|On Pascha, it is customary to bring a basket of the foods abstained from during Lent to Church to be blessed at the conclusion of the Liturgy.
On Holy Saturday, Slavic people everywhere will be taking baskets loaded with holiday foods to church for the traditional Easter blessing, which is a must prior to eating those exquisite foods.
Neatly arranged in the baskets will be ham, slanina (bacon), chrin (beets with horseradish), salt, paska, kolbasi, hrudka (sirets), butter, pysanky (ornately decorated eggs) for decoration, colored eggs for eating and kolachi. Some people may add candy and a bottle of wine to their baskets.
After the foods are placed in the basket, an embroidered cloth cover is placed over them, and a blessed candle is fastened upright near the basket handle.
For the first-timers who have never put together an Easter basket, let alone prepared foods for it, the whole process can be mystifying. Every cook has his or her favorite way of preparing these foods and of measuring the ingredients for them, and asking for recipes can result in confusion. So to help take some of the mystery out of the preparation of the traditional foods, here are a few of our favorite Carpathian and Eastern Slovak recipies. Enjoy!
3 cups scalded milk, or enough scalded milk added to whey from hrudka to make 3 cups
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 beaten eggs
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
1/2 large cake yeast or equivalent portion of dry yeast
12 to 14 cups flour
In a large bowl, combine milk, sugar, salt, butter and cool to lukewarm. Save 2 tablespoons of the eggs and add the rest of the eggs to the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, crumble yeast in water and let stand for 10 minutes. Add to above mixture. Add flour - about 2 cups at a time - until the dough can be handled.
Knead on a floured board for 15 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, grease top and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down and let rise a second time for about 45 minutes.
After second rising, shape into four balls and place into greased pans. Small 1 1/2 quart enamelled saucepans can be used for baking. Let rise. Brush tops with 2 tablespoons eggs to which some milk has been added. To achieve that glazed appearance on the loaves, brush tops several times prior to removing them from the oven. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour.
NOTE: Before placing dough in pans, about 1 cup of the dough can be saved and shaped into designs (plaits, crosses, etc,) and placed on top of the unbaked paskas. These fancy shapes can be prevented from scorching in the oven by placing aluminum foil on top of the paskas during baking.
Paska - Traditional Sweet Bread
4 cups scalded milk
2 cups honey
2 cups melted butter
6 beaten eggs
4 packets active dry yeast
1/2 lukewarm water approximately
5 lbs. flour
six 7" pans
In large bowl, combine milk, honey, butter and cool to lukewarm. Save 1 egg white, and add the rest to the milk mixture. MAKE SURE THE MILK IS NOT HOT!!! You will cook the eggs and ruin the recipe. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add yeast to the milk mixture. Add flour to the milk mixture, 2 cups at a time, until the dough can be handled. Knead for approximately 10-15 minutes. Place in greased bowl and rise for 1 1/2 hours Puch down, knead again, and let rise a second time for 45 minutes. Shape into six 7" loaves. Place in pans and let rise for 45 minutes. Take 1 tbsp. of water and the reserved egg white, mix together, and brush with it the tops of the loaves. Bake at 350* for 30-45 until golden brown and until "done" (With all bread recipes, "done" means when you tap the bottom of the loaf, and you get a "hollow" sound.) This is THE most popular recipe with our family. My mother usually doubles this recipe and gives loaves to our family, friends and neighbors. They look forward to getting their loaf each year. Try this with your family, and it is sure to be a hit!
Hrudka (Sirets - Egg Cheese) (GZeedick)
1 dozen eggs
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 quart milk
1/2 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in a white, enameled pan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture curdles. Pour mixture into a colander that is lined with several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Once mixture is drained, pick it up --cheesecloth and all -- and shape into a ball by twisting the top part of the cheesecloth. Tightly tie open end with string, placing string very close to the top of the ball. Caution: This will be hot. Hang over sink until cool. Remove cheesecloth when cool; wrap and refrigerate. (The whey from the hrudka can be saved and used when making pascha. To conserve the whey, place the colander over a large pot before pouring mixture into cheesecloth).
7 to 8 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk, warmed
6 eggs, separated
3 sticks butter, melted
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 pkgs yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 c. raisins
3/4c. candied (glacéed) fruits like lemons and cherries (each)
1. Make a starter. In a large mixing bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and whisk in 3 cups flour. Cover and put in a warm place to rise.
2. Add sugar to egg yolks, and beat with a mixer until the color turns nearly white (4 - 5 minutes). Add this mix to the starter along with the melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix together thoroughly. At this stage, the dough should be a gloppy mess - dont be dismayed.
3. Beat the egg whites stiff. Add them and the remainder of the flour. Knead thoroughly. The dough will be very soft and sticky; it should be such that it does not quite stick to the kneading surface. Add a touch more flour as necessary. Cover and let rise until double.
4. Add raisins and candied fruit, kneading them into the dough to distribute them evenly.
5. Put into molds, and let rise. Bake at 375 for one hour.
6. Remove from molds and let cool on a wire rack. While cooling, dribble white icing over top.
We dont know what the traditional molds were, but today they are coffee tines, 1- and 2-lb sizes. The recipe above makes enough dough for two of each size. Prepare the tins as follows. Cut out rounds of wax paper the size of the coffee tin bottom. Grease the inside of the tin, and put the wax paper round in the bottom. Cut a sheet of wax paper long enough to encircle the inside with a little overlap, and line the inside of each tin. Let the paper stick above the top of the tin about three inches. Fill the tin one-half full of dough.
Mix together thoroughly two cups confectioners sugar, 1/4 c. cold water and 2 tsp lemon juice. While the Kulich is still warm, spoon the icing over the top to form a white cap. Some should drizzle in thin streams part way down the sides. Decorate the top with sprinkles, if desired, a small plastic flower or any little thing which catches your fancy. The idea is to make at least one, which will sit in the center of the table and look attractive.
To serve, slice off the top and set aside. Slice into about 1/2 thick slices, cut these into halves or quarters, and reassemble on a plate for putting on the table.
||Hrutka (Sirets - Egg Cheese)
1 dozen eggs
1 quart milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Beat together all ingredients. Put in a large, heavy pot and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the eggs begin to solidify, and look like scrambled eggs in liquid. Double cheese cloth to form an approximate 24" x 24" square. Place cloth in large collinder. Place collinder in sink, and pour the mixture into it. Gather the corners, tie together with string, squeeze to remove excess moisture and hang up to drain overnight. Should form a ball about the size of a large grapefruit. As you may have noticed, I have hyphenated the name of this recipe. This is for the sake of familial diplomacy. Every year, there is a slight disagreement between my mom and dad over the name. His family always called it "Hrutka", while my mom's called it "Sirek". I tend to side with my father, while my sister with my mother. The rest of the family who have eschewed most of their ethnicity just calls it the "scrambled-egg cheese". By whatever name, it is just as delicious!
24" x 48" cheese cloth
Chrin (Beets with Horseradish)
8 cans whole beets, drained
3 bottles horseradish (Do not use creamed horseradish)
Grind beets using fine grinder attachment. The juice can be saved for soup. Add horseradish to beets; mix well. Refrigerate. An empty horseradish jar (washed, label removed and dipped in boiling water to sterilize it) can be filled with the mixture and placed in the Easter basket. The jar's cap can be disguised with aluminum foil, thus hiding any advertisement.
Hrin (Beets with Horseradish)
2 14.5 oz. cans beets
1 6 oz. prepared horseradish.
Finely grate the beets. Mix with the horseradish. Hrin is a simple dish, mainly to help in the digestion of the meat and cheese
Ham & Kolbasi
There is really no "recipe" for ham or kolbasi. A wonderful place to get gourmet smoked meats, including ham and kolbasi, is a local polish sausage shop in San Jose.
Eggs are the universal Paschal symbol. They are one of the popular customs that we as Orthodox share with American culture. The egg is a symbol of resurrection. In many areas, the egg is the one food that breaks the Great Fast. Traditionaly the eggs are dyed red, a color to denote the sacrifice made on Calvary for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Tradation states that it goes back to the time of Saint Mary Magdalene, equal-to-the-apostles. When she was summoned before the emperor Tiberius, she handed him an egg and exlaimed to him, "Christ is Risen!" He of course expressed great disbelief, and said he would not believe her unless the egg whould turn red. As he was speaking, it did!
The ham is decorated and baked according to your favorite recipe. How large a ham you buy and use depends on how many people you are serving. For a 20 pound ham; cut it in half, decorate the halves, bake them and place one of them in the basket.
Again, the amount of kolbassi you purchase (or make), depends on how many eager eaters you are serving.
Place the kolbassi in a pan, cover with water and boil for about 45 minutes. Some cooks, after the kolbassi is boiled, place a few into a baking pan and sprinkle them with about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and honey. This is then popped into the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before refrigerating.
If you prefer not to use already prepared butter for the Easter feasting, the butter can be made by whipping heavy cream. Use either one pint or one half pint heavy whipping cream, place in bowl and mix with hand beater until butter forms. Place sample of butter in a small fancy bowl and decorate for use in Easter basket.
Kolachki (Nut & poppyseed roll)
8 egg yolks
8 cups flour
1/2 pound butter
1 cake yeast
1 cup sugar
2 cups scalded milk
4 tablespoons shortening
Beat eggs and sugar. Melt butter and shortening in hot milk, saving 1/2 cup for the yeast. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk and let stand for a few minutes. Combine both mixtures in a large bowl.
Add flour and mix well with hands until dough leaves the hands. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, divide the dough into eight balls and let rise for one hour. Roll out on floured boards and spread with filling. Roll up gently, tucking in ends.
Bake at 350 degrees until brown, about 45 minutes.
Brush tops of rolls, prior to putting into oven with an egg-milk mixture. Doing so produces beautifully browned, shiny rolls.
1 pound ground walnuts
1/2 cup canned milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey (optional)
Combine sugar and nuts. Beat eggs and add to mixture. Add honey and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to boil. Remove from stove, let cool. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick, brush with butter, place filling on dough and roll up. Bake
1 pound ground poppyseed
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup milk
Combine sugar with poppyseed. Add melted butter. Then add honey and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until blended. Cool and spread over dough that has been rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness and brushed with butter. Roll up and bake.