Mazanec is a traditional bread made in Czech Republic for Easter. A large, firm, crusty yeast-based bread, Mazenec is usually enjoyed for breakfast either plain or with fruit jam and/or butter. It is lightly sweetened, and includes subtle hints of vanilla and lemon, with rum soaked raisins and almonds, throughout.
Fruit dumplings are popular throughout Central Europe, but this recipe is different than others in that it is made with farmer’s cheese. Strawberry dumplings are our family’s favorite, but this recipe can be used with Italian prune plums or small apricots. Though many would see this as a dessert, and it could be, these are more traditionally eaten at lunch. The best farmer’s cheese for this recipe is one that resembles feta, though if only a “pot style” farmer’s cheese is available, a little more flour could be added to make it work. For lunch, it serves two. For dessert, it could serve four.
This is a nutty meringue cookie with a hint of chocolate flavor. This cookie can last for weeks. Because of that, during WWII, my mother-in-law sent a large batch to Jewish friends that were sadly taken to a concentration camp. These were a favorite of my husband’s father. My mother-in-law spread the batter in a pan, then cut them into squares. I prefer to bake them in individual traditional cookie rounds.
In the Czech Republic, many restaurants stay open until the wee hours of the morning after the changing of the New Year, but offer a limited menu. The offering usually includes a lentils dish, since lentils represent luck and wealth. Like a breakfast hash, the lentil portion can be made the day before and quickly reheated and topped with a freshly cooked egg. The recipe below includes small diced ham with vegetables and herbs. It can easily be made vegetarian with just a couple changes.
When I married my Czech hubby, I was introduced to some new foods. One of which was celery root (aka celeriac). This is a rather ugly looking root vegetable, but the flavor is delightful! I came up with this fairly light soup that includes both celery root and celery stalks. The root helps thicken the soup so that I need only use milk to give it creaminess. For me, it’s the ultimate in comfort food, and yet it can be a rather elegant start to many nice meals.