From the Motherland is a series in which I pay homage to my Ukrainian heritage and share my favorite childhood recipes.Leeks are not a vegetable I remember eating as a child in our home in Ukraine. Tomatoes and cucumbers, yes. Eggplants? So many. And potatoes? Practically daily.Leeks haven’t played a big part in my adult life either. For years, I walked past leeks at the store, ignored them on restaurant menus, and disregarded recipes that called for them. I knew they were similar to onions and just figured I didn’t need another allium in my life. Only . . .
From the Motherland is a series in which I pay homage to my Ukrainian heritage and share my favorite childhood recipes. This traditional Ukrainian varenyky recipe is the perfect weekend project to tackle this winter.For each of us, there is one dish out there that defines us. Something so close to our heart, that it actually feels like it’s in our blood. It’s symbolic of childhood, our family, our ancestors, our geography. It’s a constant of our past, present, and future. Something that when we eat it, has the effect of a time machine. For me, it's this varenyky . . .
Lenivie vareniki (pronounced leh-nee-vi-YEAH vAH-reh-nee-key) are a classic Ukrainian recipe. Similar in texture and technique to Italian ricotta gnudi, they're a sweet-savory dish made of tangy farmer cheese."Lenivie" translates from Russian to "lazy" and vareniki are traditional Ukrainian stuffed dumplings (a.k.a. pierogi). What makes these vareniki lazy is the fact that the would-be cheese filling is mixed straight into the dough versus being used as a stuffing.Much like Italian gnudi or gnocchi, the quintessential feature of lenivie vareniki is their . . .
Contrary to popular belief, French toast isn't just a vessel for maple syrup. Inspired by Russian "grenki", this savory French toast is versatile enough for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and various savory toppings. My mom used to make this as a snack/small meal for my sister and I whenever we had day-old bread laying around.She served the grenki with a thin slather of mayo and a generous sprinkling of grated Russian cheese – with a side of tomatoes and/or cucumbers in the summertime. I doctored up her savory French toast with a little mayo-Dijon special sauce . . .
When planning the relaunch of my blog, I realized I'd like to shed more light on the foods of my homeland, the varied cuisine of Ukraine. The colorful vegetable dishes, the homestyle meat-and-potatoes classics, the oft-ignored yet drool-worthy breads and sweets. Considering how awesome it was to be featured in the New York Daily News with a Ukrainian recipe, and the fact that one of the consistently most-searched recipes on my site is this eggplant 'caviar', I realize it's an area worth exploring.A word on Ukrainian vs. Russian food: when I was a kid in Ukraine, . . .
Syrniki are a traditional Russian breakfast food that for some reason no one ever talks about. I am hell-bent on changing this because they are DA BOMB (are we still saying that?) and you should really, really try them. Syrniki (pronounced sYr-nee-key) translates to little cheese cakes in Russian. They're small pan-fried rounds, primarily made of farmer's cheese. They're soft and pillowy but have a satisfying bite that say, pancakes, do not. Syrniki are only lightly sweetened and flavored with a hint of vanilla, so they're a great vessel for fruits, fruit sauces, jams, . . .
Ever since quinoa made a huge splash on the food scene, grains and seeds have been a major trend. I've been enjoying discovering various varieties myself, including bulgur and wheatberries. Thanks to their high protein and mineral content, seeds and grains are indispensable in mostly plant-based kitchens like mine.Buckwheat was beyond a 'staple' in my Ukrainian household growing up. It would be served cold for breakfast with milk and sugar, and then as a side during dinner, with whatever meaty main course was being served that . . .