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Recipes

 

My Slovak grandmother, Pauline, received a handwritten book of recipes for her 16th birthday in 1929 from her best friend in Pivnica, Vojvodina.   Her friend worked for a wealthy family as a baker in Novi Sad, and I suspect, based on the recipes, that she either worked at Café Gerbeaud, a 150 year old famous bakery in Budapest, or worked with someone who did.

Pauline’s Cookbook recipes are below; for the most part they contain few ingredients and are simple to make. But they do rely on fresh ingredients, and taste best when you grow or pick the fruits or nuts yourself.  Other family Slovak recipes can be found here, and recipes I have created myself using fresh local ingredients from Essex County, where Pauline raised her family, are located here.

Pauline’s recipes were written with metric measurements. Here is a helpful measurement converter: http://convert-to.com/flour-types-volume-weight-amounts-conversion

There are over 250 recipes written in long hand in the cookbook; several are translated below.

Čierna Torta (Black Cake) This black cake takes its name from the ingredient coffee. Or does it get it from the use of black walnuts?
Perece Mousse A light dessert, not too sweet, with an unusual, slightly nutty taste.
Jablikova Pita The most popular apple squares in my family.
Kakaové – Čokoládové Plásty (Oblátky) These are cookies I remember well from my childhood. I overdosed on them.
Kifle Pauline’s father’s bakery was famous for his kifle.
Kugler Torta Before the bakery was called Gerbeaud, it was named the Kugler Café, after the founder. He hired Emil Gerbeaud, and Kugler retired around the turn of the century, in 1899.
Medovnik This Eastern European cake is the most popular cake on the site.  I have been unable to find a recipe like this one on the Internet. Pauline’s recipe is over 100 years old.
Mliekova Torta Milk cake reminds me of the French cake, Clafouti.  I make milk cake with the sour cherries from our tree in the spring.
Omlet The Omlet recipe is the first recipe in Pauline’s pastry cookbook. I remember when Grandma Pauline would make this for breakfast as a special, sweet treat for her grandchildren. This Omlet recipe makes a sweet, puffy pancake that is baked in the oven, then spread with jam, and rolled.
Orechova Torta My grandmother’s beloved walnut cake, with a simply, dripping, chocolaty icing.  The quality of the walnuts is of upmost importance.
Palicinky Lasagne Layers of delicate Slovak pancakes with a béchamel sauce and layers of pork and beef.
Perece Z Gaštanu Dough with Chestnuts, or Chestnut Cake.  This recipe makes a dense, moist cake similar to walnut cake.
Pusedle Palicinky Torta A mysterious cake encased in a meringue, with the surprise center of palicinky.
Pusedle This recipe looks to me like an early version of French Macarons, which are currently all the rage in Paris and spreading to the US.  The word Pusedle is virtually unknown, and I have found it in only one other web site from a Slovak woman baker also from Vojvodina. It is a slang word for “little piles.”
Šišky Pauline made these sweet fried donut fritters for her kids and grandkids.   This is another very popular recipe.
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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Anna permalink
    July 29, 2010 10:43 pm

    Dear Tonya,

    I am so thankful for your website! I am finding that as I am creeping through life and my children are getting older my Slovak roots are dearer to me than ever. My family are originally from Vojlovica (Banat region ni Vojvodina I believe) and migrated to Australia in 1971. I am Australian born. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and history. Its all very interesting and fascinating! I’m looking at researching my own family tree but do not know where to begin. My memories of my late grandparents are very precious to me and your website has truly touched my heart! Thank you again.

    Kindest regards and warm wishes
    Anna

    • July 29, 2010 11:00 pm

      Hi Anna, I wonder what it is about growing older that urges us to look back towards our roots. I feel as if I know my great grandmother, Marisa, now, even though she died decades before I was born. And placing their lives in the context of historical events makes them really come to life for me. I can’t explain why I wasn’t interested in my family’s history before now.

      The best way to start it is to begin asking family members and their neighbors questions. I’m having a great time interviewing elderly relatives – they all have such interesting stories and are eager to tell them. I also signed up to Ancestry.com. There is not much there yet on Slovak history, although I understand from my relatives in Slovakia that the Mormons are busy putting in old church records, and that it will soon be available.

      Also, the name changes of the countries makes it a bit tricky – Slovaks often listed themselves on immigration and census records as “Hungarian” or “Austro Hungarian” or “Austrian.” And name spellings – Suster, Shuster, Schuster – my family spelled it all these ways, even the same people at different periods in their lives. But it’s fun to research anyway – it’s like a giant puzzle.

      I am so grateful to you for leaving a comment and compliments – it makes this all the more worthwhile!

      Dovidenia,

      Tonya

      • Anna permalink
        July 29, 2010 11:24 pm

        Dakujem pekne! I grew up here in Melbourne with some lovely girls whose surname was Suster! Thank you so much for replying to me so quickly, Tonya. You have helped to boost my enthusiasm. Yes, I am married to an Austrlian with an Anglo background and as my children get older I want them to know about and treasure their Slovak roots as much as I do. Blessings, Anna

    • John Ambrusch permalink
      December 3, 2010 12:51 pm

      My family is also from Vojlovica, Pančevo. They came to the US in 1955. I have been researching it for 15 years. Please contact me.

  2. Zelka Cani permalink
    July 30, 2010 6:59 am

    Dear Tonya, Wow, our world is big yet so small. I am Anna’s best friend and also from a Slovak background. She had sent me your website and it just fascinates me. My family came to Australia in the 1960’s, my mother from Pivnice and my father from the beer making town of Celarevo in Vojvodina. Anna and I share our thoughts on Slovak recipes often and thankfully our families have kept that Slovak tradition going as we still eat traditional Slovak food and we speak the language fluently. I am 40 and married also to a Slovak who is from Bacsky Petrovec, yes where they have the sausage festival every year. My husband knows the Miklovic family whom you had the priviledge to have lunch with. My husband has been in Australia since the year 2001 and I have been to Vojvodina myself 4 times in my lifetime. A great culture and great food, in moderation though.
    The ladies in the photos from Pivnice, do you have their names. I asked mum to look at the pictures and she did not recognise them and they would be my mum’s generation. Your website is a true treasure and something to be shared. Keep up the wonderful work. Blessings. Zelka.

  3. Zelka permalink
    July 30, 2010 7:30 am

    Dear Tonya, Wow, what a big world we live in and yet so small. Anna had given me your website details and I am just so amazed that you have taken this step to get back to your Slovak roots. Anna and I grew up together and my parents are also Slovak. They came to Australia in the 1960’s. My mother is from Pivnica and my father from the beer making town of Celarevo in Vojvodina. I am also married to a Slovak who is from Bacsky Petrovec, the town known for its sausage festival and yes my husband knows the Miklovic family with whom you had the pleasure to have lunch with. Our parents migrated here to have a better life but with that they still kept their Slovak traditions, culture and their Slovak recipes which we have on an almost daily basis. The recipes you have are very familiar. Perece Gastanove are familiar. The word ‘perece’ is literally translated ‘pretzel’ It is a dough which is then plaited into a pretzel shape and baked. Pusedle are sort of like macarons, not quite. The word ‘pusedle’ is translated ‘meringue kisses’ and the look is identical and the recipes also. Slovak language can be confusing as the Slovak which is spoken in Slovakia is very different from the Slovak spoken in Vojvodina Serbia. I do not know if there is a dictionary available for the Vojvodina spoken Slovak, I have not seen one. Both Anna and myself speak fluent Slovak as that is the first language our parents taught us and we learnt English once we attended school. It is an amazing job that you have done with your grandmother Pauline’s cook book. It is great that there is information for those that want to get back to their Slovak roots and know what the cuisine was all about. Blessings to you, Zelka.

    • July 30, 2010 8:50 am

      I think I can track down some of the names of the women – the Miklovics will know.

    • July 30, 2010 3:54 pm

      Ask your mom about these Pivnica families: Cincurak, Mihalic, Klucik, Kubenik

      I’ve been finding people from Pivnica in Australia, Argentina, Croatia, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, the US, Canada and Puerto Rico.

  4. Zelka permalink
    December 4, 2010 2:44 am

    Hi John,
    Well, you have found a great website. Pauline’s Cookbook is a wealth of information sourced from all over the place and the more Slovaks we get adding comments here the better. I am in Melbourne also and my family came here in the 1960’s. Anna, who has posted comments here is also from a Slovak background and her family comes from Vojlovica and she lives just up the road from me. I shall let her know to read the comments here. I do hope you find lots of information here regarding your Slovak background. Regards, Zelka.

  5. Stephanie Gress permalink
    January 26, 2013 8:32 pm

    Thank you for this website! I have been researching my great grandparents with little to no luck, but have been trying to learn more recipes besides the one I know from my grandmother that I fix often…halusky. I spent over an hour tonight sitting here going through each of your links to the right. I am hoping to find more about my ancestry, but in the meantime will continue to enjoy you and Lubos’ websites! I do know my grandparents came from Henckovce and Ochtina and their names were Duran and Gamary. Not much more information than that. My 2 great aunts do not have much to share which is such a shame. I am so eager to learn more! Again..thank you for keeping these recipes alive! ~Stephanie

    • February 9, 2013 3:09 pm

      Hi Stephanie, have you tried going on line to search recently posted Slovak church records? Since you know the towns and names of your family, you should find all sorts of information on line by poking around in the town church records. Best of luck! Tonya

  6. matthew permalink
    October 19, 2013 9:02 am

    Hello,
    My name is Matthew,
    my father is Bobby and grandfather was Sam Meleg, all from Harrow, Ontario.
    So that make me your cousin…thanks for providing me with access to authentic Slovak cooking! It`s everything my grandmother used to make for me on the farm.

    Now I can pass these recipes over to my better half,
    getting her to make something…well, thats something else.

    Thanks so much,
    Yours

    Matthew M
    Tokyo, Japan.

  7. Diego permalink
    August 9, 2015 10:15 pm

    Hello
    Maybe you can Help me. My Grandmother is from Rijeka. She use to make a traditional Gnocchis s with a meat sauce that was delicious. When I went to Rijeka for the first time 2 years ago I tried the same Gnocchis in Nasusaku Restaurant. Can you help me find that recipe? My grandmother died some yaers ago and I would love to recover that tradition.

    thank you

    Diego

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