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postheadericon Kolacz Slaski – Sweet Cheese Bread

Kołacz (from Polish:  Koło: “disk”, “circle”, “wheel”) is a traditional Polish pastry, originally a wedding cake (Kolacz Weslney) dating to the start of the 13th century, that has made its way into American homes, including homes in the Anthracite Coal Region due to the heavy influence of Eastern European immigrants to the area to work in the coal mines. Served around the Christmas and Easter holidays, this “cake” is a yeast-raised coffee cake similar to babka but made in a round pan without a central hole (wheel shaped).

Kolacz traditionally is made in four different varieties: with just crumbs (without filling), with cheese, poppy or apple filling. Some make a lattice top over the filling, others adorn theirs with braids and bird shapes. This recipe is for the popular cheese-filled version and has a crumb topping. This recipe traditionally uses pot cheese in the cheese layer. Pot cheese is very simple to make yourself, takes only three ingredients, and not a lot of time. It keeps in the refrigerator up to four days, so you could make it ahead for use. If you do not want to make pot cheese or cannot buy it, drained cottage cheese may be substituted.

Kolocz Slaski – Sweet Cheese Bread

Kolocz Slaski – Sweet Cheese Bread

Polish Kolacz

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to 105 - 110F degrees
  • 3 cups flour or as needed
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve whites for use in filling)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
    Cheese filling:
  • 2 cups drained cottage cheese (drain in cheesecloth lined colander until liquid is gone)
  • OR Homemade pot cheese (See "Notes" below for making your own pot cheese)
  • 2 whole eggs plus reserved egg whites from the cake
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
    Topping:
  • 1/4 of cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Separate the eggs, reserving the whites for use in the cheese filling.
  3. In stand mixer, beat the eggs with 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add yeast mixture and the remaining cake ingredients to the mixer bowl. Mix well with a dough hook to obtain a smooth dough.
  5. Spray the dough with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
    Filling
  1. Separate the eggs.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the two reserved eggs whites from the dough to the other two whites and beat until stiff peaks.
  3. Place the pressed cottage cheese in another mixing bowl and add sugar and blend it together.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time to the cheese mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Add the egg whites in two steps, folding in gently after each addition.
    Assembly
  1. Spray a spring form pan with a non stick spray and line the bottom with a parchment paper circle.
  2. Divide your dough in to two parts.
  3. Spread one part on the bottom of the pan, add the cheese in a layer, then cover with the remaining dough.
  4. Brush top with melted butter.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 30 minutes.
    Topping
  1. In a mixing bowl add cubed cold butter, sugar and flour and blend with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Sprinkle top of the cake with topping mixture and bake for 55 minutes.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil if it starts brown too quickly.
  5. Cool completely before un-molding and cutting.

Notes

Pot cheese is very east to make and is a consistency between cottage cheese and the firmer farmer's cheese. You only need 3 ingredients and a little time. This can be stored up to four days so you can make it in advance.

Ingredients: 6 cups of whole milk 2 cups of full fat sour cream 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Instructions: Combine the milk and sour cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. The milk will begin separating into curds. Add the salt and continue stirring for 30 seconds longer. When the curds are separated, turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a towel and let it set for two hours. Using a knife, run it back and forth across the pot in both directions to lightly break up the curds into smaller pieces Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds from the pan to a large colander lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Bring up the edges of the cheesecloth, squeeze lightly, then fasten or tie the ends together forming a pouch. Leave the pouch in the colander and set the colander over a bowl and let the whey drain off for 30 minutes. You can adjust this time to get the cheese to your desired consistency. Drain longer for a firmer cheese and less for a looser cheese. Transfer to a clean container and use immediately or place in the refrigerator. It will stay keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/21/kolacz-slaski-sweet-cheese-bread/

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postheadericon Easy Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Farmer’s cheese is a fresh or un-aged cheese. It is also known as dry curd cheese or peasant cheese. This type of cheese is used in countless Eastern European cuisine recipes. It is also a part of Pa. Dutch (German) cuisine, often served as crumbles which resemble cottage cheese. Farmer’s cheese goes by many names in different languages: twaróg in Polish, surutka in Croatian and Serbian, tvaroh in Czech and Slovak, túró in Hungarian, varškės in Lithuanian, lapte covăsit in Romanian, tvorog in Russian, skuta in Slovenian, and syr in Ukrainian.

You can make farmer’s cheese easily at home with basic ingredients.. And you do not need a cheese press (unless you inherited one from your grandma … if you did, now is the time to dig it out of the “what am i ever gonna do with THIS thing” box!)

The whey or liquid by-product of the cheese making process is excellent to use when making bread; use the whey in place of water or milk. It can also be used as a soup base. Some people have even been known to drink it! As previously mentioned, it can be left crumbly or formed into a solid piece.  Some people slice it and fry it or eat it on bread with honey, some use the crumbles as a spread or in pierogi filling, add it to scrambled eggs as they’re cooking, or make it into a filling for blintzes. There are many uses, and you can add herbs like dill or chives, mix in basil and diced sun-dried tomatoes if desired.

Easy Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Easy Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Homemade Farmers Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts milk (whole; use pasteurized, instead of ultra-pasteurized, if available)
  • 2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • OPTIONAL: caraway seeds
  • OPTIONAL: herbs, additions of your choice
  • Cheesecloth or muslin
  • Butcher's or kitchen twine
  • Cooking Thermometer

Instructions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, over low heat, slowly heat the milk up, stirring often, until it is just about to simmer (about 180 F).
  2. Stir in the buttermilk, and then the vinegar, and turn off the heat.
  3. Very slowly stir until you see the milk separating into curds (the solids) and whey (the liquid). Leave undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  4. If using caraway seeds, stir them in now.
  5. Line a large strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place over a stockpot to catch the whey.
  6. After the 10 minutes are up, ladle the curds into the cheesecloth and allow the whey to drain for 10 minutes.
  7. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and tie a string around the top to form bundle. Tie the string to a wooden spoon/dowel/kitchen sink faucet and hang the cheese curds over the stockpot and continue draining for 30 minutes.
    To use as loose curds
  1. After draining, remove the cheese from the cloth, and transfer into a container. Stir in the salt and refrigerate. Cheese can be used for up to 5 days. Use as a spread, or as you would use cream cheese, or cottage cheese.
  2. Store it in a nonmetallic container, cover, and refrigerate.
    To Form Into a Solid Disk
  1. Once most of the liquid has dripped out, give a last good wring, tie the bag securely, place it between two clean cutting boards and put a heavy weight on top of it to squeeze out the rest of the liquid.
  2. Press the cheese somewhere it can be undisturbed for 8-10 hours or overnight to set. The longer you press the cheese, the drier it will be.
  3. Gently remove the cheesecloth, place the cheese on a plate, lightly salt it on all sides to taste, and put it on a rack to let it dry a little so a thin rind forms.
  4. Store it in a nonmetallic container, cover, and refrigerate.
  5. .
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/19/easy-homemade-farmers-cheese/

 

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postheadericon Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Lent, the season preceding Easter, is a time of penance and abstinence; in Italian households this pie, stuffed full of cheese, meats, and eggs is the sign that Lent is over and Easter has arrived.  Pizza Rustica is made all over Italy for Easter and in many Italian-American homes throughout the US and here in the Coal Region. Of the twenty-three million people who emigrated from foreign countries to live in the United States by the start of World War One, nearly five million were from Italy. (Lackawanna County in NE Pa. boasts one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian American populations.)  All were devoutly Catholic and possessed a passion for their home region and an adherence to its traditions, customs and dialect.

Traditionally made on Good Friday but not enjoyed until Easter Sunday, (it is a perfect make ahead dish for an Easter brunch) this pie’s exact filling ingredients change from family to family, but the idea is always basically the same – hearty meats and cheeses in a rich egg-y filling baked in a crust.  As long as you like YOUR recipe, that’s all that matters – all are equally delicious. Often, the family recipes are passed down and the next generation of cooks is mentored to create the dish to ensure that their family tradition continues.

Make this to your taste – feel free to use a mix of your favorite meats; sausage, ham, pepperoni, soppressata,  mortadella, capicola or hard salami. Just be sure you use about 2 pounds total. Your local deli that slices to order would likely be more than happy to cut the deli meats into slabs for you which is better for chopping up than trying to use thin slices. You can use the crust included in this recipe, your own favorite crust, ready made pizza dough, even puff pastry. You can make a pattern on the crust or leave it plain The goal is to enjoy your creation! (Recipe from today.com)

 

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Italian Easter Pie

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ice water
    Filling
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 and ½ pounds ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces Genoa salami, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4–inch cubes
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
    Egg wash
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

    Crust
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add the eggs and water and pulse until evenly moistened and just coming together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a board and knead several times.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces (one is 1/3 of the total of dough and the other is 2/3).
  5. Wrap and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375° and butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.
  7. Roll the larger piece of dough on a floured surface, to a 15-inch round. Ease it into the pan without tearing and tuck it into the corners. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
    Filling
  1. Brown the sweet Italian sausage in a medium skillet over moderately high heat, breaking it into small lumps. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the ricotta, the 3 raw eggs, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, hard cooked eggs, Parmesan and parsley and stir to combine.
  3. Scrape the mixture into the crust and spread to an even layer. Brush the edges of the crust with some of the egg yolk mixture.
  4. On a floured surface, roll the remaining, smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch round. Place on top of the filling, pressing the pastry edges together.
  5. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch and tuck the overhang underneath. Crimp with a fork and brush the surface with the egg yolk mixture. Cut a small steam vent in center.
  6. Bake on bottom rack of oven until golden and the filling is bubbling, about 75 minutes.
  7. Loosely cover with foil halfway through to prevent over browning.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool, then refrigerate for several hours.
  9. Remove the ring and slide the pizza rustica onto a platter.
  10. Cut into wedges. Serve cold or reheat.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/17/italian-easter-pie-pizza-rustica/

 

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postheadericon Super Easy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

Sometimes, there is nothing better to me than a warm piece of garlic bread dipped in my favorite pizza or pasta sauce. Forget the pasta and meatballs – give me the garlicky dough and I will make a meal out of it! I also like easy. Don’t get me wrong, I often spend hours, or even the better part of the day, cooking, but I welcome a break once in awhile. A loaf of frozen bread dough in the freezer is often a great shortcut to yumminess and this super easy garlic pull apart loaf is a perfect example. Kids love getting involved in making this, and everyone in the family loves eating it.

Super Easy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

Super Easy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

Super Easy Pull Apart Garlic Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) frozen white bread dough, thawed

Instructions

  1. n a small bowl, combine the butter, parsley, garlic powder and garlic salt.
  2. Cut dough into 1-in. pieces; dip into butter mixture.
  3. Layer in a greased 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan.
  4. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. Bake in preheated 350 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Turn out onto serving platter.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/14/super-easy-garlic-pull-apart-bread/

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postheadericon Irish Soda Bread

As St Paddy’s Day approaches, our thoughts often turn to irish foods and traditions. Soda bread is a quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as “baking soda”, or in Ireland, “bread soda”) is used as a leavening agent instead of the traditional yeast. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide.

According to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (I’m not joking…), “All recipes for traditional soda bread contain flour, baking soda, sour milk (buttermilk) and salt.  That’s it!!!  This was a daily bread that didn’t keep long and had to be baked every few days.  It was not a festive “cake” and did not contain whisky, candied fruit, caraway seeds, raisins (add raisins and it becomes “spotted dog” not to be confused with the pudding made with suet of the same name), or any other ingredient.” The bread was traditionally baked in a cast iron skillet.

The Americanized version of soda bread that many of us are familiar with often contains sugar, raisins or currants, citrus zest, even butter.  Back in the early 1800’s, when it was introduced, soda bread was a poor man’s bread and would not have been made with those relatively luxurious ingredients.

The cross on the soda bread has several explanations, Legend has it that folks did it to bless the bread and to “let the devil out” while it’s baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays. It also allows the heat to permeate the thickest part of the loaf, allowing for more even baking.  (This recipe from Tish Boyle Sweet Dreams)

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups (323 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (185 g) cake flour * (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk ** (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it lightly with cooking spray or lining it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Sift the flours, baking soda, sugar, and salt together into a large bowl.
  4. Add the raisins and caraway seeds and make a well in the center.
  5. Add the melted butter and buttermilk to the well and gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones until a dough forms.
  6. Gently knead the dough with your hands a few times and shape it into a large ball with a taut top (don’t handle the dough too much – the more you handle it, the tougher it gets).
  7. Place the dough on the baking sheet and flatten it slightly. To make the cross on top, use a sharp, serrated knife the make a cut about 1 to 1-12 inch deep.
  8. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with some flour and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until it is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  9. Wrap the bread in a tea towel when it comes out of the oven. Cool in the tea towel set on a wire rack.
  10. This bread is best eaten the day it’s made but can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 2 months.

Notes

* To make your own "cake flour": Measure and add 1 cup all-purpose flour to a mixing bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the bowl. Mix to sift together the cornstarch and flour mixture. Use as needed in your recipe.

** To make your own 'buttermilk" Mix 1 T white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to 1 cuo whole milk. Stir and allow to sit for 10 - 15 minutes. Use as needed in your recipe. If you need more than a cup, just keep the ratios the same. For two cups, use two cups of milk and two tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/10/irish-soda-bread/

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postheadericon Red Beet Horseradish – Cwikla

Grated horseradish with beets is known as cwikla (CHEEK-wah) in Polish. Horseradish root is native to the warmer areas of Eastern Europe and it appears in recipes worldwide.  Here in the Coal Region, a commercially prepared and bottled version is easily found in the grocery store, but for those who cannot get it in stores or PREFER TO MAKE THEIR OWN, this recipe is for you! Cwikła is the perfect accompaniment for Polish sausage and ham and is an indispensable condiment at Easter time often used spread on a kielbasi or ham sandwich with a slice of hrudka (egg cheese) nestled between two pieces of paska bread. Cwikła (or plain horseradish – chrzan) is one of the foods included in baskets taken to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed in parishes with Eastern European ties. The horseradish is a reminder of the bitterness and harshness of the Passion of Jesus, and the vinegar it is mixed with symbolizes the sour wine given to Jesus on the cross. Although associated with Easter, this tasty condiment will find its way onto your plate all year round.

You can use fresh or commercially prepared horseradish and/or fresh cooked or canned beets. Making your own means you can adjust the degree of heat from the horseradish to your own taste; some folks believe, the more horseradish the better! You can also adjust the salt, vinegar, and sugar to find what’s just right for you. If you are unsure about the amount of horseradish, start with less — you can always add more but you can’t take it out.

A NOTE when using fresh horseradish root: Use caution! The root is pungent. The biting flavor and smell of horseradish strengthens when the root is grated due to mustard oils released by enzymes when the cells are crushed. The mustard oil dissipates within 30 minutes of exposure to air, and it is destroyed by heat, so vinegar is usually used to stop the reaction and stabilize the flavor. The release of the oils will burn your eyes and throat. Work at an arm’s length away and whatever you do, don’t deliberately smell the grated horseradish! (I made this mistake once. ONCE. I put some horseradish root my Dad bought at a local farmers’ market in the food processor, grated it, popped the lid off the processor and leaned over the bowl and inhaled.  My knees buckled, my throat seized up, my eyes felt like someone sprayed me with tear gas. I gasped for breath and went into full blown panic mode. It took a while to pass and it was not pretty. It was not a mistake I will ever make again!!) You might want to wear gloves and eye protection. Work cleanly; don’t spread the mixture to your body or other foods.

Red Beet Horseradish

Red Beet Horseradish

Cwikla - Red Beet Horseradish

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup homemade (or purchased horseradish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound beets (cooked, peeled, cooled, and grated) or 1 14-ounce can prepared beets (drained and grated)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix vinegar, brown sugar, horseradish, and salt until well combined.
  2. Add beets and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pack into clean glass jars and store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/08/red-beet-horseradish-cwikla/

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postheadericon Paska Bread

Paska is a traditional Easter bread originating in countries with predominant Eastern Orthodox religion or cultural connections to the ancient Byzantine Empire and are a traditional element in the Easter holidays of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Slovakia among others; countries well represented in the Coal Region. The liquid drained from another Eastern European traditional Easter food, Hrudka (Egg Cheese) is often saved and used in the making of the Paska bread (using this liquid as the “water” in the recipe). Hrukda is often served on Paska bread with kielbasi or ham, topped with red beet horseradish. Christian symbolism is associated with features of paska breads and the dough is usually shaped into round loaves decorated with religious symbols made of dough.  The bread is often made on Good Friday, placed in a basket along with other items like hrudka, butter, eggs, horseradish, kielbasi and ham to be taken to church and blessed on Holy Saturday, then enjoyed at Easter morning brunch. These items were forbidden in the Middle Ages during the Lenten fast. When the feast of Easter brought the rigorous fast to an end, and these foods were again allowed at the table, people showed their joy and gratitude by first taking the food to church for a blessing. Today the Easter blessings of food are still held in many churches in the Coal Region and across the United States, especially in parishes with Eastern European roots. This recipe uses raisins; some family recipes do not. None are “right” or “wrong”, do what suits your taste!  This recipe has directions for using a stand mixer, it can also be made by hand.

Paska

Paska

Paska

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm (100 to 105F) water
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 5 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • OPTIONAL - 1 cup golden raisins
    Egg wash
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk, butter sugar and salt in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter and sugar are melted. Do not boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm (100 - 105F).
  2. Place the lukewarm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Leave for 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
  3. Add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and mix on low-speed until combined.
  4. Add the lukewarm milk mixture, eggs and the remaining flour. Mix until combined. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer bowl. If the dough seems loose add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it pulls away from the sides of bowl.
  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 -8 minutes until you have a soft smooth dough which springs back slowly when you poke your finger into it.
  6. If adding raisins, knead them in now.
  7. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm spot for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide it into two pieces, one twice as large as the other.
  9. Form the larger piece into a ball and place it into a well-greased 9″ x 2″ round pan or springform pan.
  10. Divide the remaining piece of dough into three equal pieces, and roll each out into a 20″ strand. Create a braid with the strands.
  11. Place the braid on the round main loaf around the inside edge of the pan, or use it to form a cross over the top of the larger piece of dough.
  12. Cover the loaf and let it rise until doubled, about 45 - 60 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the center.
    Egg wash
  1. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the mixture gently over the top of the dough.
  2. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Remove it from oven, turn out of the pan, and cool completely on rack.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/06/paska-bread/

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postheadericon Hrudka (Egg Cheese)

Hrudka (aka cirek, sirets, sirok, sireczs) is a simple custard cheese that’s essential for many Eastern European Easter tables. It’s served cold, sliced and eaten by itself or often as part of a ham or kielbasi sandwich made on Paska bread that’s slathered with beet horseradish. For many of us in the Coal Region who have Eastern European roots, the making of  hrudka  is among some of our favorite traditions of the Easter holiday.  Hrudka is often included in a basket of food taken to church blessed on Holy Saturday. This Catholic ritual has been cherished for generations among many Coal Region area families. The roots of this tradition date back to the 12th century early history of Poland, however, the Eastern Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, including Czechs, Croatians, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Russians, Slovaks and Ukrainians, also participate in this holy ritual. The blessed food is not eaten until after mass on Easter Sunday.

The basic recipe is mixing eggs and milk, adding salt, and cooking it while continually stirring until the curds form.  Many families have their favorite version of hrudka and many include sugar and vanilla in their recipes.  Once the ingredients are cooked, the contents of the pot are poured into a strainer that is lined with cheesecloth or a porous towel. When the liquid drains, the cheesecloth is gathered and the liquid is squeezed out by hand to form the ball. The cheesecloth is tied to keep the ball shape, then hung over a container to allow remaining liquid to drain for a few hours or overnight. The hrudka is stored in a refrigerator for the Easter feast. Some use the leftover liquid in other recipes, such as paska bread. NOTE: Cooking in the microwave shortens the cook time and eliminates the scorching that sometimes occurs with cooking on the stovetop. Directions for both cooking methods are included.

 

Hrudka (Egg Cheese)

Hrudka (Egg Cheese)

Hrudka (egg cheese)

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • OPTIONAL (for sweet hrudka)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar (or to suit your taste - some people add up to a cup)

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs. Add milk, salt, (if using) sugar and vanilla and beat well.
  2. Cook in double boiler, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns to curds and "white water".
  3. Cook the mixture for a few minutes after the white water appears. Be careful not to allow the mixture to scorch.
  4. *** OR USE THE MICROWAVE COOK METHOD:
  5. Cook in the microwave on high, fluffing with a fork between blasts:
  6. 4 minutes-fluff
  7. 4 minutes-fluff
  8. 2 minutes-fluff
  9. 2 minutes-fluff
  10. 1 minuet + fluffing until it looks like watery scrambled eggs (the fluid will be clear). Then follow directions for straining and hanging below.***
  11. Pour the mixture into a strainer lined with a cheesecloth or a porous kitchen towel.
  12. Squeeze out the liquid, being careful not to burn yourself.
  13. Tie the cloth tight and hang it in a place where it can drip dry. (Some use a kitchen faucet for this purpose, others use a wooden spoon placed across the top of a pot.
  14. Allow the hrudka to cool, squeezing it a few more times to really squeeze the water out of it.
  15. Place it in the refrigerator. Allow it to hang to set for several hours or overnight, unwrap..
  16. Store well wrapped in the refrigerator.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/04/hrudka-egg-cheese/

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postheadericon Ambrosia (Salad)

A staple on many tables in Pennsylvania Dutch country and found at church events, pot lucks, and holiday dinners, Ambrosia was on the menu for my family’s Easter dinner; both my Mom and I adored it. Ambrosia literally means “food of the gods” but technically, it also means a dessert made with oranges and shredded pineapple.  And mini marshmallows.  Got to have the mini marshmallows!

Often found in the ready made salad sections of grocery store delis in the Pa Dutch/Coal Region, Mom and I would occasionally indulge ourselves by purchasing a container, but nothing tasted as good as the bowl of Ambrosia that we prepared together on Good Friday afternoon intended to be an accompaniment to our family’s Easter feast.

Even though Mom always used fresh coconut (cleaned and grated by my Dad) for a cake for Easter dinner dessert, she always bought a can of Baker’s sweetened shredded coconut for use in her Ambrosia recipe. Mom also always bought a larger jar of maraschino cherries than needed for the Ambrosia and set some aside in a little dish for my Dad to divert him away from snacking on the cherries draining in the colander that were destined for the salad.  Without fail, Dad would stride into the kitchen and spy the draining cherries, Mom would hand him the little dish to divert his attention and give me a look and grin that said, “There.  That’ll keep him busy!”

As big a fan as my Mom and I were of Ambrosia, the rest of our family had a “take it or leave it” attitude.  And that was a good thing, because as the time passed between the making of the bowl of Ambrosia and dinner after church on Easter Sunday, the level of Ambrosia in the bowl dropped dramatically. Apparently, both my Mom and I had the habit of sneaking a spoonful of Ambrosia out of the fridge periodically when we believed no one was looking. Once the level became dangerously low and it appeared the Ambrosia was in jeopardy of never making it to Easter dinner, Mom would dutifully put aside a little bowl she tucked in the back of the fridge so she and I could have a taste on Easter Sunday with our dinner.  Years later, Mom and I had many a laugh reminiscing about our stealth attacks on the Easter Ambrosia!

As the Easter season approaches, I think I will add this to the dinner menu in memory of my wonderful Mom.  I would move Heaven and earth to have one more minute with her again if I could.  Love you, Mom. And miss you like crazy.

NOTE: Nothing is carved in stone regarding the ingredients – feel free to leave out something you are not fond of and add something you are, if you desire. Toasting the coconut before adding it to the salad  raises this to another level as does toasting the nuts if using. Make sure the pineapple, mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries are thoroughly drained to keep the light and fluffy texture from becoming watery. Add the mandarin slices last and fold in gently to minimize the segments breaking apart. An overnight chill in the fridge before serving allows the marshmallows to become soft. The addition of sour cream in Mom’s version of Ambrosia keeps the salad from being overly sweet due to the high fruit content.

Ambrosia (Salad)

Ambrosia (Salad)

Mom's Ambrosia

Ingredients

  • 1 - 8 ounce tub of whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 - 20 ounce can pineapple in its own juice, tidbits or crushed, drained well
  • 1 - 15 ounce can mandarin orange segments, drained well
  • 1 cup red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 - 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes (toasted if desired)
  • 1 - 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 - 10 ounce jar of maraschino cherry halves, drained well
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream.
  2. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows.
  3. Fold in pineapple, grapes, and maraschino cherries and nuts (if using).
  4. Gently fold in mandarin oranges.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight before serving.
  6. Keeps up to 3 days in refrigerator.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/26/ambrosia-salad/

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postheadericon Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

I love this pie and the recipe is a classic that has been around for a long time. It is so quick and easy you will find yourself wanting to experiment with other gelatin flavors; lemon, lime, orange, raspberry, peach – use your imagination. You can top it with additional whipped topping and garnish with fruit or serve it as is. You can choose to add fruit to the filling or not, it is up to you. If adding fruit, use a cup of small fruits or chopped pieces; make sure it is dry (fresh blueberries) or well drained (chopped canned peaches). This is a very family friendly recipe, quick to make, and kids love it.  This is a 3 or 4 ingredient dessert that is a welcomed light ending to any meal and is especially refreshing as the weather warms here in the Coal Region as spring approaches. Try it frozen in the hot summer months.

Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

Jello Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, divided
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Topping, thawed
  • 1 ready-to-use reduced-fat graham cracker or shortbread crust (6 oz.)

Instructions

  1. Slice 1 cup strawberries; refrigerate for later use. Chop remaining strawberries; set aside.
  2. Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved.
  3. Add enough ice to cold water to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until slightly thickened. Remove any unmelted ice.
  4. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Stir in chopped strawberries. Refrigerate 20 to 30 min. or until mixture is very thick and will mound. Spoon into crust.
  5. Refrigerate 6 hours or until firm. Top with sliced berries just before serving.

Notes

You may use any flavor gelatin and add appropriate fruit to the filling.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/24/cool-and-creamy-jello-pie/

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