Svíčková is the queen of Czech cuisine, at least in my heart and mind. It´s one of the trademarks of our culture, so to say. You can find it on the menu of almost any restaurant that serves typical Czech food. Do I need to say that I have many happy memories connected to it? Although normally it is heavy with milk cream, this version tastes almost exactly as the one of my childhood – that´s pure magic!
Credits for the recipe go to Dagmar Lužná – you can find it in her cookbook.
You will need 2 large carrots, 2 large parsley roots, 2 large onions and a smaller piece of celery root, all vegetables should be cut into larger chunks. Spread 3 tbsp of sesame oil on the bottom of a pot, place the veggies inside and cover with water so that they are submerged. Sprinkle with salt, add 2 bay leaves, 3 pieces of allspice, 3 cloves, 3 pieces of juniper and 3 tbsp of ume plum vinegar. Simmer on a low flame until the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a blender and blend everything until smooth. Return to the pot, simmer for a bit longer, add more vinegar if needed, and at the end add some non-dairy cream as desired(I used rice cream).
I served this lovely sauce on top of millet dumplings filled with smoked tofu: First I cooked millet in a 1:2,5 ratio of grain to water, for about half an hour. When the millet cooled down, I added corn flour until I got a stiff dough that didn´t stick to my hands (it´s tricky to get this right!). Meanwhile I sauteed finely chopped onion on oil and then added smoked tofu cut into tiny cubes, which I sauteed for another few minutes, After cooling down I used this tofu mixture to fill the millet dumplings – just chip off a piece of dough, flatten it with your hand into a “cookie shape”, sprinkle a small amount of the mixture on top and wrap, creating a round tightly sealed ball. Cook the dumplings in salted water until they float from the bottom of the pot up to the surface, the exact time depends mostly on how large the dumplings are.
This meal is sure not something you will whip out in 10 minutes, but don ´t let that discourage you, it´s worth it! 😀