Merry Ukrainian Christmas Eve! Just when you thought Christmas was long behind us, up pops the Orthodox celebration. We typically do not celebrate Christmas twice in our household. The standard one in December is what we celebrate. Although I would love to celebrate and eat all the delicious Ukrainian food again tomorrow, I think the 10 pounds I gained in December is reason enough to enjoy photos and blog more delicious recipes rather than consume.
This recipe for Khrustyky, or Ukrainian fried cookies, is the perfect dessert for Ukrainian Christmas, or any day. They are super light and crispy with a hint of sweetness from the icing sugar. They are also fairly simple to make, and don’t require a ton of time. Unlike a lot of other dough in Ukrainian cooking, this dough only rises for about 30 minutes and doesn’t require a ton of kneading. Some people like to add bourbon to their recipes. I didn’t have any on hand, nor did my Baba put any in her recipe (this one below!), so I decided to use a bourbon vanilla extract instead. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so it is best to fry, cool and freeze them in plastic bags until you want to eat them. You can then thaw them and dust with icing sugar. I don’t recommend dusting with icing sugar and then freezing.
I deemed this past Saturday “Deep Frying Day”. Claudia came over early, as we had a lot of Ukrainian cooking to do. All of which consisted of frying dough in hot oil. All of which was absolutely delicious. It had been quite a few years since I have had Pampushky. They are Ukrainian style doughnuts that are traditionally filled with either poppy seeds or prunes. They are little bites of heaven. The dough is sweet, amazingly soft, light and flaky. We make ours on the smaller, bite-sized side, but you can make them larger, like traditional doughnuts. People also tend to dust them with icing sugar for added decadence. My family prefer these au naturale, but there is truly no right or wrong way to enjoy them. They are the perfect dessert for Christmas Eve, which is coming up a lot faster than I’d like it. The dough requires a bit of time – 2 hours in fact. But it’s so worth it. This recipe makes a lot of Pampushky – 12-13 dozen or so. They freeze exceptionally well if you can’t consume all 145 within a 3 day period. I wouldn’t judge you if you did though. They are delicious! ‘Tis the season, am I right?!
There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than warm buns. You can interpret that however you like. I mean, whatever floats your boat, you silly animals. But right now, I’m talking about these dough buns above, otherwise known as “Perishke” in Ukrainian. Delicious, soft, warm cottage cheese filled buns smothered in creamy dill sauce. One bite and you will forget all about those other warm buns you were thinking about.
Growing up, we actually never had a lot of these in the house. I recall having them sparingly at community or church functions. This was another recipe that we received a ton of requests for, so it was a great way for us to get reacquainted with this traditional Ukrainian dish. After making these, Claudia quickly proclaimed that these will be on our table every Christmas dinner moving forward. They are very decadent. The cream sauce gives the entire dish a sweetness while the dill reminds you of summer, with a hint of freshness. The cottage cheese filling is rich and super flavourful. I can see why so many people have asked for this recipe over the past few years! It truly is spectacular and super simple!
I cannot believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow. Where does the time go? I’m not gonna lie…I’m pretty darn excited. The copious amounts of delicious food, gift exchanges, and the celebration of family and friends is what I love most about this time of year.
Tomorrow, my family is having quite the Christmas Eve feast. Since we’re Ukrainian, we celebrate by having a huge dinner consisting of 12 meatless dishes. This year is the first in a long time where we will be having Pyrizhky, or cabbage buns. I never really grew up on these delectable little dough balls. My Baba, Grandma and Claudia never made them, so they were never a part of our Ukrainian feasts. This year, I decided to take some action and try to make them with Claudia. My soon to be Mother-in-Law was gracious enough to provide us with her recipe (and a bag full of samples!) to try. For our first attempt, they came out extremely well. This recipe makes approximately 13-14 dozen Pyrizhky. You can also use any other filling you desire, such as meat. However, we prefer sauerkraut.
Today is my Baba’s (Claudia’s Mom) 82nd birthday. There really isn’t a better way to celebrate her life (and Claudia’s essentially) than to post the staple of my Ukrainian childhood (and the best food she ever made) on this day. That being perogies. No one, and I do mean no one, can ever top my Baba’s perogies. They are simply the best. I know there are a lot of you who say the same thing about your own family recipe. But I kid you not, my Baba made and sold hundreds (if not thousands) of dozens of these little nuggets of gold for people just like yourselves after they realized they did not have the best family recipe. Trust me on this one. I grew up on this stuff after all!
Claudia and I spent all Saturday afternoon perfecting the dough and creating dozens of differently filled perogies. We finally came up with what we thought Baba would deem as worthy to share with friends. Perogies are the ultimate comfort food. I have never grown tired of them. My hope is that after trying these for yourself, you won’t either.
You don’t get any more Ukrainian than Cabbage Rolls. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was fed these as my first experience with “real food” as a baby. Not one special dinner has gone by in our family without cabbage rolls being served. There are many variations. But I can tell you now that nobody’s cabbage rolls compare to the ones that Claudia makes. They are simple the best. Not too tomato soupy, not too cabbagey. They are perfect little delights. However, I learned in this blog process that I apparently haven’t inherited the Ukrainian cabbage rolling gene, as I found the process extremely frustrating. My 1/4 Slovakian genes took over my hands and rendered me incapable of “tucking and rolling” the rice and cabbage. But do not fret kids….if you weren’t blessed with the Ukrainian cooking gene like me, it just takes a bit of practise and patience. …and Claudia laughing at you when you curse the rice that fell from your hands and onto your clean floor.
Well kids, you don’t get any more Ukrainian than this. Borsch – i.e. Beet soup. Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the most traditional and delicious recipes my Mother inherited from her own Mother (my Baba).
Claudia typically makes Borsch mid-to-end of summer when there is an abundance of beets in our garden in Saskatchewan, and on every holiday occasion (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas). For a recipe that is relatively simple to make, there are so many variations around. I am pretty certain I’m biased, but this one is truly the best out there.
Growing up we always had meat in our Borsch – usually boiled chicken or pork. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a boiled meat kinda girl. So when I got old enough and decided it was time to throw a fuss, Claudia only served this vegetarian-style Borsch recipe to our family. Yes, I am a spoiled princess. But I’m still right – this rendition tops the meat varieties any day.
If you haven’t read the Inspiration section of this website prior to reading the rest of this post, I highly recommend you do. Mainly because it explains the copious amounts of sinful butter in this recipe. Well, it sort of does. It more or less justifies it as an essential in Ukrainian cuisine.
Nalysnyky (pronounced NAL-YES-NAH-KEH) is a staple on our family dinner table on all holidays. They are often made ahead of time and frozen until the day of the dinner event. I actually have never had them otherwise until I made this recipe with Claudia for the blog. I have to admit, if you can, eating them fresh is the way to go. Nalysnyky is essentially cheese filled crepes (slathered in butter of course and baked). This recipe takes a total of one hour from start to finish and truly is worth every minute.