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The Recipes of Slovakia Remembered
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The Great Slovak Cheese War of 1996

Recipes, Stories and more on the LEKVAR Page

Only on the internet can you find the LEKVAR page where you will find fun facts, trivia, recipes, stories and more on one of the world's favorite fillings.


Picking up the gauntlet, I submit, for your approval, the word, "LEKVAR". The small town in New Jersey in which I've lived most of my life (54 yrs.) has a population of mixed eastern european origin; Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Ukranian and a few German and Irish. Until about 10 years ago I had no idea that the word "Lekvar" was not a universally known foreign word adopted into the English language. A colleague and I were discussing foods and especially cakes and pastries when I mentioned the word Lekvar (or prune butter, as the other people describe it). She looked at me and said , "Huh?" A minute or so of discussion turned up the fact that Lekvar is not the standard, accepted name of the delicious stuff. In the Slovak belt of New Jersey the word seems to be universally known but my Bohemian relatives in Baltimore reacted to the word with blank stares.

Let's have some indication as to the geographic and ethnographic distribution of this word in America. Also, from which language does it derive?


Lekvar is found in a comprehensive Slovak dictionary. Another name we used to buy it as was povidla, a Czech name I think.
Yes! Let's hear it for lekvar pierogies! By the way, you can get jars of this in many supermarkets. Can't remember the brand name, but check the "international" aisle.
OK. I'll bite... Here in the Youngstown / Struthers / Campbell area of Ohio LEKVAR is well known. I too thought everyone knew what it was till I got older! It's my favorite type of pirohi, and as far as I know it's Slovak, or maybe eastern Slovak; Her's the one that shocked me... When I went to work after college at the local hospital, there were people in the lab who were not from Ohio. Not only didn't they know what lekvar was, they had NEVER heard of Pirohy OR Kolac!!! INCONCEIVABLE!!
I agree, lekvar=prune jam, for making among other things fabulous cookies, but I'm not aware of any slang variations. But then I grew up in a protected Slovak environment.
lekvar perogis....can't beat 'em
I couldn't resist putting my "two cents" in..."lekvar" is the word I grew up with in southern Ontario, being used to define "jam" or "jelly"
Hello, My mom who is Slovak always used LEKVAR, which is a prune jelly she used in her Pierogi. Can't seem to find any out her in Arizona.

Speaking of Lekvar makes my mouth water - I want some of the kolac~ki and cakes my grandmother made loaded with lekvar. She was a Moravian Slovak who lived in the Triple Cities area of Binghamton NY. Lots of ethnics there!

They made kolac~ki - four kinds - a small roll with ground nuts and honey inside, a little bun filled with cottage cheese and white raisins with buttered bread crumbs on top; a lekvar one that was on a square and had all the ends folded into the middle so the lekvar showed - pretty!, and the small rolls with poppy seeds inside - we called it "dirt", being young and silly. It wasn't til this summer that I was served a plate of prune filled dumplings with tons of "mak" (poppy seeds) all over it - I am now a believer - was the most delicious thing I ever ate.


We often had lekvar in our peroshki in Donora, Pennsylvania.
Just a quick message before I'm off to school...As I was watching the morning news about the presidential campaigns, I saw a report about President Clinton's visit to CUYAHOGA Community College in PARMA, OH. This is the second time he has gone there to speak about education. In his remarks he mentioned the fact that he had been there before and said he was the only president who had come to Parma twice TO EAT PIROHI!!! He can't be all bad if he knows a good thing when he tastes it!! (I wonder what kind they gave him?)
Yep, they are good. I remember when, a few times, my mother would screw up the dough, for some reason or another, and the pirohys would come apart in the water. As kids we would stand around and laugh that it looks like......
Hello! Do you or anyone out there have the recipe for making the Pierogi's with the Lekvar. I made them as a young girl.Didn't write the recipe down and haven't made them for many,many years. Seeing as how I am married to a Greek gentleman for these many years, I have not made them. After reading all these messages about pierogi's and lekvar, I now have a craving for them!
On a more appetizing note - LEKVAR PEROHI: Food of the Gods!
You can get Lekvar anywhere. The secret to the whole thing is in the dough. My mother used to use sour cream in her pirohy dough to keep it supple and moist, as my wife does today. It seems to work well.
Yes, Chuck, that is good food. Interestingly, I used to like the Lekvar Pirohys fried with onions with sour cream on the side. My mom would fry them right alongside the potato-cheese and the saurkraut ones.

My wife, a Slovak also, makes WONDERFUL pirohy, but rarely - and only potato-cheese. Regardless, the kids, now adults (22 and 18) are aware of their Slovak heritage and realize that the Italians pinched ravioli from the Slavs.


My only addition to the Pirohy types is that as a special treat my mom would make a berry pirohy from canned blueberries, blackberries or whatever she had. In season we would go out and pick the berries. She would strain the berries from the syrup and use them for the pirohy filling and take the syrup and thicken it. The berry pirohy's would be served after dinner for desert and the thickened sauce poured over the pirohy. That was as close to heaven as I have ever been.
Go to any culturally oriented grocery store and you will find that Lekvar is the term used for prune jelly which was used for making rolls. It is used by most eastern Europeans not just Slovaks or Ruthenians.
That's a whole new discussion. Fried versus boiled pirohy. It seems to be a regional thing. The best that I have been able to figure out is that Ohioians fry theirs and SW Pennsylvanians boil theirs. Don't know what the real Slovaks or Rusyns do for sure.
I think that the reference to fried pirohy means that the pirohy are fried after they are originally cooked in boiling water. The next day, when they are cold, a good way to eat them is to fry them in butter to warm them up, and add some hot fried onions, and the sour cream on the side.
Real Slovaks boil their pirohi!
I've always thought that the "horseshoe" shape really was a cresent. I believe this is a Hungarian tradition. The story that I heard is that somewhere( I don't remember where or when) bakers heard enemy soldiers( Turks, I think) tunnelling in the middle of the night. They alerted the authorities, and saved the city. As an honor, they were allowed to make a pastry. They made a cresent shaped roll to represent the Turkish flag symbol.

I probably messed that up. All the real historians can correct me if there is any realism to my story.


Leftover pirohies are wonderful fried - with a big dollop of sour cream. Oh yea, a cold beer goes down well with this delicacy.

I grew up eating pierogies. If they're the same thing as pirohies, but different ethnic background, then I have had the boiled, deep fried, and sauted in butter with onions. My Polish friend always saute theirs in butter with onion. The parish I attended as a child has a picnic every year and the serve the fried variation. Mostly they are potato/cheese stuffing, sometimes sauerkraut. I've never had the lekvar ones. My mom makes what her mother called a 'rolled strudel'. We had ground walnut and raisin, poppyseed and raisin, and lekvar fillings. They're delicious. Later on I discovered apricot filled Kolcahe. They were made the same way my mom made her nut/poppyseed/lekvar rolls. By the way - mom's Austrian.


He is probably talking about exactly what my family does - frying the pirohy in butter & onions AFTER they have been boiled.

Unless of course it's the fault of those St Louis Italian/Slovaks. Fried ravioli is a very popular appetizer in the St Louis area - and quite a few restaurants have dinner-size servings on the menu. The only other place I ever saw this was Ft Worth, TX. When my cousin from LA visited a couple years back, she just couldn't believe anyone would think of frying ravioli! So maybe somebody DOES fry pirohy.


Recipe for LEKVAR Pirohi

3 cups flour
6 eggs
1 tsp salt
warm water if necessary

Mix above ingredients into a firm dough.

Roll out dough thinner than for a pie crust.

Cut into 3 x 3, larger or smaller as desired, and fill.

Fold over to make a triangle and pinch edges securely.

Drop into boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes.

Drain.

Saute onions in butter, and pour over pirohis.

The lekvar, I think, you can buy in the grocery store. Or, you can cook prunes until soft, mash well, add a little sugar to taste, and fill pirohis. Be sure filling is cool when you use it.

I remember the first time I made them, I used potato and cheese filling, and the mashed potatoes were hot. When I tried to fold the pirohi's over, the middle stayed on the board. The filling had melted the dough! We had mashed potatoes for dinner.

Good luck,

Jean Schmidt - email: nandj@sttl.uswest.net


Jean, Thanks for the recipe. Have you ever tried this one. Mom used to melt butter in a frying pan, she added cracker crumbs that she crushed herself. She placed crackers between a clean dish towel and with the rolling pin crushed them fairly fine. To the cracker crumbs she added sugar and grated lemon rind. Put this in the melted butter and stirred until the cracker crumbs were browned. Then she poured this over the pierogi's and coated them all. It is delicious. My mouth is really watering. I appreciate the recipe. Will make some soon.
This weekend we were making lekvar, or plum jam. After we picked all the plums and took the stones out we cooked them in a kettle. It took two days and 25,000 turns of the woodden showel in the kettle to have it done. Whenever you eat it, have respect. There is a whole lot of work behind.

Vladimir


That's the kind of work ethic that I respect. You counted 25.000 turns?

Jack Gergely - Newport News



Yes, it was 35 turns per minute. There is a woodden something, that looks like an anchor in the kettle.It scratches the shape of the kettle bottom. On the top there is a handle and you turn and tirn, just for the lekvar not to get burnt at the bottom. With time it is getting thicker and thicker and when it does not fall of the spoon it is good. It took 12 hours of cooking to make about 40 litres of plum jam, also known as povidla in Cz.

Vladimir


Throughout most of the year we purchase Pirohy from St. Stephen's Byzantine Catholic Church in North Huntingdon, PA. Although the sweet cabbage and potato Pirohy are excellent, the Lekvar Pirohy are our favorite. I don't know if the folks at St. Stephen's prepare the plum jam as you describe but the Lekvar Pirohy are something special.
I just had some Lekvar Piohy this past week end. I love it! But, here is the icing on the cake. Make them up the regular way, but when done and ready to serve, smear ground poppysead with sugar mixed in, on them. Out of this world.
My late Mom used to make lots of plum & poppyseed pastries (and pirohies) for the year-end holidays. Reading your comments brought back a wonderful childhood memory -- and may have been the virtual butt-kick I needed to go get the ingredients to make some!

MARIANNE


The only ingredients are plums. Of course, apart from 25000 turns :-) If you want to make a smaller quantity, like 5 litres or so, then you need a pot or keetle of about 20 litres, full of destoned plums. And you have to cook on small fire till it's done.And mix all the time. You need someone to take turn every half an hour. When thick, every 15 minutes.

Vladimir


What about the plum skins? Are they included in the pot or should the plums be skinned and pitted?

Frank


Skins are included. They give the color and vitamins that survived the cooking.

Vladimir


I guess I'm the lucky guy - married a great Slovak girl from Hazleton, PA (Kathleen Yura) who's been mass-producing pirohy for our family for 36 years now and, God willing, will still be doing it for at least that many years to come. I am, truly, blessed.

Paul


Tried Mrs T's once -- the dough tasted like paste & over-powered the filling. YUCK!

MARIANNE


Hey hey! No trashing Mrs. T's! They are a proud sponsor of the Gateway Grizzlies baseball team (independent minor league, from their stadium in Illinois you can see the St Louis Arch). 'Round about the 4th inning, they have a contest to see which section can yell the loudest. Winning section gets free pirogies-on-a-stick. When I heard that, I laughed loud enough for my section to win (small crowd that night). My kids grabbed 4 each, then told everyone around us that they are not as good as Gramma's! This is the same stadium that deep-fries a bacon-cheeseburger that uses doughnuts for the bun. Serious. Check out

http://www.gatewaygrizzlies.com/news/?id=2723


Ee-oow! *That *sounds absolutely revolting!! Must be that same group that puts 'burges between Krispy Kremes. My guess would be that there are quite a few fans of that team on meds for their cholesterol & sodium/blood pressure levels because they've eaten those 'burgers. I think the Mrs. T's pirohies would be preferable to those 'burgers.

MARIANNE


My Mom [now 92] still remembers her mother making Lekvar much in the manner described emails ago. At her age, on special occasions, she STILL does make nut and poppyseed rolls as well as little ones stuffed with apricot. In addition to remembering the Lekvar-making...my Mom said that after her parents moved "here" [US] from "there" ...that they kept veggies in bulk digging a hole in winter moving a plank over them, had a vegetable and a sunflower garden and a chicken coop in the backyard!

We DO eat Mrs Ts....especially on Fridays however, we don't follow the directions, and prepare them according to taste....and I actually like them ...smothered in butter and onions!

Jenna


Jenna, My father kept soup greens in a hole in the garden also, buried under leaves. I was surprised how nice and fresh they looked mid winter--the leek, Hamburg parsley, carrots. Also raised chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits! We ate well and healthy. When I visited Slovakia's villages, I saw my father's garden in every backyard.

Julia M.


Both of you sound like echoes of my late mother talking about her father's gardens -- every "patch" where he lived he planted veggies and a plum tree! (AND had a lidded wooden box of veggies he kept in a hole!)

After my grandfather had worked nearly 40 yrs in the coal mines (southwestern PA) Mom's family moved to L.A. (not long before WWII). One of the things Mom said her father insisted on was that their house had room for his veggie garden -- and he planted another plum tree & had another lidded wooden box in a hole in the yard. I remember the box was lined with something like burlap (tho' I didn't know what burlap was then 'cuz I was only a toddler!) -- and I remember the juicy plums. Not only did he tend his own garden he took care of almost every yard on his street -- including that of the woman who became my godmother. (In fact it wasn't that long ago that my godmother's daughter & I were talking & she said something to me about my grandfather's plums & some jam that my grandmother had made for them.)

Alas I didn't inherit his green thumb, but a couple of my siblings did & one of them has a little garden plot in a community garden. Like our grandfather, he has zucchini growing in it -- but there's no room there for a plum tree.

(We have a wonderful photo of our grandfather holding a huge home-grown zucchini -- which after being photographed was cute up for dinner!)

MARIANNE


Paul, Paul, Paul: Shame on you. Mrs. T's pirohy might not be like "Moms," or your wifes, but they certainly hit the spot when you don't have that special cook on board. They are made by "coal crackers." You know coal crackers are tough, so why shouldn't the pirohy be tough also?

Coal Miner Dave


My gastronomic education has obviously been sadly neglected - I have never had plum pirohy. My baba favored mashed potatoes mixed with cheddar cheese. I thought I had read that whole plums were used in pirohy, not lekvar? Martha Stewart's mother's recipe for the dough has some sour cream in it, I believe, and is supposed to be very good.

I make my own lekvar for kolachki using dried prunes cooked with water and sugar, then ground up with a hand held gizmo - I'm sure it would be too sour without the sugar. Now you're tempting me to try to cook fresh plums. Should you use what they are now calling Italian prunes? The small, dark purple, sweet ones that I love? There are so many varieties of plums available.

Regina - New York


My Mom made both the ones with plums and the ones with potatoes & cheese. She also made them with apples but NOT applesauce -- something liked steamed/stewed apples: peeled, cored & put into double boiler top that was designed for steaming vegetables. Along with the apples was a little cheese-cloth packet of whole cloves & cinnamon sticks. And all this talk of pirohy, lekvar, poppyseeds makes me miss Mom so much more!

MARIANNE


That's why I love this list -- it brings back memories so strongly. My mom made potatoes/onion and prune pirohies. I helped -- I'll never forget Friday afternoons after school, and the smell of browning onions. She never used lekvar or fresh plums for the pirohy, I recall stewing prunes, and digging out the stones, and putting one prune on each little square, and pinching the sides together into triangles. When I first saw Mrs. T's I couldn't believe they could call them pirohies -- not only are they semicircles, they are big, and they are doughy! Most of the commercial pirohies I've seen are the same size and consistency (although Kasia's, in Chicago, are better in texture). Now I have to get out my Anniversary cookbook and make pirohies some day this winter.....
I loved the "Friday is Piroghi Day" comment. This was the same at our home when I was growing up. If not the main dish, piroghi was a side order with the fish at dinner.

Greg Kopchak - It's All Relative


When I last visited Slovakia (the far eastern part, near Snina), my cousin cooked me a meal I had never heard of before: tiny triangular pirohy the size of your thumbnail, some filled with lekvar, some with potato/cheese, and some with sauerkraut. The dish was a bowl of these, boiled, without any topping (i.e., no butter or fied onions or mushrooms, etc.). It was delicious and must have been very labor-intensive to prepare. My cousin works as a cook, so it may be her own creation, or maybe it's a regional specialty. Is anyone familiar with this dish? If so, what's it called?

Mark


That kind of pasta, if that's what it was, is most commonly called _tas~tic~ky_ ("little bags"), but sometimes also _mus~lic~ky_ ("little [sea] shells") especially when the pieces are quite small, or s~ato^c~ky_ ("little scarves"). At the same time, the word _satocky_ is commonly used for a kind of pastry (and _tasticky_, too, sometimes). Various shifts are currently under way in the use of these words. The importers of pasta are introducing Italian words for their products that used to have different Slovak names. On the other hand, the makers of breakfast cereals, which Slovakia didn't use to have, adopt some of those Slovak words for their products.

Martin


A special thanks to all the members of Slovak-World mailing list for a most interesting page on LEKVAR!

Need lots of lekvar? Bunge Foods sells lekvar in 44 gallon pails! How many pirohi can you make with 44 gallons of lekvar?

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