Classics Day

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Each spring, Classics Day brings together the Latin and Greek students for an all-day celebration of Greek and Roman culture and history. It features a Roman Triumph, a declamation contest by tenth graders, and our annual Aloysius B. McCabe '45 Lecture. Last year, our speaker was C. Brian Rose, curator in charge of the Mediterranean section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This year's event will take place on Thursday, February 27, and the speaker will be current parent Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Students prepare food for our mid-day feast from countries that touch the Mediterranean Sea. Check below for some wonderful classics recipes.

We move from lunch in the Social Room to the Meetinghouse for the Latin History declamation contest. Each year, the Latin History students (tenth graders) divide into two groups reenact a debate in the Senate. The twelfth graders judge the debate. Will they be swayed by the tenth graders' arguments or by the Roman-style bribes of candy and flowers? While the seniors deliberate, we move back to the Social Room for games and performances by students in Latin and Greek classes of all levels. Finally, we hear the seniors' decision, honor the seniors who are soon to leave us, and the day is done. With comic entertainment, thoughtful debate and delectable food, Classics Day is a yearly reminder of the vibrancy of life in the ancient world.

Parents are welcome to attend any or all of these events, and we are greatly indebted to those who help us serve the lunch. Parents who are interested in helping with the Feast, please contact Julie Marren.

Classics Day Recipes

Cooking with Filo

Cooking with filo

Filo (or phyllo, or any variation thereon: since it is transliterated from the Greek, creative spellings abound) can be bought in many supermarkets, especially those which cater to a Yuppy clientele. It is usually in the frozen foods department. Stores which sell filo usually also carry feta in the dairy department. The Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop, Caruso's, and Pelham Plaza Market all carry both; for those who live downtown or frequent the Italian market, Bitar's, at approximately 1000 S. Tenth Street, carries these and a variety of other Middle Eastern specialties. Any Middle Eastern, Greek, or Armenian market should also carry both. The fresher the filo is, the easier it is to use, which is why it may be worth while seeking out a specialty grocery to buy it.

The key to using filo is to keep it moist. Move fast. Don't let a few shreds or tears bother you (there are always so many layers that the tears on one layer can be concealed by the integrity of the next). If you are interrupted, cover the filo with a damp dish towel. If you have left-over filo, wrap it carefully in tinfoil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until the next time you use it (which should be soon). If you are making Tiropites or Spanakopites, recruit friends and relatives to help you (anyone 8 or over is capable). Spankopita can also be made as a casserole, following approximately the technique used for baklava, but omitting the honey syrup.

Tiropites

Tiropites
1 pkg. Greek filo (strudel dough)

Melted butter (1 stick or more) 

1 lb. Feta cheese 

1/4 cup grated Parmesan 

2 eggs

Lots of black pepper

Chopped oregano

Olive oil

Combine cheeses, eggs, pepper, oregano, and a spoonful or two of olive oil. Working quickly so the filo won't dry out, take one sheet, fold in half, and brush with melted butter (use one of those pastry brushes which look like paint brushes). Fold in half again, and brush with more butter. Place a spoonful of the cheese filling in one corner, and fold up into triangles, following the diagram on the reverse. Brush with more butter and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, or until nicely browned.

 
PLEASE DO NOT USE PEANUT OIL OR OTHER PEANUT PRODUCTS.
 Some students have peanut allergies, whose effects can be fatal.

Spanakopites

Spanakopites
2 pkg. filo

2 lb. fresh spinach 

3 tablespoons olive oil 

1 1/2 cups chopped onions 

1 1/2 cup butter (or more) 

5 eggs, beaten 

1/2 cup chopped scallions, inc. green

1/2 lb. feta, crumbled

1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dry dill
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley


Pepper to taste. Stem and wash spinach thoroughly. Chop coarsely and cook in olive oil until wilted. Brown onions in 1/2 cup (or less) butter. Combine spinach and onions with eggs, scallions, cheese, dill, parsley, and pepper. Fill filo and bake as for tiropites.
.

Baklava

Baklava
1 1/2 cups sugar 

1 1/2 cups water 

2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon) 

3/4 cup honey 

3 cups finely chopped nuts 

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups melted butter
1 pkg. filo

 

Boil sugar, water, and lemon juice together, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in honey and set aside.Combine nuts and spices. Use a pan approximately 16 x 11 x 1 inch. Butter lightly. Spread 1/3 of the filo in the bottom of the pan, leaf by leaf, brushing each leaf with butter. Spread 1/2 of the nut mixture over this. Repeat with 1/3 of the filo, brushing with butter as before, and the other 1/2 of the nut mixture. If the edges of the filo are hanging over the sides of the pan, fold them neatly in over the nut mixture at this point. Spread the remaining 1/3 of the filo over the top, brushing with butter as before, but this time fold each leaf neatly so it exactly fits the pan. With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into squares or diamonds approximately 2 inches square. Do not cut all the way through the bottom layer. Pour any remaining butter over top. Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 30 minutes or more (the recipe says 1 to 1 1/4 hours, but it usually only takes about 30 minutes in my oven), till golden brown. Remove from oven and pour syrup over top. Cool in pan on rack.

Meatballs Smyrna Style

Meat balls-Smyrna style
1.5 lb. lean ground lamb or beef

3 oz. onions, very finely chopped

1 small glove garlic, very finely chopped

2 oz. bread crumbs or crackermeal

2 eggs roughly beaten
1/
4 teaspoon cinnamon

Salt & pepper to taste
.
Mint & chopped parsley (optional)

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon anise

Place the ground meat in a large mixing bowl and add the chopped onions, garlic, and seasonings. Mix together with a large fork and then work in the beaten eggs. Sprinkle in the crumbs and mix them in well. When the mixture is completely blended, form it into small balls about the size of crabapples. Place these in a frying pan with hot fat and brown lightly. Set the half-cooked balls in a shallow baking dish and cover with a cup of tomato sauce thinned with water. (Dilute sauce until it covers meatballs.) Cook in the lower part of a medium oven for half an hour.

Salada Choriatiki (Country Salad)

Salada Choriatiki (Country Salad)
6 medium tomatoes 

2 cucumbers 

1/2 red onion 

1 doz. black kalamata olives

Minced fresh dill (optional)

1/2 lb. feta cheese, pref. Greek

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar, pref Greek

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Wash & core tomatoes; cut into 3/4 inch chunks. Peel or wash and score cucumbers; cut into quarters lengthwise, seed if desired, and cut into 3/4 inch chunks. Chop onion in 1/2 inch pieces. Arrange vegetables in bowl. Combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, dry mustard, pepper; shake vigorously and pour over vegetables. Garnish with olives, dill, and 1/4 inch slices of feta.

Salada choriatiki is typically made without lettuce; when lettuce is used, it is young leaf lettuce.

Dolmades (Stuffed Grapeleaves)

Dolmades (stuffed grapeleaves)
1 jar grape leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Hot water

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups onions, chopped fine

1/2 cup rice (uncooked)

2 tablespoons chopped dill

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cut currants (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup finely minced lamb
(optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Filling: Heat oil in skillet. Sauté onion till transparent. Add rice and cook 10 minutes. Add parsley, dill, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool slightly before stuffing leaves.

Leaves: Grape leaves, brine-packed in jar, are thin and tightly packed. Wash in several waters, or they will taste bitter. Then lay leaves flat. In center of each leaf, shiny surface down, place 1-3 tsps. of filling. Fold like envelope and roll. Do not roll too tightly, as rice swells. Line bottom of shallow pan with torn or extra leaves (that way, if the bottom burns, the stuffed leaves will be protected). Place stuffed leaves in pan, side by side. Sprinkle with lemon juice and oil and half cover with hot water. Place a cover or dish over rolls to prevent opening. Cover pan. Simmer 35 min. or until rice is done and liquid absorbed. Allow to cool in pan. Serve chilled, with wedges of lemon. Garnish with Kalamata or black olives.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio
2 lb. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1/2 cup white wine

Salt & pepper

1 lb. macaroni

3 eggs, beaten

Grated cheese

Olive oil

4 cups bechamel sauce (made with 2 tablespoons each butter & flour per cup of milk)

Sauté the onions and garlic in 4 tbsp. olive oil until golden brown; add ground beef and parsley and cook until meat is browned. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, wine, and tomato sauce; simmer till wine is absorbed.

Meanwhile, boil the macaroni in salted water according to directions on package. When cooked, drain and toss with olive oil, beaten eggs, and a generous sprinkling of grated cheese. Mix well.

Spread half of the macaroni in the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan. Cover evenly with the meat sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Spread remaining macaroni over meat. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with bechamel sauce and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated cheese, dot with butter, and sprinkle very deliberately with a few pinches of cinnamon.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and cut into 3" squares.

Kotopoulo Lemonato (Lemon Chicken)

Kotopoulo lemonato
 (Lemon chicken)
1 (3 lb.) chicken

Potatoes for 4 people

Juice of 2 large lemons

1 cup olive oli

Salt & pepper to taste

Clean & wash the chicken. Sprinkle it with salt & pepper (inside & out, if cooking a whole chicken), and place it in a roasting pan. Peel & wash the potatoes, spread them around the chicken in the roasting pan, and pour the lemon juice over all. Add the oil and 2 cups water. Roast in the oven for 1 hour (around 350° or 400°), turning and basting frequently.
NOTE: either have the butcher cut the chicken up before cooking, disjointing the legs and thighs and quartering the breasts, or cut the chicken up after cooking. Arrange the chicken and potato in a suitable serving dish and pour the cooking juices over all.

DO NOT BRING THE CHICKEN TO SCHOOL WITHOUT CUTTING IT INTO SERVING PIECES FIRST.

Moussaka

Moussaka
1 medium-sized eggplant

Olive oil (lots!)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3/4 lb. ground lamb or beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Dash cinnamon

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/3 cups milk

1 or 2 eggs

2/3 cups ricotta or cream cheese

Nutmeg
Bread crumbs

Parmesan

1. Peel the eggplant and cut in slices about 1/3 inch thick, Place in a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl, sprinkle generously with salt, toss, and let stand for about 30 minutes. Dry and sauté in a generous amount of olive oil. You will need to add more olive oil for each batch of eggplant.
2. Sauté the onion until brown in about 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add the ground meat and cook until brown. Skim off fat. Add the tomato paste, wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. (If you don't want to open a new can of tomato paste, you can peel and chop a tomato or even, in the depths of the winter, substitute ketchup—you just need a little tomato taste & color.) Simmer slowly till liquid is absorbed and remove from fire.
3. Preheat oven to 375°.
4. Make a white sauce: melt 2 tbsp. butter, stir in 2 tbsp. flour until smooth. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Break the egg(s) into a small bowl and beat until frothy; stir into the white sauce. Add nutmeg and ricotta or cottage cheese.
5. Grease a 3-qt. casserole. Sprinkle the bottom with bread crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of sautéed eggplant and meat mixture, sprinkling each layer with bread crumbs and Parmesan. Pour cheese sauce over top. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, until top is golden. Remove from heat and cool twenty to thirty minutes before serving.
NB: believe it or not, this is actually even better eaten at room temperature the next day.