The time of Advent is approaching, a time to think about what we are going to eat during this beautiful season, and what interesting delicacies we will offer to our family and friends who will sit at the table with us on these cold winter days. You will definitely have a lot to choose from if you want to be inspired by Czech cuisine.
An Advent delicacy in a shellIf you think that they only eat snails in France, you are wrong. Not only snails, but also frog legs were once frequently served on Czech tables, at first only in villages. As snails were free, and also permitted by the Church during fasting, they were popular both at home and in restaurants during late-Advent. You should definitely try Prague snails, where the empty shell is filled with a bread stuffing mixed with snail meat and baked. Snail meat is also great when added to a beef broth, drizzled with butter and sprinkled with horseradish.
Find the Prague snails recipe at: http://www.czechspecials.cz/recepty/predkrmy/sneci-po-prazsku
A purely Czech holiday appetiserFestive days also mean a rich festive menu, and a menu like that can’t do without an appetiser. But what is a traditional appetiser for the Czech Christmas table? The carp started to appear on Czech tables as early as in the 11th century, when it was brought from Bavaria by Cistercian monks. One of the numerous methods of serving carp, as well as other fish, was to pour jelly from veal and pork feet onto the fish. And so, fish in jelly has been an interesting appetiser on the Czech Christmas table for many centuries.
Find the recipe at: http://www.czechspecials.cz/recepty/predkrmy/ryba-v-aspiku
Another, we can say unique, appetiser is a ham roll with whipped horseradish cream. This purely Czech speciality includes two old unique Czech ingredients – “Prague” ham and horseradish. With the freshly whipped, naturally “real” heavy cream, it is still an excellent holiday feast starter that should be restored and returned to the festive menu, maybe with a modern twist. The recipe is simple and takes little time. How to make it?
You will need the following to serve 4:
8 thin slices of ham
1/4 l heavy cream
30-40 g of grated horseradish
Instructions: Finely grate the horseradish and add a few drops of lemon juice. Whip the heavy cream and then mix it with the horseradish. Season with sugar, salt and pepper to your liking. Roll the ham, or create small cones. Fill each roll with the cream using a piping bag and decorate it with grated horseradish. Serve 2 pieces per person.
White sausage instead of Carp?It has several names; it is called white, wine or cream, sometimes a rolled-up sausage. Every butcher has their own recipe, and the sausage can be made from veal, beef and pork, bread rolls dipped in cream, and more or less wine.
Even though the wine sausage recipe is an inseparable part of our traditional cuisine, its history in our culture is not that old. You will not find it in Czech cookbooks until the beginning of the 19th century. And so, we cannot trust the beautiful legend that the golden-roasted sausage, coiled into a spiral, resembles the Sun and is basically a celebration of the pagan solstice festival. We were more likely inspired by our German neighbours. Its colour strongly resembles the popular white Bavarian sausage, often served with potatoes and sauerkraut at Christmas. The Dutch, on the other hand, love it served with mashed peas, and they enjoy it on 6 December, which is their main holiday. Most families either eat fried carp or schnitzel on Christmas Eve, but there are still a lot of families who enjoy wine sausage with their potato salad. Children also like it, and it is a much safer option for them than the carp, even if a less-healthy one.
How to prepare the wine sausage properly? The easiest way is to roast it in the oven and serve it with silky mashed potatoes, or crumb and fry it. Here is a trick from the chefs of our Czech Specials certified restaurants: place the sausage into boiling water for a few minutes prior to cooking. The filling will get harder, it will be easier to roll the sausage and pierce with a toothpick without spilling, and the sausage will not crack in the oven or deep fryer.
The first Czech President T. G. Masaryk was known for his temperance; he loved simple village meals. However, during Christmas he liked to enjoy Christmas cookies, but he always requested one particular type to be served. At his request, special cookies with walnuts that his mother used to make were baked every Christmas. You can try to make them this year, they are simple and quick to make, and children can even get involved.
President’s Christmas cookies
Masaryk’s Christmas Cookies
180 g walnuts (or hazelnuts)
300 g all-purpose flour
100 g powdered sugar
200 g butter
1 egg yolk
Powdered sugar and vanilla sugar for coating
Instructions: Let the nuts soften in lukewarm water for 2 hours. Then chop them coarsely and mix with the remaining ingredients and make a dough. Portion the dough to create several rolled logs with a diameter of about 4 cm. Wrap them in foil and place them in the fridge overnight to harden. If you are in a hurry, leave them in a freezer for half an hour. Then, slice the rolls into approximately half-centimetre slices and place them on a baking tray and bake until pink at 170°C. Coat them with powdered sugar, mixed with vanilla sugar, while warm. You can eat them right away, but they are also good when stored for some time.
Find more recipes at www.czechspecials.cz.