It’s almost here! I’ve scrubbed and brushed and tidied. The tree is up. The greenery is in place. The forgiveness has been going for weeks and the presents are wrapped. All that’s left is to bake! I recently found that a lot of our recipes are similar to Slovak traditions… even as far as the names… and it’s very interesting.

The only northern traditions we kept were bringing in of fresh greenery and that of dragging the yule log (an oak log fresh cut to soak up all the bad or negative from the previous year) through our house and burning it to cleanse ready for the next year.

I think I’m going to make bokhel’i today – maybe some šing and pekadoro … the bandurki (galki) and holubki can wait, though I might share their recipes.

Bokhel’i or Bobalki


šing or srdiečka


Bokhel’i (similar to Slovak Bobalki):

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (for yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter (if not fasting)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (can be gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring to boil 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, dissolve yeast in 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 cup warm water.
  2. Place flour in a large bowl. Add lukewarm water-sugar mixture and yeast mixture. Combine thoroughly and knead until smooth (at least 10 minutes by hand). Cover and let rise until doubled.
  3. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to 1/2- to 1-inch thick and cut into pieces that will result in 1-inch balls when rolled between the palms of the hand.
  4. Place on a parchment-lined or well-floured cookie sheet with dough ball sides touching. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Let rise, covered with oiled plastic wrap until nearly doubled. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, grind poppyseeds in a mortar and pestle with a little water or milk and set aside. When bokhel’i are cool, break the balls apart and place in a colander. Pour just enough boiling water over them to soften but not turn them into mush. Drain well. Pour warm honey and ground poppyseeds over all. Stir lightly and serve immediately.


The šing we made are similar (I think) to srdiečka (little hearts) in Slovak.

Prep Time: 50 minutes (including cooling)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: at least 90 minutes


  • 4 cups flour (can be gluten free)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • about 2 cups of margarine or butter (one stick)
  • 2 eggs (or prepared egg substitute)
  • jam (red currant or strawberry)
  • powdered sugar for decoration.


  1. Start by sifting the flour. Sifting will make the flour more fluffy and less dense, and improve the texture of the cookies. Add to a mixing bowl along with the sugar.
  2. Add the baking powder and margarine
  3. Add the eggs and mix into a dough. Knead until the dough becomes smooth, probably about 10 minutes or so, roll into a large ball and wrap in foil.
  4. Place into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully roll out the dough on a floured surface.
  6. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. We used to use all kinds of homemade variations, but they’re so cheap now. I like making heart shaped ones or trees for Christmas.
  7. Cut out central holes in only half of the cookies (you can use a clean salt shaker lid or something else small)
  8. Place on a baking tray and bake at 350F until golden brown.
  9. Let them cool (can take a while unless you have a wire rack)
  10. Spread jam on the solid (bottom) cookies and place the piece with the hole on top
  11. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!!!


Holubki (I think this is exactly the same as Slovak Holubky)

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes


  • 1 (4-pound) whole head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • 1 pound drained (reserve juices) sauerkraut (rinsing optional)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Meat can be left out or replaced with vegan alternatives. I also don’t always use sauerkraut.


  1. Remove large outer leaves from cabbage and set aside. Remove core from cabbage. Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. Cover and cook 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves. You will need about 18 leaves. (Can also do this in a steamer. The leaves have to be falling off of the cabbage or they will be too tough to roll)
  2. When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.
  3. Chop the remaining cabbage (still reserving large outer leaves) and place it in the bottom of a large greased casserole dish or Dutch oven.
  4. Rinse rice and cook it in 1/2 cup water until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, saute chopped onion in butter in a medium skillet until tender, and let cool. Also cook pork and beef until light brown (we never combine raw meat with other food).
  5. In a large bowl, mix cooled rice, cooled onions, beef, pork, salt and pepper to taste, egg, garlic, paprika, reserved sauerkraut juices and 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce, and blend thoroughly.
  6. Place about 1/2 cup of meat on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the meat. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll.
  7. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage with sauerkraut and some tomato sauce in between the layers in the casserole dish or Dutch oven. Top with all the crushed tomatoes, remaining sauerkraut and tomato sauce, and a few of the reserved whole cabbage leaves. Add enough water to cover completely. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer 3 to 4 hours. Watch carefully so stuffed cabbages don’t burn.
  8. Serve with pan juices and a drizzle of sour cream, if desired, and bandurki or galki (potatoes or potato pancakes) and crusty bread.
  9. Cabbage rolls freeze well before or after cooking for storage.


As I make these dishes for my family, I’ll take photographs and share them here in my next post!

I have so much cooking to do!