Slovak Easter Cheese – Sirecz

Richard Terek added a comment yesterday, March 20, 2012, in response to my posting about the wonderful treats our mothers and grandmothers used to make at Eastertime. Specifically, he mentioned the hot cross buns and the puska. Richard then added:

” I remember my grandmother making Sirecz (Egg Cheese) for Easter too!”

In honor of your grandmother and all of our “Bubbas” and mothers who cooked from their hearts, I found a recipe that duplicates the Easter Egg Cheese of our youths.

 

Called cirek, sirets, sirok, sirecz, Hrudka or just Easter egg cheese since it traditionally served on Paska (Easter Bread) A traditional Slovak Easter Cheese served with the Easter meal. This is served sliced and cold. It tastes like a sweet custard.”

 Ingredients

12 eggs

1 quart milk

1 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 pinch ground nutmeg

Directions

1. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs until mixed well.

2. Transfer the eggs to a double boiler and stir in milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes. Use a metal slotted spoon and constantly stir the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.

3. When the mixture looks just like cooked scrambled eggs, pour it carefully into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Carefully gather the ends of the cheesecloth in your hands and pull them together until the cheese forms into a ball. Tie the cheesecloth tightly at the top of the ball. Tie the cheesecloth ends over a faucet or to the handle of a kitchen cabinet (place a bowl under to catch the whey dripping down) and let hang for about 3 hours.

4. Untie the cheesecloth and wrap the cheesecloth ball in plastic wrap before refrigerating. The cheese will keep for about a week. Slice and serve.

 

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38 Responses to Slovak Easter Cheese – Sirecz

  1. Robert Purat says:

    George, My Mother came from Freeland PA. Her name is Pauline Tokash. She moved to and I grew up in Connecticut but alot of our family still lives in Freeland and Hazleton.
    Bob

  2. noreen duppstadt says:

    it was great reading about all the foods i wiil try and make the easter cheese for theit fist time this year i just want to know how much of everything i should put in it i know my parents never put the sugar in it thank you for any help happy Easter

  3. rose henigin says:

    My Mom made the ‘cheese’, bread ,and Dad ground the horseradish and put everything else- including salt shaker in the basket to be blessed. Those days are memorable. Poppyseed and nut rolls were good too. I miss my parents and practicing these customs of our nationalities.

    • barb shagen says:

      My Mother in law made the sirok and my Dad used to sit on the back porch of the house and hand grate fresh horseradish roots from our yard. My Mom and Dad used to make their own fresh kielbassi…I can remember them hanging the rings on a wooden rack in the kitchen. We still make two trips or more a year to Pa to purchase kielbassi and perogies…Ahhhhh memories. We have horseradish in our yard and my husband makes it using a blender…I have made poppyseed and nut rolls with our grandchildren.

  4. John Clarke says:

    Egg cheese ball.

  5. I’m 83 yers old and had cirecz all my life. Now my son makes it for Easter breakfast. We have been having a traditional Blessed Easter Breakfast every year. My oldest daughter prepares all the items. I was born in Mt. Olive, Illinois, am Slovak and now live in Michigan. Married for 58 years but lost my husband in August of 2012. Please keep these traditions going!

  6. Pingback: Day 3 – Choose a new perspective | The Bernard Charles Show

  7. BernardCharles says:

    YAY! Finally found this recipe. I remember eating this every year as a child. Growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania I do enjoy the tradition and culture that the area brings forward and this dish delivers a heartfelt YUM. :) Thank you for providing this online as a resource.

    • I’m from Pittsburgh, PA and, like you, we ate this every year at Eastertime.
      My mother used a clean, white pillowcase instead of the cheesecloth and poured the mix into the corner of the case. She’d then tie it as tightly as she could, then hung it from the clothesline in our basement. I add cinnamon to mine as well.
      No fear of salmonella back then (late 60s). That’s when we had ‘real’ chickens! LOL!
      Nothing like it in the morning for that quick dose of protein!
      Happy Easter!

  8. daneen drotar free says:

    Thank you for the recipe. My Babba made it, and my mom. Great with beet horseradish. I will be making it this Easter. I need a good recipe for Paska bread, with or without raisins. Raised in Munhall. Really miss the traditions, especially at the holidays. Any recipes shared, appreciate them. Only have nutroll and coldough recipes. Happy Easter.

    • Chaz K says:

      I make my sirek with splenda…to cut the sugar….mmmmmmmm. Delicious with a slice of ham, a little hren and sirek on a Paska bread sandwich! Nothing better! My mom is from Wilkes-Barre, I am from CT. In Atlanta now.

      • danddseese says:

        What is hren?

      • Chaz K says:

        Pickled beets with horse radish. Its a relish.

      • danddseese says:

        Thank You, believe it or not I make that, and never heard or saw that word. I only heard beets with horseradish!

      • Claudia Repko Misage says:

        that just blew my mind also that word—-hren——-but that is exactly what my parents called it and I forgot all about “that” word. Thanks for reminding me. By the way I am from Duquesne and my husband is from Munhall. He went to St Thomas in Braddock as well as his four brothers. Blessed Holidays !!!

  9. cathy says:

    does any one no the american name for houka it’s (slovak) i usta get it in pittsburgh but i live in florida now and dont know the english for it to ask any one? please help me.
    i was from munhall but married a duquesne man from overland divorced him

    • Mike Leco says:

      Hrudka means “little breast” in Slovak. It was the nickname used for the Sirok. Holubky is the nickname for stuffed cabbage and it means “Little dove”.

  10. CHAZ KACHMAR says:

    CLAUDIA…COULD YOU POST THE PAGACH RECIPE…I LOVE PAGACH, MY AUNT JULIA KUHAR MADE THE BEST BUT TOOK HER RECIPE TO THE GRAVE WITH HER.

    • Jim says:

      Hey Chaz, you may want to check out my previous post that had the recipe for PAGACH. If you check in the right hand column of my blog, you’ll see the link OR just cut and paste the following link. http://duquesnehunky.com/2012/03/24/pagach-recipe-a-k-a-hunky-pizza/ – Jim

    • Claudia Repko Misage says:

      Hi There, The link that Jim gave for the pagach is the same that my mom used. She always baked hers on the bottom of the oven where it was really hot. I could smell them cooking now. In her cabbage filling she did put chopped browned onions —that was about the only difference.
      Good luck making them. I live in Texas and really have a tough time when it says “let is rise until double in bulk”. No more pilot light in the ovens, we have the air conditioner on, sometimes I just want to sit the bowl outside to rise. Any questions just ask away oh and Happy April Fool’s Day !!!!!

    • Pat Boren says:

      Chaz, my grandmother was Anna Katchmar from Beaver Meadow PA. It was likely spelled Kacmar with a mark over the c. I’ve seen it Kajmar and even Kitchman (on her wedding certificate). Where are you from? And maybe do you know where in Slovakia your family came from? Would love to compare notes!

  11. Patricia Lacek says:

    My Slovak family has made this “cheese” since I can remember ( I’m 50). But, always called it “Sedik”. Along with poppy seed and nut roll it was an Easter staple! And we always make red beets and horse radish and also prunes and horseradish. Does anyone know about something called (again phoenetically) Machanka? It was sausage in a sweetish gravy that my grandmom served over toast for breakfast.

    • Katka says:

      My family also called it “Sedik” or “The Sid.” I think that’s a Rusyn (Slovak minority) thing.

      • pboren says:

        We called it “see-deck” too. Now that I see the spelling, I bet the d sound is mimicking a rolled r. We called pirohi ‘pee doughy’. What can I say…

    • pboren says:

      Wow, maybe it’s “machunky” — basically baked beans with vinegar and maybe some brown sugar, and maybe a can of tomato soup. We had it on Fridays served on bread for dinner. Can make it with stewed tomatoes instead of the soup. When I visited Slovakia in 1991, we asked about it. Someone asked whether it was the kind with X or with Y (I’m forgetting now, possibly one was tomatoes and the other was meat) — and they said X is from south of here and Y is from wherever. Why didn’t I write this down…

  12. Alice Harris says:

    Thanks for the cheese reminder. I made that with my Grandma lots of times, but not in awhile.
    As we have hens and tons of fresh eggs, I’m going to make some for us and to give away this Easter season, too. I know the recipients will be happy :)

  13. Cathy Souder says:

    I make mine in the microwave now. It’s so easy and there’s no standing by the stove over the double boiler. I torque it up HIGH for 5 minutes at a time and mix inbetween. You’ll know when the cream turns to water and the curds are nice and big.

  14. danddseese says:

    Has anyone ever heard of (Bundernicky) I am spelling it phonetically. My Grandmother Harris (Hric), we later learned they changed their name, who lived in FL, only came back to Duquesne every so often. When she came, she always made these. I do remember they were made out of potatoes. Not sure what else, but she would bake them in the oven and they were cut in triangles. We would just put butter on them when they came out of the oven. My other Grandmother Janko, always made us potato pancakes on Fridays, and everyone know about those. Since my Grandma Harris wasn’t around that much, no one remembers how she made bundernicky. Anyone remember?

    • Claudia Repko Misage says:

      Hi There, have looked high and low for anything sounding like that—cannot find anything. Now mom made something flat of course it was dough with potatoes in it. Some were round and some triangles depending how the dough rolled out for her,- anyhow she would bake them in the oven at 350 for 30 min. and as soon as you brought them out hot you would brush them on both sides with melted butter. We called this Pagach. She also made some with cabbage filling and some with sauerkraut filling. That is all I could find.
      Hope this helps. Claudia

      • danddseese says:

        Thank you, your’s sounds exactly how I remember.

      • My mother always made these when she was baking bread,12 loaves at a time for our large family(13) and she could’nt make enough of them.I was broughr up on all those Hunky foods and still made some of them.Delicious.In Freeland Pa, we were all mostly From European Ancestry.

    • Cathy Souder says:

      My Mom has a name for this, looksha. She said her mother fried it in a cast iron skillet. Now my girlfriend’s Mom makes potato pagach which is like potato pizza. She uses Rhoads bread dough or you can use pizza dough for the crust. She makes mashed potatoes (without milk or they will leak over the dough) with sharp cheddar cheese and spreads it on top. You can make it like stromboli or like a giant pirogie folded over. Some people fry onions and put it over the potatoes.

    • pboren says:

      My mom called something bundernky. Pronounced bun-DERN-kee. Sadly I don’t know what dish it was.

  15. Claudia Repko Misage says:

    Once again just a little different from above. Mom only used 1T sugar and 1t salt. No vanilla or nutmeg—-although that does sound pretty good. I just might try that this year. Oh what about the Horseradish Beets. Mom used 2 can whole beets, 1T sugar, 1/2t salt, vinegar (to taste) and or course the horseradish (Krafts in a jar). Use 1lb. boiled beets or 2 cans whole beets. Grate beets.Add horseradish, vinegar, start with about 1T, then sugar and salt. Mix thorougly. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.Did anyone have Pagach???????She somethimes made that. I do have her recipe for that and we can compare. Before mom passed away she wrote all by hand all of our favorite dishes. I have had about 30 coples of her book printed for all in our family. She has it all in it from main dishes to soups to of course deserts, to chow chow and refrigerator pickles. The book is just great.Does anyone know what Snitchleh is? I have a recipe for that. Mom was something else number 12 our of 14 kids. They lived on Mill Street before the mills took up all of the land “on the other side of the train tracks”. Then they moved to Patterson Avenue where my grand-father had a saloon and a hotel. Patterson Ave. is not longer there.
    Jim, thank you so very much for letting us ALL tell our stories. Sure hope you wife is going great. Keep us all posted, we are all concerned. Thoughts, Love, Prayers, Claudia

  16. Paula N says:

    A slight variation in my house does not include nutmeg or vanilla but does include salt. Any way you slice it it’s still delicious. One favorite way to enjoy Easter cheese is on a sandwich with your Easter ham between two slices of paska…and don’t forget the horseradish beets.

  17. Candice Sinai says:

    So many yummy memories of devouring my Mom’s and my Bubba’s egg cheese. This year I’ll be making it for an Easter meal who’s guests includes my Mom who is nearing the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s (I hope it brings back happy memories), daughter Maya (from the East Bay near San Francisco) and Jewish sister-in-law (and awesome Auntie!) from my first marriage who’s passing on a Passover seder to spend Easter with us and her niece. It will be her first Sirecz experience.

    • Bob Chermonitz says:

      Happy Easter, Candice. This is Bob Chermonitz, one of your Holy Name and DHS classmates. I remember your mother very well as she and my mom were good friends, my best to her. I also remember your home at Richford and Overland when we were neighbors, and your little brother, Joey. And I recall rides to school from your father in his Ford Falcon. Good memories. Hope you are well.

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