Photo: Petr Vágner & Ivana Jindřichová
Winter offers a plethora of great seasonal ingredients. Which ingredients or recipe mean winter to you?
For me, winter is the season of soups – whether broths or thick creams. We love French onion soup, cabbage soup or creamy pumpkin soup. I also like making heartier dishes such as beef cheeks in wine, beef bourguignon or authentic Ragù Bolognese cooked slowly over six hours.
Christmas is definitely a great cooking and baking theme. What is your take on it? Are there any foods or sweets you just cannot go without?
There are! For example, we prepare a traditional Viennese veal schnitzel fried in clarified butter exclusively for Christmas. We look forward to it all year. And of course, there are sweets – our favorite are vanilla horns made of pecans, chocolate horns filled with jam dipped in chocolate with nuts, nuts filled with whipped cream and of course soft Linzer cookies. We also cannot do without soft Christmas sweet bread and real eggnog made with cream, egg yolks and vanilla.
How do you celebrate New Year's Eve? Specialties and selected drinks, or a popular Czech classic: open-faced sandwiches?
Since I am allergic to alcohol, New Year's Eve has never been my favorite holiday, but of course I take it in stride as the festive end of the year, and I love to host the party at our home. Every time I prepare different dishes from around the world – the last time it was hummus, Japanese gyoza dumplings, shrimp fried in panko breadcrumbs, and there was also a traditional Czech “camping salad” with mayo and salami.
You have published a total of four books in the last four years. What an incredible output. Did the time of Covid-19 and its limitations actually provide you time for this?
I am a little ashamed to admit it, but Covid helped cookbooks a lot, whereas our sales increased fivefold. People were locked up at home and wanted inspiration to cook. It also gave me peace and quiet to create. I did not have to go to meetings, I had almost no emails, and that really suited me. But I am glad that that time is behind us, because mentally it was quite challenging.
Do you enjoy online or offline production more?
I definitely enjoy cookbooks, and I have truly found myself through creating them. And I am pleased that they are helping my fans become great cooks, and that they are learning new cooking techniques and interesting things with me. And of course, I am most interested in the actual cooking and baking. That is my passion in life, so my answer is definitely offline creation.
What are your future plans for your blog and e-shop?
My latest addition is a list of our humorous travel stories from “Minda on a Trip”. My husband and I are known for this on Instagram, and our fans love it when we go on the road because they know something is going to happen to us again. I think that in these odd times, a book to amuse is definitely desirable, and what do people laugh at more than other people's embarrassments? (laughs) I plan on putting out a fifth cookbook in 2023, but I am not going to reveal details yet. As far as the e-shop is concerned, we are gradually adding quality, tried and tested kitchen helpers, which can improve results in the kitchen of not only my readers but others as well.
What about that letter to Santa Claus, have you written it yet?
Since we are planning to build a house, our wish is clear – to get it built it as soon as possible! I am already looking forward to our new kitchen.
Chocolate horns with currant jam
- 140 g course ground flour
- 140 g regular flour
- 140 g ground pecans/walnuts (or combination)
- 160 g butter
- 30–40 g 50–70% chilled chocolate
- 70 g powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- Egg whites for wash
- Currant jam
- 50 g of 50–70% chocolate
- Ground nuts/coconut
Finely grate the chilled chocolate. Weigh all the ingredients accurately and get your work surface ready. Layer the dry ingredients first and then the butter, egg yolks and vanilla. Use your fingertips to start forming the dough and knead it into an irregular ball.
Now comes what is called a frissage. This is the final kneading of the dough when the butter is completely combined with the flour. With the dough on a lightly flour-dusted work surface, divide it into 4–5 pieces. Using the edge of your palm at the wrist (certainly not the whole palm that is too warm) smear the dough down by pressing it out away from you cca 10 cm. The dough spreads out nicely along the surface and that is exactly what we want. When the entire part has been kneaded, use a scraper to gather and reshape the irregular ball and repeat the process with the other parts. Then combine them together in the same way, shape them into a ball, then wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap or baking paper. The kneaded dough ball should rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
Remove the rested dough from the refrigerator and let warm up by waiting cca 30 minutes. Turn on the oven at 180 °C using top and bottom heating. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the lightly softened dough into a sheet about 4 mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out half-moons and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Now you can brush them with beaten egg whites. This step can be skipped – the horns then look nice and smooth; however, they will be very fragile, and it may happen that a few of them break during the marmalade spreading and chocolate dipping… If you do brush them with the egg, these little half-moons will come out with a crusty surface that holds them together, and they end up being crunchier. It just depends on your taste. Bake them on the center rack for cca 10 minutes. However, do keep an eye on the half-moons (as each oven bakes differently) and when they start to turn golden, they are done.
Allow the half-moons to cool completely and then join them by spreading the currant marmalade on top of one and covering with another.
Melt the chocolate in a water bath and make sure that no steam permeates (the bowl must perfectly fit the pot). Dip the edges of the “glued” horns in chocolate and then in the ground nuts (or coconut).
Leave the finished horns to rest for at least 24 hours.