Blood & Lies: Foods of Ukraine
My next novel, Blood & Lies, is set in Ukraine. It’s due out in December of this year. In the book, several Ukrainian dishes the characters share several Ukrainian meals. I thought I would share some of our favorites and some of my preconceived misconceptions.
The first time we visited Ukraine, I expected to find bland, tasteless foods. Was I ever wrong. Ukrainian food is among some of the best I’ve ever eaten.
My family loves flavorful, unique foods and these Ukrainian dishes certainly fulfill that desire.
Borscht, one of the Ukraine staples, is a beet soup. When I first heard of it, I thought it sounded horrible. Then I tasted it. This savory soup is a delight. In the winter, it’s one of my go-to recipes now.
Here is a link to the recipe: http://ukrainianguide.com/authentic-ukrainian-borsch/ I tend to modify it by using canned beef stock, shredding the beets and, using olive oil instead of lard or goose fat. The Borscht we had in Kherson, Ukraine had meat in it, so I usually add stew meat.
Golubtsi – Ukrainian cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and beef are one of my family’s favorites.
Here’s the recipe for Golubtsi (sometimes spelled holubtsi): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/BONNIES-UKRAINIAN-CABBAGE-ROLLS-50035542http://www.learnpysanky.com/recipes/holubtsi.html
I don’t modify this recipe much, except the ones we had in Ukraine had a beef broth over them instead of the tomato, so I make that small change to this recipe. My stepson loves these and often asks for them.
We also love Varenyky. From the sour cream dough to the stuffing, everything about them causes the mouth to water just thinking about taking that first bite.
Here’s the recipe for the dough: http://www.allthingsukrainian.com/Recipe/Varenyky/VarenykyDough.html
It’s not diet friendly for sure! Once I have mixed the dough, I stuff it with rice and ground meat (because that’s what we had in Ukraine) however, the imagination is the only limit. These tasty little pouches can be stuffed with potatoes, sweet filling, anything you can think of.
Once they are stuffed, I boil them, then lay them out on a cookie sheet, cover them and freeze them for a while. When I’m ready to serve them, I pan fry them until they are brown on each side and warm throughout.
These are only very special occasion foods, and I told the family I refuse to make them unless we have an assembly line because they take so much time and effort.