Saturday, 28 November 2009

More Christmas biscuits

I am amazed at the number of visitors who are currently pouring onto our blog, from all over the world, and all in search of recipes for Czech Christmas biscuits! That query far outranks any other. By miles.
So I thought I'd add a few more, and send them into the aether. (For those who might have landed on this page from the search engine, there are quite a few other recipes in the blog, from last December - search label Christmas biscuits).

Wasps' nests

these biscuits (see arrow) need two essentials: round dry sponge biscuits, and small metal, plastic or wooden forms - both are easily obtained in the Czech republic, but you may need to improvise to create your own version:


200g ground dried sponge biscuits, 100g ground nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, whatever), 150g crystal sugar, 70g butter, 1 egg. 2 table spoons cocoa, 2 table spoons rum

Mix all together into thick paste and leave to rest. Then dust the forms with sugar and fill them with the paste. Make hollows in the paste and fill them with cream filling. Seal the filled 'nest' with a sponge biscuit. When the biscuit is nicely set and won't pull off easily, turn the nests over.


2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp sugar, vanilla sugar to taste, 1 egg yolk, rum

Chocolate nut baskets


300g flour, 150-200g butter, 100g icing sugar, 1 whole egg, 1 yolk, 1/2pack raising agent.


150g digestive or other biscuits, ground, 200g nuts, 1 vanilla sugar, 2 tsps rum or brandy, 300ml milk


Chocolate icing, nuts

1/ Mix together all the pastry ingredients, work into pastry and leave in fridge till the next day. 2/ Mix together filling ingredients apart from milk. Then boil the milk and add the rest of the ingredients, boiling for a little while to form thick paste. 3/ Fill suitable small baking forms with the pastry and bake till golden. 4/ Fill cooled pastry baskets with the filling, and decorate.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Olsina Lake Autumn

I need to always take a walk by the lake to remind myself why I torment myself with the reconstruction of the Lake house :-) Autumn is now so glorious - after a short 'Winter' spell when a little snow fell and we all thought 'this is it' the days have been mild (around 20C) and completely still - not a breeze.
Which means that mornings are cold, there is frost on the ground, and mist sits motionless on the surface of the lake - only to lift with the sunshine, revealing the water surface with not a ripple, like a mirror.
One can sit on the little beach for hours because the place is SO quiet and SO motionless that time seems to disappear altogether...

Meanwhile the roof is almost finished - we are re-using the old tiles, not only because it's cheaper but mainly because I couldn't bear the thought of something spanking new on the old house - it still feels a bit weird with new gutters etc, but it will age soon, I am sure. The garden is still a tip no matter how hard I keep cleaning and tidying after the builders, and works are progressing too slowly for my liking - the facade needs doing sorely, and so does the outhouse, and the new gable end needs its studio window - but the budget is spent so this is almost it for the moment. A final tidy, away with plastic sheeting, and that'll have to do for now. But at least I know when the snows come in all seriousness, the house will be snug and safe.

Monday, 9 November 2009

new windows and facade forest house

Sorry about the huge delay in informing you all about the progress on the Forest house. As you can see the facade is complete (save for a final coat of paint) and new windows have been fitted, leaving the front door and two more windows to be done. Many repairs have been carried out inside, including repair to the original ceilings that, thank goodness, didn't fall down after all the various disasters with the roof etc. The mains electrics have all been changed - new trench for upgraded feeder cables, new meter and board etc. The rendering around windows still needs to be finished, and wooden ledges installed. The furniture is still temporary, what's left over from the previous owners, but cozy enough for the time being. As you can also see, the roof unfortunately still isn't complete (lack of money) so it'll have to wait till the Spring or Summer. But now it has all been prepared and covered with sheeting for the Winter - by myself as I didn't trust the roofers. Well that's that for the time being, no more building work till the Spring. But I hope to let you know how the house is feeling at around Christmas time as I should be spending some time there.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Wild mushroom harvest

Winter is coming, and the forest is slowly getting ready for a good rest - nevertheless passionate mushroom-hunters were still able to pop out for a basketful well until a week or so ago. Now you can still get blewits, honey fungus and the odd late chanterell, especially the 'brown', yellow-stemmed variety, and the few other late species. But I just had to share with you the photos from my trip a couple of weeks ago when the array of fungi was still quite spectacular. What to do with such a harvest? Well, some mushrooms get dried, some pickled, some eaten there and then. The Czechs have hundreds of ways to cook their beloved fruit-of-the-woods, but to me I always prefer not to use the mushrooms as an ingredient in another dish: there is nothing better than to savour the taste of each one as it comes, just with a little bit of olive oil and butter, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Yum.