Ukrainian food I found to be what I consider peasant food, now this is not an insult, by peasant food I mean, you take cheap, simple ingredients and you turn it into a delicious meal. Everything is from scratch and you make everything from the dough to the fillings for example. The food was village food, which I love, food that you will find in homes not restaurants.
We really enjoyed the Ukraine, we tried many new foods that will now become a part of our food history. The dough for the Vareniki for instance was amazing. The Chocolate Babka truly delicious, we got to try and love Chicken kiev for the first time. This journey allows us to try things we would otherwise never have experienced.
So here is what I cooked on our little adventure into Ukraine, hope you try some of these to.
Borshch Ukainian Beetroot Broth
Pampushky Ukrainian Garlic Bread
Galushki Ukrainian Dumplings
Vareniki with Potato and Cheese Filling: Vareniki is stuffed Ukranian pasta
Vareniki with a Short Rib Ragu
Vareniki with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Cabbage Casserole Recipe
Chicken and Cabbage Savoury Pirog
Braided Easter Bread
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly grated
1 red capsicum, cored, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato (skin discarded), roughly grated
½ small white cabbage, shredded
400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
500g oxtail or fatty beef short ribs
1 onion, peeled but kept whole
1 bay leaf
2.5 litres cold water
100ml soured cream
½ bunch of dill, chopped
pampushky (Ukrainian garlic bread, recipe below)
To make the stock, simply place the meat, whole onion, bay leaf and measurement of water in a large saucepan. Season the water lightly and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. Skim off the scum with a spoon from time to time.
Add the beetroot and potatoes to the stock, season well with salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat, stirring, for about 5–7 minutes until the carrot is soft and is about to start caramelising. This is a distinctively Ukrainian soffritto technique called smazhennya or zazharka.
Add the red capsicum and tomato paste to the onion and carrot and cook it out for 2 minutes, then add the grated fresh tomato, stir and reduce slightly before adding all of this to the broth.
Finally, add the shredded cabbage and beans to the broth and cook for about 7 minutes until cooked through.
Serve with a dollop of soured cream, chopped dill and pampushky.
1 teaspoon caster sugar
225ml warm water
400 grams strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
8 grams fine sea salt
3 tablespoons sunflower oil , plus extra for oiling
20 grams wet (new) or regular garlic , crushed
½ bunch fresh parsley , finely chopped
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
First make a ‘sponge’, which is a type of yeasty starter. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the measurement water (make sure it’s blood temperature – hot water would kill the yeast!). Add 200g (7oz) of the flour and mix roughly. Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, add the rest of the flour and fine sea salt to the starter and knead on a well-floured work surface until the dough is smooth and comes away from your hands easily.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape into round buns. Put them side by side in an oiled round ovenproof dish or a 24cm round cake tin, cover and let them prove again, this time in a warm place, until doubled in size. They will join together just like hot cross buns do.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan forced. To make the basting oil, simply stir the crushed garlic through the oil with a small pinch of sea salt and the parsley, then let it infuse.
When the pampushky look plump and ready, brush them generously with some beaten egg to glaze and bake for 20–25 minutes or until they form a glistening golden crust. Take them out and baste them with the garlic oil. Serve immediately.
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
6 cups (1/2 of a medium head) regular green cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dill (fresh or frozen), chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
115g (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan forced and butter a 22cm round pie dish.
In a medium mixing bowl, add eggs, sour cream and mayonnaise and whisk until blended.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and cornflour. Whisk flour mixture into batter until smooth.
Place thinly sliced cabbage into second medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt. Scrunch cabbage for 30 seconds to soften then stir in green onion and dill.
Spread cabbage mixture over bottom of greased pie dish and pour batter evenly over the top.
Sprinkle top with shredded mozzarella and bake on the center rack for about 35 min or until top is golden.
For the Dough:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup warm water
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
For the Savory Filling:
350g chicken thighs, cubed finely
1 teaspoon oil
½ large onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (42g) butter, divided
3 cups cabbage, shredded finely
2 small carrots, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons ketchup
1 ½ teaspoons sour cream
3 tablespoons of your favorite herbs
1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten for egg wash
½ teaspoon sesame seeds, optional
Prepare dough: In a bowl, whisk mayonnaise, oil, salt, water and milk. Sprinkle yeast over top of the mixture and sprinkle sugar over yeast. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel, let sit 5 minutes for the yeast to activate and become foamy.
Gradually add flour, mix until flour is well incorporated. Set dough aside to rise at room temperature, covered, 1 ½ to 2 hours (until the dough doubles, almost triples in size).
Prepare filling: In a large frying pan, over med/high heat, cook chicken in 1 teaspoon of oil until fully cooked (about 2-3 minutes), stirring as needed. Remove from the pan.
Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon butter until tender, stirring frequently. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cabbage, carrots, garlic and water. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cabbage is desired tenderness.
Add the ketchup, sour cream, herbs and the chicken that was set aside. Cook another minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat to cool.
Assemble the pirog: On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 2 equal parts (cover second dough). Roll out until about 30cm round.
Take half of the cabbage filling and place it into the center of the dough, spread evenly (leaving about 7cm of dough uncovered around the edges).
Gently start pulling the edges of the dough over the filling into the center to close the pirog. Continue going around until cabbage is completely covered. Pinch seams together.
Gently, flip the pirog over. Flatten the pirog as needed so it’s even in size and so the filling is evenly distributed. Repeat with second pirog.
Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and let rise 30-45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven to 205C/185C fan forced for 18-22 minutes, until golden in color.
For the Paska Easter Bread Dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (4 grams)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, measured correctly
For the Farmer Cheese (Tvorog) Filling:
240g farmers cheese (1 3/4 cups packed)
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 teaspoons orange zest, from 1 medium orange
For the Egg Wash:
1 teaspoon water
In a measuring cup, combine warm milk (not hot), 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast. Stir to combine and let sit 10 minutes to proof.
In a small bowl, add egg, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, salt and whisk together. Whisk in warm melted butter (NOT HOT). Lastly whisk in proofed yeast mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour then add wet ingredients. Combine dough with a spatula then knead by hand 10 minutes, you can use a mixer with hook attachment. Dough will be soft and not sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make cheese filling: In a medium bowl crumble farmers cheese with a fork. Add sugar and egg yolk. Use spatula to blend until combined and somewhat creamy. Add diced apricots and orange zest.
Once dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 30cm x 22cm rectangle, between 0.3cm and 0.6 thick. Add cheese filling and spread evenly leaving a 1cm border at the edges.
Roll dough into a log starting from the long end and pinch edges to seal. Cut the roll in half to split into 2 strands, keeping them attached at one end. Overlap the 2 strands starting at the connected end and weaving them together towards the ends. Pinch the ends to seal. Carefully transfer braid cut-side up to a greased loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise/puff up at room temperature 30-45 min. Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water and generously brush egg wash over risen loaf.
Bake in center of oven at 175C/155C fan forced for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 5 minutes in pan then transfer to wire rack. Dust warm bread with powdered sugar. Once cooled to room temperature, slice and serve.