When the late Dorothy Abda’s daughters make their mom’s beloved Baklava recipe, they feel her love.

Abda put her heart and soul into the baked goods she made for the family. And those daughters, Karen Abda Kane of Clarks Summit and Kathie Abda Barrett of Scott Twp., always were in the kitchen with her, helping her create different kinds of desserts.

Abda also made goodies for their church,St. Joseph Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in West Scranton, where she served as president of the church’s ladies committee for years. Kane and Barrett carry on their mom’s legacy by making Baklava, among other treats, with fellow parishioners for the church’s annual food festival.

While COVID-19 forced the church to downsize this year’s event, it will still host aLebanese-American Mini Food Festival on Friday, Aug. 7, and Saturday, Aug. 8, from 4 to 9p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 9, from 1 to 7p.m. outside of the church, 130 N. St. Frances Cabrini Ave.

Volunteers will have all kinds of Middle Eastern fare for purchase, including the sisters’ family recipe for Baklava, which earned the church a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore, through Local Flavor Gives Back.

The recipe is straightforward, but Barrett advised bakers to be patient with the filo dough and make sure they cover each layer in butter since it’s delicate to work with. Many Lebanese families’ recipes for Baklava differ, Barrett said, including the syrup’s ingredients. While some recipes call for rosewater or honey, theirs calls for sugar, water and lemon for a tart, sweet flavor that perfectly complements the walnuts. The syrup must be cold when poured over the baklava, the sisters said.

In addition to Baklava, menu items for the food fest include homemade Stuffed Grape Leaves, Chicken and Beef Kebabs, Tabouli, Hummus, Yogurt and Rice, Spinach Pies and Meat Pies, plus desserts such as Shredded Wheat and Farina. There also will be hamburgers, hot dogs, potato pancakes, Pizza Frita and more.

Guests can place orders for pickup by calling 570-343-6092 or by visiting the church’s Facebook page or website. They also can order in person at the festival.

Everyone in attendance must follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and masks will be required. All attendees also must practice social distancing guidelines. Volunteers will follow protocol as well, the sisters said.

Each year, the event serves as a major fundraiser for the church as well as a way for its parishioners to come together with each other and their families. Kane said both hers and Barrett’s children, and now even their grandchildren, help out with baking for the event.

“It’s a very small church, and it’s a big part of our family’s life and all of our lives,” Kane said. “This is our way of showing how much it means to us.”


If you go
What: Lebanese-American Mini Food Festival
When: Friday, Aug. 7, and Saturday, Aug. 8, 4 to 9p.m.; Sunday, Aug 9, 1 to 7p.m.
Where: St. Joseph Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, 130 N. St. Frances Cabrini Ave., Scranton
Details: Call 570-343-6092 or visit melkite.scranton.org or facebook.com/melkitescranton.


Karen Abda Kane’s and Kathie Abda Barrett’s Baklava
  • For syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Half of a lemon, sliced
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon slices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. (Should make 2 1/2 cups simple syrup; syrup must be cold.
  • For baklava:
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 (1-pound) boxes filo dough sheets, thawed
  • Prepare 15 1/2-inch-by-11 1/2-inch-by-3-inch baking pan by spreading a small amount of melted butter in the pan. Open one box of filo dough and place one sheet at a time in pan, buttering each individual sheet. Spread walnuts on top. Open the second box of filo dough and place one sheet at a time over walnut layer, buttering each individual sheet. (Do not butter the top sheet of filo.) Cut dough diagonally, 2 inches apart on both sides, forming diamond-shaped pieces. Butter each piece. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately pour cold syrup over each piece.