Elaine Daravingas attributes her love for cooking and baking to her mother, who patiently instructed her as an 11-year-old, especially in the art of baking pies. Her grandmother had a successful catering business, so love of cooking is probably in the genes.
Daravingas’ love of Greek cooking, however, came from her mother-in-law, and her husband patiently gave his new bride Greek cooking lessons on Saturdays.
If you go
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 and noon to 7 p.m. Feb. 24
Where: St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 7100 Airport-Pulling Road N., Naples
Cost: Admission is free, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 22 and $4 all other times for adults and free for children younger than 12. There is a charge for food and the vendors.
Daravingas is the first vice president of the Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church and is in line to be the president in May. The current president, Jeannie Manos, had the idea for the cookbook “Heavenly Delights,” which will be available for $20 at the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church Festival, a full weekend of Greek food treats, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 and noon to 7 p.m. Feb. 24. The festival is at the church at 7100 Airport-Pulling Road, North Naples.
The book also may be ordered by sending a check for $25 ($5 is for shipping) made payable to Ladies Philoptochos Society of
St. Katherine Church and sent to St. Katherine Philoptochos Society at 7100 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples, FL 34109. Call 239-777-3345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Daravingas answered questions about her cooking and gave us her recipe for papoutsakia, a rich eggplant dish, that is in the cookbook:
Naples Daily News: Do you use a cookbook or do you have your own recipes?
Elaine Daravingas: I use a cookbook but often improvise on a recipe to make it my own. Both my husband and I worked in the food industry. When eating out, it was almost a hobby to analyze the ingredients of an appetizer, sauce, entree, etc. and try to duplicate it at home.
NDN: What recipes did you contribute to the “Heavenly Delights” cookbook?
ED: Papoutsakia, chicken tigania, manitaropita (mushroom pie) and vasilopita (St. Basil’s New Year’s cake).
NDN: What is your favorite thing to make?
ED: Pitas. Northern Greece, where my husband was born, is especially known for a variety of pitas (phyllo pies) which are usually entrees. Pitas are layered, buttered, phyllo top and bottom crusts with a variety of fillings such as chicken, meat, spinach, cheese or zucchini.
NDN:Have you ever taken any formal cooking or baking classes?
ED: I haven’t taking any formal cooking classes.
NDN: What is your perfect meal?
ED: Appetizer is shrimp saganaki, then a Greek salad with fresh baked kalamata olive bread, an entree of roasted leg of lamb with oven potatoes served with spanakopita as a side. Dessert would be galatoboureko (custard baked in phyllo) with honey syrup.
Here is a recipe from the cookbook and one of Daravingas’ favorites:
PAPOUTSAKIA (Little Shoes)
3-4 medium eggplants
Olive oil, for frying
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup wine
½-¾ pound feta cheese, crumbles
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Oregano and or Greek seasoning, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cake flour; she uses Wondra
3-4 cups milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ pound feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Soak in cold salt water for one to two hours and rinse.
2 Fry each half on both sides until golden in color. Drain on a paper towel.
3 With the back of a spoon, press the eggplant down until you have a deep pocket. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a little to form the pocket. Eggplant that is removed can be chopped and added to the sauce.
4 Place eggplants in a baking dish.
1 Sautée onion in a little olive oil; add ground beef and brown.
2 Add tomato sauce, wine, oregano, Greek seasoning, parsley, and pepper and simmer for about half an hour to 45 minutes to blend flavors. Take care when adding salt, since feta will be salty.
3 Add pieces of feta cheese to the sauce and mix.
1 Melt butter and blend in flour, stirring continuously until blended.
2 Add milk a little at a time until the mixture is a smooth, thick consistency.
3 Remove it from heat and beat the sauce with an electric mixer.
4 Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
5 Add nutmeg and pepper.
6 Remove the bowl from the mixer and add crumbled feta to the béchamel. (Since feta can be salty, adjust salt accordingly).
1 Fill the eggplants in the baking dish generously with the meat sauce.
2 Top each filled eggplant with béchamel.
3 Add a few crumbles of feta to the top of each
4 Bake for one hour in a preheated 350-degree oven and serve.