Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slovak Easter Cheese (Cirak)

My great-grandparents immigrated to America to escape the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.  They didn't have a lot when they arrived in the New World.  But they brought with them their culture and traditions.

On such tradition was Slovak Easter Breakfast.  This breakfast includes fresh baked bread, Easter cheese, baked ham, kielbasi, hard boiled eggs and beet horseradish.

This is a custom that I enjoy and maintain.  It's something I look forward to every year.

A primary component of Slovak Easter breakfast is Easter cheese (cirak).  The Easter cheese isn't really a cheese at all.  It's more like a firm egg custard.  It can make a lovely accompaniment to any Easter dish.

I love it and I think you will too!

Slovak Easter Cheese (Cirak)

12 Eggs
1 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Dash Ground Nutmeg
6 Cups Milk

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat slightly. Stir in sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. Set aside.

Heat milk in large saucepan over low heat until almost boiling, do not scorch. Slowly stir in egg mixture, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the mixture takes on the texture of scrambled eggs.  The whey will separate so there will be a bit of liquid.  

Pour the hot mixture into a cheesecloth lined colander.  OR, what I do is stretch a clean nylon stocking (a knee high or ankle high) over a wide mouth jar or a bowl.

Lift the cheesecloth (or stocking) out of bowl, squeezing to remove as much liquid as you can.  You can make one large ball, but I usually make two smaller ones.  

Be careful, it will be VERY hot.  I always end up burning myself, so fair warning.

Tie cloth up tightly. Let it hang over sink or bowl for up to 3 hours. I make a loop at the end of the stocking and hang it over the sink from a cabinet knob.

Cover with a damp linen and place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours. 

Remove cheesecloth (or stocking) and slice to serve.

Note:  you can save the liquid that drains off.  You can use it as a milk/water replacement for baking.  It's is sweet and goes great in oatmeal and creates a silky textured bread.  

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmm! My favorite meal! You’ve not made enough beets and horseradish, though! I would eat all of that on my own lol :)