published Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Side Orders: Annual Greek Bake Sale Thursday

One of Chattanooga's most-anticipated culinary events happens Thursday: the annual Greek Bake Sale. As you plan your day, be sure to set aside some time to visit the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 722 Glenwood Ave., across from Memorial Hospital.

If you've never been, you'll be amazed at the bountiful supply of pastries and other delicious temptations. Church members begin making the items in summer and go through thousands of pounds of butter, sugar, nuts and other ingredients to make such treats as:

• Amygdalota (large, crescent-shaped pastries made of ground almonds, sugar and spices).

• Finikia (spice cookies dipped in syrup and rolled in nuts).

• Galaktoboureko (phyllo pastry filled with custard and topped with syrup).

• Kataifi (shredded wheat phyllo with a nut filling and covered in syrup).

• Koulourakia (crisp butter cookies; these are sold by the dozen and are excellent with coffee).

• Kourambiethes (rich butter wedding-style cookies covered in powdered sugar).

• Pastitsio (a casserole of macaroni, Parmesan cheese, ground beef and spices in a béchamel sauce; sold by the pan).

• Sfeeha (Middle Eastern "burger" pies made of ground chuck and spices).

• Spanakopita (layered phyllo filled with spinach, eggs and feta cheese; sold by the pan).

• Tiropita (cheese triangle with layers of phyllo; sold by the dozen).

In addition, the popular loukoumades, best described as Greek doughnuts, will be back this year. They're always a big hit, said spokeswoman Connie Sloan Lee. They're served warm with syrup, and some people like to add powdered sugar and cinnamon on top.

"There are shops in Greece that sell this tasty treat only," Lee said, adding that loukoumades are the earliest mentioned of any type of pastry in European literature.

Doors open at 8 a.m. The sale will close at 6 p.m. or whenever all items are sold, which can happen, so get there early. Lee said the sale continues to grow in popularity each year, and the crowds are much more diverse. Men love it, as well as high school and college students, she said.

"We have a blast watching them gobble up a lot of goodies," she said.

Many of the bake-sale items have been frozen, so all you need do it take them home and transfer them to your freezer. They'll be ready to pull out during the holidays. What could be better than a big plate of baklava set out for all to enjoy? Or squares of crisp, warm spanikopita served as a side dish on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table?

While you enjoy all the incredible foods sold at the Greek Bake Sale, you'll be supporting the philanthropies supported by the church, including the Times Free Press Neediest Cases Fund, Chattanooga Room in the Inn, Ronald McDonald House and Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

For more information, call 629-2364 or visit www.annunciationchatt.org.

New on the market ... Crock Pot has introduced a line of packaged seasoning mixes: Hearty Beef Stew, Savory Pot Roast and BBQ Pulled Pork. Each single-serving packet can bring a few pounds of meat and fresh ingredients to life in just a matter of hours with little prep involved. With a few twists to the package directions, you can make such dishes as wine-braised short ribs, sloppy Joes and barbecue-apple pork chops. You can find all the recipes at www.facebook.com/CrockPotSeasoningMixes and at twitter.com/CrockPotMixes.

The seasoning packets sell for $1.99 each. Right now, the only place you can find them is at the one remaining Food Lion in East Ridge. But be looking for them to come to other markets in the near future.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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