December 4: Saint Barbara’s Feast – Greek
Celebrated on December 4th, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, firemen, and those engaged in hazardous occupations.
According to Greek tradition, Loukoumades are made on her feastday. On army bases, they are offered to soldiers and visitors supposedly because they resemble cannonballs.
Saint Barbara is also the patron saint of the northern Greek city of Drama and of Thrace, where the custom on her feast day is to make a sweet called Varvara. This is a more liquid form of koliva and is prepared on the eve of her feast day. It is served to neighbours to ensure the well-being of the household’s children.
500 g husked wheat
2 cups sugar
1 cup golden raisins
10 dried figs
200g walnuts coarsely cut
1 jar tahini
- Wash and soak wheat overnight before the eve of St. Barbara. On the eve, boil the wheat in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes.
- Use a sifter ladle to remove it, and after putting it through the food processor, put it back in the pot. Add the raisins and continue boiling over low heat. Finely chop figs and add them to the pot.
- Let it boil for a while, stirring often so it thickens. When well-done, add sugar and stir.
- Once the sugar has melted, remove from heat and add the tahini. Stir very well and place into small bowls.
- In each bowl, sprinkle with 1 tbsp of walnuts, cinnamon, and decorate with dates, plums, and pomegranate seeds.
Optional: you can add lentils and/or chickpeas as well.
Recipe sourced and adapted from www.cooklikegreeks.com
250g plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons dried yeast
250ml warm water
1 teacup sugar
½ teacup honey
½ teacup water
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the salt, and mix the dried yeast into the flour.
- Using the lukewarm water (hot water will kill the yeast), slowly add to the flour, mixing with an electric mixer until all the water has been added and the mixture is smooth and slightly frothy – don’t do this for too long!!!
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave it in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size and looks frothy.
- When the batter is about ready, first make the syrup by adding all the ingredients into a small saucepan, bringing to the boil, and simmering for about 5 minutes or until lightly thickened. Keep warm to serve with the donuts.
- To deep fry the donuts, you can use a deep-fryer or a deep saucepan. Fill with vegetable oil and heat to very hot but not smoking.
- Take a teaspoon, dipping it in water first to prevent the mixture sticking, then take a teaspoon of mixture and drop it in the hot oil. Cook about 6-8 donuts at a time, depending on the size of your fryer.
- The Loukoumades will puff up and rise to the top of the oil very quickly. Turn them over and as they turn golden, take them out with a slotted spoon and place on some absorbent paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
- Serve hot Loukoumades drizzled with extra honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon.
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