Kolache with Grandma

This Christmas I decided to integration a few French traditions into my family’s holiday. As I researched recipes on le revellion de noel, such as fougasse, my hubby inquired as to my always turning to my French side while ignoring the Czech/Irish side.

I was immediately reminded of Kolaches. Kolache is a traditional Czech bread roll filled with sweet jam or poppyseed filling. Every event with my mother’s side of the family included Grandmother’s Kolaches. Filled with poppy seeds or apricots, their sweet dough always fills my mind with memories.

I asked my mother for the recipe and she told me any sweet dough would do, but gave me one to try. Then she gave me the filling recipe. Unfortunately I became distracted while boiling the apricots and burnt them to a crisp. So instead I made filled the first attempt at kolaches with jam.

I asked my Grandmother for the recipe, but she only could find the filling recipe not the dough, and repeated what my mother had said about any sweet dough working.

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Then while on vacation I had the wonderful opportunity to bake with my Aunt and Grandmother! Here is the recipe we used.

Kolache with poppy seed and dried plum filling
To avoid our mistake soak poppy seeds overnight or at least before starting this recipe.

4-5 Cups white flour
1 Cup mashed potatoes
1/2 Cup scalded milk
1/2 Cup warm water – 100˚
1/2 Cup softened butter
1/2 Cup sugar (we used honey)
2 lightly beaten eggs
2 packages yeast (5 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
optional: 1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange zest or 2 drops essential oil or a 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or other spice of your choice

  1. Scald your milk – heat to 185˚ then allow to cool to 125˚
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (100˚ to “proof” or 120˚ if you are not proofing your yeast and instead mixing everything in at once).
  3. Stir in milk that has cooled to 125˚ or less, sugar or honey, eggs, salt, butter, and potatoes. It will be lumpy at this point. If you are adding the optional flavor, add it here.
  4. Add in 2 cups of the flour and beat until smooth – I love using a wooden spoon for this, I know some people enjoy using their dough hook on their upright mixer.
  5. Mix in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle. We only used 4 total cups of flour. The dough was much wetter and stickier than I am used to working with, and we only mixed it until it was all incorporated. We did not knead the dough even though the recipe we were using said to knead for 5 minutes.
  6. Grease (we used butter) all surfaces of your bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until double – to speed rising we placed our dough onto a second bowl of warm water and covered with a towel.

While your dough is rising, make your filling.

1 Cup poppy seeds – soaked
1 round Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 Cup milk
1 Cup raisons or dried plums (aka prunes) – chopped
1/2 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
alterations: use dried apricots (1.5 cups) instead of raisons or plums and omit poppy seeds and use water instead of milk.

Here’s what we should have done.

  1. Soak poppyseeds in enough water to cover overnight or at least a few hours.
  2. Drain poppyseeds.
  3. In a small saucepan heat milk, lemon or vanilla, sugar, and butter to a slow boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add the rest of your ingredients.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Finished product should be thick and hold its shape when scooped by rounded teaspoon full.

Here is what actually happened.

  1. After we realized that we should have soaked the poppy seeds we put them in water, boiled them, removed them from the heat and let them soak for maybe an hour. Like you would do with dried beans. The alternative would have been to grind the seeds in a spice grinder but we thought the texture of whole poppy seeds was preferable.
  2. We then drained the poppy seeds and added the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Grandma said the 1/2 cup of milk originally written on her recipe card was way too much liquid so we cut it down to 1/4 cup. She also noted that we could use evaporated milk, cream, sweetened condensed milk, or regular milk. We used sweetened condensed and omitted the sugar.
  4. We used vanilla.
  5. We chopped prunes to include since Grandma said they added better flavor than the raisons.
  6. We also added a dash of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.
  7. Realizing we were supposed to boil the liquids first we put the pot on the stove and heated it slowly while constantly stirring until it started to bubble. It was already very thick.
  8. We lowered the temperature and cooked for a few more minutes while stirring constantly.
  9. Then we removed the pot from the heat and allowed to cool.

It was starting to smell like Kolaches and the dough was ready to be formed.

  1. Add enough flour to your counter to prevent sticking.
  2. Form dough into balls. We ended up with about 40. We did not keep our size even – I’m guessing 48 would have been a good even size.
  3. Flatten each ball into a 3” circle.
  4. Add a generous teaspoon of the filling into the center of the circle.
  5. Draw two opposite sides up to meet in the middle.
  6. Draw up your third side.
  7. Pull your fourth side up for that it overlaps the others. This adds a lovely finished shape. You also want to see a little filling here and there between the folds.
  8. Place in a butter-greased pan with a bit of butter between each roll.
  9. Allow to rise. We put it in a warm oven with some water for moisture to speed the rising process.
  10. Bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes.

I’ve gotten confirmation that they turned out just how we all remembered them. There is somewhere the typical potato sweet roll recipe Grandma likes to use, but we found one in a cook book and added the potato. Grandma says the potato helps the roll not be dry.

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Fiesta Salsa Recipe

It was 9:20 pm Saturday night and I was walking to the garden, again, aided by a head lamp, with scissors and a measuring cup.

Because I wanted to make salsa that morning. Here is how my Saturday actually went.

I had to hit the farmer’s market before I could start. I needed a few items that weren’t quite ready in my garden. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the house that needed to be used soon but did not have peppers or garlic yet. I got up early, ran down to my jar supply, gathered a plethera of pints, realized that I only had 2 lids in my canning supply. I suppose I could pilfer the 5 new jelly jars with lids. I have to get more today, I need to get going on pickles too.

Only first I had to take girl child to the dentist at 7:30 am. Yes there is a dentist open, not just on weekends, but early morning weekends. We finished at the dentist, and visited two stores to pick up the perfect birthday gift for her BFF. Finally, we are at the farmer’s market. I had taken a photo of my recipe before I left the house, that way I could check that I had all the ingredients. Of course once we were there I only glanced at it, and remembered I needed garlic and hot peppers. Got them plus a few extras – like fresh made irish soda bread! So good toasted with butter slathered all over. Also good with honey. Mmmm.

We got home, and I started chopping tomatoes. I even took the time to squeeze out the seeds. This is a step I usually ignore because it seems like a waste, but then I realize later that the salsa is too liquidy, so I tried to follow the recipe. Except I only had 5.5 cups of tomatoes in the house. So off I traipse to the garden. You may be interested to know that our garden is at the opposite end of our property, away from our house by about 1/4 mile. I pick all the ripe tomatoes, promising my garden I will be back to pick the cucumbers and zucchinis, and maybe pull a few weeds, and see if there are any remaining peas, or beans. And yikes those turnips have to get processed today!

Back in the kitchen, I now have 7 cups of tomatoes, seeded, and chopped. I start on the next ingredient, 2 cups chopped, seeded, peeled cucumbers. This the is the main reason I chose this recipe. If you garden you know there are always too many zucchini, and the same can often apply to cucumbers, and tomatoes. I had searched the internet and found several recipes for zucchini in salsa, but none of them were canned, so I checked my blue book, and found the Fiesta Salsa. It contains cucumbers, which I discovered over the years of too many zucchini to deal with easily, could be substituted for cucumbers in most canning recipes. Bread and butter zucchini pickles are amazing by the way.

I seeded and chopped, but did not peel, 1 cup of cucumbers and 1 cup of zucchini. I didn’t want to chance the flavor too much, and I don’t believe in peeling cucumbers or zucchini. Such a waste, althought I’m sure there is a reason the recipe planner wanted me to peel them.

Next ingredent, hot peppers, several kinds, equalling 4 cups. I removed seeds, and threw them into the food processor. I’m a whimp when it comes to spice so I got a few medium hot peppers, and most mild hot peppers.

Then I was called away to help unload the animal feed from the truck. I realized in that moment that the feed shed really had to be cleaned, since I had officially evicted the chickens who had been calling it a coop for the last year. I emptied and cleaned, and organized and now it is a working feed shed only again. Although I think we will need to store firewood in it this winter.

Back in the kitchen, I realize I have only purchased 2 cups of peppers, so I topped it with 2 more cups of zucchini and cucumber. So much for me finally following a recipe.

Next ingredient, 1/4 cup minced cilantro. I don’t usually like the taste of cilantro, and usually substitute parsley from our patch, but I did not get a patch started this year, and guess what, I didn’t pick any up while at the farmers market.

Out I go to mention going into town to my hubby. He is getting ready to reattach the tiller to our garden tractor. So I stick around to help him out. Then go to check out the chickens in their new space, collect eggs from all around in their yard. Notice their water is low, fill it.

Get back inside, let the hubby know I have to go back to town. He lists some items he needs. I make a list, it includes cilantro, and majoram. Grab boy child and let girl child nap. Off we go.

I park in the lot near the co-op, and decide to run into the thrift store first. Boy child needs a few items for his Renaissance Festival costume. We look, probably linger too long, then head to the co-op. I pick up cilantro, and majoram. No sign of fresh parsley, I hope I still like it once the recipe is complete. Head off to fill hubby’s list.

Stop at 2 more thrift stores on the way. Find a vest that will be a perfect doublet. Get hubby’s items. Check the list again. All it good. Head home.

As we are pulling into the driveway. Hubby informs me we are going to work in the garden. He wants me to show him where he can till – there are some produce that is done or I have given up on. The letuce row that has bolted. The pea row that the wildlife consumed. The root row, where we pulled all the turnips.

We worked hard. Pulled giant weeds so the tiller could make it through. Pulled posts and string. Weeded around the peppers and tomatoes. Moved all the volunteer tomatoes from the rows we were tilling under. Replanted the tomatoes, picked the cucumbers and zucchinis.

Finally back at the house. We are all tired. I turn on the heat for the boiling water canner. We sit for a few episodes of Once Upon A Time. Send the kids off to bed.

Back to the kitchen. Start the dishwasher to sanitize my jars. Add ingredients to the pot, slowly, checking them off as I go.

7 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
2 cups chopped, seeded cucumbers (zucchini)
2 cups chopped, seeded banana peppers
1 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno
1/2 cup chopped anaheim peppers

Shoot! I only needed 3 cups of hot peppers! I pull 1 cup of the zucchini/cucumber mix off the top, reach into fridge, open bag – nope that’s asparagus. GAH! And so I was walking to the garden at 9:20 pm to get chives, desperate to finish the salsa, because there is no room in the fridge to store anything overnight.

Back to the house with a cup of chives. I finish the recipe.
1/4 cup minced cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T dried marjoram (I couldn’t find fresh)
1 t salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 T lime juice

A little over an hour later I am finally done. I did run into a little trouble with the limes being scary old in the bottom drawer of the fridge, but I figured it out. 5 pints plus 1/2 cup were completed.

Salsa batch 1 complete. Sigh.