Czech recipes of all types are fun for me to make and eat. December 2021 I joined Sokol San Francisco for their Christmas cookie webinar. It was a wonderful class and I chose to make the Vanilkove Rohlicky. The burst of lemon in every bite is so refreshing and delicious. The substitution of almonds for walnuts was delicious as well. I’ve attached a link to the full YouTube video to enjoy!
CZECH VANILKOVE ROHLICKY
240 g flour, sifted
180 g butter, room temperature (increase by 2 tbsp. if using almonds)
120 g ground walnuts (I used almonds)
60 g sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
vanilla sugar & confectioner’s sugar for coating
Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
Grind nuts to course texture.
Mix ground nuts with sifted flour, egg yolks, sugar and butter (cut into smaller pieces). Add lemon zest. (My cookies were a little dry, so I added juice of 1/2 a lemon).
Work into smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days ahead of baking.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each into a strand about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut the strand into small equal-size pieces (about 1/2 inch).
Roll each piece into a ball then flatten between your hands. Press side of cookie inward to make a crescent shape. Don’t make them too long and skinny since they will break very easily.
Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Let cool slightly, but still warm, roll each crescent in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar mixed with vanilla sugar. You can also sift the sugar mixture over the baked cookies.
Our family stories are filled with memories of great good, many of which are family traditions handed down from our ancestors. Vianočka is a Czech/Slovak Christmas bread, similar to other Christmas breads that I enjoyed in my childhood. My Mother and later myself, would make a Norwegian version Julakake.
Global Slovakia hosted an online cooking class last December taught by Lenka of wanderingsenses.com, walking through the making of this delicious, light bread. This was the first time I ever braided a bread. It wasn’t perfect, but pretty good for a first attempt. As I was making, and later eating, this bread, it made me wonder if this was a bread that my Czech and Slovak ancestors would have made.
500g all-purpose or pastry flour
220-250g whole milk, at room temperature
30g fresh yeasts or 12g active dry yeasts
100g sugar, white
110g butter, unsalted, melted and cooled down
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 whole egg, at room temperature
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons rum-soaked raisins, optional
1 tablespoon almond slices
1 whole egg, for egg wash
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Start with pre-hydrating your yeasts. In a small bowl combine together 100g of milk with 20g of sugar. Heat it up until warm (not boiling) and stir a couple times to dissolve the sugar. Mix in 12g of dry or 30g of fresh yeasts, cover the bowl with a clean towel/ clean plate and let it rest for ~ 10 minutes until frothy
2. In a meantime, in the bowl of your standing mixer or in any bigger mixing bowl combine together 500g of flour (sift the flour into the bowl), 80g of sugar, 8g of salt and zest from 1 lemon. Mix well with a spoon or whisk. Pour in 120g of milk (eventually you might add another 20-30g of Milk, depending on the texture of the dough), 110g of melted butter, 2 egg yolks, 1 whole egg and yeasts mixture. Start kneading the dough with a hook attachment or with your hand for approximately 8-10 minutes until fully incorporated, smooth, silky and not sticking to your hands or to the sides of your standing mixer. Try to resist from adding unnecessary extra flour to the dough. After a few minutes of kneading you’ll start strengthening a gluten and the dough will become more elastic and less sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plate and let it prove in a warm place for next 60-90 minutes or until double in size
3. Once the dough is well proved, it’s time to shape Vianočka. Divide the dough into 5 equal-size balls and if you’re using Rum-soaked raisins, divide them equally and incorporate into individual doughs at this stage. Roll each of 5 dough balls out into five equal-length coils (long ~ 40cm/ 16 inch). Braid 3 coils together into a tail and transfer it carefully on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Twist rest two coils around each other and place them on top of the three-coil tail and tackle to hold together. Cover your Vianočka with a clean towel and let it prove for the the second time for ~ 45 minutes to one hour
4. To bake Vianočka, preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit/ 200° Celsius. Brush your bread generously with an Egg Wash and sprinkle your Vianočka with some Almond Slices. Place it into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375° Fahrenheit/ 190° Celsius. Bake for ~ 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of your Vianočka Once baked, let it cool down, dust with some Powdered Sugar (if preferred), slice and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee by itself or with a butter & jam on top
Cabbage must be a part of my Czech/Slovak DNA because I love cabbage and sauerkraut. Cabbage rolls are so delicious, but I don’t have the desire to make the rolls, just enjoy the savory ingredients. This recipe was just what I was looking for. Even my 3-year-old granddaughter likes it. She must have inherited that piece of my DNA as well!
I made half of a recipe and used half ground pork and half ground beef, no veal.
Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage
1 cup uncooked white rice (or any rice of your choice)
2 pounds green cabbage, cleaned, cored and cut into two-inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces raw bacon diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tart red wine such as Merlot
1 pound lean ground beef (90/10)
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal (if you can’t get ground veal, increase ground pork to one pound)
3 cups tomato juice (or for a more intense flavor, use V-8)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry thyme
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup drained sauerkraut
Cook rice according to package directions. Try to time the rice so that it finishes cooking as the preparation of the dish nears the end. If rice is finishes too soon, fluff and leave at room temperature to cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch cabbage chunks for five minutes. Drain, cool and set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, place olive oil and bacon and cook until bacon is almost browned, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add onions and sauté for three minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add red wine and deglaze the pan.
Move the cooked onion mixture to the edges of the pan and place all three meats into the center. Keep moving the meat around to brown and slowly work in onion mixture until the meat is fully browned.
Add tomato juice, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Reduce to medium and simmer for five minutes.
Add in sauerkraut, cooked rice and cooked cabbage. Bring back up to heat and simmer for five more minutes.
Iowa Chops in the Slow Cooker has become one of my go-to recipes. It’s easy to prepare and simmer throughout the day. Serve with steamed baby potatoes or boiled perogies. I also served with roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts. The pork is so fork-tender and will melt in your mouth.
Iowa Chops in the Slow Cooker
4 Iowa chops (thick boneless pork chops–I get mine at Costco)
Sauerkraut Soup is a wonderful winter meal, reminding me of my Czech roots and of my Mother’s homemade sauerkraut. I’m obsessed with trying new recipes, particularly those of my family roots.
I have followed TresBohemes.com for some time and enjoy their stories and recipes. This one is delicious and easy to make. As they say in the Czech Republic, Dobrou chuť (Enjoy Your Meal)!
SIMPLE SAUERKRAUT SOUP
1/2 tablespoon duck fat (you can use butter or olive oil if you prefer)
1 Polish Kielbasa, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 jar sauerkraut (lightly rinsed and drained)
1 cup fresh cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
water to cover
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
In a large soup pot, melt the duck fat over medium heat.
Add the klobasa and cook until lightly browned.
While the klobasa is cooking, peel and cut the potatoes.
Once the potatoes are diced, add them to the pot.
Next add the sauerkraut and fresh cabbage.
Stir everything together.
Now add the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Stir again and then add water until all of the ingredients are covered (you may add more or less water depending on how thick you like your soup).
Next raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
Once the soup has reached a boil reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
The soup is finished when the potatoes and cabbage are soft.
To thicken the soup slightly and to give it a creamier texture, I like to make a rue once the soup is cooked.
To make the rue, cook the flour in a small pan over high heat, stirring continually, until it turns a light brown color. Then add the butter, continuing to stir the mixture until it forms a thick golden paste. At this point you should remove the pan from the heat.
Now add a ladle of the soup liquid into the rue and stir it until combined. Repeat this step until the rue has thinned in consistency. Once you have added 3 or 4 ladles of the soup liquid to the rue, you may pour the rue into the soup and stir to combine.
Serve garnished with a spoon of sour cream and a slice of Czech rye bread.
Hot Mulled Wine reminds me of Christmas, Madrigal dinners, and travel. The aroma of the simmering wine is wonderful and sipping it is even better. While my paternal line is Czech, mulled wine was not a tradition in our home.
Wishing you a Veselé Vánoce (Merry Christmas) andŠťastný Nový Rok! (Happy New Year)
2 bottles of red wine (we use Cabernet Sauvignon)
5-6 cinnamon sticks
6-8 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
4-6 star anise
zest of one tangerine (use fruit)
zest of one lemon (discard fruit)
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup raisins
tangerine slices from zested tangerine
2 apples, sliced (we used green apples)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raw honey
1 cup apple cider (optional)
2 Tbsp. Czech Rum (I used Cointreau)
Combine all ingredients in a simmering pot. Simmer until hot. Serve.
There are folks who ladle it into a cup, fruits and all, but we prefer to strain it and just serve the hot wine with a cinnamon stick in the cup as a garnish.
It is at it’s best when served immediately after mulling but this delicious drink will keep fairly hot even when taken off the heat for about 30 minutes. The leftover mulled wine (if you have any) can be reheated in a saucepan on the stovetop. If you wish to keep some for the next day, allow it to cool completely and then pour into glass bottle or mason jar, closing tightly and refrigerating.
Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots. Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy. It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.
The Slovak Honey Cookies are traditional Christmas treats and I had to try them. They are very similar to our traditional Gingerbread cookies, using honey instead of Molasses. They are absolutely delicious and a new favorite for the holidays.
SLOVAK HONEY COOKIES
3 cups (400 g) plain flour
1 cup (140 g) icing sugar
4 tbsp (60 g) butter softened
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix
3 tbsp clear honey
Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Line a baking tray with paper.
Sift together the flour, icing sugar, soda bicarbonate and spices.
Add butter and honey to the dry ingredients along with the eggs, and mix well to form a soft dough.
Wrap in a cling film and leave overnight in the refrigerator to chill.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of half a centimeter.
Cut out with your desired cookie cutter and place well apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with icing if you wish.
1 egg white
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Whisk the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.
Add more sugar if needed and have patience.
Spoon your icing into a sandwich bag, twist the bag tightly until the icing wedges into one corner, and then poke or cut a tiny hole into the corner. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before beginning to decorate.
Over the past year, I have tried several versions of Hungarian/Slovak/Czech Goulash. This recipe used pork and a lot of paprika and marjoram. At first I was hesitant to use that much spice but, trust me, it’s worth it. This flavorful Goulash soup is wonderful paired with a crusty bread.
1 ¼ lb. pork shoulder (you may substitute with beef or use half pork and half beef) into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. lard or cooking oil
2 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tbsp. ground caraway seeds
1 tbsp. marjoram
12 oz. potatoes
1 medium carrot diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 medium parsley root diced (I substituted 1 chopped red pepper)
1 large tomato chopped (I substituted a 16 oz. can diced tomatoes)
1.5 liter (or 4.2 cups) water
Salt and pepper
Heat oil or lard in a large pot and cook the onions until translucent.
Add the meat and fry until it is pale brown and sealed.
Add parsley, carrot, celeriac, paprika, marjoram tomato and simmer over low heat until the meat is half cooked. (I added garlic at this point vs. later
Add water and simmer gently for another 30-40 minutes.
Add potatoes and cook for further 10-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
At the very end, add the crushed garlic and cook for another minutes.
Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Cabbage Pie is a new recipe, similar to a Frittata. I had cabbage that I needed to use and the other ingredients were on hand. What a simple, delicious recipe. It’s easy to imagine my ancestors making a similar dish from these simple ingredients. I did not add cheese to my pie. Next time I would experiment with different cheeses herbs, and bacon. It’s wonderful served with a fresh sliced tomato from the garden!
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
one small onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup flour
Shredded cheese (optional)
Combine sliced cabbage and onion in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Beat 3 eggs and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over cabbage and onions.
Add flour to cabbage mixture and stir to combine.
Add sunflower or canola oil to a non stick pan. Heat oil over medium heat. Add cabbage mixture. Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil. Place wooden cutting board (or heavy flat pan) on top of skillet.
Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove cutting board and foil. Flip cabbage pie onto plate and place other side down in pan. Optional: Sprinkle top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.
Remove from pan. Slice into wedges and serve.
Optional: Top with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onion.
Chlebíčky are open-faced sandwiches served in the Czech Republic. The sandwiches include meat, cheese and vegetables and are meant to be eaten in a few small bites. Think of them as an appetizer, often served with wine or beer.
Czech hospitality is like a warm hug from your Babicka, or Grandma. While visiting the Czech Republic and visiting my ancestors villages, we were almost always asked to enter their home and enjoy a treat, be it Chlebíčky, pastry, dandelion tea, or even a little sip (or two) of Slivovice.
Our Colorado Czech/Slovak/Rusyn Genealogy Group used to gather once a quarter (before COVID), often sharing Czech treats. I made Chlebíčky for one of our potlucks, using recipes from Czechcookbook.com. They are easy to make and you can customize the ingredients to your liking. I’ve included links at the bottom to the recipes as well as a link to more information on the history of these delightful bites!
Czech Spread (vlašský salát) (Recipe follows)
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced cheese (baby swiss)
hardboiled eggs, sliced
dill pickles, sliced
bell peppers, cut into strips
cheese for grating
Czech Spread – Vlašský salát
3 small potatoes (13 oz.)
10 mini carrots or 2 medium (4-5oz)
2 pickles (preferably dill pickles)
1 tsp pickle juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
little bit pepper
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/3 cup canned peas
4 oz. bologna or ham
1 cup mayo