Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
At the same time we give thanks for the past five years with Jeramiah, we offer prayers for healing for his step-dad, Bart, who suffered a heart attack yesterday. As you may remember seeing, Bart married our granddaughter, Ashley on October 1. Though he is only 25 years old this is his second heart attack. More tests were being run today and we pray that he will soon be home and on the road to a full recovery.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
For the uninitiated, kolaches are dessert rolls with fruit or other filling; rohlicky are crescent poppy seed dinner rolls. In the area of Iowa where I spent the first 40 years of my life there are literally hundreds of different recipes for the basic dough. Through trial and error this is the recipe I came to like best and I've used it now for over 20 years. I don't live in Iowa anymore, but my family still expects to see these on the menu. The dough can also be used to shape any dinner roll you desire.
MY FAVORITE KOLACHE OR ROHLICKY DOUGH
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 pkg. dry yeast
3/4 cup corn oil (I insist on Mazola)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 - 6 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, oil, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in flour to make a soft dough (I use my electric mixer fitted with dough hooks). Let rise until double; punch down. Proceed with directions for kolaches, rohlicky or roll of choice. [This process of rising and punching down can be repeated several times; just be sure not to let the dough rise more than double each time. I prefer 2 or 3 risings as I believe it results in a more tender finished product, but one rising is sufficient.]
To Make Kolaches
Form dough into small balls, approximately the size of a walnut. Place on greased cookie sheet and brush with melted butter; let rise again until light. Using two fingers on each hand make an indentation in the center of each ball, pulling dough to form a ridge around the outside. Fill with approximately 1 Tablespoon of desired filling. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375º until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush crust with melted butter.
Traditional Czech fillings are prune, apricot, cherry, pineapple, poppyseed, date, etc.
My family likes cherry best.
To Make Rohlicky
The traditional Czech way to form rohlikcy is to roll pieces of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Cut circle into 8 wedges. Form each wedge into a crescent by rolling from the wide end towards the point. Place formed rolls in pan with point underneath.
I prefer to form my rolicky this way: Divide above dough into fourths. Divide each fourth into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a short, thick rope, approximately 6 inches long. Twisting the rope slightly, place in a slightly curved shape in a greased 10 X 15-inch baking pan with high sides, spacing slightly apart. You should be able to fit 2 rows of 12 rolicky in each pan.
Brush tops of rohlicky with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle generously with poppy seed. Let rise until double.
Bake at 375º until lightly browned, approximately 15-20 minutes. Brush with melted butter immediately upon removing from oven.
MY FAVORITE FILLING FOR KOLACHES
(the Czech answer to cheese strudel!)
1 lb. dry cottage cheese or ricotta
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tablspoon flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together well. Use to fill kolaches.
The flavor improves if the mixture is allowed to set in the refrigerator overnight. Left-over filling can be frozen for future use.
I also like to use this dough to make what I call fruit braids. I just roll the dough into a rectangle however big I want, spread my choice of filling lengthwise down the center third, cut the outside edges into strips and braid across the filling. You can add icing or not. These taste just like kolaches..just more dough and less filling and much faster to make. I made several of these when I was baking for Jeff and Deb's wedding and they were gone pretty quickly.
Since we were going to one of our son's for Christmas I did just a small amount of cooking . I was asked to bring bread/rolls and so I baked a double batch of Butter Semmels like those pictured here. It's unusual for me not to bake rohlicky but Tom has fallen in love with the semmels for now.
I asked Tom what else he'd like me to make and of course he wanted his Italian peppers and onions. I've been making this for a little over 20 years now, though I had the recipe for years before that. It's very rich, looks very festive at holidays, especially Christmas and goes well with just about any kind of meat. As it turned out Ashley and Bart brought meatballs that were particularly good with this dish as was the ham Mark and Stephanie fixed.
Then I had to make some scalloped corn, just because I love it and since Tom is not wild about it I rarely fix it unless I have some place I can take it to share with others. I usually just dump stuff in..don't follow a recipe and this time it ended up not as firm as I'd like it, but hey..scalloped corn tastes good no matter what you do to it. I sometimes make a version that has egg noodles added in too.
My friend, Cynthia, shared a new cheese spread recipe with me. She said she'd taken it to work and everyone proclaimed it "killer good". That was a good enough endorsement for me to give it a try. And you know what...they were right! It made a lot , so I took half and left half at home. What I took was nearly eaten before the meal started. It was very, very easy and very, very good. No doubt very, very fattening too, but hey, it's Christmas, right?
Now to the disaster. I started remembering how my mother always made a Czech Christmas bread called houska. Actually I think it is more correctly vanocka but she called it houska. Even though I've been baking all sorts of breads for 45 years or more, I'd never made a houska. I'm not even sure I ever liked it all that much, especially since she usually put assorted candied fruits in hers and I don't really like that. But I got the urge to try my hand at it using just raisins and slivered almonds like most recipes I've seen.
So Wednesday I stirred up the dough and about 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of butter later I had a huge amount of dough which I refrigerated overnight. Thursday morning I shaped the braided loaf and baked it.
After an hour it sounded done and according to my recipe it should have been done. I took it out, let it cool a bit and iced it. It wasn't the best looking bread I've ever made..but for a first time effort it didn't look too bad and we trucked it over to Aurora.
So guess what we found when we started slicing it? Pretty much raw dough in the middle of it! Yuck! Approximately the outside 2 inches was baked okay...after that, forget it! How disappointing and embarrassing.
IF I ever get the urge to try it again (and I probably will, simply because I'm anal enough that I have to prove to myself I can get it right), I think I'll make half the recipe and a much smaller and less dense loaf. And I think I'll add some rum to the dough and a bit of mace or cinnamon!!
For now..may all your bread be done!
Granddaughter, Ashley turns 23 today.
Happy Birthday, Ashley. We've watched you grow from a energetic and precocious little girl into a beautiful and successful young woman, wife and mom.
We love you and hope 2009 is your best and happiest year yet!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Got back in the swing of things today and made one Dear Jane block and two Dutch treat blocks.
We had good food, good company and the joy of watching Christmas through the eyes of the little ones.
My favorite picture of the day. When you ask Jeramiah and Masion to poise for a picture together they automatically lock into a hug. Let's hope this brotherly love will continue all of their lives.
granddaughter Caitlin with her Uncle Tim's dog, Jack