CNN photojournalist John Bodnar is a second-generation Slavic-American whose grandparents emigrated from Eastern Slovakia, and his mother’s Carpatho-Rusyn ethnicity is the prominent influence for his cultural and family traditions. Previously, he wrote about haluski.
I’d like to introduce you to the Easter bread that we called Paska. It is a two dough bread that incorporates cheese and raisins, and the arduous process that can take up to SIX hours to prepare. There in no wonder that this bread was made only once a year. I can’t imaging how my grandmother, who had 10 children, could find time for anything, let alone spending so much time for baking bread, plus the rest of the meal preparation.
It will always be one of my favorite foods. I will occasionally make a small loaf, but it is never as good as Mom’s. When I visit her, frozen Paska is always “forced” upon me and I take it home with me. Outside the Easter tradition, it is amazing when toasted and covered with butter. Oh yes, did I mention Paska with a hot cup of coffee?
Get John's family recipe - Slovak soul food: Paska for Easter
More on Easter foods and traditions
Ashley Strickland is an associate producer with CNN.com. She likes tackling English toffee, channeling summer with sunflower cheesecakes, sharing people-pleasin' pizza dip and green soup, cajoling recipes from athletes and studying up on food holidays.
There is a grace in the harmony of simple flavors and taking the time and care to introduce them to one another. I like to think it’s embodied in a perfect pound cake.
Take a moment to get to know the grand dame of Southern desserts.
One of a bagel’s greatest virtues is that it's a single serving of fresh-from-the-oven bread, baked just for you.
Even better: if you do the baking yourself, there's usually at least 11 more just like it cooling nearby, creating a perfect excuse for a weekend get-together.
For the owners of Surfside Bagels in Far Rockaway, New York, the hand-rolled boiled and baked bread should be dense and chewy. Its exterior, shiny; its interior, yeasty but not too sweet. Fortunately, they’re willing to spread their knowledge.
Sugar cookies in every seasonal shape - from snowflakes to Christmas trees, stars to Santa hats, snowmen to holly leaves - overcrowd the dessert table this time of year. Even Santa is crying "Uncle!" for a little variety by the time he reaches St. Louis.
This year, try adding a little New York attitude to the traditional cookie swap with black-and-white cookies, a staple of New York bakeries and deli counters.
More cake-like than cookie-like, this oversized sweet is downsized into a fantastically festive treat by pastry chef Stephanie Teekaram of Kutsher's Tribeca in, where else, New York City.
"Seinfeld" fans might remember the baked good being forever immortalized in the episode, "The Dinner Party."
"The thing about eating the black-and-white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite," said Seinfeld. "Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate, and yet, somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved."
In this season of good tidings, peace and goodwill toward all, harmony vis-à-vis a cookie is a welcome addition.
As the 82-year-old company begins the liquidation process, analysts say that some of its most iconic brand names will likely live on, getting scooped up at auction and attached to products from other companies.
While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Haul out the cookie tins - 'tis the season for baking! In honor of December 4, National Cookie Day, here are some tips for the ever-popular cookie exchange:
- Form a group of participants. Make sure the people swapping cookies are committed to doing so. (It’s not as much fun otherwise!)
- Establish a date for the swap as early as you can, before the holidays get hectic.
Everything tasted better when my grandma was around.
Growing up, we didn't get to see my dad's side of the family all that often, but I noticed at some point that all the food we ate in Grandma Kinsman's presence was exponentially more delicious. Later on, I came to realize that it wasn't due to some special grandmotherly mojo, but rather that she used real butter rather than margarine, and my family shopped accordingly when she was in town.
No matter the ingredients, I was predisposed to enjoy her cooking. I loved her and she loved me, her weird, short-haired, misfit granddaughter, even if the rest of the world wasn't inclined to. Seldom did I feel that love so strongly as when her yearly shipment of holiday cookies arrived.
Casey Barber, a food writer in Clifton, New Jersey, says many Hostess products and their associated feelings of nostalgia are easy to conjure up in a home kitchen, but there's one thing she's never been able to replicate: "There's just a fakeness about them, a teeth rattling extra super-sugaryness that comes with the high fructose corn syrup that you're not going to get if you make a Twinkie or Devil Dog at home."
She made these raspberry "Zingers" - a snack cake sold under both the Dolly Madison and Hostess brand names - in October. The recipe is in her forthcoming book,"Classic Snacks Made from Scratch."
Like your Oreos with a far-out twist? The hundred-year-old brand paid homage to today's Mars Curiosity rover landing with an installment of their Daily Twist campaign featuring a split-open cookie with red-dyed cream and tire tracks to mimic the impression left by the craft on the planet's surface.
Ashley Strickland is an associate producer with CNN.com. She likes perfecting pineapple upside down cake, tackling English toffee, sharing people-pleasin' pizza dip and green soup, cajoling recipes from athletes and studying up on food holidays.
I’ll always remember the summer of 2008 as a dream come true, full of rock concerts and soft pretzels.
Like many other families across the country, we were perfecting the art of the “staycation.” People were rediscovering the glory of their own cities, neighboring towns, and even their backyards.
But perhaps the greatest gift of that season was our summer tour of concerts. For two music lovers like my mom and me, concerts were manna from heaven.
Not wanting to indulge in a heavy meal before we danced around and sang along with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Keith Urban, Foreigner, Bryan Adams or the Steve Miller Band, one snack emerged as our concert-day favorite.
But we ignored the chemical-laden, overpriced food at the snack bar and tailgated beforehand with homemade salty soft pretzels.