Food

Bryndzové Halušky: Slovak potato dumplings with sheep cheese

Bryndzové Halušky, Slovak sheep cheese dumplings, gluten free variation - Almost Bananas

Ask any Slovak and they will tell you that bryndzové halušky is the national dish. Potato ‘dumplings’ are smothered in a sheep cheese, rather like soft feta, and topped with a good dose of bacon (don’t forget the drippings!).

The word ‘dumpling’ covers a multitude of meanings. As a child, a dumpling meant a puffy floury ball in soup or stew from my mom or a smooth more condensed drop from my dad.

I knew that dumplings covered everything from won tons to pierogies, but I thought that dumplings had to be boiled. According to Wikipedia, dumplings consist of some sort of dough, often wrapped around a filling, and can be boiled, steamed, or even baked. Well, that’s broad.  Click to continue reading

9 Tips to Save Time Cooking Real Food

9 tips to save time cooking real food - Almost Bananas

Even if you like to cook, nobody wants to spend all day every day in the kitchen. With a family to feed, it can start to feel like a downright chore that never ends.

Ever been scrambling for a last minute meal as the whining level increases with the kids’ hunger, as tempers flare and dinner is late which means that kid bedtime is late which means that mama is grumpy which means she stays up later to get some quiet time which means that she regrets staying up the next morning? Maybe I’m the only one…

I’ve compiled a list of ways that help me save time cooking real food. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that even though I know what I ought to do, I don’t always do it. But I’ve realized these help, and try to implement them as much as I can. Click to continue reading

Slovak Roast Goose (or Duck)

Slovak Roast Goose (or Duck) at Almost Bananas

Roast goose and roast duck are common meals in the fall and winter in Slovakia. Through the fall, restaurants hang signs declaring “Husacie Hody!” or “Kačacie Hody!” – Goose Feast! Duck Feast! The word hody has connotations of fall or of an originally religious event of the feast of the local church.

Commonly served with roast goose or duck, or a goose-duck breed as my mother in law often does, is lokše, Slovak potato flatbread. Lokše is basically mashed potatoes with a little flour (including gluten-free flour, as the potatoes hold it together), rolled flat and cooked on a dry skillet. The lokše are then generously brushed with the fat from the goose or duck, although butter or lard can work as well. Click to continue reading

Slovak Roast Rabbit

Slovak Roast Rabbt, juicy baked rabbit recipe on Almost Bananas

Rabbit used to be a much more commonly eaten meat in Slovakia, when most people kept a pig, rabbits, and chickens in their backyard. Today it is still eaten although not as much.

I know, rabbits are these soft cuddly sweet animals. Well, sometimes sweet. My in laws once had their rabbits stolen except for one, and when my husband opened the door he quickly learned why as the rabbit lunged toward him with teeth bared and claws at the ready.  Click to continue reading

Lokše: Slovak Potato Flatbread (regular and gluten-free)

Lokše: Slovak Potato Flatbread (regular and gluten-free)

lokse-1-words

A classic Slovak food, especially through the fall and winter, is lokše. Made mostly of potatoes, these are always at markets with various fillings. During the fall they are often served with duck or goose – and the duck or goose fat. And because it’s the potatoes that hold the flatbread together, they are a perfect candidate for making gluten-free.

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Slovak Style Egg Spread

Slovak style egg spread - can you guess the ingredients?

Some say that everything is better with butter. With Slovaks, that extends to egg spread.

Yes, butter as a base with egg spread. When I first saw my mother in law making Slovak egg spread, I raised my eyebrows. Butter? But then I tasted it and became a firm fan.

Sometimes egg mixtures can be a spread or a salad, like my recipe 3-Ingredient Egg Salad/Spread. This is definitely a spread, not a salad.

It’s a fast and filling meal to make, whether you don’t want to cook because the weather is still hot or because you’ve got to eat in five minutes.

Butter is making a comeback after being vilified for years, which is great because it tastes amazing. So get in even more butter with Slovak Style Egg Spread!

Slovak style egg spread - can you guess the surprise ingredient?

Slovak Style Egg Spread
 
Ingredients
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • onion
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Make hardboiled eggs according to your preferred method. I boil them for an undefined amount of time while I forget about them, and then remember - oh, my eggs! Cool in cold water.
  2. When cold enough, peel eggs and chop. Mix with softened butter, mustard, chopped onion (according to taste) and salt and pepper. The amount of salt will depend on whether your butter is salted or not.
  3. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley if desired.
  4. Spread on bread, crackers, flatbread, etc or use as a dip. Enjoy!
 

Spruce Tea

Spruce Tea - Almost Bananas

This time of year the ends of conifer trees have bright green buds of new growth. Spruce tips, in particular, are easy to use. Last year I made spruce tip ice cream, as well as a syrup with honey, spruce salt, and just dried spruce. I was surprised how sweet the dried spruce smelled; I used it to flavour meat.

The smell of spruce has the ability, at any moment, of instantly transporting me back to the mountains of my childhood.

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Francúzske Zemiaky: Slovak French Potato Casserole

Francuske Zemiaky: Slovak French Potato Casserole - Almost Bananas

This spring has fluctuated up and down – one day it feels like summer is here to stay, a couple days later I wonder if winter ever left. Today a cold north wind is blowing down from the hills, and is the perfect day for a comfort dish like Francúzske zemiaky – a Slovak version of potato gratin.

Potato gratin is a well known side dish, but Slovaks took the side dish and made it into a one pot (pan) meal. As a busy mom, the more simple to a meal is, the better.

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The Best of 2015

Best of 2015 on Almost Bananas

2015 was the second year of having this little blog space. Almost Bananas transitioned from mostly about food with a little bit of Slovakia thrown in, to focusing more on Slovakia with some weird healthy food thrown in.

I’ve really enjoyed the connections that the blog has brought. Each time somebody leaves a comment or writes me an email, I feel honoured that it was important enough for them to take the time to do so. Thank you to all of you who read, comment, and write emails – you’re why I’m here!

This year, I’ve also started writing at two other places. Holistic Squid is where you will find more healthy food posts by me, including liver drinks and sourdough recipes. The Slovak Spectator is a Slovak newspaper in English and, thus far, I have an opinion piece once a month on matters related to Slovakia.

Also read: The Best of 2014.

First up, the top ten posts written this year with the most views:  Click to continue reading

Medovníky: Slovak Spiced Honey Cookies

Medovniky, a Slovak Spiced Honey Cookie, is a favourite in the winter months - Almost Bananas

Slovak medovníky is translated as gingerbread, but it is a very different cookie, in my opinion.

Medovníky can but doesn’t have to have ginger in it, never has molasses, and has a much drier texture than gingerbread cookies. Instead of molasses, medovníky are sweetened with honey.

They are sold beautifully and elaborated decorated by artists wielding an icing bag. More medovníky cookies are made and given around Christmas time, as they are full of warm spices. The cookies can be hung as a tree decoration, as I have done here with the decorated cookies.

The cookies themselves aren’t super sweet, probably because they are usually caked in icing. I actually like them plain and are perfect tea or milk dunking cookies.  Click to continue reading

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