Congregant Cuisine

by Cole Dittmer

While the parishioners of St. Pauls Episcopal Church may nourish their souls at service every Sunday morning, the nourishment of the body takes place just down the hall.

Every week without fail the table in the center of the large parish hall at St. Pauls Episcopal Church is decorated with a cornucopia of appetizers, sandwiches, fruits and desserts. The women behind the spread are dedicated volunteers organized into eight teams of six or seven by their ringleader, Virginia Chiarello.

Chiarello took over the Sunday lunch from its founder, Jere Lewis, who has since retired from the churchs kitchens. However, a sign still hangs above the kitchen window that reads: Jeres Place.

It is a labor of love and you have to have good people, Chiarello says. If I didnt have good teams it wouldnt happen. I have been here since 1991 and we have never missed serving Sunday lunch.

Staples for the lunch table include fruit plates, chicken salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, Brie spread, spanakopita, cranberry almond bars, an assortment of desserts, and white grape and ginger ale punch. Each dish is created by one of the members of the team on duty that week and some come from the churchs cookbook, Sharing Our Best.

The placement of each dish around the table is premeditated as Chiarello has discovered what order helps move the line of 130 along each Sunday.

You cant get to know each other sitting in church, she says. Around this table and in this parish hall is where we built St. Pauls.

Parishioners young and old spend about an hour after Sunday service mingling and conversing over the spread produced by the volunteers and Chiarello says she loves watching new bonds form while sharing the food they prepare every week.

If people just come here for the food that is fine too but we really hope they nourish their spirit and then have the food, Chiarello says. It gathers people and it is a place for people to meet and greet, and that is what has allowed the relationships in this church to be built so well.

 

JoAnn Summeys Raspberry Almond Bars

1/2 cup butter

1 12 oz. package white chocolate chips, divided

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 cup sliced almonds

 

Melt better and one half the package of white chocolate chips. Beat eggs in a small mixing bowl until foamy. Beat in sugar. Stir in chip mixture and almond extract until combined. Combine flour and salt, and add to egg mixture. Put one half of the batter into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Melt jam in a small saucepan over low heat. Spread melted jam over warm crust. Stir remaining white chocolate chips into the remaining half of the batter and drop teaspoon-sized portions over the jam layer. Sprinkle almonds on top and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.

 

Cheryl Wagoners Deviled Eggs

 

3 dozen eggs

1 cup low fat Hellmans mayonnaise

1 cup pickle relish

1 tsp. dry mustard powder

pinch of salt

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

paprika

 

Boil eggs, cool and cut in half. Scoop out yolks and put into mixing bowl. Mix mayonnaise, relish, mustard powder, salt and onion together. Add yolks and mix together. Put yolk mixture into Ziploc bag. Cut one corner of bag, pipe yolk mixture into egg white halves. Sprinkle tops of deviled eggs with paprika.

 

 

Mark & Cheryl Wagoners Cucumber  Sandwiches

 

1 medium cucumber

1 package cream cheese, room temperature

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried dill

3 stems fresh dill

white bread with crust removed

fresh dill and sliced cucumbers for garnish, optional

 

Wash, peel and seed cucumber. Cut into quarters. Add cucumber, cream cheese, mayonnaise, salt and dill to food processor. Pulse just until all ingredients are incorporated. Refrigerate filling. Make sandwiches on white bread. Cut into rounds or triangles if desired.

 

Spanakopita

 

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds fresh spinach rinsed and well chopped (or two 10 oz. packages premium chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained well in a colander, water squeezed out)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 package phyllo dough, thawed

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1 1/4 cup unsalted butter

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a flat baking pan or cookie sheet.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saut? onion and garlic just until soft. Stir in spinach and continue to saut? until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. (If using thawed frozen spinach skip this step; spinach does not need precooking.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Drain any excess water.

In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta and feta. Stir in spinach mixture.

Lay out 1 sheet of phyllo dough and brush lightly with butter. Fold the sheet over long way, brush again. Fold sheet again until you have about a 4-inch strip of dough. Put a spoonful of spinach and cheese mixture in one corner, fold the pastry over to enclose the filling to form a triangle. Now fold upwards to form another triangle. Repeat this process and continue folding like a flag until you reach the end and place in pan. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough repeat process.

Arrange the triangles 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Butter tops of each triangle. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve while hot.

 

 

JoAnne Summeys Brownies

 

4 eggs

1/2 pound butter

4 squares of baking chocolate

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup nuts (optional)

 

Beat eggs until lemon colored. Melt together butter and chocolate. Stir in sugar, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Add 1 cup nuts. Grease and flour pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until top is shiny and firm. Do not over bake.

 


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