I have been so busy cooking, I’ve barely had any time to write! That’s ok, I’ll play a little catch up here and keeping plugging forward to talk about my dinner inspired by the cuisine of the Czech Republic. In Czech cuisine, thick hearty soups are a staple and often served as a first course. I made dinner on a week night, and I’m trying not to gain 100 pounds by the end of this, so I kept it simple and just made soup as my main course. However, all that got completely overhauled by the fact that I also made dessert. Oops!
Mushrooms are used very often in Czech cooking, and if you have been following this blog, you know how much I love mushrooms! So, it made sense to make a semi-traditional houbová polévka, or mushroom soup.
I made a cream based soup with mushrooms, potatoes, and bacon. Now, due to some poor planning on my part, I thought I had bacon already so I didn’t buy any, and when I looked in my fridge I only found turkey bacon. So instead, it was more of a ham than a bacon, but it still worked out alright, in my opinion.
First, I cut and boiled the potatoes just to soften them a little. You shouldn’t boil them too long, like you would if you were going to make mashed potatoes because they will continue to cook in the soup and you don’t want them to disintegrate entirely. Then I cooked the bacon in a skillet. Now, if I were actually using bacon, I would cook the bacon until it was just about crispy and then add flour so make a kind of roue. However, turkey bacon does not crisp up the same way, so I basically just heated it on in the skillet and then added it to the pot with some chopped onions and cook until onions had softened.
I turned the heat to medium high and added the mushrooms, potatoes, and water. If you use dried mushrooms and have soaked them until they have expanded, you can also add the soaking water to the pot. I then mixed in flour with some sour cream and added that to the pot. Cover and simmer until the soup has gotten nice and thick.
You should add salt/pepper and any other spices you think would work. I used allspice and dill, but many things could have worked well.
To make the soup a little more interesting, I decided to serve it in a bread bowl. Sourdough is a popular choice in the Czech Republic so I took a round loaf of sourdough bread, cut out the top and hollowed out the center. You don’t want to make the sides too thin or it won’t hold the soup well. Then you should brush the bread with some oil and bake the bowl at 400ºF for about 10 min or until the bread has had time to crisp up. Then you can ladle the soup and enjoy! I topped it with some fresh dill as well.
Of course, I also cracked open a Pilsner Urquell to top off this yummy Czech soup.
Now, as I said before, soup is often only a first course and popular main dishes often feature pork or can also me made other meat from animals found locally. Pork is the most popular meat and dumplings are often served as a side dish made from wheat or potato flour, sliced, and served with anything that has a nice, thick, delicious sauce.
Since I served my soup in a bread bowl, dumplings as a side dish were unnecessary, so I made them for dessert. An extremely popular Czech dessert is ovocné knedlíky, or fruit dumplings and they can be made with many kinds of fruit, but most common is with plums (švestkové knedlíky). Since I couldn’t find any good plums or apricots, I made strawberry dumplings, or jahodové knedlíky.
The dough is just eggs, butter, milk, salt and flour. I kind of was expecting the dough to taste a little sweeter (I don’t know why since I didn’t put any sugar in it), but I think with a plum the end result might have been slightly sweeter. I only had rather large strawberries, and strawberries are usually sweeter the smaller they are. However, I overcame this by adding some confectioners sugar on top after they were cooked. Once I mixed the dough, I kneaded it until it was pretty smooth.
Then you just break off pieces and wrap it around the piece of fruit to make the dumpling.
Drop each dumpling one at a time into a pot of boiling, salted water. They will need about 6-8 minutes to cook, then take them out and sprinkle with melted butter. As I said before, I also sprinkled with confectioners sugar after the butter to add a little more sweetness. I don’t think they weren’t supposed to be as sweet as I wanted them to be, but what can I say? In my heart of hearts, I’m an American, and we do love out super sweet desserts.
Sorry there wasn’t more to this post, but I didn’t find much about traditional Czech food that I hadn’t already talked about with some of the neighboring countries. Please feel free to message me if there are things I missed that you would like to share. I am always eager to hear about more food and how I can improve both my writing and my cooking!
Next up is Portugal and then after that, right on to Spain!
Please also share with me if there is a country you think I should make sure to include or if there is a particular dish/style of cooking that should definitely be included from certain countries. You can learn a lot from the internet, but I’d rather hear from you!