Old world recipes can be very difficult to pass on from generation to generation. Back in the day, recipes were not written down and made from memory. Since they weren’t written down, you just add a little of this and a little of that until you get the “right consistency” and if not you add a little more of this and that.
As I grew older and took interest in cooking, I wanted to learn from my Grandmas how to cook their traditional meals. I didn’t want to see these recipes lost forever. Funny thing, as I look back it seemed like some recipes were a big family secret.
Today I made one of my favorite main Czech dishes and transcribed the recipe with measurements. Measurements are a bonus because some of the old cook books that my Grandma owned listed ingredients without measurements. I think you were just supposed to know what to do!
This recipe is so easy and the gravy is absolutely delicious! Gravy always seemed to be so daunting to make from scratch…but really it is easy!
Czech Chicken Paprika
- 2 TB cooking oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 pieces of chicken (breast & thighs with skin on)
- 8 cups of water
- 2 TB paprika
- S & P
Chicken Paprika Gravy
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup water
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 TB paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
In a large dutch oven or stock pot, add cooking oil and onions over high heat. Cook until the onion softens. In the meanwhile, salt and pepper chicken pieces. Place in the pot, skin side down. Cook until the skin is browned scraping the bottom of the pot, then flip and brown the other side. Add 8 cups of water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Cook chicken in boiling water for one hour. Reduce the heat, transfer chicken to a platter and strain the juice. (I use a slotted spoon to get little pieces out)
For the gravy, whisk flour and water in a small mixing bowl, getting all of the lumps out. This will create a paste. Whisk the paste into the large pot of chicken juices, constantly whisking until the gravy comes to a boil and it will slightly thicken. Add sour cream, continuing to whisk to get any lumps out. Then season with paprika and salt. Let gravy simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Place the chicken back in the pot to heat through.
Serve chicken pieces on a large platter with a gravy boat filled with hot gravy. Traditionally this would be served with dumpling. But it is also delicious with egg noodles.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Baked Chicken should have been title of this dish! So easy, so tasty and just a handful of ingredients.
Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts with skin on
- 2 lemons; one sliced thin and 1 squeezed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh green beans
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Prepare baking dish and drizzle bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of pan and place chicken on top. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and S&P. Toss the green beans in mixture and pour over the chicken.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked. About half way cooked, spoon juices over the chicken to baste.
Serving suggestion – serve with pasta tossed in the lemon garlic juice from the chicken bake.
This is not your ordinary banana bread, which by itself is absolutely delicious. But I thought to give my banana bread recipe a little make-over and add a summer twist with strawberries. The base ingredients were the same as my banana bread recipe, but I only added one banana and made a homemade balsamic strawberry sauce. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a great combination because it brings out the sweetness of the berry. I was pleasantly surprised that this bread turned out even better!
Balsamic vinegar and Strawberry Sauce
1 Cup fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
In a saucepan, stir the strawberries and sugar over medium heat for 5 minutes until the strawberries cook down into a sauce. Add the balsamic vinegar to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
This sauce would even be delicious over yogurt or ice cream. Ooh…the possibilities!
But here is the bread recipe…
Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread
2 C flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
1 medium mashed bananas
balsamic strawberry sauce (recipe above)
1/3 C milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease pan, mix all ingredients together and place in a 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. I used 3 mini loaf pans and baked for 45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Happy Easter! Easter is a holiday that brings back a lot of memories from my childhood. One of my favorite memories is the Polish tradition of baking the Lamb Cake, then placing it in a basket to take to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed with samples of the food we would eat for Easter dinner. The basket would even include decorated hard-boiled eggs, lamb molded butter, salt and pepper shakers and a small carafe of wine.
I borrowed my Mom’s cast iron lamb cake mold. It is very important to grease the pan and every nook and cranny very good, then dust with flour!
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say “I only eat this cake once a year”.
My Grandma’s Pound Cake
yields two lamb cakes (or one lamb cake and 12 cupcakes)
1 lb. butter, softened
2 cups sugar
9 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease both sides of the cast iron lamb mold, then dust with flour.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract, the gradually add one egg at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl. Once combined, reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and baking powder.
Place the batter into the bottom of the mold. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.
I also made 12 cupcakes with the remaining batter. Bake in the same oven for 25 – 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Gently unmold the cake and let cool completely before decorating. For this cake, I used cream cheese icing and piped it in swirls. Raisen eyes are very traditional.
What are you traditions for Easter?
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year! This was one of the first recipes that I tried with my Christmas gift – a food processor. I had a mini prep machine and used it all of the time to chop smaller items. But, I figured with all that I am cooking, I could really benefit from a food processor. I am loving it!!
For the holidays I picked up a spiral ham at my local grocery store for our Christmas Eve dinner. I am glad it dawned on me to save the bone once I cut the meat off of the Ham. What a tasty soup it made….Ham and Pea Soup! Even the kids liked it…though they needed a little coaxing to try it, probably because it is not one of the prettiest soups they have seen. But my, was it yummy and quick to make!!
Ham and Pea Soup
5 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery
2 leeks (remove greens and root base, slice down the middle, rinse to remove sand, then finely chop)
1 onion, chopped
2 TB olive oil
7 cups of water
1 teaspoon chicken soup base (optional)
1 -16 ounce bag of split peas, rinsed
left over ham bone with some meat attached
2 cups ham, diced
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large pot and add the carrots, celery, leeks and onion. Sautee until softened, about 8 minutes. Add water, chicken soup base, split peas and ham bone. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove the ham bone and trim meat off and reserve.
Puree about half of the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree to your liking. (I prefer some chunky vegetable left in the soup).
Stir in diced ham. Salt and Pepper to taste, if needed.
Why not freeze some ham and pea soup for a cold snowy day!?