Slovak Easter Cheese

Spring has officially arrived and I have given myself a kick in the rear end and decided to revitalize my committment to my blog, The Duquesne Hunky. There is so much to catch up on and as begin to collect my thoughts and begin to write, I thought I needed to address a request for a favorite Easter subject. With less than two weeks before Easter, there’s still time to gather your ingredients and recreate an Easter treat that our mothers and grandmothers may have made……..

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2012:

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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15 Responses to Slovak Easter Cheese

  1. John (Jack) Berta DHS '62 says:

    Thanks Jim for the new post. A note to step #3 (above), to make the hrudka more firm you have to squeeze more of the whey out of it as you tighten the cheese cloth. This is a personal choice as to how firm and moist you want it. Use caution when doing this as it is very hot. If this is your first time making hrudka you may want to divide it into 2 cheese cloths and squeeze more whey out of one to see the which you prefer.

    A Blessed Easter to all!

    • Lou Andriko says:

      So true, John. We always press ours. Somewhere back in time I came to have a large bakery cooling rack with small holes which covers our laundry tub; somewhere else I came to have a 37 pound slab of iron which when carefully placed atop the bag, presses out the whey giving us a firm ciroc overnight. Looks like an oversized hockey puck, Go Pens!

      • John (Jack) Berta DHS '62 says:

        That takes some of the work out of it. Mom and grandma used a wooden spoon like in the picture and their hands to tighten the cheese cloth and squeeze out the whey. Hot on the hands. I can still see them doing it even now.

      • Lou Andriko says:

        FYI- Wwe do not use cheesecloth as shown, rather Sue made a reusable bag from ‘bar rag’ material; we do squeeze out by hand before pressing.

  2. Alan Belancik says:

    Jim, Glad you’re back. I always enjoy reading the latest Duquesne Hunky edition. Your work is GREATLY appreciated. Keep up the good work! Cheers from Cape Cod.

  3. Barbara Vargo Wice says:

    Where are the raisins?

  4. Colleen Byrne Travis says:

    So glad to see your post, Jim. I missed it so much. This Irish girl is going to make Hunky Cheese this year!

  5. bornyek says:

    Jim, best buddy, Did you know James Regan when you lived in Duquesne? When I was a lad, I had a paper route that I inherited from my brother Bill.  James Regan told me that he inherited the same paper route after me.   I remember the Regan’s original house with the large Mulberry tree  in front on Goldstruhm Lane.  I did not know the family but kind-a remember that it was a large family.   They had a cow, which was unusual in Duquesne, probably the only one in our quaint town on the hillside along the Monongahela.   I saw the cow once, probably returning from pasture and headed  to its shelter in the back yard.   James Regan is, as you know is an internationally acclaimed poet.  Some how I became aware of James Regan.  I asked him if he had ever written a poem or a sonnet about the family cow.  I never got a response to that question.  However, James did send me his signature which evolved into the ‘Star Signature Signet’ of James Regan.  Attached. Happy Easter. George Bornyek

  6. Bob Chermonitz says:

    OMG! Not only can I taste it, I can smell it. Happy Easter my old friend and classmate.

  7. George DeVirgilio says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I remember my gramma Annie Boyda making this. That was YEARS ago. I a going to try it this year,

  8. Deacon John Sebastian says:

    Dear Jim, I can’t begin to thank you for sending the recipe for the Easter Cheese. My ancestry is Hungarian—all my life I thought that this Easter Cheese was strictly Hungarian! I guess all of the Eastern European countries have made a similar cheese. I just never knew it! My wife and I were just talking about that cheese just yesterday. I couldn’t remember the name or how to access the recipe, so thank you!

    I really enjoyed your archived articles about growing up in Duquesne. I am the son of Dr. Stephanie Sebastian, of whom you wrote in a previous article. She had her office in the old Bank Bldg and it was dark and forboding to a little kid like me. I would slowly walk up the stairs to the second floor where her office was and run, run, run to the safety of the office and her happy smile! In the summer she had the window open in her office and you could see the mighty steel mills spewing their smoke. There was always residue around the window. I never thought about it because normally the winds would carry that stuff down river or east to McKeesport.

    I graduated from Duquesne High School in 1959, back in the days when there really was a thriving downtown. I remember that great bakery on the east side of 1st street, down from Murphy’s. Of course this is also the time of the year that Murphy’s had those colored chicks that you could buy. I brought them home and somehow they never lived very long. While waiting for my mother, I would browse the stores around Grant and First, maybe pick up some groceries for my mother at Alexander’s or Isaly’s. GC Murphy and that bakery were the only stores in Duquesne that actually smelled good when you were in the stores.

    After college (Penn State) and serving in the military overseas during Vietnam (I was CO of an Army Engineer Company), I settled in the Chicago area, received an MBA from the U of Chicago, got married and have four children and eleven grandchildren. I have made some of our high school class reunions, which have been great. I just don’t get into the Pittsburgh area very much anymore. My parents are deceased as is my younger brother, Fred. Paul, my older brother graduated in 1956. Anyway, I’d love to hear from any of my fellow classmates or those of you who went to my mother for their dentistry work or who lived in Duquesne Place around where I lived (corner of Harden and Overland). Thanks so much for reinstating Duquesne Hunky, Jim!

    Sincerely, John Sebastian

    Deacon John Sebastian <

  9. Greg says:

    Be sure to use whole COWS milk.

  10. Lou Andriko says:

    Glad you’re back, Jim. Sue and I will make ours one day next week and take it to Pgh when we go to see the family for Easter. SRETAN USKRS!
    ps- Why not re-post according to anniversary date of original with some update if possible; surely worth another look and a comment or two.

  11. David Kinneer says:

    Thanks Jim I never had the Easter Cheese but I am going to make . Have a happy Easter to you and your family.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  12. Kinndes says:

    Thank you for the recipe. I always remember dozen eggs, quart of whole milk and cup of sugar. Becky Woolsey

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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