the different spices and lemon juice.

Give all the ingredients a stir and let them simmer in medium heat. 

Once everything has come to a boil add the washed spinach and let everything cook until the spinach is cooked.

Serve on top of the rice pilaf which could be cooked while the spinach is cooking.


Lenten Pie or Byrek

by Linda Kosta

Every year during the Lenten season, St. John's offers a P re-Sanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evenings as do many Orthodox Churches. Each Liturgy is followed by a pot luck supper - strictly Lenten.  The service offers a very special preparation for Pascha. During the meal, Biblical topics are usually discussed. It has become a very special service and dinner that I commit myself to each year.

I am not of Albanian heritage, but with an Albanian husband, a much loved Albanian mother-in-law that we lost quite a few years ago, and many Albanian friends,  my cooking has been influenced by their cuisine. Of course, having converted to Orthodoxy a long time ago, Lent has meant changes in our diets, too.  It can be a challenging to come up with something creative, tasty and vegetarian regularly to a meat lover like me. However, the following two recipes fill the bill. Both are based on the familiar spinach pie.

Sauerkraut Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags sauerkraut – drain well
  • 1 lg. Onion – chopped small
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 package of filo dough – if you are really good, make your own! 

Brown or caramelize the onion and sauerkraut in a little vegetable oil until you see some brown. This brings out the sweetness in the sauerkraut. Brush oil on your cookie sheet (with sides) or pan. Lay down the filo dough. Put in a couple layers with the edges hanging over the sides (to fold in later), lightly brush oil on layers. It's okay if you do not oil every single layer. The pie does not have to be perfect to taste great. Put the sauerkraut/ onion mixture on one layer of the pie. Repeat layering until all the filo is gone. Then, fold in the sides and brush with oil.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Best warm, but my husband likes it cold! Go figure.

If you like, flip the pie onto another cookie sheet to brown the bottom (which then becomes the top.) Bake at same temperature – 5-10 minutes.


Sweet Pepper and Onion Pie   — a favorite of my Albanian friends

Ingredients:

  • About 10 red, orange, or yellow sweet peppers. Cut into strips.
  • 2 onions - chopped
  • Clove of garlic – chopped or minced is better
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 box filo dough
  • vegetable oil

Bake the pepper strips, onion and garlic for about 20 minutes (or until soft but not soggy). Use as your filling. You do not need to peel the peppers. Follow the steps above for assembly and baking instructions.

 

Mailing Address
Saint John Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church
237 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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215-563-0979 (Phone)
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