Vintage Recipe: Slovak Easter Memories

There are many things that come to mind as a child growing up in a Slovak family, but one of the best memories is Easter. The magical eerie evening church service on Holy Saturday and the blessing of the Easter baskets in the church basement on early Easter morning will always be my fondest memories.   I will never forget the smells of all the delicious meats, eggs, breads and desserts that came in round wooden baskets covered with embroidered Easter linens. It was a truly an amazing experience with both the church service and with the food.

I wanted to share with you two easy staple recipies that I make every year for Easter. I will admit, you have to acquire a taste for these dishes.  They are called Hrudka (Easter Cheese) and Beets & Horseradish (help me Slovak peeps on the name). These recipies are taken from my old church the St. John The Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church Cookbook circa 1982.  Here’s a copy of the cover and the actual recipies.

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Let’s start with the Hrudka.  (Online it shows Hrudka the cookbook shows Hrutka). If you follow the original recipe you will get a large amount of cheese.  It’s perfect for a larger family likes it. However, I cannot eat that much.  I cut the recipe in half.  This will still last about a week.

Start by creating a double boiler and add your milk and eggs and mix well.

image I like to add a pinch of nutmeg and a splash of vanilla for extra flavor. You want to constantly mix to prevent sticking, and after many minutes you will notice large curds start forming.  I continue to stir until the milk turns watery and you have a scrambled egg consistency.

imageThis is where you pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth.

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Roll tightly and hang to drip dry until juices stop dripping.

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Once all liquid is removed, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and keep stored in the refrigerator. This is served cold in small slices.  This goes great with ham and beets and horseradish ofcourse.

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Now onto the Beets and Horseradish. The traditional recipe uses fresh beets and fresh horseradish.  You have to grate the beets and grate the horseradish and by the time you’re done, it looks like a crime scene in your kitchen.  I did it once and said… NEVER again, so I now take the easier route…..food processor!  I use canned beets as you already have the juice, if you use fresh beets- you’ll need to cook them and grate them and add additional liquid.  (Have fun with that)

Place the juice from the beets into a saucepan and add your salt, sugar and vinegar.  This is all your personal taste, if you like a sweet brine add more sugar, if you like it tart add more vinegar- it’s your personal taste. Bring to a simmer to melt sugar.

imageAdd your beets to the processor and do a quick chop.

image.jpegPlace beets into a non-reactive bowl and add your horseradish.  Once again this is your preference, but I would say atleast 1-2 teaspoons. I like it hot so I do a heaping tablespoon. Add enough brine to the chopped beets and horseradish to just about cover.  You don’t want to create a soup you want just enough liquid to make a nice relish. Adjust your seasonings as needed.  Wrap with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  This is best to be made the day before to allow flavors to combine.

imageThis is also served cold and goes great with ham and with the Hrudka and also kielbasa.

These two simple recipies really brings great memories of Easter dinner back in Pennsylvania. I hope you enjoy.

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