Czech Heritage · Family

Chlebíčky — Czech Open Faced Sandwiches

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!

Chlebíčky

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
french bread
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

http://www.czechcookbook.com/czech-spread-vlassky-salat/

Open-Faced Sandwiches – Chlebíčky

https://www.196flavors.com/czech-republic-oblozene-chlebicky/

Czech Heritage · New Favorite

Czech Garlic Soup

I discovered the Czech Cookbook and author, Kristýna Koutná, a few years ago.  I was thrilled when she published her cookbook and I bought it immediately!  It is great fun reading her book and trying new recipes of my Father’s heritage in Bohemia, now, the Czech Republic.

Garlic Soup, or Česneková polévka, sounded interesting to me.  It’s a very simple recipe and full of flavor.  I toasted rye bread for croutons, a delicious addition.   Next time, I will be creative with the recipe,  adding leftover chicken, pork, beef or adding additional vegetables.  It would be a wonderful soup to have when you’re not feeling well. This recipe is definitely a new favorite for the Fork-Lore kitchen.

GARLIC SOUP

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves
7 cups water
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
3 large potatoes
1 tablespoon chicken or beef base (or bouillon)
1 egg
2 teaspoons marjoram
Swiss cheese
Croutons

Instructions are shown in the attached video from CzechCookbook.

Czech Heritage · Holidays

Old Czech Prayer for the New Year

Old traditions, stories and folk lore are precious to me, especially when it comes to my Czech heritage.  While this Prayer is from another time, it brings to mind the challenges of the time, not that much different than today.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy 2019!

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WE EXTEND TO YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May the next year be more fruitful, more peaceful, more full of good health and better than any you’ve known in the past.

May you have all the earthly good which is possible to come from the hand of God.

And in the life hereafter, we wish you the glory of heaven.

And while on this earth, may we be tolerant of each other.

And on the lighter side,

We wish also that all your cows would be fat,

That the milk they give be heavy with cream,

And that your cheeses be as large as a table,

May your yard be full of chickens and geese,

In the springtime may you carry seed in small bags to your fields,

And in the autumn harvest may you require wagons upon wagons to bring in your harvest.

 

Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home · My Roots

Cherry Kolaches, our Christmas Day Tradition

The gifts are wrapped, the house is decorated, and the baking is done. This year I thought I’d take a break from making Kolaches for Christmas Day until I mentioned this to my family. WHAT? BREAKING FROM TRADITION? So, I will not break the tradition and made them today.  The truth is I love them as much as my daughters and their families.

This year I used my Mother’s Foundation sweet dough which she used for cinnamon rolls and Kolaches. My KitchenAid mixer makes easy work of making bread instead of taxing my arthritic wrists. The past several batches of bread I’ve made from standard flour have been too dense, so I decided to try King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour. I loved the result with a very light sweet dough that melts in your mouth.

The cherry filling started with a bucket of frozen sour cherries I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last summer. img_8562

There is nothing better than the taste of those cherries. Truly, I could eat a bowl of the cherry filling and forget the bread dough!

I also make a dozen chocolate kolaches which started as a request by one of son-in-laws, now a family favorite as well.  I simply put chocolate chips (or this year a dove milk chocolate square) in the middle of the dough ball and then pinch it closed.  Let it rise to double in size then bake. When you remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

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Another tradition for our Christmas Day celebration is the Nordic Kringla.  Turns out Kringla is a big hit with my 3 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter.  My 6 week old grandson has yet to weigh in…but next year…

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year!

CHERRY KOLACHES, our Christmas Day Tradition

Mom’s Foundation Sweet Dough

2 cakes (Packages) yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour (I used 6 cups King Arthur Bread Flour)
3 eggs, beaten

  • Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside to soften and rise.
  • Scald milk.  Add shortening, sugar and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour to make a batter.  Add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs, and beat well.
  • Add remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough. Knead lightly and place in greased bowl. Cover and let set in warm place, free from draft.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  • When light, punch dough down and shape in balls about the size of a walnut and place on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 10 minutes
  • When risen, push the centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of your choice).  Let rise again.
  • Bake at preheated 400 degree oven (375 degrees for convectional oven) for about 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter, and food coloring and cook until thickened. (Mixture will be very thick.)  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

Reference:

KOLACHE … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · My Roots

Mushroom Barley Soup

My beloved Czech cookbook given to me by my Mother many years ago had this wonderful recipe. I added leftover prime rib pieces to mine and loved it. It’s easy, it’s hearty, and it’s healthy.

MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup barley

Optional:  chopped cooked beef or chicken

  • Melt butter in large saucepan.
  • Add onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and sauté for about 10 minutes.
  • Add flour and stir; add broth, barley, and protein (optional).
  • Cook for about 40 minutes or until cooked through.
Czech Heritage · Gluten Free · New Traditions · Vegan · Vegetarian

Roasted Cabbage Slices

Several weeks ago a Facebook friend shared a recipe for roasted cabbage and I meant to copy or print it.  Short story, short…I forgot.  This week I was in the mood for roasted cabbage and…no recipe. After a quick Google search, I found a similar recipe from Martha Stewart for Roasted Cabbage Wedges.

The recipe calls for caraway OR fennel seeds and I AM a caraway seed lover but decided to do a few of both. The fennel seeds won, hands down!  The fennel gives a nice touch to the roasted cabbage where I didn’t feel the caraway enhanced the flavor. My Czech ancestors would probably roll over in their graves if they heard me admit that!

Great recipe to pair with pork, Bratwurst or for a vegan dish.

ROASTED CABBAGE SLICES

1 tablespoon plus 2 more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium head green cabbage cut into 1 inch slices
Coarse salt and pepper
1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Place 1 medium head green cabbage cut into 1 inch slices, in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Brush the cabbage slices with 2 tablespoons oil.
  • Season with coarse salt and pepper, then sprinkle with caraway or fennel seeds.
  • Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden, 40-45 minutes.

Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Czech Heritage · My Roots

Sauerkraut Soup

My Czech roots are precious to me and this week I enjoyed a hearty stock of Sauerkraut Soup.  This recipe was one of two recipes my Mother made and she was given this recipe by our dear Bohemian friend, Blanche.

I understand that many families serve a Sauerkraut Soup as a traditional Christmas Eve meal but I enjoy it anytime!

After the rich, sweet treats of the holidays, the hearty sauerkraut soup was a welcome change allowing me to walk down memory lane once again.

SAUERKRAUT SOUP

1 pint sauerkraut (add extra caraway seed if desired)
1 cup finely diced ham
1 quart cooked and drained diced potatoes
1 quart Milk (more or less)
chunk butter
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon of flour
salt and pepper
dill weed garnish (optional)

  • Put enough water on sauerkraut to simmer slowly with ham.
  • When tender, pour milk over and a chunk of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Break egg yolk into small bowl and whisk.
  • Add flour and mix together.
  • Drop small pieces of the dough into the soup until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add cooked, drained potatoes to the soup.
  • Heat until low boil. Serve or cool to serve next day. The flavor is even better the next day!
Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Springtime memories of Mom….gathering and cooking Morel Mushrooms

Mother’s 1968 Morel Mushroom BountyOur Iowa farm was near a large wooded area known as Ferguson’s Timber. This timber was my Mother’s favorite place to hunt those fabulous, spring Morel Mushrooms. She would go to the timber every day she could to hunt and gather the mushrooms to cook, freeze and share with friends and family. My Mother had a keen eye for Morels and taught my sister, brother and I that Morels look like a sponge and are easy to distinguish from other mushrooms; however, she was quick to show us the poisonous ‘false morel’.

1968: I display 2 large morels (love the skinny body and clothes choice!)

Morels are found throughout the midwest and in parts of eastern Europe. My ancestors, in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) would have gathered these mushrooms in the old country and were probably thrilled to learn that they also grew in their new home, Iowa.

There were two primary recipes my Mother served for these small gifts from heaven:

  • Fried Morels:   After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would cut the mushrooms in half, dredge in flour and brown them in butter, adding salt and pepper.  The result was a wonderful browned, crispy, savory Morel.
  • Scrambled Eggs with Morels:  After washing and trimming the mushrooms, Mother would brown the chopped mushrooms in butter until soft then pour beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper, over the mushrooms and cook until hard.   The mushrooms add an earthy, wonderful flavor to ordinary scrambled eggs.

Unfortunately, Colorado is not a natural source for Morels and I have been craving Morels since my Mother became ill in the mid-1990s.  She  would lovingly gather and freeze Morels to cook when I would come home to visit. I was delighted to find dried Morels in our local Savory Spice Shop, www.savoryspiceshop.com.

Dried Morels from Savory Spice Shop
Close up of dried Morels
Reconstituting dried Morels

I have saved these earthy morsels for my spring craving.  Mother’s Day is approaching and it’s time to honor my Mother and this spring family ritual. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The following recipe is adapted my Mother’s recipe using olive oil instead of butter and adding a pinch of Herbs de Provence.  More Morels, please!

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH MOREL MUSHROOMS

Scrambled Eggs with Morels

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2-1 ounce dried Morels, reconstitute per directions (or 1-2 cups fresh Morels), chopped
4 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon water
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of Herbs de Provence

  • Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan.  Add chopped morels and brown for 5 minutes or until cooked through/soft.
Saute Morels
  • Whisk eggs with 1 teaspoon water.  Add salt, pepper and herbs.  Add eggs to mushrooms and cook until eggs are to your liking.
Czech Heritage · Family · My Roots

Mushroom and Barley Soup…a Czech winter delight!

My Czech heritage is fascinating to me.  My Mother gave me The Czech Book Recipes and Traditions in 1982 and it has become a treasure.  The Mushroom and Barley Soup is a favorite of mine.  You can add meat, or if vegetarian, leave it out.  It’s a hearty, healthy winter soup that makes me even more curious about the Smaha Czech heritage.  Požívat! (enjoy)

MUSHROOM AND BARLEY SOUP
Houbová Polévka as Kroupama

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washing, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups chicken broth or beef broth
1/2 cup pealed medium barley
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken, turkey or beef

  • In a 3-quart saucepan melt butter, add mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring often about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in flour, then the broth.
  • Add barley, cover and simmer until barley is cooked through, about 1 hour.

  • Add cooked diced meat, salt and pepper. For a creamier soup, stir in about 1 cup milk.

Adapted from The Czech Book, Recipes and Traditions, Copyright 1981

Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · My Roots

Kolache … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

KOLACHE … Cherry is my favorite!

Kolaches originated in the Slovak countries and our Smaha family brought this Bohemian tradition to America when they immigrated to Iowa in the late 1800s. This tradition has been passed down in our family for many generations.  Kolaches are wonderful any time of the year but especially wonderful at Christmas.  My family tradition is to have them Christmas morning while we are opening gifts and sipping coffee or hot chocolate.

Christmas Morning and Kolaches 1987

This picture was taken in Christmas morning 1987 with my Mother, Mother-In-Law, and oldest daughter, Megan.  Let the Kolache feast begin!

My all-time favorite Kolache is cherry.  This season I was fortunate to buy a large container of fresh frozen tart cherries that I’ve been saving for Kolache filling this Christmas.  Other years, I have used canned cherry pie filling. I have made Kolaches from old-fashioned sweet dough recipes but a new favorite is the sweet dough recipe for the bread machine.  In a pinch, I have used frozen bread dough, even though not sweet, is very good.

Traditional Kolache come in many flavors including the timeless Bohemian prune or poppy-seed fillings.  My Mother’s Kolaches were fabulous and we waited with excitement while they baked, poised to snatch one as soon as they came out of the oven.

Everyone’s Kolaches are a tad different.  My Mother didn’t add the crumb topping to her Kolaches but a wonderful farm neighbor, Nellie, made Prune  Kolaches with crumb topping in her old wood stove.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had Kolaches from a wood cooking stove.  My Aunt Lora, baked Kolaches that she pinched closed at the top and sprinkled with sugar.  Equally wonderful.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and many cherished family traditions.

SWEET BREAD DOUGH (FOR BREAD MACHINE)

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1 cup less 1 T. water

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature. Add the ingredients in the order listed above.
  • Run the machine through the dough cycle. Remove and work on floured board to desired loaf, rolls, etc.

CHERRY FILLING

1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

  • Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter and food coloring and cook until thickened. Mixture will be very thick.  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

PREPARING THE KOLACHES:

Pinch a piece of dough about the size of a walnut (or ping pong ball) and place on a greased baking pan.  Cover with wax paper then a towel and let rise until double in size.  When risen, push centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of choice).  Let rise again and bake at 400 degrees.

KOLACHE CRUMB TOPPING  (Optional)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using margarine)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together (use a pastry blender)  until crumbly and use as a topping for Kolaches or coffee cakes.