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.
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.
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)
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!
Our 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’.
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.
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
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.
Whisk eggs with 1 teaspoon water. Add salt, pepper and herbs. Add eggs to mushrooms and cook until eggs are to your liking.
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 pearled 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
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.
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
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.
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.