Cookies and Bars · Czech Heritage and Dishes

Czech Vanilkove Rohlicky (Vanilla Crescents)

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

INGREDIENTS:
  • 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
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grind nuts to course texture.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. 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.

Recipe from San Francisco Sokol Czech Christmas Cookie Class 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5dXDRkEnEM

Breads · Czech Heritage and Dishes · Holidays

Vianočka

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.

Vianočka

INGREDIENTS:
  • 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
  • 8g salt
  • 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
DIRECTIONS:

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

Recipe from Wanderingsenses.com

Instruction provided through Global Slovakia

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Soups and Stews

Simple Sauerkraut Soup

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
Sour Cream

  • 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.

Recipe from tresbohemes.com

Beverages · Czech Heritage and Dishes · Holidays

Czech Hot Mulled Wine (Svařák)

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) and Šťastný Nový Rok! (Happy New Year)

Ingredients:
  • 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.

Recipe from TresBohemes.com

Czech Heritage and Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

Kettle Goulash

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.  

KETTLE GOULASH

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.
  • Serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from Global Slovakia course Slovakia: Beyond the Known

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Family · Sandwiches

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 and Dishes · New Favorite · Soups and Stews

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 and Dishes · 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.

 

Breads · Breakfast · Czech Heritage and Dishes · 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.

img_8552

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 and Dishes · Family Favorites · My Roots · Soups and Stews

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.