Ukraine is the second-largest country in Eastern Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and northeast, Belarus to the north; Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west; Romania and Moldova to the south, and has a coastline along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, so it is not unusual that Ukrainian fare is a veritable smorgasbord of flavors and foods. These well-known recipes nourish the body—and, so very important at the present moment, the soul.
Varenyky is the Ukrainian take on dumplings. Shaped into squares or half-moons, the dough is stuffed with any number of minced vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, and even fruit. To cook, steam or boil the filled dumplings and drizzle with oil. Serve with sour cream, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, or even cottage cheese.
Ingredients for the dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter (not oil and not margarine)
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup water
Ingredients for the filling:
4 large or 5 medium-sized potatoes, cubed
2 large onions, finely chopped
½ cup butter
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sift the flour and salt in a large bowl and in the middle, make a well. Spoon the softened butter into the well and pour in the evaporated milk, fold until a dough is formed, then knead on a floured board. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dishtowel, and let it rise, about one hour.
- While the dough is rising, cook the cubed potatoes in boiling water until tender, drain. Line a bowl with a clean dishtowel and pour in the cooked potatoes, patting them dry to remove the moisture. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, sauté the onions until they are transparent, add a sparse teaspoon of granulated sugar to give the onions a nice brown color, then fold the potatoes into the pan and add the shredded cheese.
- Roll out the dough, about 1/8-inch thick, and using a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a wine glass, cut into rounds. Place one tablespoon of the potato mixture on one side of the round being careful not to go outside the round, fold the other half over the filled side, then pinch the edges together to completely seal. As you make each perogie, set it aside on a lightly floured dish.
- In a large pot, fill ¾ with water and bring to a rapid boil. With a slotted spoon, gently place one perogie at a time into the pot, no more than five at a time, and cook 3-5 minutes, until plump. Drain in a colander, keeping each seaparte, then turn onto a lightly oiled dish, turning them, or brushing them with a pastry brush dipped in oil, so they do not stick together. Serve with sour cream.
Ukranian Stuffed Cabbage Holubtsi is a classic Ukrainian dish. Each leaf of the cabbage is wrapped around cereal and meat to form a roll. In the mountainous Carpathian region, corn grits are usually used while buckwheat is preferred in Poltava. First the cereal is cooked then mixed with fried onions and shkvarky (pork cracklings) or raw minced meat. Holubtsi can also be stuffed with carrots, mushrooms, or other vegetables. After the cabbage is stuffed it is lightly fried and served hot with stewed tomato and sour cream.
Deruni, or potato pancakes, is particularly popular in northern Ukraine. Made from grated cooked potato, minced garlic or onion, egg, and applesauce, these lightly fried pancakes are served with sour cream.
For these and other traditional Ukrainian recipes, log onto www.ukrainefood.info/recipes.