A Very Czech Thanksgiving

By: Erica Wery

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and when people imagine Thanksgiving, they most often times picture the Martha Stewart style table spread of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, etc.

While other countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia do not celebrate Thanksgiving, they still have many delicious seasonal autumn dishes, many of which can be substituted in to your own Thanksgiving celebration this year.

I was lucky enough to grow up with a 100% Czech grandmother, who would always make authentic Czech and Slovak dishes year round. Autumn and Winter were my favorite times of the year (meal wise), because it meant that she would be baking more, and making more hearty warm dishes (and she still does!)

I have chosen a few of my favorite recipes to share, and I hope you enjoy them as well!

Grandma Kurka’s Fruit Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

1 C sugar

¼ lb butter

2 eggs

½  C milk

2 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 C fresh peaches (chopped), apples (peeled and chopped), cherries or blueberries (or a mixture of several fruits.)

 

Crumble topping:

1 C sugar

⅛ lb butter

½ C flour

 

Crumble Topping Directions:

Cream together butter, sugar and flour with a fork until dry lumps of varying sizes form.

Cake Directions:

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and milk then beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and vanilla. Spread into well greased 9×13 cake pan. Top with fruit, then with topping. Bake at 350˚ until golden brown (45-50 minutes.)

 

Potato Dumplings

6 Medium potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 tsp salt

2 Eggs   

¼ to ⅓ C Cream of Wheat

 

Directions:

Mix together thoroughly, then stir in 2 cups sifted flour. Sprinkle about ½ cup flour on board and knead well so dough will not be sticky. Shape into oblong roll and cook in salted boiling water about 20-25 minutes. Serves 6-8.

 

Sautéed Red Cabbage

1 Med. Head of Red Cabbage

About 6 slices of onion

2 tsp caraway seed

2 tsp salt

2 tsp vinegar

 

Directions:

Put a tsp of oil in pan and heat. Chop cabbage and add with other ingredients. Saute over low heat stirring every so often (about 10min). Then add a ½ cup of water and cover. Cook over low heat until reduced and cooked down (about 30-40 min). Check to see if it needs more vinegar or sugar (add to taste).  Check periodically to see if it needs more water. 

 

Sautéed Wild Pheasant                                           

My family loves game hunting, and we always have an abundance of wild Pheasant to eat in the fall and winter.  Not everyone is able or willing to go out and shoot a Pheasant, so store bought will work as well for this recipe. If it is frozen or thawed, treat it the same as chicken in regards to thawing and rinsing. (The following recipe has freshly shot Pheasant in mind, so it would need to be cleaned, gutted, defeathered, etc. in preparation.)

Directions:

Clean Pheasant accordingly, then cut Pheasant meat into pieces, salt and roll in flour. Brown pieces in hot oil over a medium heat. When nicely browned, add ½ cup water to pan and cover. Cook about a half hour. Make sure you have enough water in the pan (for a gravy), then add the cabbage on top and cook another half hour. It should be done after this amount of time, but check a piece of meat to make sure.  Depending on how many are going to be eating, you can add multiple Pheasants accordingly.  When done, serve with sliced Potato Dumplings.

Food, Friendship, and Fraternalism

Food is the binding force that holds together people in many cultures. Between lodge meetings held over delicious culinary dishes and celebrating special occasion with recipes from the homeland, our members have been sharing and perfecting their recipes for over 116 years. Over the years, wfla has compiled recipes from our members that were made into a cookbook. To order the cookbook, email here. To read more of our favorite recipes visit our website here. Here are some of the Czech recipes for you to try your hand at!

Brambrova Polevka Czech Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

½ c. celery

2 T. parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

4 potatoes, cubed

½ c. mushrooms, chopped

¼ tsp. marjoram (optional)

Put onions, carrots, and celery in large kettle. Add salt and pepper and cook slowly, about 15 minutes until ingredients are tender. Add potatoes, mushrooms, marjoram, and parsley. Make a roux of 3 tablespoons flour and butter; brown lightly. Add to soup and cook 5 minutes.

Sauerkraut Soup

2 lbs. spareribs or pork hocks

Water

1 qt. sauerkraut

½ chopped onion

1 T. caraway seed

Pepper to taste

1 pt. sweet or sour cream

1 T. flour

Put meat in kettle and cover with water. Boil until meat is almost done. Add sauerkraut, onions, and caraway seed. Boil meat until meat is tender. Add pepper. Mix cream and flour together and add to mixture. Cook 5 minutes longer. Do not overcook. If soup is too salty from sauerkraut, add a little sugar.

Head Sausage “jeternice”

1 cut up pig head or 10-15 lbs. pork butt roasts

1 box quick pearl barley

4 oz. pork sausage seasoning

1 T. garlic powder or pressed garlic cloves

Pepper and salt to taste

Marjoram (optional)

Boil the pork meat after cutting it in smaller pieces. It takes 1 ½ hours or so to boil. In the meanwhile cook the box of barley until done. Remove the meat from the bones and grind up. Add the seasonings and mix well. Pour into pork casings with sausage stuffer. Cut in lengths desired and tie ends together in a circle. Fry in oven in frying pan or under broiler.

Grandma Monica’s Kolache

¾ c. lukewarm water

2 tsp. sugar

2 packages dry yeast

3 c. warm milk

¾ c. butter softened

¾ c. sugar

1 ½ tsp. salt

4 egg yolks (reserve whites)

Flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Let it bubble. Combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and egg yolks. Add 3 cups flour and beat well. Set bowl over warm water and let mixture get bubbly. Add more flour until dough can be handled. You will want a soft dough. Lightly grease bowl and dough. Place bowl over warm water and let dough rise. Punch down dough and let rise again. Pat dough out with hands in floured surface. Cut dough with pizza cutter and fill with desired filling. (We cut into squares and pinch corners together in the middle). Let rise again. Brush tops with beaten egg whites and tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Brush baked kolache with melted butter. Yield : about 12 dozen kolache.

Bublanina

½ c. butter

2 c. sugar

6 eggs, beaten

½ c. milk

3. c. flour

1 T. baking powder

3 c. pitted sour cherries

¼ c. sugar to taste

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and milk. Beat well. Sift flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixture. Beat again. Pour into a greased and floured 10 X 15in pan. Sprinkle cherries over batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. It may be frosted with powdered sugar frosting while warm. If using a glass pan, bake at 325 degree.

Bramborvy knedliky

(potato dumplings)

6 C shredded, boiled cold potatoes

4 eggs

4 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together well. Take half of the mixture and roll out on a floured surface into a long roll, about 1 ½ inches in width. Cut into 3-inch lengths. Drop into boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Move them around so they do not stick to the bottom. Remove them with a slotted spoon onto a cookie sheet. Brush with butter or oil. Or mix them with hot sauerkraut. If you have cooked a pork roast or duck, pour some of the drippings into the dumplings and sauerkraut.