Sharing culture through food is the Lebanese way.

Just ask the parishioners of St. Ann Maronite Church, who host their Lebanese Heritage Festival to give others the chance to taste the culture’s cuisine.

This year, guests can sample the Mediterranean delights at the event on Sunday, Sept. 26, from noon to 7 p.m. at the church, 1320 Price St., Scranton. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, food will be pre-packaged and available for takeout only. Preorders are not required, but those who want to order in advance can call 570-344-2129 or email StAnnScranton@aol.com.

Festival food co-chairwomen Mary Theresa Mackarey Fielding and Maria Deeb Ligorio, along with numerous volunteers, have worked hard over the past few weeks to make the delicacies for the annual festival, a 25-year tradition in the church that’s still going strong.

With so many delicious dishes to choose from, the festival’s homemade Macroons stood out. Sometimes spelled “ma’kroons,” the treat is flaky and buttery, similar to a pie crust, Fielding said, and dipped in a rosewater and lemon syrup. The dessert — which earned the festival organizers a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore — usually sells out at the festival, even though they make upwards of 600 cookies.

In addition to thousands of assorted pastries, the event also features Kibbeh, Grape Leaves, Hummus, pastries, Lebanese green beans served over rice pilaf, Fattoush, Cucumbers and Yogurt, and more, she said.

The festival aims to give all who attend a heaping taste of Lebanese culture while also benefiting the church. Its new priest, the Rev. Anton Youssef (aka “Father Tony”), took over less than a year ago, Fielding said, and parishioners are working hard to ensure the church is in the best shape it can be.

Fielding added that sharing beloved recipes with the community remains the most important part, though. Residents know and love many of the Lebanese dishes that will be served at the event thanks to the success of parishioners’ restaurants, including the Garden Mediterranean Cafe and Savory Mazza, both in Scranton, and the New Cafe in Clarks Summit. And they are happy to support a good cause along the way.

“They know those cherished recipes,” Fielding said. “They know it’s all homemade and a family recipe, every single one of them.”

 

St. Ann Maronite Church’s Macroons

For the cookie:

  • 5 pounds flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups blended oil, warm
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups warm water

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and oil with hands (consistency should be like pie crust).
  2. Add yeast to warm water and mix. Add to dough and mix lightly. (Do not overmix or knead.) Shape into golf ball-sized pieces and flatten into circles.

For nut mixture:

  • 2 pounds ground walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater

Directions:

  1. Mix together.
  2. Fill dough circles with 1 tablespoon ground walnuts. Shape with hands and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.

For syrup:

  • 5 pounds sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater

Directions:

  1. Boil sugar and water for 15 to 20 minutes. Add lemon juice and rosewater.
  2. Dip macroons in syrup and dust with sugar.