More than 20 years ago, when St. Andrew Orthodox Church held its first Heritage Festival, many Central Kentuckians didn't know a kefta from a falafel.
You might say St. Andrew's parishioners helped refine our palates.
Church families with Orthodox backgrounds came together in those early years to bake and prepare foods from the countries of their heritage. Places such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, North Africa, Serbia, Palestine, Russia, Ukraine, Greece and Ireland were represented by cabbage rolls, stuffed grape leaves, baklava, kibbeh, and tabouleh.
This year's festival, on Saturday and Sunday, still offers the same ethnic favorites, which are now more familiar to many of us.
The zatar herb blend that's spread on flatbreads is readily available in supermarkets; falafel are sold at several Lexington restaurants; and hummus is as common as salsa in Central Kentucky refrigerators.
Jeanette Gallaway, whose husband, the Very Rev. Thomas Gallaway. is pastor of St. Andrew's, has overseen the menu selection for most of the festival's 21-year history. Although the cuisines of some countries are similar, each culture has distinctly different eating practices, food preferences and preparation techniques, she said.
At a recent work day at the church, parishioners used Jeanette Gallaway's recipe to make hundreds of kolaci (also spelled kolache), a sweet bread made with nuts, egg whites and sugar paste that's rolled and baked. Kolaci is a Central European pastry that's prized for its soft, pillowy dough and its versatility. Fillings range from sweet to savory.
Other pastries include baklava, Russian tea cakes, ma'mool (a butter cookie with ground walnuts) and knafa (shredded wheat stuffed with ricotta). Prices range from $1 to $2 each. Food prices range from $2 for grape leaf rolls to $6 for chicken shish kebab.
"This year, part of the funds will be used to sponsor our Habitat vegetable gardens," Gallaway said. "Ten percent of our profits go to charity, and this certainly is a worthy charity. Nancy Holloway and Bob Montgomery brought a wonderful idea to our charity committee. The idea was to build raised bed vegetable gardens for those who wanted them at their new Habitat (for Humanity) homes in hopes of helping them subsidize their income by teaching them to raise a garden and grow their own vegetables."
The church plans to build gardens for five new Habitat homes.
Here is Jeanette Gallaway's family recipe for kolaci. "This recipe is a combination of my mother's and my aunt's recipe," she said.
Kolaci (nut roll)
2 cups milk, divided
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
2 packages dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
8 cups flour
7 to 8 cups ground nuts
3½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 egg whites, beaten until stiff
¼ cup cold milk, if needed
To make dough: Scald 1 cup milk. Add butter to hot milk. Stir until dissolved. Add sugar and salt. Place yeast in ½ cup warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Beat remaining milk with eggs and egg yolks. Mix together with hot milk and add yeast. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and knead until smooth. Place in a bowl and cover with warm damp towel, and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
To make filling: In a large bowl, combine nuts, sugar and lemon juice. Fold in egg whites. If filling is dry or still, add 1/4 cup cold milk.
Divide dough into 7 pieces. Roll out to 9- by 12-inches. Spread 1 to 1½ cups filling onto dough to ½ inch of edge (dip spatula into milk for easy spreading). Roll lengthwise and place onto parchment-covered cookie sheet, making sure edge is on the bottom. Continue with dough until all 7 pieces are rolled. Brush tops with egg wash (3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup water).
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack. Wrap individually. May be frozen for up to 6 months.
Gibanica is a traditional Serbian dish served on feast days after a fasting season. It may be used a main course, side dish or dessert.
5 large eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
1 pound phyllo dough
In large bowl, cream eggs, sugar and oil until smooth. Add sour cream and cream cheese, and mix until smooth. Add cottage cheese and mix with a spoon.
Brush bottom of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with oil. Place 10 pieces of phyllo dough on bottom of pan and brush with vegetable oil between each layer. Add egg mixture. Top with remainder of phyllo dough, remembering to brush with oil between layers. Oil top layer of phyllo dough and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let set 20 minutes before cutting. (This dish may be prepared the day before and placed in refrigerator, uncooked, then baked when needed, or it may be prepared and frozen to be baked later.)
Here are recipes for some of the other menu items.
1/2 cup fine bulgur (cracked) wheat
2 large tomatoes, diced
4 bunches parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup mint leaves (fresh or 2 tablespoons dried)
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Rinse wheat and soak for 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Add chopped vegetables and herbs, and mix well. Add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow to set one hour, then serve over fresh lettuce leaves.
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1 cup rice, cooked
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 heads cabbage
2 large cans sauerkraut
1 jar (28 ounces) V8 Juice
1 pound bacon
Mix meats, rice, onion, salt and pepper together. Set aside.
Cut cores out cabbages. Wrap cabbage in plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes or steam in pot of boiling water until leaves are tender but not soft. Thin the core on each leaf of cabbage. Place about 2 tablespoons filling on each leaf. Fold sides in and roll from large end to outside of leaf. Place torn leaves on bottom of pan, then layer rolls in pan. Place bacon and sauerkraut between layers and on top. Cover cabbage rolls with V8 juice and water. Cook on stove, or in oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours.
Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.