Thursday, January 12, 2012
Bread Dumplings (Knedliky) and Cabbage (Zeli) from My Bohemian Mother-in-Law
I am turning to heavier foods right now, food that warms and comforts us and helps the outside chill feel further away. A festive winter meal that my husband, Bob, grew up with is his mother’s Bohemian Czech Bread Dumplings (Knedliky) and Cabbage (Zeli) served with a pork roast. Bob’s grandfather immigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1920 when he was 16 years old and Bob’s mother, Ann, was always very proud of her Bohemian identity. She kept her heritage alive in some of the foods she prepared (our family favorite is her peach dumplings – a summer staple) and knedliky and zeli were part of their holiday dinners.
The bread dumplings are tender and rustic looking, a perfect sponge to soak up the meat and cabbage juices. They are paired with shredded cabbage that is seasoned with caraway seeds and vinegar for an earthy, sweet tanginess. Bob’s love of caraway and vinegar flavors is firmly rooted in this meal!
These recipes are from my mother-in-law’s collection. Ann passed away almost 14 years ago and her recipe binder is something I treasure. Turning the pages filled with her handwriting evokes warm memories and the sound of her voice. Even though she is no longer here, she is still sharing with us and making it possible for her heritage to be passed on to a new generation.
This was part of the inspiration for me to begin this blog. It’s a place for me to gather our family favorites, new discoveries and my thoughts on food, a place for my voice to be heard for my sons and future generations.
Eating the knedliky and zeli with roast beef around our table and telling our sons stories about their grandmother warms my heart. It allows us to carry on family traditions and keep part of our heritage alive in a delicious manner.
Bread Dumplings (Knedliky)
From my mother-in-law, Ann Cordes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 slices of dry or stale white bread, cut into small cubes (about 2 cups)
In a large mixing bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, water, eggs and salt. Add the cubed bread and blend thoroughly (a flexible plastic scraper is helpful for mixing the dough). Using floured hands, form the dough into 2 logs about 6 inches long (the dough will be a little sticky – do the best you can and remember these are rustic dumplings).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the logs into the rapidly boiling water (not the whistling teapot – Ann’s note!) and boil for 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to gently turn the dumplings over a few times so they cook evenly.
Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon to a plate. You can eat the dumplings right away, or chill overnight. The texture improves if made ahead and chilled so I recommend this method. When the dumplings are cool, wrap in plastic tightly and chill overnight.
When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to slice into 3/4 inch slices. Warm the dumplings in a steamer. I also warm by wrapping the sliced logs in foil and placing them in the same pot with the roast beef I am reheating.
Serve with cabbage (recipe follows) and a roast with lots of meat juices.
Bohemian Cabbage (Zeli)
From my mother-in-law, Ann Cordes
1 medium onion, chopped
Vegetable oil for sautéing onion (Ann used duck fat)
1 1/2 pounds green cabbage, shredded
1 cup water
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Salt to taste
In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onion. Saute onion over medium heat until soft and beginning to brown. Add the cabbage, water, caraway seeds, sugar and vinegar. Simmer and stir for about 20 minutes, adding some salt and tasting along the way.
Spoon into a serving bowl and serve with the dumplings.