After I discover new and delicious foods, I love to learn to prepare them at home, how about you?
Here in Brno with many excellent restaurants, there are several traditional Czech dishes that I enjoy when eating out. But at this challenging time when we are mandated to stay at home, I still hunger for these now familiar favorites.
So, as I continue to limit the time I spend outside of our home, I am seeking to expand my cooking abilities by preparing some new meals. It is not only interesting and rewarding to try new things, but cooking for loved ones is important for sustenance and comfort. But preparing traditional Czech cuisine involves using unfamiliar ingredients and new cooking methods, and usually, I prefer to learn from an experienced cook.
Thankfully in this time of social distancing, I discovered a new resource, the Czech Cookbook.
Kristýna Koutná is a Czech native and in 2018 she published a cookbook of traditional Czech recipes that are written in English. She has lived and travelled in the USA for many years. Her book offers not only tasty, traditional recipes that are well tested, but also incorporates the practical advice and instructions needed to successfully prepare her favorite family recipes, even for people of non-Czech heritage like me.
To complement the detailed recipes, tips, pictures and personal stories in the book, she has many English language videos on her website and on YouTube. These provide helpful hints and step by step demonstrations for preparing these dishes. For me, this is a winning combination.
Expat in a Czech kitchen
So, I started with a soup, then progressed to main dishes, included a traditional side and finished with a dessert. All turned out perfectly and were delicious.
Over the past 2 weeks at home I successfully prepared pórková polevká (leek soup) , hovězí guláš (beef goulash), svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin with cream sauce), domácí knedlíky (dumplings) and banánová buchta (banana crumble cake).
In the process, I tried some new ingredients and seasonings while practicing different cooking technics. Instead of celery I used celer, a gnarly looking celery root that is peeled and then grated and cooked to provide a distinct flavor to the svíčková na smetaně. When I prepared knedlíky (dumplings) the step-by-step instructions, tips and video gave me the confidence and information to select the correct flour, prepare the yeast dough and properly perform the steaming technic to deliver tasty and tender dumplings.
The more you cook, the healthier you live
Nutritionally some research supports that “the more you cook, the healthier you live.” Possible benefits include increasing your intake of healthy ingredients, personalizing recipes for food preferences and enjoying delicious meals (and leftovers) with your family.
Although the nutrition facts were not included for the recipes I prepared, they all contain fresh ingredients including a variety of vegetables and fruit.
So, as we remain cooped up to contain the coronavirus, I am planning to prepare more Czech meals, how about you? Please share how you are cooking to comfort and support others while you stay home and stay healthy.
The article was written by Victoria Hawk – an American Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with more than 15 years of clinical and research experience. She is living in Brno with her husband Jon, who is working here on an expat assignment. Victoria enjoys learning about local foods and plans to share her experience through this blog series.
Pictures and recipes by Czech Cookbook, Kristýna Koutná.